Work Motivation Topics

Work motivation is one of the most central and highly researched topics in industrial-organizational psychology. Even the earliest textbooks in I/O psychology addressed motivation and topics related to it, such as morale, job attitudes, productivity, and job performance. Several definitions have been offered, but the one adopted here was first advanced by the author in 1984: Work motivation originates within and beyond the individual to initiate and determine work-related behavior. Read more about Work Motivation.

Work Motivation Research Topics

It is also important to distinguish between motivation and its antecedents and its consequences, particularly the latter. Observers often conclude that a person’s motivation is low (usually implying not enough effort) or misguided (inappropriate goals) on the basis of observing low standards of performance, which is the accomplishment of some standard or criterion. This conclusion is often false, resulting in what social psychologists refer to as the fundamental attribution error—attributing low judged performance to low motivation, a characteristic of the individual. Considerable research and theory show that performance is a multiplicative function of motivation and individual ability as well as the constraints or opportunities offered by the context in which work is occurring. These distinctions are more than a matter of theoretical or conceptual semantics: They have real, important applied implications if one is to understand job performance, employee withdrawal (in its various forms), creativity at work, career choices, and myriad other work-related phenomena. The source of the poor performance is frequently the context or the person’s ability to do the job.

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