MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Motivators and Influencing Motivation

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Motivators And Influencing Motivation

Jimmy and Nate both volunteer at the dog pound. Jimmy loves animals of all kinds and loves the chance to be around dogs. Nate doesn’t particularly like animals, but he needs service hours for a club he is in at school. 

The managers of the dog pound offer to start paying Jimmy and Nate. Who is more likely to experience a decrease in job satisfaction?

Possible Answers:

Nate; the intrinsic value of being with dogs is decreased by the overjustification of being paid

Jimmy; the intrinsic value of being with dogs is decreased by the overjustification of being paid

Jimmy; the extrinsic value of being with dogs is decreased by the overjustification of being paid

Nate; the extrinsic value of being with dogs is decreased by the overjustification of being paid

Correct answer:

Jimmy; the intrinsic value of being with dogs is decreased by the overjustification of being paid

Explanation:

The value of being with dogs is an intrinsic value for Jimmy; he genuinely likes being with them. Nate’s value associated with being with dogs has an extrinsic value of obtaining service hours. Overjustification is a sociological effect that occurs when intrinsic value decreases because extrinsic values, such as money, are introduced to the situation. Since Jimmy’s value is highly intrinsic, he is more likely to experience the effects of overjustification.

Example Question #2 : Motivators And Influencing Motivation

Excerpt from “Institutional Competition,” Edward A. Ross, American Journal of Sociology 1919 25:2, 171-184

The first impulse of any organization or institution on the appearance of a serious competitor is to destroy competition. The "trust" regularly cuts the prices of its products to a point below cost of production in localities in which an "independent" seeks to sell. A shipping combine will have "fighting ships" which are called into play when a new steamship line enters their trade. As soon as the competitor announces a sailing date the combine advertises a steamer to sail on or near this date and offers a freight rate below the actual cost of carriage. In this way the competitor is prevented from securing a cargo.

The highest social class hobbles by minute sumptuary regulations the classes, which aspire to come up abreast of it. In feudal Japan, for example, one might not use his money as he pleased. The farmer, craftsman, or shopkeeper could not build a house as he liked or procure himself such articles of luxury as his taste might incline him to buy. The richest commoner might not order certain things to be made for him, might not imitate the habits or assume the privileges of his betters. Although urged on economic grounds, sumptuary restrictions are doubtless intended to protect the monopoly of prestige by the higher social orders.

The spread of anti-slavery feeling among the producing people of the North during the generation before the American Civil War was due to their perception that slavery is a menace to the free-labor system. In accounting for the early abolition of slavery in Massachusetts John Adams remarks: "Argument might have had some weight ... but the real cause was the multiplication of laboring white people who would not longer suffer the rich to employ these sable rivals so much to their injury."

The whole history of religious persecution is the history of an organization trying to establish itself as a monopoly by ruthless destruction of the spokesmen of competing doctrines and movements. In Diocletian's time Roman religious beliefs were weak while the Christian beliefs were vigorous and spreading. In desperation the old system made a ferocious attempt to exterminate all Christians. A thousand years later the church stamped certain sects out of existence and strangled heresies in the cradle. Says Coulton:

…What Darwin took at first for a smooth unbroken grassland proved, on nearer examination, to be thick-set with tiny self-sown firs, which the cattle regularly cropped as they grew. Similarly, that which some love to picture as the harmonious growth of one great body through the Middle Ages is really a history of many divergent opinions violently strangled at birth; while hundreds more, too vigorous to be killed by the adverse surroundings, and elastic enough to take something of the outward color of their environment, grew in spite of the hierarchy into organisms which, in their turn, profoundly modified the whole constitution of the Church. If the mediaeval theory and practice of persecution had still been in full force in the eighteenth century in England, nearly all the best Wesleyans would have chosen to remain within the Church rather than to shed blood in revolt; and the rest would have been killed off like wild beasts. The present unity of Romanism so far as it exists, is due less to tact than to naked force.

Suppose that Steve volunteers to help out on his uncle’s cargo ship. After two weeks of working for free, Steve’s uncle decides to start paying Steve. Steve is excited to be paid, but he finds the work much less satisfying than it was before. What motivational principle does this example best demonstrate?

Possible Answers:

Extrinsic motivation

Overjustification

Delayed gratifification

Intrinsic motivation

Correct answer:

Overjustification

Explanation:

Overjustification is the principle best illustrated in this example. Overjustification is defined as the effect of an extrinsic reward diminishing an intrinsic reward. In this example, Steve at first finds the work aboard his Uncle’s ship satisfying (intrinsic), but when he starts receiving pay (extrinsic), that satisfaction decreases. Thus, overjustification is best illustrated. Delayed gratification is not demonstrated in this example; it assumes that accessing a reward later will lead to more satisfaction than now. 

Example Question #3 : Motivators And Influencing Motivation

Excerpt from “Two Kinds of Vocational Education” by Julius T. House, 1921

American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Sep., 1921), pp. 222-225

               

There are two schools of thinkers interested in vocational education. One of these is individualistic, thinks in teams of fitting the child to the job, accepts the present economic system with little, if any, criticism. It would isolate consideration of the vocation, so far as possible, from consideration of its social purposes. Psychologically its plan is based upon habit, with no thought of developing in the child a sense of the relation of his work to the whole social process. To secure the result sought there must be early separation of technical schools from the rest of the school system. It is proposed to begin with the seventh grade, the so-called junior high school.

The purpose of the technical school is and will be to get the answer, already known to the teacher, by the shortest route. Emphasis will be laid on rapid calculation; swift, effective movement; automatic response. The typewriter, the shorthand notebook, the hammer and nail, the stove, the furnace, the retort, are the instruments of education. A technique of salesmanship and advertising, without the regard to the ethics of these operations and with no comprehension of the principles of psychology, is developed. Rough-and-ready adaptation to a rough-and-ready business world is the goal.

Certain results follow: (1) Even more rigid division of industrial life between two groups: those who manage, in whom power of initiative is vested; those who are skilled in narrow processes with no outlook upon the meaning of the work. (2) The exploitation of this isolated class. (3) The establishment of an institution to perpetuate this condition. Custom is already being instituted of sending the children of poor families to this manual-skill-producing school. (4) Public taxation to support institutions to assist business based on the supposition that when business prospers moral values take care of themselves.

The second group of thinkers, seemingly few but with men like John Dewey leading, are interested in vocational education as a means of introducing the child more intimately into the life of society. It is believed that such study should be directed to the perception of the relation of vocations to all the social process. Therefore all the students are to study all the vocations. The choice of a life-work will be, then, only a by-product of the training—important indeed, but still a by-product. Already such work is done in the grades. It remains only to enlarge it and relate it to the proper sciences as the later years of school life are reached.

According to the principle of overjustification, what is the likely result over time of immediately assigning jobs and careers to people based on areas of initial interest?

Possible Answers:

Interest in that area will not increase and job satisfaction will increase

 

Interest in that area will increase and job satisfaction will decrease.

Interest in that area will not increase and job satisfaction will decrease.

Interest in that area will increase and job satisfaction will increase

Correct answer:

Interest in that area will not increase and job satisfaction will decrease.

Explanation:

The principle of overjustification states that when an external incentive, such as money, is applied to a task, the internal motivation decreases. For example, a boy that loves to build birdhouses for fun will begin to enjoy the task less and less as he is paid for them. In the context of careers, overjustification would suggest that an interest in a given area would decrease over time, leading to a decrease in job satisfaction. 

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