Content and Process Theories of Motivation

This article includes the following key phrases: Content and Process Theories of Motivation. The List of Content and Process Theories of Motivational With Examples.  Difference Between Content and Process Theories of Motivation in Psychology and Organizational Behavior.

Content and Process Theories of Motivation

Content and process theories of motivation refer to the two different types of frameworks that explain what factors and how factors motivate individuals to keep working in personal and organizational contexts. Indeed, these theories discuss which factors influence humans to improve job performance and how they continuously keep motivated. The content and process theories are the most common and famous models to motivate employees to receive better outcomes.

Content theories are those researchers that explain what factors are behind people’s or employees’s motivation to continuous performance in the workplace.

In contrast, process theories refer to the frameworks that are designed to explain how factors work behind people’s or employees’s motivation for continuous performance in the workplace.

Types of Motivation Theories

The content and process theories are categories of motivational models such as Maslow’s needs theory, McGregor’s theory X and Y, Equity theory, Expectancy theory and so more. These are the most common classifications of motivational theory in psychology and organizational behavior.

Difference Between Content and Process Theories of Motivation

Content Theories of Motivation

Content theories of motivation are designed to represent the external and internal factors including needs, aspirations, and satisfactions that influence humans to keep working in personal, social, and organizational life. So in an organizational context, content theory focuses on employees’ needs and gratification that encourages them to perform in the workplace.

Content theories find the answers to the question “What factors drive human behavior”. Content theory assumes people have a set of needs that they are intended to achieve.

Example of Content Theories of Motivation

The examples of content theories of motivation are:

  1. Maslow’s Need Hierarchy (Abraham Maslow-1943)
  2. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y (Douglas McGregor-1957)
  3. Herzberg’s Motivator–Hygiene Theory (Frederick Herzberg – 1959)
  4. McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory (David McClelland- 1961)
  5. Alderfer’s ERG Theory of Motivation (Clayton Alderfer- 1972)
  6. Self-Determination Theory (Deci and Ryan-1985)

Process Theories of Motivation

The process theory explains how factors motivate people to achieve goals or stop them from trying to achieve the targets. These theories are frameworks that explore the process of motivation. Process theories of motivation are designed to explain how people’s behavior is directed and organized, sustained, or adjourned.

Process theories are set to seek the answers to the question “How factors direct individual behavior”. Theory assumes people have independent and interdependent goals; therefore, they design a concise way to achieve them. It explains the way or process of how they get motivated compared to the factors that inspire them.

Example of Process Theories of Motivation

The examples of Process theories of motivation are:

  1. Equity Theory (Adam-1963)
  2. Expectancy Theory (Victor Vroom- 1964)
  3. Goal Setting Theory (1968)
  4. Justice Theory (1971)

Content Theories of Motivation

1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory

American psychologist Abraham Maslow developed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory in 1943 in his paper named “A Theory of Human Motivation:  The five needs of Maslow’s hierarchy theory are Physiological needs, Safety needs, Love and belongingness needs, Esteem needs, and Self-actualization needs. The first four needs are deficiency needs (D-needs), and the top level is growth or being needs (B-needs).

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation
2. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

American Psychologist Douglas McGregor proposed the prominent theory X and theory Y In 1957 in the book titled “The Human Side of Enterprise”.   Theory X and Theory Y refer to two different styles of management in an organization and employees’ characteristics differ from one another. The employees and managers hold different types of organizational behaviors and traits.

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y and Maslow Hierarchy Needs of Theory

Theory X Management

Theory X management believes that the average employee in the organization is lazy and doesn’t like to take workloads.

These employees have little skills, experience, and ambitions; hence, managers need to force them to work regularly. They come to the office late and try to leave the workplace early. The employees in theory X management procrastinate in submitting reports and dislike assisting coworkers to complete the task on time. Employees, always find a way to avoid complex tasks to do. However, they are focused on lower-level needs like salary, financial security, and punishment.

Therefore, the strategy of theory, X management is controlling and output driving approach.

Theory Y Management

Theory Y management assumes that the average employee in the organization prefers to work spontaneously. Employees like to work without being asked and take workloads when the organization demands it. They earn gratification from assigned tasks and responsibility. Employees are responsible and helpful to each other. They are focused on high-level needs including recognition, achievements, and honors from coworkers and organizations.

The management strategy of theory Y enhances empowerment and a trust-driven approach.

Difference Between Theory X and Y Employees
Employees of Theory X
  • Employees hold pessimistic views with little optimism toward organizations.
  • They dislike work; therefore managers must monitor them.
  • Employees can only be motivated by money and punishments.
Employees of Theory Y
  • Employees hold an optimistic set of assumptions in the organizations.
  • They are self-engaged, committed, responsible, and creative.
  •  Recognitions, achievements, and honors can motivate employees to improve job performance.
3. Herzberg’s Two Factor Motivator–Hygiene Theory (1959)

Frederick Herzberg proposed the two-factor theory of motivation in 1959. Job satisfaction and dissatisfaction arise from two different sets of factors such as motivation and hygiene. Based on Maslow’s pyramid of needs theory published in 1943, Frederick Herzberg theorized this framework by adding Motivation-hygiene factors that motivate employees.

The motivating factors increase employees’ job satisfaction whereas hygiene factors prevent employees from being dissatisfied. The hygiene factors transform employees’ state of dissatisfaction into no satisfaction (neutral position) while in contrast, motivator factors make employees’ state of no satisfaction into satisfaction.

Elements of the Two-Factor Theory of Motivation are:
  1. Motivation (Intrinsic Factors)
  2. Hygiene (Extrinsic Factors)
Motivation (Intrinsic Factors)

Motivation includes intrinsic factors that boost job satisfaction among employees in the organization. The motivational factors include recognition, challenging tasks, achievements, Power, responsibilities, affiliation, relatedness, and opportunities. These intrinsic factors make employees feel an influential sense of decision-making in the organization. This continuous motivation arises from the job itself. Motivation may drive a person to move from a state of no satisfaction to satisfaction.

Hygiene (Extrinsic factors)

In contrast, Hygiene comprises extrinsic factors that prevent employees from being dissatisfied. The hygiene (extrinsic) factors are lower-level needs such as salary, job security, status, work environments, policy, and legal compliance.  The presence of Hygiene factors may influence an employee to move from a state of dissatisfaction to no dissatisfaction. 

How To Use Two-Factor Theory in Organization

The top managers and senior employees ensure hygiene factors such as work environments to prevent employees from being dissatisfied and enhance the motivator factors such as recognition to improve job satisfaction.

4. McClelland’s Theory of Needs (1961)

In 1961, David McClelland developed the Need Theory explaining three factors that motivate people in organizations. He proposed the Acquired- Needs Theory in his book ‘The Achieving Society’.

Apart from Maslow’s hierarchy of five needs (Physiological needs, Safety needs, Love and belongingness needs, Esteem needs, and Self-actualization), McClelland proposed three additional needs (needs for achievement, affiliation, and power) that inspire employees to work in the organization. Therefore, the three needs theory is a content theory; because it explores three more motivational factors in organizational behavior.

David McClelland’s Three Needs are:

  1. Needs For Achievement (n-Ach)
  • Prefers working on challenges.
  • Best in situations in which performance is due to effort and ability.
  • Prefers to work with other high achievers
  1. Needs For Affiliation (n-Aff)
  • Likes to work in teams with cooperation and collegiality.
  • Tends to avoid conflict.
  • Likes to achieve complimentary in private.
  1. Needs For Power (n-Pow)
  • Likes to be in charge.
  • Likes to be in control of people and events.
  • Appreciates being recognized.
5. Alderfer’s ERG Theory of Motivation (1972)

Clayton Alderfer proposed the ERG theory of motivation in 1972 by extending Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Alderfer argued that human needs are divided into three categories instead of the five categories proposed by Abraham Maslow.

According to Alderfer(1972), the three needs factors of human motivation are Existence, Relatedness, and Growth. The motivation factor existence contains physiological needs including food, water, shelter, sex, air, clothes, and physical and mental safety. The organization meets these needs with salary, incentives, job security, and good working conditions ensuring hygiene factors. 

The need factor relatedness includes love, belongings, respect, mental and physical support, and communication engagement. The organization can ensure relatedness among employees by improving interpersonal communication.

The final factor of the ERG theory of motivation is growth which enhances personal and group achievement. 

6. Self-Determination Theory (1985)

Deci and Ryan proposed the self-determination theory in 1985 in a book named “Intrinsic Motivation and Self-determination in human behavior”. It is known as SDT in human and organizational behaviors. Self-determination theory assumes that three innate needs influence an employee’s behavior and well-being. This theory argues that competence, autonomy, and relatedness are the most powerful factors behind employee motivation to enhance performance, continuous and creativity.

The Three Motivational Factors of Self-Determination Theory are:
  1. Competence
  2. Autonomy
  3. Relatedness.

Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness are intrinsic motivations or needs that inspire employees to work continuously. Therefore, self-determination theory (SDT) is a content theory of motivation.

How To Use  Self-Determination Theory in Organization

Managers should influence behavior by creating work environments that support each need.

  • Firstly, the management needs to provide tangible resources, time, contacts, and coaching to improve employees’ competence.
  • Secondly, the organization has to focus on empowering employees and delegating meaningful assignments and tasks to enhance feelings of autonomy.
  • Finally, the senior employees have to make fun and companionship to foster relatedness.
 Lower-level and higher-level Needs of Content Theories of Motivation

Process Theories of Motivation

  1. Equity Theory (Adam-1963)
  2. Expectancy Theory (Victor Vroom- 1964)
  3. Goal Setting Theory (1968)
  4. Justice Theory (1971)
1. Adam’s Equity Theory (1963)

John Stacey Adams proposed equity theory in 1963 to explain how individuals strive for fairness and justice in an organizational context. Adam’s equity theory explains the process of motivation; therefore it is process theory. Equity theory determines the resources provided by organizations for employees and the outcome ratio received from them. It is a give-and-take relationship like reciprocity.

According to Adams’ Equity Theory (1963), a fair balance between employees’ input and output factors motivates employees to enhance productivity. A strong and positive relationship between employees and organizations yields better outcomes.

The input factors of equity theory comprise employees’ dedication, hard work, efforts, skill, experience, enthusiasm, and so more.

The output elements of equity include salary, respect, acknowledgment, recognition, and more.

Adams' Equity Theory
Adams’ Equity Theory


The model is based on our evaluation and comparison of outputs and inputs with relevant others.

2. Vroom Expectancy Theory (1964)

Victor H. Vroom proposed the expectancy theory of motivation in 1964 with three elements expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. It is a process theory of motivation that demonstrates the process of motivation. People are motivated to behave in ways that produce desired combinations of expected outcomes.

Vroom Expectancy Theory

The Elements of Expectancy Theory are:
  1. Expectancy
  2. Instrumentality
  3. Valence
Expectancy (Efforts)

The expectancy factor of Vroom expectancy theory refers to the employees’ anticipation that if they make efforts to complete the job, they will achieve performance goals.  For example, the employee has to sell 100 phones to achieve the monthly product selling goal. To achieve the monthly goal set by the company, employees continuously keep trying.

Expectancy finds the answers to the question “Can I achieve my target if I work hard?”

Instrumentality (Performance)

Instrumentality is the employees’ belief that they will receive the expected outcome if their performance meets the demands. For example, the employee will get rewards if they achieve the target. The expected outcome might come with a salary increment, promotion, and recognition.

Expectancy sees the answers to the question “Will I get rewards if I can achieve the target?”

Valence (Outcome)

Valence refers to the perceived value of received rewards from the organization.

Expectancy sees the answers to the question “Will I become happy if I get the particular reward?”

Vroom Expectancy Theory Organizational ImplicationVroom Expectancy Theory Organizational Implication
The Use of Expectancy Theory To Evaluate How Does Pay Influence Individual Employees?
  • Expectancy theory emphasizes expected rewards.
  • Compensation mainly influences instrumentality.

Extrinsic Motivation:

  • Depends on rewards (such as pay and benefits) controlled by external sources.

Intrinsic Motivation:

  • Depends on rewards that flow naturally from work itself.
  • Extrinsic incentives generally do not harm intrinsic motivation.
3. Goal Setting Theory (1968)

In 1968, Professor Edwin Locke proposed the goal-setting theory explaining that clear goals and feedback are crucial to employee motivation. This theory has been well accepted by the economic and organizational sectors to determine the human motivation process.

In 1990, Edwin Locke and Gary Latham extended the goal-setting theory articulating five principles of goal-setting in organizations.

According to Locke and Latham’s goal-setting theory published in 1990, the five principles that inspire employees are:

  1. Clarity
  2. Challenge
  3. Commitment
  4. Feedback
  5. Task complexity

Certain conditions are necessary for goal setting to work.

  • People must have the ability and resources.
  • People need to be committed to the goal.

Performance feedback and participation in deciding how to achieve goals are necessary but not sufficient. Goal achievement leads to job satisfaction.

Mechanisms Behind the Power of Goal Setting

  1. Goals regulate effort.
  2. Goals direct attention.
  3. Goals increase persistence.
  4. Goals foster task strategies and action plans.
4. Justice Theory (1971)

The American Philosopher John Rawls proposed the Justice Theory in 1971. Organizational justice refers to the extent to which people perceive that they are treated fairly at work. Three types of justice: 1. Distributive Justice. 2. Procedural Justice. 3. Interactional Justice.

Using Equity and Justice Theories

  • Employee perceptions
  • Employees want a voice in decisions that affect them.
  • Employees should have an appeals process.
  • Leader behavior
  • A climate for justice makes a difference.
Adams, J. S. (1963). Towards an understanding of inequity. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67(5), 422–436.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of research in personality19(2), 109-134.

Locke, E. A. (1968), Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives, Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 3(2): 157-189

Locke, E.A. and Latham, G. P. (1990), A theory of goal setting and task performance, Prentice Hall College

Locke, E.A. and Latham, G. P. (2013), New developments in goal setting and task performance, Routledge

Inverted Pyramid Style of News Writing Examples With Pros & Cons

Inverted Pyramid Style of News Writing Examples. Inverted Pyramid Journalism. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Inverted Pyramid.

Inverted Pyramid Style

Inverted Pyramid Style refers to the hierarchical structure of news writing in which essential information is presented before the non-essential info in the news story. According to the Inverted pyramid style, the most essential info goes to the top, following the less important information. Many readers read only the main point of the news mentioned in the news lead section.

The mass media journalist comprehensively follows an inverted pyramid style to write a news story. It assists writers in illustrating the most crucial information on top of the news. This style prioritizes newsworthy information to write a news article, telegraph, blogs, editorial-column, and sometimes feature articles in journalism. It is one of the most effective strategies to grab readers’ attention to read the whole story.  Sometimes, authors follow the inverted pyramid formula to review journal articles in analyzing the findings and accuracy of the study. However, researchers identify both advantages and disadvantages of the inverted pyramid style.

Inverted Pyramid History

The inverted pyramid style has been used since the invention of the telegraph in 1844. Samuel F. B. Morse invented the telegraph in 1840. However, the written message was sent for long-distance interaction in 1844. People followed the inverted pyramid style to send breaking news through telegraph to inform others. They put essential info on top, following the non-essential information. Nowadays, journalists follow this inverted triangle style to report stories in the different types of journalism, including print, broadcast, and digital.Inverted Pyramid Style

The inverted pyramid describes a triangle diagram pointing down feature, which is an inverted triangle writing style. The broader part of the pyramid goes top, and the narrow section goes down. It indicates that the essential news goes up to catch the reader’s attention.

Inverted Pyramid Model

The inverted pyramid framework contains three segments: the lead: the most newsworthy information; the body: essential details; and the tail: background info.

1. The Lead: Most Newsworthy Information

The Lead includes the most newsworthy information, followed by the 5w and 1h of report writing style. The journalist should answer the six questions (who,  what, where, when, why, and how) to report the story. This information attracts the audience to read the entire story; hence, the writer keeps the most newsworthy words on the top of the news. The Lead segment includes around 30 words and 1-2 paragraphs. A good news lead must enclose 5w’s and 1h report writing formula. The readers can stop reading at any time; therefore, journalists put an essential fact on top of the report.

2. The Body: Essential Details

The body represents the detailed information to expand the story. It also extends the news lead to provide more background details. The main issue is illustrated in this section. It is a broader part of the report where details info is explained. The body explains the issue elaborately; therefore, it is a long paragraph.

3. The Tail: Background Info

The tail is the last part of the news report. It includes background and additional information to the story for readers. The background information keeps readers engaged with the news for a long time. The editor cuts unnecessary info from the news bottom.

In journalism, the inverted pyramid style is a strategic story structure where the most important details are presented first. The report’s 5w and 1 h questions appear at the story’s beginning, followed by supporting details and background information.

Inverted Pyramid Style of News Writing Examples

This example of an inverted pyramid style of news writing presents how to write a news article concisely including the lead, body, and tail. This example also includes a heading, byline, news lead, and conclusion. It is a news writing example for students based on an inverted pyramid framework.

A Colorful Celebration of Malaysia’s National Day
By: M M Kobiruzzaman

UPDATED AUGUST 31, 2022, 12:13 AM

The Lead: Most Essential Info

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s 65 National Day parade brought a massive crowd to Dataran Merdeka, Independence Square, located in Kuala Lumpur’s capital.  Around 100,000 visitors participated in the celebration on Wednesday (Aug 31) after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa expressed that we are surprised to see overwhelming civilian participation in the celebration. He also mentioned that around 20,000 participants joined the parades to run the show smoothly.

The Body: Details and Essential Info

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob participated in the ‘Ambang Merdeka 2022’ program at Anjung Floria with family members to celebrate the 65th National Day. The Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Shahidan Kassim, Deputy Datuk Seri Jalaluddin Alias, Senior Education Minister Datuk Dr. Radzi Jidin, and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Wee Ka Siong also joined the program held present 4. At midnight, the national anthem ”Tanggal 31 Ogos”and patriotic songs reverberated through the Dataran Merdeka ground—the civilians shouted to usher the occasion cheerfully.

The 31 August is the official Independence Day in Malaysia, also known as Hari Merdeka. People celebrate this day with respect and joy to commemorate the Declaration of Independence on 31 August 1957. After two years, people celebrate Malaysia’s 65th National Day, full of patriotic spirit and amusement.

The most fantastic event was displaying fireworks for five minutes that lit up the Kuala Lumpur sky. The program has been blessed by the clear weather influencing people from all walks of life to cheer the crowd.

Earlier, many famous local artists such as Ella, Haqiem Rusli, Man Bai, and Ameng Spring performed to treat the crowd. The most local point in Kuala Lumpur, including KLCC and Botanical Gardens, was flooded with thousands of people to commemorate National Day.

The Tail: Additional Info

However, the gathering of thousands of people caused heavy traffic surrounding the area of KLCC. Kuala Lumpur police managed to control heavy traffic and ensured participants’ safety and security.

Inverted Pyramid Style of News Writing Example For Students
Advantages and Disadvantages of Inverted Pyramid Style of News Writing

The inverted pyramid is used chiefly globally in traditional print journalism frameworks for news writing. It organizes the news story chronologically and presents the news’s main point in the first paragraph, including facts and evidence. The inverted pyramid style of news writing has advantages and disadvantages in news writing.

Advantages of the Inverted Pyramid News Writing Style
Facilitates Editor

The editors can modify the headline easily if it is necessary. The headline should be based on the main point of the story. Hence, the editor can rewrite the headline based on the news lead, and they do not need the whole report. Sometimes, editors cut unnecessary info from the news tail. The inverted pyramid style assists them in modifying news quickly.

Improve Writer Performance

The inverted pyramid style improves the author’s news writing performance. It shows them a chronological way to publish news easily. This model applies to all types of news writing, so authors follow the same structure regularly. It certainly saves time to write and deliver news content.

Improve Reader’s Comprehension

The reader can easily understand the whole topic while reading the news lead. The inverted pyramid suggests following the 5w and one h writing style, making the feature more attractive to readers.

Represent the Fact

The inverted pyramid news writing style represents the story’s facts in chronological sequence. It assists the author in identifying the uninteresting factors and separating them accordingly.

Save Time

The reader can understand the entire news story by reading the news lead so they can decide whether to read it. They can avoid the news if the story is not essential or relevant. So it does not tire the readers.

Improve News Values

The inverted pyramid journalism certainly improves newsworthiness and news values. This model is applicable to all types of journalism, including Personal influence, Controversy, Suitability, Impact, and Bizarre.

Increase Revenue

The inverted pyramid news style encourages readers to narrow down to read the conclusion. The audiences spend more time online on news portals; therefore, it increases revenue.

Disadvantages of the Inverted Pyramid News Writing Style

The inverted pyramid style represents the main ideas on the top of the news; therefore, many light readers read the headline and lead and leave it. It cannot hold the audience on the same report for long.  Hence, the most significant cons of the inverted pyramid style are that it provides the primary information o  top and releases the audience.

No Suspense

This model does not influence to make suspense, but many readers find uncertainty in news stories. It demotivates readers from reading the news due to the suspense.

No Creativity

The writers can follow the same style to write all types of news. So, there is less opportunity to emphasize the author’s creativity. It does not influence writers to implement creativity.


It can tell the readers that reports are generated in the same formula. A backward style gives more value to the structure rather than facts.

No Beginning

The story has no beginning or end. It focuses on the basic rules of the inverted pyramid style while writing news rather than the beginning point of the story. It demotivates journalists to write the story from the beginning point.

In conclusion, despite the advantages and disadvantages of the inverted pyramid style of news writing, most journalists, directly and indirectly, utilize the inverted pyramid style for report writing. Also, blogger follows this strategy to write creative, educational, and feature articles.