The History of Consumer Motivation

There are various understandings of motivation. Several researchers proposed the situation in which motivation works instead of the definition of motivation itself. For example, Maslow (1943) stated that motivation is a result of a willingness to fulfill needs. He suggested that there are five levels of human needs; they are (from bottom to top): physiological, security, social, self-esteem, and self-actualization needs. If a particular need is not fulfilled yet, people will motivate to fulfill it, but lower-level needs should have been fulfilled. For Schifman and Kanuk (2012), motivation is a driving force that impels a subject to action. Graham and Weiner (1996: 63) in Berliner and Calfee (1996) defined motivation as “the study of why people think and behave as they do.” They said that in the beginning, researchers tried to develop a general theory of motivation. In its development, the theories of motivation did not move to the more unified but more diverse points of view. The differences in the researchers’ academic background, where the motivation theories are developed, is the factor that caused this problem (Steel and Köniq, 2006).

Graham and Weiner (1996) categorized motivation theories into two significant categories: broad theories and contemporary theories. Broad theories consist of Hull’s drive theory, Lewin’s field theory, Atkinson’s achievement striving theories, Rotter’s social learning theory, and attribution theory proposed by many researchers. Contemporary motivation constructs are connected with the achievement striving. This theory stream consists of are self-worth, self-efficacy, and helplessness beliefs. The remaining construct is connected with the cognitive and affective consequences of goals achievement: task vs. ego involvement, intrinsic vs. extrinsic incentives, and cooperative versus competitive goal structures. Anticipated emotion (Perugini and Bagozzi, 2001; Bagozzi, Baumgartner, and Pieters, 1998; Baumeister et al., 2007) and the anticipated emotions of others proposed in this research are perceived as part of affective consequences of goal achievement task.

Our brief discussion is focused on Rotter’s Social Learning Theory and Atkinson’s Achievement Striving Theory and related contemporary constructs, such as self-efficacy and intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. We also add approach and avoidance motivation into the discussion because of its relation with self-efficacy. Hull’s drive theory and Lewin’s field theory are discussed to verify the historical development of motivational theories. Rotter’s social learning theory is not discussed because it is relevant to study motivation of action that is preceded by the same action that has ever been taken before. This condition is not accounted for in this study. Attribution theory is perceived not relevant because it studies the reasons for past action, while this study focuses on future action.

In drive theory, Hull (1943) postulated that the emergence of motivation should be started from the occurrence of physiological deficiency or need. Need will produce drive, a kind of energy that forces a person to act. This energy has no direction yet in terms of what behavior should be undertaken to fulfill needs. This direction is given by habit.

Hull (1943) stated that the mechanism of behavior stimulation is not entirely mathematically, as shown by the formula. In additive behavior, in which the individual has a very strong habit and almost cannot say no for doing a behavior (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2009), the presence of motivation is not required to initiate behavior.

Lewin’s field theory explains human behavior. Lewin (1935) stated that human behavior is an outcome of personal interaction with its environment. Rainio (n.d) stated that that interaction reflected by the states of life. We care only for the one that has meaning in life, and we move from one meaningful state to another meaningful state in a process called locomotion. For example, when we wake up in the morning, we feel hungry (state 1). We want to be satisfied with food (states 2). If we have achieved that end state, it can be said that we have moved from state 1 to state 2. In order to be able to move, we need a motivational force that is influenced by three factors: tension (t), goals (G), and the psychological distance from the Goals (e). Unfulfilled needs produce tension. Tension and goals have a positive relationship with the motivational force. It means that the higher the tension or the meaning of goals, the higher the motivation. On the other hand, ‘e’ has negative relationships with motivational force. Lewin (1935) explained this by stating that when we are close to our goals, we will be more motivated to reach those goals than when our goals are still far.

When we experience that tension, our cognitive capability or experience drives our attention to the object or activity, or goals that satisfy needs. For example, when we fell hungry, we experience physiological tension (t), and we want to eliminate this tension by eating foods (Goal). The higher the possibility of getting foods (e), the higher the motivation to find foods to eat.

Atkinson’s Theory of Achievement Motivation

According to Graham and Weiner (1996), the original definition of achievement motivation was from Atkinson (1957; 1964), who defined achievement as the comparison of performances with others and against a certain standard of activities. From this definition, we can see that goals are relative performance. A Success or failure to achieve goals is determined by relative performance to others or the fulfillment of the standards.

In Graham and Weiner (1996), Atkinson (1957, 1964) specified that the tendency to approach the achievement-related goals (Ts) is determined by three factors: the need for achievement or motive for success (Ms), probability of success to achieve the goals (Ps) and incentive value of success (Is). The relationship between Ts and its determinants is shown by Graham and Weiner (1996) in the following formula:

Ts=Ms X Ps X Is

As stated by Graham and Weiner (1996), Ms represents a personality character (i.e., striving for success trait) that is relatively stable and enduring. Ps is a subjective judgment of an individual about the probability of success in achieving goals. As a probability, the value of Ps ranges from 0 (no probability at all) to 1 (a definite possibility). The perceived difficulty of the task can approximate this variable. Based on the same source, Graham and Weiner (1996) described incentive (Is) as affect labeled “pride of accomplishment” of the task.  Is is the opposite of Ps. It means that the more difficult it is to achieve success (the lower the Ps), the higher is the incentive (the Is) of achieving success.

Rotter’s Social Learning Theory

According to Graham and Weiner (1996), the theory developed by Rotter (1954) is entirely consistent with the expectancy-value theory. As stated by them, behavior potential (BP) is a function of expectancy (E) and reinforcement value (RV). Expectancy is a subjective assessment of the probability that specific behavior will produce an expected outcome or reinforcement. In Sokolof (1972), Rotter (1954) defined reinforcements as “identifiable events that have the effect of increasing or decreasing the potentiality of some behavior’s occurring” (page 6). It is not clear the meaning of ‘events’ in this definition. Actually, according to Graham and Weiner (1996), in this definition, reinforcement value is not fully elaborated.

We try to describe it using an additional explanation from Schifman and Kanuk (2012). When explained instrumental conditioning, they defined reinforcement as outcomes that increase the possibility an individual does or do not do a behavior. They divided it into positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcements are positive experiences obtained from doing a behavior (for example: being healthy by undertaking sport) or from not doing a behavior (example: being healthy by stop smoking). Negative reinforcements are negative experiences that can be avoided by doing a behavior (example: avoiding hair fall by using a brand shampoo) or will be obtained from doing a behavior (example: heart disease caused by smoking). The desirability of the reinforcement is the one we called reinforcement value.

Back to the expectancy (E). What factors influence the possibility of the outcome of behavior to occur? As cited by Graham and Weiner (1996), an outcome can be produced by skill-related or chance-related factors. In skill-related factors, outcomes are determined by one’s ability; the higher is the ability, the higher is the expectancy. Prior success or failure will influence the ability perception. In chance-related situations, such as the flip of a coin, expectancy remains the same no matter whether the subject is successful or failure in prior experience.

Rotter (1966) extended this concept into a broader concept of personality trait, i.e., internal versus external locus of control. Internal locus of control is a general belief that one’s fate is influenced mainly by internal factors. Individuals with an external locus of control believe that external factors are responsible for their fate. Therefore, achievement motivation concept is likely more relevant in the situation where skill-related factors produce expectancy, and subjects have the high ability (Nicholls, 1984) and internal locus of control (Graham and Weiner, 1996). Nicholls (1984: 328) stated directly that “achievement behavior is defined as behavior directed at developing or demonstrating high rather than low ability.”

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

The categorization of motivation into intrinsic and extrinsic motivations (see Poonam, 1997; Bénabou and Tirole, 2003; Covington and Mueller, 2001; Durmaz and Diyarbakırlıoğlu, 2011) is based on where the motivation comes. Intrinsic motivation is the one that is produced by inner drive within individuals. They are motivated because they are pleasured or feel happy from performing tasks or from anticipated satisfaction of task accomplishment. Extrinsic motivation is one that comes from outside individuals. There are many sources of this motivation (Poonam, 1997), but familiar sources are rewards (such as money or grades) and coercion or punishment (Durmaz and Diyarbakırlıoğlu, 2011).


According to its creator Bandura (1977), self-efficacy is a person’s belief about his or her ability to perform a task and reach goals. He proposed that self-efficacy determines how people feel, think, motivate themselves, and behave. People with strong self-efficacy are more confident in performing tasks. They also tend to set up higher goals and have higher motivation. They are more receptive to difficult tasks because they perceive it to be mastered instead as threats to be avoided.

On the other hand, according to Bandura (1977), people with low self-efficacy view difficult tasks as threats. They have low motivation and a weak commitment to the goals they want to achieve. When they face a difficult task, they tend to focus on their deficiencies and look for the reasons to get out rather than find a way to perform successfully.

Many studies confirm that self-efficacy influences various behaviors and outputs. In online trading, self- affects trust in the online vendor and positively influences an individual online consumer’s purchase intention (Kim and Kim, 2009). In service, McKee, Simmers, and Licata (2006) found that consumers with high self-efficacy tend to participate in positive word-of-mouth communication and to stay in the company. Rhodes and Courneya (2003), using the Theory of Planned Behavior, found in two studies that among three predictors of behavioral intention, self-efficacy is the most powerful.

Self-efficacy can be reflected by perceived-difficulty in performing tasks (Kraft, Rise, Sutton Theory and Roysamb, 2005), where high perceived difficulty indicates low self-efficacy and low-perceived difficulty reflects high self-efficacy. Perceived difficulty can be concluded from the outcome of performing a task.

We can combine the self-efficacy theory and regulatory focus theory to get a more precise result. Bandura (1991) suggested that the effectiveness of self-regulation depends majorly on the individual’s self-efficacy. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to set higher goals, work hardest, persist longer when facing difficulties, and demonstrate higher effectiveness in their performance. These characteristics are compatible with the characteristics of people that have promotion focus. Therefore we conclude that promotion focus is expressed by people that are also high self-efficacy.

Success and Failure Experiences

According to Gould, Houston, and Mundt (1997), a part of behavior is trying in nature. It means that in conducting such behavior, an individual cannot predict the outcome of the behavior accurately. Weight reducing program, a university entrance test, and an experiment are all proper example of trying behavior. In other words, some behavior outcomes are uncertain. In that behavior, the involvement of an individual can be categorized as trying.

The authors said that success and failure in a trying influence motivation of an individual to execute next trying. Of course, success will increase motivation, and failure will decrease it. In other words, people that are successful in previous trying behavior will focus on an effort to be a success in existing trying behavior. That is to say that in self-regulatory, they will be a focus on promotion. On the other hand, people who experienced failure in previous trying behavior will have less confidence to succeed in existing trying behavior. They will focus their effort to avoid failure. In other words, they will focus on prevention in their self-regulatory.

As we noted before, Gould, Houston, and Mundt (1997) said that failure in a previous trial would reduce the self-confidence of people in performing current trying. Based on the self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1977), their self-efficacy will also go down-stairs.

Avoidance and Approach Motivation

Raaij and Wandwossen (1978) noted that one of the models to describe motivation is the need for achievement. They recognized that their model is based on Maslow’s (1943) need stratification model. Raaij and Wandwossen’s need for achievement is comparable with Maslow’s self-actualization. However, Raaij and Wandwossen (1978) included the probability of attaining a goal and a probability of failure in their model.

Probability of attaining a goal is stated in the model:

Ts = Ms x Ps x Is

where Ts= Strength of the motivation to get success, Ms = Motive or need to achieve success, Ps = Probability of success and Is = Incentives value of success.

Tf=Mf x Pf X If

Meanwhile, the probability of failure is expressed in the following model:

Tf=Mf x Pf X If

where Tf = strength of motivation to avoid failure, Mf = motive to avoid failure, Pf = probability of failure, and If = Incentive value of failure.

The engagement in an activity, according to Raaij and Wandwossen (1978), is determined by the action’s desired goal. The desired goal depends on the comparison between Ts and Tf. The higher the difference between Tf and Ts, the higher is the individual tendency to engage (Ta) in an activity. The mathematical expression for this premise is as follow:

Ta = Ts-Tf

In Raaij and Wandwossen (1978), approach and avoidance motivation is related to two different poles of attitude. ‘Ta’ can be seen as the magnitude of the attitude, where its valence (positive or negative) produced by what Schiffman and Kanuk (2009) modeled as compensatory. Therefore, Ta will be positive if Ts (the strength of approach motivation) higher than Tf (the strength of avoidance motivation) and vice versa.

Eliot (1999) noted that approach and avoidance motivation determine behavior differently. In approach motivation, the behavior is directed to get a positive event or possibility, whereas, in avoidance motivation, the behavior is directed to avoid adverse events. In other words, based on Eliot, Sheldon, and Church (1997), Eliot (1999) stated that approach and avoidance performance goals produce divergent outcomes and processes. As a consequence of this point of view, each individual should be treated exclusively independent as she or he is motivated by approach or avoidance motives (To be Continued).

Posted in My Insights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.