Discovering Motivational Theories

The instinct theory deals with inborn, automatic, involuntary, and unlearned processes that control and direct human behavior and has been developed by drawing up a list of human instincts. This theory sets an important perspective of evolution and has been adopted by socio-biologists considering a wide range of human behavior, from aggression to interpersonal attraction, from the standpoint of natural selection and the survival of humans as a species. But the theory has been abandoned as an explanation of human motivation as human beings are not driven by instincts only to act in a certain manner (Motivation, 2008).The need theories of human motivation include Murray’s theory of human personality, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, ERG theory, McClelland’s achievement motivation theory, and Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory. All these theories focus basically on need as a motivator for human behavior. Murray’s theory of human personality assumes the human ability to learn from the environment and hypothesizes an invisible link between stimulus and reaction to the stimulus. The theory focused on physical and psychological needs as the motivations of human behavior. The theory tried to explain the complexities of multiple psychological needs but did not focus much on physical needs. Maslow’s theory on the other hand placed the physiological needs at the base of his pyramid of hierarchy of needs followed by safety, love/ belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. According to him satisfaction with a lower level of needs only can stimulate concentration towards a higher level. He explained that growth needs can be met only after meeting the deficiency needs of survival, safety, love, and esteem. Growth needs were thought to be enduring motivators after the neutralization of deficiency needs. This theory is more universal than Murray’s theory but there is no evidence of need hierarchy and it is not possible to maintain such hierarchy in the everchanging society.