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Fakulti Pendidikan dan Pembangunan Manusia

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI)

KPP6044: Motivasi dan Efikasi Kendiri

Lecturer: Dr. Velayudhan A/L P.K. Veeran

Assignment 1: Motivation Theory

(McClellands Human Motivation Theory)

Nama: Rozana Binti Reduan

Title Page


1.1 Introduction of McClellands Human

Motivation Theory

2.1 Review of Literature

3.1 Strength and Weakness of McClellans Human

Motivation Theory


4.1 How the McClellands Human Motivation

Theory Motivate Students?


5.1 Suggestion


6.1 References


1.1 Introduction of McClelland Human Motivation Theory

David McClelland was an American psychologist who created a theory in year 1980s that
attempts to explain how the needs for achievement, power and affiliation affect the human
motivation and the actions of people. The McClelland Human Motivation Theory also
referred as the three social motives or Acquired Need Theory. According to McClelland
(1987), everyone is more strongly motivated by some needs and less strongly by other needs.
He also stated that everyone has all three of these motives but simply with a different relative
degree and the result of the needs is a unique mix that gives one its personality. Besides that,
he found that 80 percent of daily mental activity or cognition process could be related to these
three social motives (McClelland, 1987).

Figure 1.1 McClelland Human Motivation Theory

(Hedberg et al., 2002)

The Three Social Motives (McClelland, 1987) are described as:

a) Need for Achievement
Daft (2008) stated the need of Achievement is the desire to accomplish something
difficult, master complex tasks, attain a high standard of success and surpass others.
Therefore, the individual that seeks for the need of achievement will known as the one
who willing to challenge goals and realistic. McClelland, Atkinson, Clark and Lowell
(1958) defined the need for Achievement as success in any competition with some
standard of excellence. In this definition, the researchers describe that the individual
who willing to take the risk in order to achieve the goals may fail in any situation, but
the commitment and concentration on that will become satisfaction to them. In order
to be successful in terms of competition with some standard of excellence, the goal of
some individual is the commitment on achieving the goal. Besides that, the
competition with a standard of excellence was not notable when an individual was in
direct competition with someone else but that it can also be evident in the concern for
how well one individual perform a task, regardless of how someone else doing
(McClelland et al., 1958).
b) Need for Power
Lussier and Achua (2007) defined the need for Power as the unconscious concern for
influencing others and seeking positions of authority. It is described as the desire to
cause others to behave in they that would be show by the individual. Daft (2008)
defined the need for Power as the desire to control or influence others, have authority
over others and be responsible for others. The individual also tend to create an
effective performance in order to gain influence over others. Besides that, McClelland
(1961) defined the need for Power as a concern with the control of the means of
influencing a person. In this situation, the individual would like to compete with
others in order to achieve the goal and make every situation in the way of perfection.
c) .Need for Affiliation
Daft (2008) defined the need for Affiliation as the desire to form close personal
relationships, avoid conflict, and establish warm friendship. People with the need of
Affiliation seek social approval, companionship, and satisfying interpersonal
relationships. Besides that, McClelland (1961) stated that affiliation is establishing,
maintaining or restoring a positive affective relationship with another person. In this

aspect, the individual tend to make relationship to others in order to get more
companions in the society. The individual interpersonal skills must be good in the way
they seek for companionship. Lussier and Achua (2007) mentioned that the need for
Affiliation as the desire to form close personal relationships, avoid conflict and
establish warm friendship. The interaction between people makes the enhancement of
the need of Affiliation itself.


Table 1.1 Dominant Motivator

(Boyatzis, 2000)
Characteristics of This Person



Has a strong need to set and accomplish challenging goals.

Takes calculated risks to accomplish their goals.
Likes to receive regular feedback on their progress and
Often likes to work alone.
Wants to belong to the group.
Wants to be liked, and will often go along with whatever
the rest of the group wants to do.
Favours collaboration over competition.
Doesn't like high risk or uncertainty.
Wants to control and influence others.
Likes to win arguments.
Enjoys competition and winning.
Enjoys status and recognition.

In the dominant motivator of Achievement, the characteristic of the individual who

seek for achievement is the one who has strong need to set and accomplish challenging goals.
The individual has the inner motivation which enhances the strength of physical in terms of
stamina. Within this motivation, it would become a factor that leads someone to do anything
that beyond their belief. Besides that, the satisfaction to achieve the goal would make them
better and stronger though the goal is fail to attain. It becomes some inspirations and a way
that guide them to achieve another goal in their life. In other way, the individual also tend to
take risks to accomplish their goals. In this aspect, they are willing to create strategies and
energy in order to make the goals success. They also like to receive regular feedback on their

progress and achievements. The mindset of the dominant motivator of Achievement is

openness to some critics or comments. That would become their guide way to enhance the
quality of their work to achieve the goals. In some cases, they can create a good performance
in any situation because of the multitasking personality that they have in themselves.
Furthermore, the dominant motivator in this need would like work alone rather that in team.
It is because they tend to believe in their own way and strategies rather that receive any
suggestion from other people (Komaki, 2003).
Otherwise, the dominant motivator for Affiliation is the individual who would not like
to take high risk or uncertainty. In this matter, they are only work in the situation that has
sharp mission and vision. The goal must have strategies that lead the dominant motivator to
work hard to get the better result. Besides that, the characteristic of the individual is preferred
to make collaboration over competitive. The collaboration within each other will come out
with different ideas and better strategies rather than work alone with the limit ideas. In this
way, they would perform in a better way because of a better collaboration itself. Moreover,
they wants to be liked, and will go often go along with whatever the teammates wants to do.
Each of the members would like to receive any suggestion to be match in the current ideas so
that it becomes intellectual ideas to solve the problem regarding goal matters. Work in a
group is a good choice for the dominant motivator of Affiliation because they tend to create
the awesome ideas when they collaborate within the teammates as exchange ideas or some
suggestion (Greenberg,1993).
Despite of this, the characteristic for dominant motivator of Power tends to control
and influence others. The performance of the dominant motivator is in the perfect way to
persuade others. Within this, the ideas would become easy to receive by other people and
make them to follow in a way they would not. Besides that, they are like competition and
winning. The cause and effect for this work will enhance the performance because the
motivation will get higher when they compete to others (Kanfer, 1990). The dominant
motivator of Power also enjoys status and recognition. In this concept, the status and
recognition shows their work and achievement. Due to some cases, the characteristic of this is
like to win any arguments. The satisfaction comes in the way they firm their own ideas
because they believe with the strength and reliability of the outcomes.

Figure 1.2 Distribution of Need Behaviors, Typical behaviors associated with motivational
type. (Adapted from Swenson, 2000)

The most essential part of McClellands theory is that different people have different
personalities and therefore different motivation. The role of each individual will change due
to some situation. Besides that, everyone has strengths and weaknesses in different situations
and the tendency is that one guides itself toward situations in which the individual can do the
best and better performance in their life.

2.1 Review of literature of McClellands Human Motivation Theory

Harrel et al., (1981) carried out a research associated with a new approach for measuring
D.C. McClellands trichotomy of needs. The method is based on behavioural decision theory
and involves modelling an individuals decision-making behaviour to determine how the
person weights his/her need for affiliation need for power (nPow), and need for achievement
(nAch) in arriving at decisions. This research involved 161 scientists and engineers, 149 US
Air Force officer graduate students, and 94 management executives. The results found that
the dominant motive for scientist, engineers and graduate students was nAch, whereas nPow
was dominant for management executives. Furthermore, Steers (1976) carried out the
investigation represents an attempt to develop and validate a research instrument (Manifest
Needs Questionnaire) capable of measuring the four needs of achievement, affiliation,
autonomy dominance using behaviourally- based scales. The instrument is designed to
measure such needs with specific reference to work setting and with minimal time
requirements for completion. Results of both laboratory and field studies among 640 subjects
indicate that the instrument exhibit acceptable levels of convergent, discriminant and
predictive validity, as well as reasonably high test-retest reliability and internal consistency.
Apart from that, Covington (2000) reviewed documents regarding the goal theory,
motivation and school achievement in order to understand motivational dynamics of school
achievement. He concluded that the quality of student learning as well as the will to continue
learning depends closely on an interaction between the kinds of social and academic goals
students bring to the classroom, the motivating properties of these goals and prevailing
classroom reward structures. Besides that, Davidson (1989) also carried out research to
identify and estimate the relative impact of some factors that enhance and reduce the
willingness of small business managers to pursue growth. This is done using interview data
from a random sample of more than 400 Swedish small business owner-managers. The
results suggest a positive relation between achievement motivation and growth willingness.
This relation appears to be contingent on an expectation of financial gains from growth. Thus,
in the absence of financial reward, achievement motivation does not enhance growth

Raeisi et al., (2012) made a survey of motivational needs the physical education (P.E)
teachers based on McClellands theory in west Azarbaijan. Data were collected by research
designed 11-item Junkers questionnaire which measures motivational needs based on
McClellands trichtomy of needs (need for achievement, power and affiliation). 241 subjects
(165 males and 76 females) were randomly selected as sample. The results proposed that the
administrative authorities and organizations in responsible should implement appropriate
strategies to support P.E teachers needs according to their motivators, exclusively for their
need for achievement to create conditions to increase advantages their satisfaction and
motivation. Moore, Grabsch and Rotter (2010) carried out a study to examine student motives
for participating in a residential leadership learning community for incoming freshmen using
McClellands Achievement Motivation Theory (McClelland, 1958, 1961). Eighty-nine
students were selected as sample in this study. Results demonstrated that while all three needs
were found within the responses, the need for Achievement and the need for Affiliation were
more common motives for joining the voluntary, residential leadership learning community.
Deci & Ryan (2014) reviewed the documents regarding autonomy and need
satisfaction in close relationships using Relationship Motivation Theory. This review
concluded that need supports predict better functioning, more trust and greater wellness and
mutuality of need supports yields the most positive relationship outcomes. Bipp & Dam
(2014) investigated the role of three basic motivational needs (need for power, affiliation,
achievement) in the title of research extending hierarchical achievement motivation models in
the role of motivational needs for achievement goals and academic performance. This
research involved 120 university students as sample. The results showed that integrate basic
motivational needs with the achievement goals literature and extend therefore hierarchical
achievement motivation models, by showing how basic human motives of achievement,
affiliation and power are related to goal striving motivation and performance outcomes in
academic setting. Besides that, Schuler, Sheldon and Frohlich (2010) carried out research
regarding implicit need for achievement moderates the relationship between competence need
satisfaction and subsequent motivation. They integrated Self-Determination Theory (SDT)
which defines psychological needs as universally essential experiences and motive
disposition theories, which define psychological needs as individually varying non-conscious
motives. The results showed that felt competence more strongly influences subsequent
academic goal motivation for those high in the need for achievement.

Pekrun et al., (2007) carried out the research regarding emotions using the ControlValue Theory of Achievement Emotions. The Control-Value Theory implies that shaping
educational environments in adequate ways can help to change achievement emotions other
than anxiety as well. This research suggest that future research should systematically explore
measures to help both students and teachers to develop adaptive achievement emotions,
prevent maladaptive emotions, and use their emotions in productive and healthy ways
(Pekrun & Schutz, 2007). Steinmayr and Spinath (2009) examined to which extent different
motivational concepts contribute to the prediction of school achievement among adolescent
students independently from intelligence. This study involved 342 which from 11 th and 12th
graders as sample. This study concluded that even when prior achievement was controlled,
some motivational concepts still proved to contribute to the prediction of subsequent
performance. Besides that, Hill (1987) has studied about the Interpersonal Orientation Scale
was developed to focus on four dimensions assumed to underlie affiliation motivation such as
social comparison, emotional support, positive stimulation and attention. Evidence for the
validity of the four dimensions was provided by their correlations with measures of
constructs conceptually related to affiliation motivation and their lack of correlation with
measures conceptually unrelated to affiliation motivation.
According to Spangler (1992), McClelland used a unique method called the Thematic
Apperception Test (TAT) to test the dominant need. Those who have high need for
achievement have a strong need to accomplish the goals. As children, they may be praised for
their hard work, which forms the foundations of their persistence (Mueller & Dweck, 1998).
As they mentioned, praise for intelligence can enhance childrens performance and
motivation. As adults, they are tried to do better than what they did in the past and these
individuals are constantly striving to improve their performance. Campbell (1982) stated that
they relentlessly focus on goals, particularly stretch goals that are challenging in nature.
In conclusion, even there are many research regarding the McClellands Human
Motivation Theory and working situation, the theory also have a lot of benefits on education
as well. It is proved by recent research that implied the need theory to conduct activities in
the class and achieve better learning process. It also has benefits to teachers because the
theory provides guidelines in order to motivate students by instructional guidelines.


3.1 Strength and weaknesses of McClellands Human Motivation Theory.

McClelland proposed that an individuals particular needs are obtained over time as a result
of life experiences (Woot el al. 1976). There are three categories in McClellands acquired
need theory which can be described as need for achievement, need for power and need for
affiliation. The strengths of the McClellands acquired need theory is that it can make the
organization more successful due to division of work in proficient way. This can be showed
that teachers will recognize personality and types of students and give task to them according
their personality. Hence, the theory provides a clear picture for the school for example
because teachers know which type of task is suitable for the students. According to the
article, the authors stated that leaders who have strong power of needs are more successful
than those with lower power of needs (Wagner & Swanson, 1979). In other hand, McClelland
and Burnham identify two types of power leaders are those who seek personal power and
those who seek institutional power (Lyden, 1976). However, leader who seek for institutional
power are more successful as they can create favourable condition at any task. Wagner and
Swanson (1979) attributes the success of higher power needs people to their ability to create a
greater sense of responsibility and team spirit in their group. Therefore, school organization
should provide people with high need for power the opportunity to lead other. Furthermore,
this will give the leader a guideline on how to become a good leader as stated that leader who
seek institutional power are more successful and can work in efficient way.
Apart from that, the strength of McClellands acquired need theory is that it gives an
understanding for the leaders on how to deal with different types of members in group. There
are three general categories in the McClellands acquired need theory which are need for
power, need for achievement and need for affiliation. The leader can actually put the
members to different types of task according to these categories. The theory suggested that
people with high level of achievement are suitable to become salesperson as they prefer
challenging task, whereas people with high need for affiliation are suitable to hold a position
of customer service representative as they are good in maintaining companionship or
interpersonal relationship and people with high need of power are suitable to hold formal
supervisory position as they have influence over other people in the organization (Woot et al.
1976). In this matter, teachers have a significance to recognize the ability of each student and
divide the task according their ability to work on that task.


The weakness of the theory can be described as the leader with high need of affiliation
will always look at fairness when judging because different situation require different types
of decision. A major problem with the leader with high need of affiliation is that due to the
concern of the well being of the members, he is willing to make exceptions to the
organizations rule in responding to his members need in which this action violate one of the
bureaucracys first principles which is fairness (Lyden, 1976). In this matter, the leader
should judge wisely in any situation before gives the decision because it is important to seek
the cause and think about the effect. Besides that, the weaknesses of the McClellands
acquired needs theory is that it gives little purpose in the public sector. As stated by
Jurkiewicz , Massey and Brown (1998), public sector employees are being motivated by job
security and stability, teamwork and worthwhile service to society, while eschewing monetary
rewards, prestige and the desire for challenge and autonomy. In this matter, public sector
employees are only high in the need of affiliation and low in the need of achievement and
power. The employees do not like challenging task because they are very high in the need of
affiliation. This will make difficulty in the organization to create competitive environment at
David McClellands theory is known as better and useful than those of Alderfer and
Maslow (McClelland, 1965). This is because there is much stable evidence to support
McClellands Acquired Need Theory than Alderfers or Maslows. McClelland theory offers a
better description which enabling organizations to proactively encourage behaviour through
both matching motivational and training programs with task situations. However, critics of
McClellands theory state that there are issues with the validity concerning the TAT
projection used to determine the level of individual needs (Redmond, 2009). In this matter,
McClelland theory gives better individual understanding because everyone has their own
ability. It is also helped to divide the task according the individual ability so that the task will
completely smooth in progress. According to Kapp, Smith-Hunter and Yonkers (2003), the
decision to own or manage a business is not directly correlated with the need for achievement
as there are many factors that drive people to become entrepreneurs. In this matter,
McClellands theory is criticized for its lack of predictive power as it relates to
entrepreneurship. Besides that, different in cultures play a significant role in how
achievement is viewed. Some cultures view failures as something that embarrasses for while
other cultures view failure as an experience in life that allows people to become stronger and
grow to take the next challenges.

On the other hand, McClellands Acquired Need Theory suggests that understanding
these needs will accurately placing the right people in the right positions should enhance
greater level of motivation which in turn will increase productivity and reduce turnover. As
for the strength of McClellands Need Theory in education, the need for achievement will
assign achievable tasks based on a students ability. In this way, the achiever seeks to reach
goals and excel and they do this by taking more difficult task. The student will feel motivated
to perform at a higher level than other students because teachers have an instruction to give
student of high ability more challenging tasks than those of low-ability students (Patton,
2002). Besides that, the theory provide feedback regularly that a student who wants to
achieve must get feedback so they know where their strength and weaknesses in order to be
in high proficiency. The theory also suggests that dont show them failure as a lack of ability
and give feedback at the end of a project or essay would be effective ways of studying. The
theory also suggests acknowledge achievement with praise. This is because achievers seek
frequent recognition that they are doing well. Teachers also have to praise students and
encourage them to continue improve in better ways. In order to recognize students
achievement, teachers should provide a reward such as extra computer time or read comic
(Navahandi, 2006).
In the need of affiliation, it helped to set academic group work. An affiliation seeker
wants to create good relationships with other people. Furthermore, teachers should set fun
group activities so they can interact with other students confidently. The need of affiliation is
about creating meaningful social contact. In this matter, the theory helps to give idea to
teachers to encourage students to interact outside of studying such as play team sports during
physical education classes and during lunch so that the students can learn to have friendships.
Moreover, affiliation students sometimes use group work to be more confident in themselves.
The theory suggests teachers encouraging them to interact in class activities will show them
that teachers approve of their interaction. In the need of power, a power student wants to
control other people so that they can reach their goals. The theory suggests that teachers put
students in charge of others within a group so they can learn how to develop leadership skills
such as assign team leaders in group work. Besides that, the theory gives the idea by letting
students make collaboration in the classroom rules in order to create a good learning
environment. The theory also suggests maintaining authority of the classroom by follow and
explaining through for students who break rules (Zhao & Kuh, 2004).


4.1 How the McClellands Human Motivation Theory motivate students?


Students who are highly motivated and make use of learning strategies are most likely
to achieve. Different strategies of learning can make the students to enhance their
proficiency skills in any subjects. It is depend on how the students perceive the new
material and use strategies to solve the problem. The students also have the ability to
make the combination between the upcoming ideas within the knowledge in long term
memory to make the better outcome results. Therefore, teachers should emphasize the
specific strategies when introducing new material.


Students are motivated to achieve and learn when they see that their teachers care
about them. Teachers, who were demonstrating interaction styles, modelling a
responsible attitude toward their own work, expect high for student behaviour and
providing constructive feedback will enhance motivation in students. The theory gives
many example of suitable instructional based on the need of power, need of
achievement and need of affiliation.


The theory suggests involving students in deciding what kind of homework to get is
the good step to develop a sense of power. Therefore, by giving the opportunity to
students, they will more care in their learning because they have experience in the
challenges of think why learning to read and write is important in their lives.


The theory also described that in order to receive information on a sensory and
knowledge level, student attaches a strong positive value to the experience because
what he/she perceives closely matches what their wants at that moment. In this matter,
the theory developed some confident level for student to achieve the goals and grab
the knowledge.


When students find learning and school to be a need-satisfying experience, they will
put working hard on learning. Therefore, the level of motivation on academic will get
higher because students take the responsibility in learning.

In other words, the theory will helped to motivate students in the way that related to personal
achievements (Spence & Helmreich, 1983).



Mastery of needs which and individual prefers jobs that are challenging, intellectually,
demanding and thought-oriented. He or she enjoys playing a leadership role in groups
and is able to complete tasks already started.


Work orientation is an individual takes a proactive attitude toward work and loves
what he or she does. He or she obtains sense of satisfaction from work and pursues
self-realization and growth.


Competition is an individual hopes for victory and has the desire to win over others.


Personal unconcern is an individual does not consider success or performance to be

the cause of being rejected by others. In other words, there is no fear of success.

5.1 Suggestion for model motivation.

Suggestion model for McClellands Human motivation theory


In the recent model of McClellands Human Motivation theory, there are three categories
described as need for power, need for achievement and need for affiliation. The need has its
own characteristics which involved certain individual personality. Therefore, the idea of
adding the need for neutralization is thought better way to enhance the strength of
McClellands Human Motivation Theory. It is also helped to balance the aspects that propose
by the theory in the recent studies. The need for neutralization is a concept which grabs a
little idea from the need of power, achievement and affiliation so that the students will work
and learn in a flexible way. Moreover, challenging time make the need of neutralization
useful because people can balance the emotion due the problem. Hence, better outcome will
provide in a way of moderate thinking.

Suggestion Characteristics of Dominant Motivator for Need of Neutralization


Characteristics of This Person






Has a strong need to set and accomplish challenging goals.

Takes calculated risks to accomplish their goals.
Likes to receive regular feedback on their progress and
Often likes to work alone.
Wants to belong to the group.
Wants to be liked, and will often go along with whatever
the rest of the group wants to do.
Favours collaboration over competition.
Doesn't like high risk or uncertainty.
Wants to control and influence others.
Likes to win arguments.
Enjoys competition and winning.
Enjoys status and recognition.
Has strong confident level and accomplish challenging
Moderate in collaboration in group.
Gain attention and give better performance and suggestion

6.1 References

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