Motivating Forces Part 1

Richard Lavoie

A few weeks ago, I posted about Rick Lavoie’s Myths About Motivation.  This post is a continuation on the theme of motivation, as inspired by Lavoie’s new book.

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.

This entry was posted in Inspiration, Kids, Parenting Tips, Teaching Ideas. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Motivating Forces Part 1

  1. Relevant and excellent. So obvious yet…
    For the Golfer – “recognition” of his brilliant Dad skills – should be just the ticket to motivate him to give me two hours mumtime on the weekend!
    On a serious note, perfect advice for limiting conflict with Master B who has ADHD. Always seeking to learn new strategies. x

  2. Peggy says:

    Funny – never realised before that I was motivated by status either. Well hear I am. Not so sure I would have called it status though. Maybe “approval” is a better name?

  3. Princess Frog says:

    interesting – looking forward to reading about the P’s

  4. Sue says:

    I’ve just realised how diff my three kids really are. i mean i know they are different but i suppose they are diff in their motivation too. spose i should buy the book.

  5. Nancy L says:

    Very interesting. I’m not sure where I fit exactly. I’m a mix of two of them.
    I’m a new follower from the blog hop! Great blog!
    Hope you’ll hop by and visit my blog too!
    Have a great rest of the week!

  6. Shana says:

    Hi! Just stopping by. Following you from Thursday Cup of Joe Blog Hop. Would love a visit and a follow back on my blog: Thanks! Nice to meet you!

  7. Roechelle says:

    I’m your newest hop follower, check me out at whenever you can

  8. Alicia says:

    Very interesting. I guess I’ve never given much thought to what motivates me. After reading through them, I’m still not sure! lol
    Thanks for following me, I’m sure the “40” thing will give us lots to talk about…reading glasses, chin hair, etc. hehehe

  9. Valerie says:

    I am a new fan from the hop. Please visit my blog at My-2-Cents
    Thank you and have a blessed weekend.

  10. Thanks for stopping by! Returning the follow!

  11. Jen says:

    Following back. Great article!


  12. Cathy Turner says:

    Thank you for this great post! I am late reading it, having read Part 2 first – also a great post! I agree with you that we change in what motivates us – I know I certainly have. Does Lavole discuss what causes us to change – is it maturing, life circumstances, a choice we make.?

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