Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 17, Iss. 1, January, 2013, pp. 3-22
@2013 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Fluctuations in Work Motivation: Tasks do not Matter!

Jose Navarro, University of Barcelona, Spain
Fernando Curioso, University of Barcelona, Spain
Duarte Gomes, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Carlos Arrieta, University of Costa Rica
Mauricio Cortes, Universidad del Valle, Colombia

Abstract: Previous studies have shown that work motivation fluctuates considerably and in a nonlinear way over time. In the present research, we are interested in studying if the task at hand does or does not influence the presence of these fluctuations. We gathered daily registers from 69 workers during 21 consecutive working days (7036 registers) of task developed and levels of motivation, self-efficacy beliefs and instrumentalities perception. These registers were then categorized into a list of labor activities in main tasks and subtasks by means of three judges with a high level of agreement (97.47% for tasks, and 98.64% for subtasks). Taking the MSSD statistic (mean squared successive difference) of the average of motivation, self-efficacy and instrumentality, and using hierarchical regression analysis we have found that tasks (beta = .03; p = .188) and subtasks (beta = .10; p = .268) do not affect the presence of fluctuations in motivation. These results reveal instability in work motivation independently from the tasks and subtasks that the workers do. We proceed to find that fluctuations in work motivation show a fractal structure across the different tasks we do in a working day. Implications of these results to motivational theory will be discussed as well as possible explanations (e.g. the influence of affect in work motivation) and directions for future research are provided.

Keywords: work motivation, task, fluctuation, fractal structure