Achievement Motivation Theory.

Dr. Purushothaman
December 14, 2013

Describing McClelland’s achievement motivation theory. How does the theory measure individual motivation?

How do you link up with an individual to motivate them into achieving a particular goal or level of performance? No one single theory, which will function to extract the motivational efforts from any chosen individual to complete, has been developed. The numerous existing behavioral characteristics resulting from a host of verified factors such as culture, age, beliefs, ethnicity, social position, gender , and more presents a complicated picture with no one single solution that will fit all.

I believe my first experience with an useful motivational theory took place upon my exiting the womb of my mother, when the providing physician held me upside down by my legs, spanked me on the butt and I began to “cry like a baby”. Since that day, very few days have passed without a comment, work, or action being directed toward me to motivate me to achieve. A reference to one particular theory, the McClelland’s achievement motivation theory, will be described, and how the theory measures individual motivation.

David McClelland’s dealt specifically with production motivation and conceived the achievement motivation theory. McClelland theorized that three needs are central to work motivation: The needs for achievement, power, and affiliation. The factors that lead to work motivation, according to McClelland, may differ from person to person depending on their particular pattern of needs (Riggio, Ronald E., 2008).

McClelland theorized that the need for achievement stems from being motivated by a need to get ahead in the job, to solve problems and to present outstanding work. The need to preside over and control the activities of others and to be influential are the descriptive practices of the need for power and the need for membership deals with the desire to be liked and accepted by others. In the works of McClelland, he emphasized that we all possess more or less of each of these motives, but one particular need appears to dominate, and this domination varies person by person (Riggio, Ronald E., 2008).

A theory must be tested to insure its validity and its relevance for its intended purpose. McClelland used a variation of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), to assess or determine the motivational needs of an individual. The Thematic Apperception Test is a projective test that uses confusing pictures to assess psychological motivation (Riggio, Ronald E., 2008). Upon completion of the test by the individual, the results are then scored using a standardized procedure that measures the presence of the three needs, mentioned previously, to obtain a “motivational profile”. The TAT is known as a projective test; that is, respondents project their inner motivational needs into the content of the story they create. Meta-analysis shows that the TAT is a reasonably high-quality measurement tool (Riggio, Ronald E., 2008).

SUMMARY: The McClelland achievement motivation theory emphasizes the important needs that are central to production motivation; need for achievement, need for power, and need for affiliation. To measure the individual motivation, McClelland used a variation of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). The final scoring measures the presence of the three basic needs to achieve a “motivational profile”.

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