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Four Motivational Styles


Explanations > Behaviors > Four Motivational Styles

Motivators | Styles | So what?


Here is a way to understand motivation through four styles, based on whether something is evaluated positive or negative, and whether this is of particular significance for us or not. People will use the style that suits the subject in question. Hence, if we can perceive the style we can deduce the valence and significance of the subject.


Motivation Styles Matrix

High Low


 Attend Accept
 Avoid Ignore



What motivates us depends on a combination of the valence of the subject (positive or negative) and how important or significant it is for us.


The valence of an object indicates whether we perceive it in a positive or negative light. Positive items are helpful to us and may assist us in achieving our goals. Negative items are harmful in some way, or can hinder us when we seek to achieve goals.


An item can have variable significance for us, being important and so demanding our attention, or being less important or having little impact such that we may not need to attend to it and can place our attention on more significant other items.


The style that people may use on a subject depends on the valence and significance of the item in question.


If something is positive, helping us in some way, and is significant in that the help is worth our time, then we attend to it, paying attention and seeking ways to take advantage of the opportunities it may offer us.


If something is positive but not that significant, we accept it but without paying that much attention.


Items that are negative and could cause significant harm to us are worthy of our attention but only to help us avoid them.


When an item is negative but cannot really harm us, then we ignore it, perhaps dealing with it briefly when it may appear.

The Independent is the opposite of the Collaborator and will usually prefer to work alone rather than in teams.

So what?

Seek to understand how the other person believes and hence perceives people. And then either play to those beliefs or work to change them.

Observe whether people attend, accept, avoid or ignore subjects in conversation and action. From this, deduce the significance and valence of the subject and hence develop approaches to them that address this style.

See also

The OK-not OK Matrix, Beliefs about people, Stereotypes, Values


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