Content theories – What it is, definition and concept

Content theories are those that focus on everything that can boost people’s motivation.

That is, in short, content theories focus on the study of those elements and aspects that serve as a stimulus for people.

Motivation is very important in the human being, since that activates him to achieve something certain. It is like an impulse in the action process in which an individual carries out a certain behavior to obtain something.

There can be different types of motivations. For example, work and personal motivation, among others.

In both cases mentioned, the person may be in the process of action to achieve something specific. So, motivation implies a cause that encourages you to adopt a certain behavior to reach the desired goal.

Objective of content theories

These types of theories are aimed at studying all aspects that can serve as an incentive for human actions.

For example, Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, Herzberg’s two-factor theory, Alderfer’s theory of existence, relationship, and progress, and McClelland’s three-needs theory.

What are the most prominent content theories?

These are the main content theories that exist:

Maslow theory

It is widely known for the Maslow pyramid. It is a theory that is included in his work “A theory about human motivation” that was published in 1943. It focuses on highlighting that the human being satisfies his most basic needs and when he has done so he develops more needs and desires more ambitious.

All this is portrayed in a pyramid where he captures this series of phases. Abraham Maslow uses the pyramid to illustrate that an individual has to fulfill his most basic desires, for example, eat, breathe, among others, to achieve other types of desires and meet higher needs.

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The bottom part is made up of the needs that have the highest priority, those that are essential for survival, and the top part of the pyramid is occupied by those needs that have less priority when it comes to being carried out.

Maslow distinguishes physiological needs, security needs, recognition needs, self-actualization and social needs. Taking into account these needs and the objective that they are satisfied, the human being finds the necessary motivation to establish the bases of his behavior to achieve it.

Herzberg’s bifactorial theory

In this case, this theory is based on the external environment and its influence on the individual and his work. His theory of motivation-hygiene is very prominent, since it states that an individual has a very important relationship with his work and his attitude towards it can lead to success or failure.

During the study of his bifactorial theory, he carried out a series of investigations with which he determined the most influential factors that produced the satisfaction or not of an individual with respect to his work. He pointed out the hygienic factors as those that do not produce dissatisfaction in the human being, but do not provide large doses of motivation, for example, working conditions.

Likewise, he also spoke about motivational factors, highlighting here all those factors that are highly motivating for the worker. For example, job recognition.

Alderfer’s Theory of Existence, Relationship and Progress

In this case, Alderfer used aspects of Maslow’s theory to carry out his theory, but unlike him, he did not consider that an excessively rigid and correlative structure had to be included in order to fulfill the needs.

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Alderfer focuses on the fact that the person can carry out various needs without first meeting the basic ones. Talk about three types of needs. First, those of existence, in which it includes the most basic needs for the human being, for example, physiological needs.

It also highlights the relationship needs which, for their satisfaction, require interaction with other people. Lastly, talk about growth needs. This section focuses on the individual’s need to feel good about himself and self-realized in all aspects of his life.

McClelland’s Three Needs Theory

In this theory, McClelland focuses on three different needs to achieve the necessary motivation to achieve the objectives.

  • Regarding the need for achievement, it highlights those people who have the great goal of achieving success in their lives.
  • Regarding the need for power, it points to those individuals who do not care so much about the performance of their work, but about the fact of influencing others.
  • Finally, it highlights the need for affiliation to show that it is one in which people prefer to cooperate rather than compete.

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