What Is the Difference Between the Content and Process Theories of Motivation?

The main difference between content and process theories is that content theory focuses on individual needs, while process theory focuses on behavior. These theories provide insight into what motivates people to act a certain way in a particular setting and are popular in business management.

Maslow’s Heirarchy Theory:

Abraham Maslow breaks down human motivation into several categories of personal needs. People are motivated by deep psychological desires for safety, love, esteem and achievement. In the workplace these translate into things that make a job appealing. For example, most people want a safe working environment, to feel appreciated, recognition for hard work and a chance to move up the ladder of success.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory:

Frederick Herzberg sees motivation being split into two main behavioral categories. People are motivated to react in positive or negative ways depending on what they are dealing with in a particular environment. For instance, the poor hygiene of a co-worker motivates people to stay away from that individual. The amount of pay someone receives can motivate a person to work harder or become lazy.