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Psychological Theories of Motivation to Increase Productivity

Expectancy Theory

Expectancy Theory proposes that people will choose how to behave depending on the outcomes they expect as a result of their behaviour. In other words, we decide what to do based on what we expect the outcome to be. At work, it might be that we work longer hours because we expect a pay rise.

However, Expectancy Theory also suggests that the process by which we decide our behaviours is also influenced by how likely we perceive those rewards to be. In this instance, workers may be more likely to work harder if they had been promised a pay rise (and thus perceived that outcome as very likely) than if they had only assumed they might get one (and perceived the outcome as possible but not likely)

Expectancy Theory is based on three elements:

1. Expectancy – the belief that your effort will result in your desired goal. This is based on your past experience, your self confidence and how difficult you think the goal is to achieve.
2. Instrumentality – the belief that you will receive a reward if you meet performance expectations.
3. Valence – the value you place on the reward.

Therefore, according to Expectancy Theory, people are most motivated if they believe that they will receive a desired reward if they hit an achievable target. They are least motivated if they don’t want the reward or they don’t believe that their efforts will result in the reward.