"What motivates you towards choosing the career/job orientation you have chosen? Discuss and explain with reference to three of the motivational theories discussed during the course".

I'm used to writing more scientific essays in the field of psychology, but I am finding some difficulty introducing and maintaining this assignment with a more subjective approach. We are expected to keep with APA rules and formatting and stick to a scientific method of writing. Yet if I am to write a theoretical paper, how am I to keep the focus on what motivates me personally?


Much of the scientific literature in psychology is concerned with proposing and empirically testing theories. However, if you are a practitioner you are interested in how you can apply these ideas to achieve applied goals. This requires that you understand the support for various scientific ideas and that you are able to apply them to a specific situation.

Take for example the Job Characteristics Model. This model suggests that five core job characteristics (i.e., skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback) tend to increase motivation (among other outcomes and mediating processes).

Thus, you could apply such a theory to make decisions about career choices. For example, all else being equal you might evaluate career choices by the degree to which they allow for autonomy, use of meaningful skill, and so on. Or you could use the ideas to think about how you could modify your position to make it more motivating.

Or take another example, of Holland's Codes which provides a scheme for understanding individual differences in vocational preference. You could use this to think about what particular jobs you might find more motivating.

And of course there are many theories directly concerned with understanding motivational processes.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your input, I will take what you have said into consideration :) $\endgroup$ – Landacut Apr 15 '14 at 8:15

Assuming the specific case of being "motivated towards a career" rather then simply getting a job to make ends meet, there can be several factors.

Social status is probably the most common pursuit of a career.

Enjoyment, which is the ideal reason for pursuing a career. Usually a career sought for enjoyment is referred to as 'pursuing one's dream'.

Proximity (a.k.a. convenience) is another driving factor. Which could also be considered the "path of least resistance". An example of this is following in your parents' footsteps. Another example could be someone's part-time job turning into a full-time career.


I found these two article which describes the work of John Holland and his theory of career choice. (not the scientific essay as requested in the comments but perhaps with more time I, or someone else, could elaborate on this topic further. It is definitely a good one)



  • $\begingroup$ Your input has really helped me structure what I had to say a little better. Thank you so much for your interest and answer :) $\endgroup$ – Landacut Apr 15 '14 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ On the other hand...there are several factors in any case, social status may not be the most common motive (especially in other countries), enjoyment isn't necessarily the ideal reason for pursuing a career (it isn't mine), proximity or convenience may have little to do with parents' occupations, and part-time jobs can easily be dead ends. Issues such as these ought to be addressed by a scientific essay, or at least its references (which might not support this answer's claims if they were actually sought). $\endgroup$ – Nick Stauner Apr 16 '14 at 3:48

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