We considered the interplay of intrinsic and external career motivation by comparing two relevant vocational groups: artists and businesspersons. In Study 1 business students, relative to art students, reported more external and less intrinsic motivations for their current majors, and aspired more to money, status, and appearance in the future. However, the two groups were no different on intrinsic future aspirations for growth, connection, and contribution. In Study 2 business students again had more external and less intrinsic career motivation. However, they were again no different in their intrinsic future aspirations, and also, were no different from art students in their longer-term career motivations. Study 3 used a sample of mTurk workers and replicated the basic pattern of three-way interactions. Physical scientists/science students, also examined in all studies, tended to have current and longer-term motivations lying midway between the art and business groups. Consistent with organismic perspectives on human nature, it appears that everyone aspires for a meaningful and enjoyable future; however, business types may put off these motivations in the present, whereas artistic types pursue them directly. This lends support to the notion that despite motivational differences in the present, everyone desires to be intrinsic in the end.
According to Maslow’s (1943) hierarchical theory of needs, people do not become sensitized to “higher” level needs until they have satisfied their “lower” level needs (a moderator hypothesis); until then, they are unprepared to benefit from higher-level satisfactions. But according to the Self-determination theory (SDT) model, high-level psychological needs, when met, are non-contingently beneficial (a main effect-only hypothesis). In two large-N studies of Russian energy companies, we measured low-level need-satisfaction in terms of felt security and felt financial satisfaction, and measured high-level need satisfaction in terms of SDT’s basic needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. In both studies, both the lower level and higher level need-satisfaction sets had strong main effects upon many positive work outcomes, including intrinsic motivation, organizational commitment, and SWB. In Study 2, Maslow’s “prepared to benefit” hypothesis was supported, in that satisfaction of high-level needs had slightly larger effects on outcomes when combined with satisfaction of low-level needs. However this was not found in Study 1. Potentials for integrating the SDT and Maslow need theories are discussed.
The present study aimed to test the goal contents theory (Ryan and Deci, Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness, Guildford, New York, 2017a) proposal that prioritizing intrinsic aspirations over extrinsic aspirations leads to enhanced well-being through greater satisfaction of basic psychological needs and more autonomous self-regulation. By pooling four prospective studies with an identical five-wave design, we evaluated the impact of aspirations on changes in need satisfaction, goal motivation, and well-being over a school year in a sample of over 1400 university students. Cross-lagged, structural equation modelling (SEM) analyses revealed that relative intrinsic aspirations at baseline predicted experiencing greater need satisfaction, increased autonomous goal motivation, and improved well-being over time. The discussion highlights the value of exploring dynamic relations among the central constructs in self-determination theory.