This course has two general objectives. First, to learn about how motivation works from recent conceptual and empirical advances in psychological science. Second, to have students use this knowledge to make motivation work for them—in their own performance, but, especially, as motivators of others. Motivation science has exploded in the last 20 years. Despite this explosion, most people still believe that the best way to motivate others is by using “carrots and sticks” (incentives), which is based on the classic assumption that what motivates people is to approach pleasure and avoid pain (the hedonic principle). What we have learned is that motivation is more than “carrots and sticks”, and that, importantly, there are many different kinds of motivational mechanisms that underlie people’s choices and what influences them. The class sessions in the course will be informed by a combination of class lectures and discussions, readings, case studies, in-class exercises, and student presentations on their own group projects.
There is one thing that all Chief Executives agree on—whether their organization is business, military, sports, academia—there is nothing more important to being successful in their job than to be successful in motivating others. But how can you make motivation work? For the answer, you first need to know how motivation itself works. This course is designed for the students to learn both how motivation works and how they can use it to work for them. The motivational mechanisms and principles that will be covered in the readings and discussed in class, as well as how these mechanisms and principles can be used to be a more effective motivator in business-relevant settings, are summarized below when describing each class.
Professor Higgins, the Stanley Schachter Professor of Psychology and Professor of Business is an expert on motivation and decision making. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He is the author of Beyond Pleasure and Pain: How Motivation Works (Oxford) and co-author of Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence (Penguin). He teaches an...