According to Lavoie, there are eight forces that motivate us. Now although we are all motivated in some way by all of them, the extent to which we are motivated by each one of these creates a “motivation profile” that becomes unique to each one of us. Using this profile helps us understand our own children and the children we teach.
The descriptions given below are relatively brief. I highly recommend that you read Lavoie’s book to gain deeper insight into his motivational breakthrough.
The motivational forces are:
Gregariousness, Autonomy, Status, Inquisitiveness, Aggression, Power, Recognition and Affiliation.
Lavoie recommends that you give yourself a profile rating out of 10 for each one as you read about them. Give it a go, or think about your own child as you go along…
This person loves being in a crowd. He is the joiner…the person who does not enjoy independent, solitary projects.
Gregariousness can manifest itself positively (popularity, friendliness) or negatively (joining gangs, challenging authority).
This person’s self-esteem is very dependent on the opinions of others. He is eager to please and worries about upsetting other people.
The autonomous person thrives on working independently… kind of the opposite to the person motivated by gregariousness. The person motivated by autonomy is inspired to work on solitary projects and making decisions -and then making those decisions work.
This person is motivated by the need to learn and know – and this need is not limited to his own area of expertise.
Although it sounds like it, a person’s need for aggression is not necessarily negative or disruptive. Aggression may be used in a positive way…these are the people who are willing to confront injustice and unfairness and may do so in appropriate ways such as debating, political activism, etc.
This person is motivated by control and influence and he will relish responsibility and authority.
People who are motivated by this force thrive on a genuine need to be acknowledged for their accomplishments and efforts.
This person is motivated by a strong desire to be connected with organizations, institutions and movements…and he gathers strengths from his affiliations.
Now, if each of us had to rate ourselves out of 10 for how strongly we respond to each motivator, there would be an infinite number of variables. The chance that your own child or the children in your class have the same motivational profile as you is minimal. If I look at each member of my family, we all carry a different motivational profile,bearing in mind that these profiles, especially for children, are subject to change over time. What motivates Junior Son now, at age 7, is not going to necessarily motivate him in 5 years time. I know now that I am motivated by autonomy and status. I love working independently, but I need to know that others think I am doing okay. (I never referred to it as “status” before…who knew? I wish I wasn’t dependent on the opinions of others, but it turns out that I am and I suppose that is what has motivated me to work so hard…)
The implications of different profiles is huge. If our motivational profiles vary to such extremes, then, as Lavoie says, “Why do we, as adults, try and motivate children by applying the forces that motivate us?”
Think about it. How often have you tried to motivate your own children using some trick or strategy that you think would be perfect for you? Has that star chart failed?
In hindsight, I can think very specifically of an independent project I created for a child a while back. It was focused on her strength and affinity. It failed to inspire her and now I know why. The child was motivated by gregariousness and affiliation. Giving her an independent project was obviously not the right solution – giving her a team to work with would have been far more successful in motivating her.
Once we are able to identify each child’s motivational type, then we are able to pinpoint how to motivate that child in our school or home environment. As a teacher and a parent, I am sure you have needed to motivate a child, for whatever reason, at some point.
Lavoie speaks of the six P’s that motivate our children and how they fit into these categories.
You will be able to read about them in Part 2 … watch this space.