Process Theories of Motivation | How to stay motivated in life

Motivation is the desire or the will within the person that pushes them to perform any task. This driving force allows human beings to move forward or perform even the smallest task of getting up and out of bed. Without this force, a person would not take any measure. 

Motivation stems from the degree of advantage a particular act offers the person. The reward offered by an act ultimately becomes the factor that pushes the individual to perform a certain deed. The following process theories of motivation can be applied in your life to increase your motivation in different areas of life. 

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

The expectancy theory states that a person is motivated by the expectation of the award, what the award offers, and the value the reward holds for the individual. His theory comprises three components: expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. 

For a person to be motivated to perform any task, all of the three components must be present. 


Expectancy is a belief that engagement in a certain task will result in a positive outcome. For instance, a student wants to go abroad for higher education via a student exchange program. For this person, the expectancy would be that hard work and excelling the examinations would allow them to get the required GPA that would make them a contender for the program.


Instrumentality is the perception that a successful outcome would provide a reward. Taking the previous example, the instrumentality would be the belief that attaining a higher GPA, via hard work, would land them a position in the student exchange program. Hence, the reward would be to go abroad. 


Valence is the value of the reward for the individual. Valence can vary for individual to individual. Moving forward with the same example, a person’s valence for this can be the value of studying abroad. 

Vroom’s expectancy theory only functions when all three elements are presented together. However, this theory may not have the same results for two individuals with different interests. For example, another student may not work hard for the exchange program as studying abroad may not be considered valuable for them. 

Equity theory

The equity theory states that a person expects an outcome based on their input. A person wants a reward that is equivalent to the efforts they place into it. For instance, if a person puts in extra hours at work, it’s solely because they are motivated by the thought of getting a monetary reward for that effort. 

Hence, if a person hires a do my essay service of a higher cost, according to the equity theory, they would expect a return that is of equal calibre to the amount they have invested.

Reinforcement Theory 

The reinforcement theory believes that people are motivated by the rewards given to them. It relies on four methods to increase or decrease the frequency of behaviour: 

Positive reinforcement 

Positive reinforcement aims to strengthen one’s behaviour. This technique motivates a person by rewarding them with a pleasant stimulus. For instance, you can motivate yourself to study by rewarding yourself with chocolate after completing one chapter. 

Negative reinforcement

Negative reinforcement also strengthens behaviours. This can motivate the individual by removing an unpleasant or adverse stimulus. For instance, you can motivate yourself to study by telling yourself that you do not have to do your chores if you attain the day’s study goals.

Positive punishment

Positive punishment is a technique used to weaken behaviour. Positive punishment is used by adding an unpleasant stimulus.  For instance, you can make yourself do ten push-ups every time you procrastinate. 

Negative punishment 

Negative punishment also weakens the behaviour. This works by removing a pleasant stimulus. For example, you can prevent yourself from watching Netflix if you procrastinate.