What Motivates Researchers Towards Higher Performance?

Female ResearcherMost people who go into research do so because they have a deep-seated desire to simply “figure things out”, an inborn sense of curiosity that drive their personality. However, there are people that get into the business for other reasons such as financial incentive or a need to achieve a certain status. When it comes to behavioral motivation, the topic has a myriad of research behind it already.

 In behavioral research, studying motivation is the study of human behavior. Basically – why do people do what they do? The basic theory comes down to two basic paths: Internal factors and external factors.

Internal factors include such things as:
• being challenged by a problem and wanting to personally find a solution
• finding positions or research in line with internal values and morals
• Enjoying the work or finding satisfaction by doing something you want to do
• Willing to find solutions to major problems and help society

 

External factors include such things as:
• Seeking the approval of others
• Being respected for your opinion
• Needing to achieve a certain status
• Wanting a good paycheck
As people enter the research field, their internal or external motivational factors are either validated or not. If they are not validated, they will soon move to another field or pursue something different. If they are validated, they will either continue on the path they are going or simply stop and remain in the same position.

When asking researchers why they enter the field to begin with, the answers can vary. You can hear everything from “I watched my mother go through breast cancer and wanted to do my part to cure it.” To “I used to write computer games and met a big data researcher. He introduced me to an entirely new world and I just fell in love with the challenge.” Each person is different and no rationale is wrong.
If you’re thinking of a the career in research field, you should examine your own motives. They will be unique to you and they will probably be complex. Very few people have just one motivation – most people have multiple motivation factors that are interwoven with each other. You may enjoy the challenge, but you may also like the paycheck and the status of a research position. This may be the reason you decide to move into research as opposed to some other type of practice.

Understanding your own motives can help you perform better and make better decisions when it comes to career choices. If you love the idea of a challenge and find your work is not challenging you enough, you may be motivated to find another position. However, if you’re in a situation where you dislike monotony and the challenges will start up and over again in the next few months or years, as you contemplate a new research topic, you will unmistakably know you are at home in the research field.

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August 1, 2015

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