Incentive Theories

These theories stress human beings€™ ability to anticipate a vast number of circumstances, which have a direct correlation to the behaviours they exhibit, and the drives that motivate particular action. It is a generally accepted principle that €œdrives push and incentives pull€; both complement each other by giving a motivational explanation of human behaviours. The theories have further evolved to a relationship of incentives and the conditions of reinforcement on behaviour. It is general knowledge that most individuals, employees, and students perform better in their respective environments when rewarded with something they value. While rewards of value are significant motivators of performance, the actual work or study environments play a substantial role in improving the behavioural outcome of that performance.

Suggestions have also been put forth that a major contributor to the ensuing behaviours is the expectation of the reward, which heightens such things as competition, satisfaction and recognition for a job well done. A simple example is the student who works harder in school because of the expected rewards. These rewards range from grades, to acceptance as being intelligent, capable and responsible. At a higher level, these expectations can bring about scholarships, a nomination as class valedictorian and similar forms of recognition.

On a broader scope, we are also motivated to carry out certain behaviours that produce good feelings. Whenever stimuli are present which produce feelings of excitement, we are more inclined to participate in these activities. While incentive theories do not answer all of the other questions on motivation, they do provide some insights to the varying differences that emerge when we are faced with differing sets of circumstances. These circumstances elicit different types of behavioural responses. A teacher who is aware of the value of incentives will use this knowledge and exercise good judgement in determining which form of incentive is appropriate, to produce the required behaviour from students.