B. Help Youth Get Ready

B1. Increasing Youth Initiative, Responsibility and Motivation:

B1.3. The Basics of Motivation Theory


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This section deals with the basic tenets of motivation theory. This is a broad topic, but we’re just going to take a birds-eye look at what it’s all about. Let's start with two types of motivators: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Types of Motivators

Intrinsic Motivators
Intrinsic motivators are those that come from within; no one does anything to create these, although we can sometimes create conditions that allow these motivators to emerge. When you've gone a while without eating, for example, you experience hunger—that is, you are intrinsically motivated to eat. When you're tired, you're intrinsically motivated to sleep. When you're cold, you're intrinsically motivated to find a way to be warmer. When you're bored, you're intrinsically motivated to find something interesting to do. Nobody has to create these motivations within you because you already have them; they're part and parcel of being human.

Extrinsic Motivators
Extrinsic motivators are external factors that control your behaviour. Nobody is born with a yearning for money; money is an external or extrinsic driver of behaviour, a learned motivator. Hearing "You're a good boy!" or "You're a good girl!" from your parents when you're growing up is extrinsically motivating as well. With extrinsic motivators, something outside of you urges you to behave in a certain way. Money, gold stars, treats, prizes, grades and praise are all examples of extrinsic motivators. Intrinsic motivators, such as food, can be used as extrinsic motivators, too. For example, one might use food to motivate a dog to come when its name is called. The dog will seek food because of hunger, an intrinsic motivator. However, food can also be linked to the act of coming when called. In this instance, food is an extrinsic motivator for that particular behaviour.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Basic Needs
Theorist Abraham Maslow claimed that motivation is developmental. He contended that humans are born intrinsically motivated to meet:

Self-Actualization Needs
Finally, once this whole set of basic or deficit needs are consistently fulfilled, a new order of motivators emerge. These are called being needs or self-actualization needs, and they are comprised of the needs for:

The system Maslow used to detail the developmental aspect of motivation is called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Some of the research in this area is a little shaky, but Maslow's hierarchy is useful for youth workers because it provides a framework for thinking about what might be intrinsically motivating to youth clients.

Benefits of Intrinsic Motivators

Let's look at the three reasons for using intrinsic motivators whenever possible:

Job Satisfaction Factors

Frederich Herzberg, a fan of Maslow, identified factors affecting job satisfaction. He listed these under two headings, maintenance and motivator. Maintenance factors are not considered motivational in and of themselves, but their absence is sure to cause problems. Motivator factors, on the other hand, actually enhance motivation and performance. Take a look at the following table:

Maintenance Factors
Dissatisfiers (if absent)
Motivator Factors

Personal growth

Job security Recognition
Company policy Achievement
Employee relations Autonomy
Pay (dual factor) Responsibility—
• job enrichment
• opportunities
• sense of participation
• pay (dual factor)
• progression systems (moving up the ladder)
• suggestion systems (using employees' ideas)
• lateral movement

Notice that all the motivator factors are intrinsic, except pay. Pay is a dual factor; that is, it's extrinsic, but can fulfil intrinsic motivations as well.

This information on the basics of motivation demonstrates the significance of the 5P’s that were outlined in the previous section. Passion, the second of the 5P’s, is really just another word for intrinsic motivation. What you're helping a client to uncover during the 5P process is, in fact, intrinsic motivation. This is the stuff that will ultimately sustain your young clients, not extrinsic motivation.

This discussion of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation leads directly into the next section on feedback.

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