Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Back to the Academy: Motivation

A great deal of fuss is made about capsuleer motivation in New Eden. A lot of theories are presented, using complex marketing words, and often have a consumer/provider perspective. And yes, if you were in the business of creating new capsuleers, that's a good way to look at things.

However, all those approaches are about cloning subscription numbers, and have a lot of solutions which are based on anecdote and assumption. They often lack objectivity, and rarely, if at all, think about the actual term: motivation.

Fortunately, that is one of the areas covered today at the academy: student motivation. I like to work from practical examples, so here's a common capsuleer motivation: I want to participate in null-sec alliance battles.

For a start, let's define the term.

In an academic setting, motivation is 'the state of cognitive and emotional arousal' which 'leads to a conscious decision to act'.*

Makes sense right? And is rather provocatively worded for an academic definition.

This is usually expressed as a long-term application of effort (either physical or intellectual) to achieve a goal. Motivation is the fuel, rather than the goal itself. For a teacher, arousing interest in a subject is important, but it is also important to maintain and manage the effort it takes to get him to his goal.

In our null-sec aspirant, we learn that motivation is not, in fact, fighting in the 1000-man fleet battles, but that being a goal. Motivation is what will get him there, and keeping him in that state of cognitive and emotional arousal is the job of space developers, and (much more directly) his corporation leaders.

But how can a teacher, space developer or alliance leader do this, if they don't really understand where this motivation comes from?

Lets move on to orientations and sources.

Orientations are the reasons for learning, or in the case of New Eden, being a capsuleer. They essentially fall into two categories: integrative or instrumental.**

Integrative is the desire to be part of a community.
Instrumental is more practical, such as passing an exam or getting a better job.

In capsuleer terms: I become a capsuleer to join an alliance (integrative), or I become a capsuleer to fly a titan (instrumental).

How is this useful?

A corporation leader with a clearer idea of what compels his capsuleer to enter space can manage his corp member more effectively. If his recruits goal is integrative, then promises of social stature, or an ever-widening network of allies will keep that recruit happy. If his recruits goal is instrumental, then directly showing that competency in a certain brand of sub-capital will keep that recruit motivated in the years it takes to master a titan.

To a space developer, understanding the more popular orientations of capsuleers help to prioritize which areas of New Eden need development. For example: integrative capsuleers will need more social tools, and ways to show their affiliations (chat channels and corp logos). Instrumental capsuleers will need more tools to measure their progress... and now you understand the success of ISIS.

One final thing to mention: sources.

These are where the motivations come from, and again, have two flavors: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Those of you not asleep at this point can probably work it out. Intrinsic sources come from within the capsuleer, whereas extrinsic ones come from somewhere else i.e. the corp director saying do this thing.

The important thing to know from this is that intrinsic motivations are usually stronger, and much more likely to motivate. So rather than tell your capsuleer what to do, help your capsuleer to accomplish his own goals, in support of your own.

*Williams and Burden (1997)
**Gardner (1985)

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