Self-Worth Theory of Motivation

1 January 2017

Next is “at risk teens” and discovering they have coping skills that can help them jump forward or hold them back. Educators can help the teens first by building a trustworthy rapport with the student, assist in goal setting, helping them avoid procrastination, and help to visualize their future for their lifetime goals and achievements. In the work place it is implied that managers who communicate implementing the “Three Roles of Language in Motivation Theory” which are Perlocutionary, Locutionary and Illocutionary leads to a successfuly motivated team. Sullivan, 1998, p. 110) Implementing these communication methods are key to help an employee feel a sense of worth and team, that by building on three principals they can have a successful employee and by association a successful department. Keywords: Self-worth, motivation, at risk teens, elementary students, employees Self-Worth Theory: Motivation for a Lifetime Henry Ford once said “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right. ”(Ford n. d. ) This quote really gets to the heart of the self-worth theory of motivation.

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It truly comes down to the individuals’ perception for the potential of success. Self-worth can affect an individual at any stage in life and can even go so much as varying from task to task. An individual can feel motivated and fulfilled one day and with a new task requested of them feel as though the task is either beneath them or make them feel imperfect for not being able to complete the task, or procrastinate long enough with the task to prove the time constraint was the issue and not the individuals lack of ability to complete it.

Professor at UC Berkley and published author Martin Covington was one of the pioneers of the self-worth theory of achievement motivation. His findings derive from his paper written: Covington stated that the basic cognitive position and shares with it the view that achievement behavior can be most meaningfully conceptualized in terms of self perceptions of causality… it also incorporates a motivational component, and for this reason it forms the basis for conceptual rapprochement between cognitive and learned-drive theories. Covington 1984) Society judges itself by one’s net worth, successes and accomplishments. The inability to succeed in society’s eyes is a perceived sense of failure. The self-worth theory concentrates on the ability to find successes, however when an individual cannot succeed it blames itself on the lack of ability. Performance is judged by the individual’s ability to succeed by society, performance is judged by the individual by lack of effort by the individual. However, whether it’s the feeling of accomplishment by the individual or the pat on the back by society, they both lead to self worth.

In the paper “The Self-Worth Theory of Achievement Motivation: Findings and Implications” it quotes Teevan and Fischer’s unpublished paper from 1967 Covington states parents of success-oriented youngsters tend to reward performance that is praiseworthy yet ignore or at least remain neutral toward the performance that falls short of adult expectations. The opposite pattern appears characteristics of the parents of failure-avoiding children: punishing their children’s failures while being noncommittal in the event of success. Covington 1984) Covington then goes on to explain that if children feel that the end success rate is high, the child then feels the ability to even attempt things that might actually be above their ability levels. These individuals that are success minded will then attempt more things in the future that potentially have a higher likelihood of failure due to the higher rate of successes in the past. Potentially the past can either cloud or clear a path for success. Previous perceptions of success lead to potential for further success, whereas previous failure can lead to apathy and stagnant achievement.

It seems that the basis for self-worth is started very early in a child’s development, not just at the primary level of education but with parental guidance and judgments, both positive and negative, from birth. Achievements and failures are then recorded for future reference. Do well, and get praise for those who will potentially grow up to be success-oriented adults. Do poorly, or just not as well as a parent had hoped and be degraded for failure. These children are then growing up as failure avoidance adults; doing the bare minimum just to avoid being perceived as failures.

A way to describe these failure avoidance teens could be at risk teens. How do at risk teens find motivation in an educational setting? At risk teens are typically underachievers with low self esteem. In public school settings they can be seen as trouble makers both in and out of the classrooms. At best they can find themselves in an Alternative Education school setting, at worst; they find themselves as high school drop outs or young teens with a GED. At risk teens find motivations situational such as goal setting, self awareness and the relationship between student and instructor.

The instructor student relationship is how the student perceives the teachers actual intentions. If the student believes the instructor cares about them as a person, the student is more motivated about class participation. (Wentzel 1997). When a student in elementary school is in a classroom setting all day with the same instructor it is easier for them to develop a trust, this is not as easy to develop in the higher grades of middle and high school as the instructors spend an hour or so with the student and there is far less time for the student to develop the trust with the instructor (Wentsel 1997).

When a student is able to set goals it helps with performance and task motivation. With task motivation, it is to attain a skill set for the student. This can be attaining a mastery and improving knowledge or competence. When a student completes an assignment they see it as an end, the motivation to complete the work for the benefit of knowledge, and this only occurs when the student initiates it. Performance goals are when a student wants to prove superior skills. The combination of the two goals allows the student to advocate their own self regulated learning. Accordino, Accordino, & Slaney 2000) Self awareness motivates students to engage in tasks as influenced by what the students wants to accomplish in life. The individual is motivated by their future self and they strive to do what needs to be accomplished to achieve the outcome they desire. (Leondari, Syngollitou, Kiosseeoglou). Self worth theory allows students to withhold effort in situations if they feel their self esteem will have a negative impact. If an individual feels a threat to self esteem due to an ability or lack thereof, they will start to doubt their abilities overall nd withdraw all efforts to protect self esteem. If an at risk student has experienced failure in front of peers, it becomes a knee jerk reaction to put forth no effort to hide that they need assistance. Whereas a self-worth student will put forth effort with no hesitation and little regard for their self esteem as theirs’ is intact, as the student is able to protect themselves by shifting blame on the instructor when they do not do well. (Thompson, Davidson, Barbier). How does the work place affect self motivation? Manager communications can be crucial to an employee’s motivation.

In an organization a manager acts as the communication hub to their employees. Their communication can act to reduce ambiguity in the workplace. The manager can help motivate by having some transparency in the workplace of what upper managers are deciding and this can help morale overall. The managers’ communications can help by increasing knowledge and abating uncertainty to their subordinates, they can reaffirm the job they are doing; and by giving that “attaboy” it can reassure the employees place in the company and give more self-worth to them, it can also be used to inform the employee, to help guide them in their work. Sullivan, 1988). These theories for managerial communications assume that the employee is uncertain about goals, or policies in the work place, and that the employee is willing to accept the manager’s constructive criticism. In the “Three Roles of Language in Motivation Theory” it is suggested that a manager can use different ways of communicating with his employees and in using all the three methods he outlines, Perlocutionary, Locutionary and Illocutionary the employee will have motivation.

Perlocutionary acts to reduce worker’s uncertainty through the use of goals as the goals are being met, the employee feels motivated to meet higher and more difficult goals. Locutionary acts to facilitate meaning making through the uses of metaphors and informal speaking methods, the employee is given scripts or processes and are able to work in response to knowing the outcome of the script, as they use the processes and procedures more they feel motivated to tackle more difficult issues as they are assured of the outcome of a process.

Illocutionary acts as way of connecting with employees on an emotional level, the workers develops self worth and trust towards the manager due to informal conversations with small talk, this helps to form a bond between employees and managers in a less formal setting and is a by-product of sitting in the vicinity of each other’s immediate surroundings.

He further suggests that when all three communication methods are implemented, the employee will feel motivated and have a sense of accomplishment and self-worth (Sullivan, 1988). When the managers effectively utilize Sullivan’s methods, they found that the managers knew better what employees needed to know, importance of informal communicating and role play there, and the workers were people. Sullivan, 1988) Using just the three stages out of many in an individual’s life: elementary school, at risk teens in secondary education levels and individuals in the work place, it can be shown that self worth can change with the right mentoring, it can affect a person all their life, and it doesn’t need to always be negative self worth, sometimes it’s positive. In conclusion Abraham Lincoln said it best “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing. ” (Lincoln, 1855)

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