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Incentive theory of motivation - Research Paper Example

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This paper elucidates the incentive theory of motivation, its historical evolution, tenets, scopes, and the main interventions which have been devised based on the theory. The incentive theory of motivation proposes that “behavior is guided by the lure of rewards and the threat of punishment”. …
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Download file to see previous pages This research will begin with the historical development of the incentive theory of motivation. From the psychological viewpoint, individuals generally feel more motivated the more they value an outcome and the more they expect its achievement. Research on expectancy-value approaches was found to be distinct from the psychodynamic and functional views of motivation from the work of Boring in 1950 to that of Werner three and a half decades later. The expectancy-value approach in motivation came about largely from research settings where organisms (i.e, either rodents or humans) are offered straightforward incentives and “learn to control their outcomes by understanding the contingencies of probabilities and values”. Tolman enunciated purposive behaviorism in 1932, conceptualizing incentive as the quality and quantity of a reward. Grounded on a plethora of research by McDougall, Spence, Miller, and Zajone from 1946 to 1965, the intervening variables, specifically the association between stimulus and response, the expectancy of value as an explanation for behavior recognized the role of cognition. Meanwhile, results from experiments undertaken by Hull in 1943 in accordance with Pavlov’s conditioned reflex and Thorndike’s rewarded stimulus-response which encourages repetition revealed that behavior is a result of drive and habit. Taken in the sense of Hull’s revelations, drive is a need which strengthens behavior, whereas, habit is learning from previous experience which directs behavior. Other researchers contributed to the pool of knowledge on incentives as a motivation for behavior from 1951 to 1966, such as Lewin, Rotter, and Weiner, work on achievement motivation helped bridged the gap between personality and social psychology (Fiske, 2008). The incentive theory of motivation finds application in the criminal justice system, as embodied in the one or two elements of the classical criminological theory. From Hanser (2010)’s restatement of the classical theory of criminology, fear of punishment control’s an individual’s choice of criminal solutions, and that, the harsher the punishment, better control is made of criminal behavior. The cognitive influence is, therefore, apparent from the statement that “offenders can (and do) learn from their transgressions through a variety of reinforcement and punishment schedules that institutional and community-based corrections may provide” (Hanser, 2011, p. 17). The reinforcement in the preceding statement is, in effect, an incentive. The criminal justice system apparently saw the applicability of the incentive theory of motivation as early as the eighteenth century when the Pennsylvania reform law of 1786 considered pardon as a means to encourage offenders to repent and undergo reformation. From this viewpoint, early penal reformers take the possibility of pardon as an incentive to rehabilitate (Kann, 2005). From the historical context of criminology, punishment for crime had to be rational such that a match between the offense committed and the punishment inflicted is attained. Thus, more serious crimes are meted with more severe punishment. Norrie (2006) argued that punishment need only be as harsh as the gravity of the crime committed because a lesser or harsher punishment can will provide no incentive for the offender to reform or commit lesser crimes. The Pennsylvania Prison Society (1862) quoting correctional inspectors maintained that “the diminution of sentence and the restoration of all citizenship are powerful incentives to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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