The Priest, the Sex Worker, and the CEO: Measuring Motivation by Job Type

Arnulf, J. K., et al. (2020). "The Priest, the Sex Worker, and the CEO: Measuring Motivation by Job Type." Frontiers in Psychology 11: 1321.

22 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2020

See all articles by Jan Ketil Arnulf

Jan Ketil Arnulf

BI Norwegian Business School

Kim Nimon

University of North Texas

Kai R. Larsen

Leeds School of Business; Information Systems Group; Gallup

Christiane V. Hovland

BI Norwegian Business School

Merethe Arnesen

BI Norwegian Business School

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

This study uses latent semantic analysis (LSA) to explore how prevalent measures of motivation are interpreted across very diverse job types. Building on the Semantic Theory of Survey Response (STSR), we calculate “semantic compliance” as the degree to which an individual’s responses follow a semantically predictable pattern. This allows us to examine how context, in the form of job type, influences respondent interpretations of items. In total, 399 respondents from 18 widely different job types (from CEOs through lawyers, priests and artists to sex workers and professional soldiers) self-rated their work motivation on eight commonly applied scales from research on motivation. A second sample served as an external evaluation panel (n = 30) and rated the 18 job types across eight job characteristics. Independent measures of the job types’ salary levels were obtained from national statistics. The findings indicate that while job type predicts motivational score levels significantly, semantic compliance as moderated by job type job also predicts motivational score levels usually at a lesser but significant magnitude. Combined, semantic compliance and job type explained up to 41% of the differences in motional score levels. The variation in semantic compliance was also significantly related to job characteristics as rated by an external panel, and to national income levels. Our findings indicate that people in different contexts interpret items differently to a degree that substantially affects their score levels. We discuss how future measurements of motivation may improve by taking semantic compliance and the STSR perspective into consideration.

Keywords: Motivation, Job Types, Latent Semantic Analysis, Semantic Theory of Survey Response, Intrinsic Motivation, Measurement, Payment Level, Likert Scales

Suggested Citation

Arnulf, Jan Ketil and Nimon, Kim and Larsen, Kai R. and Hovland, Christiane V. and Arnesen, Merethe, The Priest, the Sex Worker, and the CEO: Measuring Motivation by Job Type (2020). Arnulf, J. K., et al. (2020). "The Priest, the Sex Worker, and the CEO: Measuring Motivation by Job Type." Frontiers in Psychology 11: 1321., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3716162

Jan Ketil Arnulf (Contact Author)

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

Kim Nimon

University of North Texas

1155 Union Circle #305340
No Address Available

Kai R. Larsen

Leeds School of Business; Information Systems Group ( email )

995 Regent Dr.
Boulder, CO 80309-0419
United States

Gallup ( email )

901 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004
United States

Christiane V. Hovland

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

Merethe Arnesen

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

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