Motivation and factors affecting motivation
Motivation and factors affecting motivation

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Motivation and factors affecting motivation

3 Definitions and dimensions of motivation

Before we can look at theories of motivation we need to clarify exactly what is meant by the term ‘motivation’. Defining terms is an important starting point whenever we look at a topic area.

A classic textbook definition of motivation is given by Mullins (2002), who says that motivation is a ‘driving force’ through which people strive to achieve their goals and fulfil a need or uphold a value. The important words here are ‘needs’, ‘values’ and ‘goals’ and these are the building blocks of motivation that lead to actions:

  • Needs are basic requirements for survival and may be physical or psychological; for example, hunger, thirst, love or friendship.
  • Values are the things that we consider to be most important; for example, family, health or wealth.
  • Goals are the outcomes that we are working towards.

This is an interesting definition: describing motivation as a ‘driving force’ suggests a lot of energy being created within us to move us into action. You have probably experienced this whenever there has been something you really wanted, such as winning a race, winning a match, passing an exam or working hard for something you really wanted to buy. Our needs, values and goals are completely individual: two people may have the same goal they want to fulfil, but different needs or values. For example, in a race a person may want to win to feel good about themselves (need for self-esteem) or because they see winning as being in line with their values (the value is that success is important). In conclusion, we can say that motivation is specific to an individual, the result of their needs and values, which create their particular goals and are then translated into action.

Activity 2 Reading

Timing: Allow about 45 minutes

Now read the text entitled, ‘Thinking about motivation in the workplace [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’ by Simon Rea. As you read, note down the definition the authors give for motivation and compare it with the definition from Mullins introduced above. Draw a table, like Table 1 below, to help you summarise the three approaches that can be taken to understand motivation. The first row of Table 1 has been completed as an example. Once you have finished the chapter, consider which approach you feel explains motivation best.

Table 1 The three approaches to motivation

Name of approachBrief explanationApplicationCriticisms
Trait-centred viewTheory says that motivation is due to a person's individual characteristics, e.g. their personalityPersonality will predict whether or not they will be motivatedIgnores the influence that the situation may have on the individual
Situation-centred view
Interactional view

Comment

Table 2 Summary of the three approaches to motivation

Name of approachBrief explanationApplicationCriticisms
Trait-centred viewTheory says that motivation is due to a person's individual characteristics, e.g. their personalityPersonality will predict whether or not they will be motivatedIgnores the influence that the situation may have on the individual
Situation-centred viewTheory says that motivation is determined by the situationThe environment needs to be constructed to ensure that all participants are motivatedSome participants will remain motivated despite a negative environment
Interactional viewTheory says that to understand motivation fully you need to consider both the personality and the situation and how they interactDifferent personalities will respond in different ways depending on the demands of the environment. For example, different sports competitors will respond differently to competing alone or as part of a teamSome personalities will remain unaffected by changing environments

While the Interactional view is often the most popular approach to motivation by sport and fitness professionals – because it considers both personality and situation – it is important to have a solid understanding of both the trait-centred and situation-centred views, as these help our appreciation of the different ways in which individuals are motivated.

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