Columbia University’s Center for Motivational Sciences
20 Years of Human Behavior Studies Revealed Motivational Secrets
Are you achievement oriented or stability oriented?
How do you draw your opponent’s passion and energy?
Under what circumstances can I work more effectively? What makes our motivation strong or weak? Heidi Grant Halverson and Tori Higgins, who run Columbia University’s Center for Motivational Sciences (MSC), present scientific principles and approaches to motivation through 20 years of human behavior research and psychological experiments in “Focus”.
In this book, the author reveals that the way people understand and act in the world can be divided into two, and that humans have two motives for action: “promotion focus” and “prevention focus.” Among them, it was pointed out that people can be divided into two types depending on which motivation is more dominant, and understanding of this is an important key to motivation.
In the same situation, people move for completely different reasons. The reason for working hard at a job may be to get a promotion for some people, but not to get fired for some people. At this time, those who work to be promoted can be seen as “achievement-oriented” seeking a better state than they are now, and those who work not to be fired can be seen as “stable-oriented” to prevent worse situations. Even two people who work equally hard, if they have different motives, they think and act completely differently. Therefore, a motivation method suitable for each person’s tendency is needed.
The reason why it is necessary to pay attention to motivation tendencies is that they affect the person’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of personal and professional aspects. The author examines the impact of tendencies from attitudes toward work to child rearing, dating, decision-making methods, and political perspectives through various experiments and examples. On the one hand, it teaches how to understand and utilize one’s tendency and how to change it as needed. In addition, it presents a method of eliciting motivation according to the other person’s motivation, revealing that it can motivate itself and effectively influence the other person through an understanding of motivation propensity.
Do you want to win or not lose?
The author affirms that people with different personalities are divided into two accurately if they are classified according to their tendencies. In other words, those who want to protect what they already have and those who want to gain more. To illustrate this, the two figures, John and Ray, researchers at Columbia University’s Center for Synchronous Science, are cited as examples.
John, a stability-oriented man, is a tricky man to point out the wrong side of everything. John has a neat appearance, sharp choice of words, and never slacks off. Above all, he is a defensive pessimist who constantly thinks about the possibility of things going wrong. He is desperate not to make a mistake and is always haunted by anxiety.
On the other hand, Ray, an achievement-oriented type, is an optimist with an optimistic nature and a calm personality. Ray, who values ideas, always loses this and that and is not interested in appearance because he doesn’t care about trivial things. Ray is creative and innovative and doesn’t hesitate to take a path that no one has taken or take an intellectual adventure.
For achievement-oriented types, it is important to maximize profits and not miss opportunities. Like Ray, who is optimistic and thinks of the big picture, the desire to develop, stand out from others, fill their aspirations, and receive praise leads the action. On the other hand, it is important for the stability-oriented type to minimize losses and keep the situation rolling. Like John, who is careful and meticulous in everything, he tries to maintain safety and security, avoid mistakes, fulfill his duties and responsibilities, and appear as a reliable and firm person. In this way, the way people experience the world around them, that is, what they pay attention to and how they interpret it, determines the tendency of the moment.
Why one-sided tendencies prevail
Humans have two basic needs from birth: the desire to be cared for and the desire to be protected safely. Being cared for means that others give you something positive that you want to eat, drink, hug and touch of affection, and financial support. On the other hand, being safe means that others help avoid negative things such as predators, poison, and sharp objects.
The key to achievement-oriented motivation lies in the satisfaction of the desire for care. It is to fill life with positive things such as love and respect, achievement, progress, and growth. On the other hand, the core of the stability-oriented motivation lies in the satisfaction of the desire for safety. In this case, it is important to do what is necessary to maintain a satisfactory life, such as maintaining safety and doing the right thing. Humans are naturally supposed to pursue care and safety at the same time. But why does one-sided tendencies become more dominant? The most convincing answer is the difference in parenting styles.
First, there is a parenting method that gives affectionate praise to success and withdraws affection and interest to failure. Children raised in this way view their goals as an opportunity to gain affectionate recognition from their parents (and others). Their life focuses on moving forward to achieve their ideals and acting in a way that produces commendable results.
On the contrary, there is also a parenting method that criticizes or punishes failures, but if they succeed, they maintain their daily lives and prevent bad things from happening. Children raised in this way view their goals as an opportunity to avoid undesirable reactions from their parents (and others) and stay safe. Their life focuses on fulfilling their duties and responsibilities, satisfying others, and acting in a way that maintains peace.
Of course, parents are not the only ones who have influenced the pursuit of the goal of achievement or stability. The culture and working environment that grew up also affect the way others treat us, and it also makes us achievement-oriented or stability-oriented.
On average, Americans are more achievement-oriented than East Asians. American culture encourages achievement-oriented attitudes because it values independence and emphasizes individual achievement. On the other hand, East Asian culture focuses on mutual aid, and values its own group rather than individuals. In this case, a stability-oriented tendency is created by thinking about oneself and setting goals in terms of obligations and responsibilities to the group.
Once you understand the dominant tendencies, it’s easy to oversimplify the situation and think that everyone is always motivated in the same way, but it’s not really. It is common for dominant tendencies to appear differently in various areas of life. People who are achievement-oriented at work are also enthusiastic about avoiding problems in family and financial relationships. And even those who are naturally cautious or if their spouses are excessively worried about their children, they may balance both by raising their achievement-oriented tendencies.
If it is clear whether the current situation is related to gain or loss, an appropriate propensity for the situation is induced. For example, while waiting for the examination order to hear the test results, stability-oriented tendencies prevail, and achievement-oriented tendencies prevail while lottery winning numbers are announced. In addition, if the company promises to give a big bonus to the person with the highest sales performance, an achievement-oriented atmosphere will be created. On the contrary, if you threaten to fire the lowest-performing salesperson, everyone moves toward stability.
Age is also an important factor in the change in disposition. It is not surprising that achievement-oriented thinking prevails in young people. Youth is a time to focus on hope for the future or what you ideally want to do, not in a position to take much responsibility, and believe that you can do anything if you want to.
However, as you get older, the center of gravity of your personality begins to move. Before you know it, you have to pay back your loans, repair your house, and it’s time for your children to spend a lot of money. The older I get, the stronger I want to protect what has already been in my hands and what I have achieved through hard work. As a result, as you get older, you are more likely to become a stable-oriented mindset.
clues to identify the other person’s tendencies
How can you grasp other people’s tendencies? Through this, it will be possible to customize the content of the message that you want to assign and deliver a task suitable for the person to get the desired result. Here, another person can be a spouse, employee, child, student, voter, or potential consumer who wants to sell the product. When identifying other people’s tendencies, information such as age, culture, personal value, and job can be used first.
There is also a way to find clues in daily life. Are employees interested in promotion or are they just sticking to their jobs? Do target consumers prefer add-ons or prefer stability and low cost? Does the boss accept or ignore innovative ideas? Do you listen or do something else when you tell your child that smoking is dangerous? As such, everyday behavior provides a clue to the dominant motivation tendency.
It is very important to understand the dominant tendency of the other person. This is because people are more easily motivated when they feel that an argument is right. When arguments and ideas are expressed in the same language as the listener’s tendencies, they are more likely to be persuaded. The following are clues to identify tendencies through daily behavior.
be fast at work
Several alternatives are considered.
Embrace a new opportunity.
A rosy view of the future.
You pursue positive feedback and lose vitality without it.
I feel joy and confidence when things go smoothly.
be slow and meticulous in one’s work
Be fully prepared.
I’m stressed out about the short deadline.
Stick to the known way of doing things.
be uncomfortable with praise or optimism
I try not to lose my guard even when things go smoothly.
Columbia University’s Center for Motivational Sciences