The podcast by Michael Britt is devoted to the expectancy theory and the aspects of goal setting that are illustrated primarily through the motivation for getting in shape. Additionally, Britt mentions some theoretical examples of situations from the workplace or academic experiences as illustrations.
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The author describes the structure of motivation that includes the initiation, direction, and persistence, and proceeds to discuss the difficulties of the third element. The goal motivation theory, according to the author, is a relatively famous and simple motivation guideline. Britt describes the successful goal as a specific, moderately aggressive and challenging, and realistic one. He also points out that a self-imposed goal provides more motivation while goals can be adjusted with time as a result of analyzing the feedback concerning the intermediate results.
According to Britt, the expectancy theory, which was first described by Vroom and can be defined as a cognitive theory of motivation, is a more complex system that includes the elements of expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. Valence reflects the actual value that a goal has for a person. In other words, valence answers the following question: “do I want to achieve the goal”? Expectancy demonstrates the confidence of the person in their performance; the question that reflects this element is “can I do what I need to do to achieve the result?” The two elements are interconnected and can be related to the goal-setting: while a proper goal ensures high valence and expectancy, too challenging a goal, for example, can decrease the latter even in case the former is significant.
Finally, instrumentality demonstrates the confidence of a person in the correlation between the action and the result, and the question for this part is “if I do what I need to do, will it ensure the outcome?” Britt demonstrates that if the action does not ensure the result, the motivation drops.
Personal Application: Academic Experiences
The theory described by Britt helps me understand my motivation background and beliefs. Back at school, I used to disperse my efforts trying to ensure good performance in every field. My expectancy was high as a result of good performance in the first years of studies, and even though the curriculum was becoming more complicated, I mechanically kept to the goal. At the same time, the valence of my goal decreased since it was not backed up by any tangible effects: I was performing for the sake of performing. In the end, I managed to get a more realistic perspective on both the expectancy and valence of the goal.
I could perform, but it was very time- and effort-consuming and did not guarantee the achievement of the results I was not sure I wanted. Therefore, with time, all the elements described by expectancy theory became deficient for the goal. Unfortunately, the realization dealt a severe blow to my motivation as such, but I believe that this was the most useful lesson I carried from my school into my further studies. I set the goals that are important to me, ensuring high valence.
I also attempt to assess my possibilities realistically, although my self-confidence can be an obstacle in this respect. I seek to set goals that are realistic and challenging, and I have to admit that “outside” motivation has little relevance in my book. In the terms of employment, a manager can motivate me through monetary and non-monetary incentives, but in my studies, I am mostly concerned with the benefit that I can derive from a course; now I believe in the insignificance of performance for the sake of performance.
That is why, unlike some of my peers, I am not easily discouraged by the expectancy-lowering or instrumentality-damaging actions and words of the educators. I consider this point of view a very logical one; I do not intend to it review soon. However, the theories of expectancy and goal setting explain motivation mechanisms that I can use to make more informed decisions in the future.
Britt, Michael. Episode 57: Expectancy Theory, Goal Setting and Getting in Shape. The Psych Files, 2008. MP3. Web.