Cognitive Theories

After instinct theories were discredited, explanations for behavior shifted to needs. A need was defined as an internal state of disequilibrium or deficiency which has the capacity to trigger a behavioral response. The cause of the deficiency could be physiological, such as hunger; psychological, such as a need for power; or sociological, such as a need for social interaction. The presence of a need motivates an individual to action to restore a state of equilibrium, as shown . A basic assumption of all need theories is that when need deficiencies exist, individuals are motivated to action to satisfy them.

One of the earliest theories of needs was the manifest need theory proposed by Henry A. Murray. Murray believed that needs are mostly learned rather than inherited and are activated by cues from the external environment. For example, an employee who has a high need for affiliation will pursue that need by associating with others only when the environmental conditions are appropriate. Only then would the need be manifest. When the need was not cued, the need was said to be latent or not activated.

Murray identified a wide range of needs that people supposedly acquire to one degree or another through interaction with their environment. Murray first developed a list of fifteen needs that were classified as viscerogenic (primary) and psychogenic (secondary). The needs for food, water, sex, urination, defecation, and lactation, all associated with physiological functioning, are examples of Murray’s viscerogenic needs. Murray’s psychogenic needs include abasement, achievement, affiliation, aggression, autonomy, deference, dominance, and power.

Murray’s need categories attempted to focus on specific, relatively narrow need-related issues and a separate need was created for almost every human behavior. Murray’s list of needs was not derived from empirical research but from his personal observations and clinical experience. Periodically he added additional needs to his list, and the length of the list increased with his career. Maslow’s need hierarchy Abraham Maslow was a clinical psychologist whose theory of motivation was part of a larger theory of human behavior.

Maslow was a humanist who was deeply concerned about the dignity and worth of individuals. He frequently talked of the differences between healthy and unhealthy individuals, and believed that individuals had a positive capacity to improve the quality of their lives . His theory of behavior emerged from his clinical experiences as he was able to sift and integrate the ideas of other leading psychologist. Maslow formulated a hierarchy of five general needs. The term “drive” was first introduced by Woodworth (1918) to describe the reservoir of energy that impels an organism to behave in certain ways.

While Woodworth intended the term to mean a general supply of energy within an organism, others soon modified this definition to refer to a host of specific energizers (such as hunger, thirst, sex) toward or away from certain goals. With the introduction of the concept of drive, it now became possible for psychologists to predict in advance-at least in theory-not only what goals an individual would strive toward but also the strength of the motivation toward such goals. A major theoretical advance in drive theory came from the work of Cannon in the early 1930s.

Cannon (1939) introduced the concept of “homeostasis” to de- scribe a state of disequilibrium within an organism which existed whenever internal conditions deviated from their normal state. When such disequilibrium occurred (as when an organism felt hunger), the organism was motivated by internal drives to reduce the disequilibrium and to return to its normal state. Inherent in Cannon’s notion was the idea that organisms exist in a dynamic environment and that the determining motives for behavior constantly change, depending upon where the disequilibrium exists within the system.

Thus, certain drives or motives move to the forefront and then, once satisfied, retreat while other paramount. This concept is also reflected in the works of Maslow. The first comprehensive-and experimentally specific- elaboration of drive was put forth by Hull. In his major work Principles of Behavior, published 1943, Hull set down a specific equation to explain an organism’s “impetus to Effort = Drive X Habit. “Drive” was defined by Hull as an energizing influence which determined the intensity of behavior, and which theoretically “Habit” was seen as the strength of relationship between past stimulus and response (S-R).

Hall hypothesized that the resulting effort, or motivational force, was a multiplicative function of these two central variables. If we apply Hull’s theory to an organization setting, the motivation to seek employment would be seen as a multiplicative function of the need for money (drive) and the strength of the feeling that been associated with the receipt of money in the past (habit). Later, Hull added an incentive variable to his equation. His later formulation thus read: Effort = Drive x Habit X Incentive.

This incentive factor, added in large mea- sure in response to the attack by the cognitive theorists, was defined in terms of anticipatory reactions to future goals. Just as drive theory draws upon Thorndike’s “law of effect,” so do modem reinforcement approaches (e. g. , Skinner, 1953). The difference is that the former theory emphasizes an internal state (i. e. , drive) as a necessary variable to take into account, while reinforcement theory does not. Rather, the reinforcement model places total emphasis on the consequences of behavior.

Behavior initiated by the individual that produces an effect or consequence is called operant behavior (i. e. , the individual has “operated” on the environment), and the theory deals with the contingent relationships between this operant behavior and the pattern of consequences. It ignores the inner state of the individual and concentrates solely on what happens to a person when he or she takes some action. Thus, strictly speaking, reinforcement theory is not a theory of motivation because it does not concern itself with what energizes of initiates behavior.

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