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A within-person approach to the relation between quality of task motivation, performance and job satisfaction in everyday working life

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Abstract

Research generally shows that autonomous forms of motivation are associated with higher performance and job satisfaction, whereas controlled forms of motivation are linked to worse outcomes. These relationships are largely based on between-persons data from cross-sectional studies or longitudinal studies with few measurement points. However, motivation quality, performance, and job satisfaction can vary considerably from day to day and from task to task. It is unclear whether and how these experiences and behaviors covary over time within individuals at work in daily life. The present study assessed this using a diary approach. With a default protocol of 30 working days, an ecological momentary assessment application prompted 19 white-collar workers five times a day to report their autonomous and controlled motivation for work tasks and their productivity and job satisfaction at the end of each day. Fourteen participants gathered sufficient data to compute within-person relations and individual networks. At the between-person level, results were somewhat in line with prior survey-based research, whereas results at the within-person level present more nuanced findings and demonstrate that these will not inherently align with previous between-person findings. Individual network analyses indicated considerable interindividual heterogeneity, especially in the relationships between motivation and job satisfaction. In conclusion, these findings point to significant variability in the observed relations between task-related motivation, performance and job satisfaction in everyday life, and highlight the added value of a within person approach and individual networks in addition to between-persons approaches. The implications of these findings for occupational wellbeing research are discussed.

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Hogenelst, K., Schelvis, R., Krone, T. et al. A within-person approach to the relation between quality of task motivation, performance and job satisfaction in everyday working life. Motiv Emot 46, 588–600 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-022-09962-1

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