Motivation is a set of factors that activate, direct, and maintain behavior, usually, toward a goal (Carpenter & Huffman, 2010). Thus, motivation is a moving force that activates human behavior and directs it to the achievement of a certain purpose. There are three major theories of motivation that explain the forms that motivation can take and the sources of different types of motivation. In this paper, we are going to compare the differences between four hypothetical individuals who want to obtain a promotion at their place of employment.

The first one is Ella, whose motivation can be accounted by a biological theory of motivation. The second one is Marcello, whose actions and behavior coincide with the psychosocial theory of motivation, and the third one is Masoko, whose actions are characterized by an interactionist theory of motivation.

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At the end, we are going to analyze the sources of motivation of the fourth individual Sam, who has a realistic combination of motivating theories, which give rise to various factors inspiring him to pursue a promotion. Finally, we will explain how the factors of each motivation theory might interact with each other.

Thus, the first question under consideration is the sources of motivation for Ella, Marcello and Masoko. Ella is characterized by a biological theory of motivation:

This biological theory of motivation (The Intuition Theory), suggests that motivation levels are regulated by neural pattern recognition events. Subconscious drives impel people to achieve excellence, or to spend exceptional energies on services to humanity” (Thomas).

In other words, the biological motivation is based on our basic needs such as food, for example. Thus, the Ella’s motivation is caused by her will to survive. It is quite possible that her motivation is triggered by the fear of poverty and inability to support her family. According to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (motives), Ella’s sources of motivation are the bottom of the pyramid. Marcello’s behavior is characterized by the psychological theory of motivation which can be explained by incentives and cognition.

“Incentive theory holds that external stimulation motivates people to act to obtain desirable goals to avoid undesirable events” (Carpenter & Huffman, 2010). According to a cognition theory, the motivation is affected by how we interpret our achievements. In this light, the source of Marcello’s motivation may be his esteem needs to achieve success and gain approval among his relatives, friends or fellow workers.

Perhaps, he was the best students in the class, and now he cannot let himself to be considered unsuccessful. Thus, the sources of his motivation are external factors (everybody considers his successful) that influence his psychological state and encourage acting in a particular way to prove that he is worth his status.

Finally, Masoko is associated with the interactionist theory of motivation. This theory presupposes that one’s behavior and actions are shaped by social interactions and everything that happens in the society. Thus, we can come to a conclusion that Masoko’s desire for promotion was shaped by the social opinion that “if one wants to be a part of a society, he/she should take an advance position and achieve new goals”. Thus, Masoko considers that promotion is necessary and it is his social duty.

Consequently, different educational background, personal peculiarities, social level, psychological characteristics formed in childhood and goals in life shaped the main sources of motivation for those people. Ella’s sources of motivation are psychological and mixed with basic instincts.

Marcello’s sources of motivation are psychological and partially social which come from his childhood and educational background as well. Finally, Masoko’s sources of motivation are purely social; they are shaped by his desire to be an active participant of the social development. And prove his ability to make a valuable contribution to society through his social status.

Different emotions serve as motivators for individuals:

Emotions occur as a result of an interaction between perception of environmental stimuli, neural/hormonal responses to these perceptions (often labeled feelings), and subjective cognitive labeling of these feelings (Huitt, 2001).

However, emotions can reinforce the motivation. Thus, Ella, Marcello and Masoko experienced different emotions affecting their motivations. According to Carpenter & Huffman (2010), “psychologists define and study emotion according to three basic components – psychological, cognitive and behavior”.

Thus, Ella’s emotion is fear of losing job and not being able to support basic survival needs. Marcello’s emotions are based on cognitive components. As a result, he anticipates getting the promotion to feel satisfaction with his position. Masoko’s emotions are based on behavior component, as he tries to behave according to social norms and get a promotion to perform his social responsibility.

Depending on the sources of motivation, Ella, Marcelo and Masoko will put forth different types of effort. Thus, Ella might show her persistence to demonstrate that she is capable to make any amount of job. Marcello might show his intellectual dominancy comparing with other candidates, and Masaco might demonstrate his organization and leadership qualities to show that he can be valuable part of society. These differences in the efforts are explained by the personal motivations and psychological characteristics of every candidate.

Another individual is Sam. He has a realistic combination of motivating theories, which give rise to various factors inspiring him to pursue a promotion. In this light, seeking for promotion, he is guided by biological, psychological and interactionist components. So, he seeks promotion to have an appropriate level of living, realize his mental capacity and elevate his social level.

None of the components is dominant, thus, he will be more conscious on the emotional level and work out better strategy to achieve his goal. The Sam’s effort will be more effective and he will demonstrate different talents and abilities applicable to the desirable position.

In fact, factors of each motivation do not go separately but interact with each other. However, some of the factors can dominate depending on the situation, current needs and even age and sex of the applicants. For example, the one, who does not have a need to support family and does not experience the money shortage, can be motivated by psychological need of self-realization. At the same time, the one who lack money will be probably guided by biological motivation.

Analyzing everything mentioned above, we can come to a conclusion that in different situation people can be motivated by different factors. The sources of motivation can be formed under the influence of various factors, such as educational background, events that happened in the childhood, peculiarities of the social environment, etc. The motivational factors always interact with each other and influence our emotions (and vice versa) and the types of efforts we apply to achieve our goals.

List of References

Carpenter, S., & Huffman, K. (2010). Visualizing psychology, 2nd Ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Huitt, W. (2001). Motivation to learn: An overview. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved from

Thomas, E. A biological theory of motivation. Effective mind control. Retrieved from: