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From The CriticsReviewer: Christopher J. Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Motivation science is reemerging from its slumber since the times of Maslow, accompanied by a much broader context with new themes and models stemming from various levels of inquiry. This book explores the areas of motivational relativity, regulation, and reactivity.
Purpose: According to the editors, the purpose is to provide a systematic overview of the field and to introduce emerging trends and future directions as the field grows and establishes itself.
Audience: The editors do not target a specific audience, but the book would certainly be appropriate for psychologists, sociologists, and developmental researchers. There are a few chapters that may be of interest to other readers, such as therapists, attorneys, and marketing analysts. The editors and contributing authors have a record of scholarly work in this field.
Features: There is a lot of information in the 39 chapters of this book. The chapters are grouped into a few main sections that include a historical perspective, forms and systems of motivation, motivational processes and differences, and applications of motivational research. The historical perspective includes viewpoints of well-known figures such as Allport, Maslow, and James. While the chapters have clearly labeled subsections, periodic summaries, and conclusions, they have no introductions or abstracts. Thus, the reader is often unsure what to expect from the chapter. There are nice reviews of current theories and practical applications are sprinkled throughout (e.g., motivation and terror management in legal decision-making). While there are interesting ideas proposed about motivational systems in the second section, some chapters, such as the one on neural networks, are rather cursory. Other chapters seem fairly abstract or vague making it difficult to connect the ideas to real-world behavior. The last section better addresses this issue, but it would have been nice to see these connections as a theme throughout the book. One aspect that clearly stands out is the density of the text without summary tables, figures, or other types of illustrations. The references are plentiful and current.
Assessment: This book provides an interesting look at the reemergence of motivation science. The new themes, models, and theories are intriguing and the book is generally informative. Although the format can make for slow reading and some chapters are vague or cursory, the final section on applications of motivation science better integrates the earlier information. For readers interested in motivation science, this is an appealing review of the literature, but there is nothing that makes it a "must-have" book.