Today we’ll talk about the expectancy theory.

Expectancy theory is a theory about motivation. It tries to answer the question: Why would someone engage in a particular behavior?

The theory can be expressed using the following formula:

Motivation = Expectancy x Instrumentality x Valence

Expectancy refers to the belief that increased effort will lead to increased performance. If we believe that our effort will lead to progress, we are more likely to put in the work. If not, we may give up without even trying.

Instrumentality is defined as the belief that performance will lead to a reward or desired outcome. Obviously, this is also positively correlated with our level of motivation.

Valence is the desirability of the reward. People value different things. Some people care a lot about money, and others may want to get assigned to an interesting project. Some people want to be promoted, and others may get excited about going on vacation. It all depends on the person and what their needs and values are.