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Content Theories and Process Theories

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Human performance and behavior are usually influenced by various factors. At the same time, those factors can motivate and affect the performance of each person. There exist various motivation theories that are the subject of different findings’ criticism. They also have some contradiction with the original theories. This essay is an attempt to present the differences between content theories and process theories from the point of view of their relation to validity and reliability.

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In order to predict humans’ behavior in various situations, it is important to understand people’s feelings and the way of thinking. Moreover, it is important to get their motivation, why they behave differently depending on corresponding situations, and why different people behave differently being in the same situations as well. Thus, two types of motivation theories are to be examined: content and process theories.

Content theories are about the attempts to explain specific things that motivate humans in various life situations. In this case, the identification of people’s strengths and needs take place looking at what exactly can motivate any person. At the same time, process theory is about the attempts to identify relationships between particular variables that make up the initiation and sustaining of the motivation, looking at that motivation process itself.

Content theories of motivation include: 1) Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory; 2) Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory; 3) McClelland’s achievement motivation theory, and 4) Alderfer’s modified need hierarchy model. At the same time, process theories are as follows: 1) Goal Setting Theory; 2) Vroom’s Expectancy Theory; 3) Adam’s Equity Theory, and 4) Poter’s Performance Satisfaction Model (Oviat & McDougall, 1997).

The most famous and frequently applied among those theories is the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model, which examines humans’ motivation and individual development. Moreover, it explores how people want to have more compared to what they already have. Maslow’s hierarchy consists of the following levels: physiological needs (thirst, hunger, sleep and other need for satisfaction), safety, social, esteem and self-actualization needs.

Frequently, when statistical consultants deal with the researchers from the social science sphere, they need to encounter reliability and validity. In this case, the quantification of intangible and often abstract constructs is meant and, thus, we deal with the theory of informing organizational practice. Any scientific concept has certain operational definition that is guided by the theory. 

If the concept is involved in the hypothesis testing to support certain theory, it needs to be measured. Thus, reliability and validity are those two important features of behavioral measure that are psychometric properties with validity as the extent, to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure, whereas reliability is that degree, to which a test can measure whatever it measures (Gay, 1987). 

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The best example of a content theory can be observed at workplaces in the former Soviet states, and can be directly applied of the Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory. As those countries are less economically progressed, the physiological needs of the citizens prevail over the self–actualization, especially when we consider state companies. International companies are more involved in the globalization process, which has a positive influence on the former Soviet states representatives, whereas state-owned companies are less likely to provide the opportunities for their employees to satisfy their self-actualization needs. Thus, it is very important to know how to motivate the people to achieve faster company development and overreach positive results.

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