Readings Course Text:
Application: Incentive Value and Goal Setting
People are motivated to behave in ways that will help them achieve goals. Incentives are small steps that motivate people to move toward their goals. Strong incentives are more motivational than weak incentives. The strength of an incentive depends on its value. As the value of an incentive increases, motivation increases.
Incentive value is influenced by several factors including amount, contrast effects, procrastination, and temporal motivation theory. In terms of amount, more is usually better. For example, if a teenager is asked to choose between a babysitting job that pays eight dollars an hour and one that pays twelve dollars an hour, he or she is motivated to take the larger incentive of twelve dollars an hour. On the other hand, a teenager who previously had a babysitting job that paid fifteen dollars an hour may not be motivated to accept the twelve dollars an hour incentive. In the latter instance, the babysitter is comparing the current incentive to a prior incentive, and motivation is influenced by the concept of contrast effect.
In addition to amount and contrast effect, temporal motivation theory can influence incentive value. According to temporal motivation theory, incentive values may change with time. In the babysitting scenario, imagine that the parents hiring the babysitter are experiencing economic difficulties. As a result of these challenges, they offer the sitter two payment options. They can pay the sitter twelve dollars an hour now or fifteen dollars an hour in one month. The babysitter must choose between less money now and more money later. Temporal motivation theory suggests that the babysitter is likely to prefer the first option because receiving money immediately has more value than receiving money later. In this case, the timing of the money is more important than the amount.
Another factor of incentive value is procrastination. When people procrastinate, they often realize that they will be in a worse situation if they delay their behavior, but they choose to do another activity nonetheless. For example, the babysitter plans to work on homework while the children are sleeping. However, the babysitter discovers an in-home theater with many movie choices and delays working on homework until the next day. The sitter knows that in order to do the homework correctly, he or she should start early, but the incentive value is low. Watching movies is more enjoyable, and therefore has more incentive value than doing homework.
Incentives and goals may be influenced by cultural background. In Week 4, you discovered that self-concept can be different in independent cultures when compared to interdependent cultures. There are similar cultural differences related to goal setting. People from independent cultures are more likely to pursue goals that satisfy personal needs. In contrast, people from interdependent cultures are more likely to set goals that meet the needs of their communities.
To prepare for this assignment:
- Review Chapter 10 in your textbook, Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental. Pay particular attention to the section on factors that affect incentive value.
- Review “Goals, Culture, and Subjective Well-Being.” Pay close attention to the section on goals and culture.
- Identify a person you admire whom you can interview by phone, e-mail, or face-to-face.
- Interview the person you identified, and ask for details about a goal that your interviewee set and successfully achieved. Request details about the incentives that were chosen along the way.
- Think about how the concepts of incentive amount (contrast effect, procrastination, and temporal motivation theory) contributed or did not contribute to your interviewee’s pursuit and achievement of the goal.
- Consider whether your interviewee’s goal reflects an independent or interdependent culture.
- Think of an example of a goal that reflects a culture different from that of your interviewee.
The assignment (2–3 pages):
- Describe the person whom you selected to interview and explain the goal that he or she successfully achieved.
- Analyze how the concepts of incentive amount (contrast effect, procrastination, and temporal motivation theory) contributed or did not contribute to your interviewee’s pursuit and achievement of a goal.
- Explain whether your interviewee’s goal reflects an independent or interdependent culture and justify your response.
- Provide an example of a goal that reflects a culture different from that of your interviewee and explain how and why.
Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the Learning Resources for this course
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