Библиографическое описание:

Володина Е. В. Metamotivation and burnout // Молодой ученый. — 2010. — №8. Т. 2. — С. 113-115.

В последнее время учёные всего мира фокусируют своё внимание на влиянии профессиональной деятельности на личность специалиста. В связи с этим активно изучается синдром эмоционального выгорания. Всемирная организация здравоохранения признала, что синдром эмоционального выгорания требует медицинского вмешательства. Установлено, что среди работников на фоне синдрома эмоционального выгорания со временем появляются психосоматические нарушения, отмечается повышенный уровень тревожных расстройств, депрессии, суицидальные попытки, злоупотребление алкоголем и наркотиками. Среди основных причин появления и развития данного синдрома выделяется кризис мотивации. В статье рассматриваются отношения мотивации и синдрома эмоционального выгорания, а также анализируется метамотивация.

Burnout is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. Research indicates general practitioners have the highest proportion of burnout cases (according to a recent Dutch study in Psychological Reports, no less than 40% of these experienced high levels of burnout). Burnout is not a recognized disorder in the DSM although it is recognized in the ICD-10.

The term "burnout" in psychology was coined by Herbert Freudenberger in his 1974 Staff burnout, presumably based on the 1960 novel A Burnt-Out Case by Graham Greene, which describes a protagonist suffering from burnout.

Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have theorized that the burnout process can be divided into 12 phases, which are not necessarily followed sequentially, nor necessarily in any sense be relevant or exist other than as an abstract construct:

-          a compulsion to prove oneself;

-          working harder;

-          neglecting one’s own needs;

-          displacement of conflicts (the person does not realize the root of the distress);

-          revision of values (friends or hobbies are completely dismissed);

-          denial of emerging problems (cynicism and aggression become apparent);

-          withdrawal (reducing social contacts to a minimum, becoming walled off; alcohol or other substance abuse may occur);

-          behavioral changes become obvious to others;

-          inner emptiness;

-          depression;

-          burnout syndrome.

Maslach and her colleague, Michael Leiter, defined the antithesis of burnout as engagement. Engagement is characterized by energy, involvement and efficacy, the opposites of exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy.

The most well-studied measurement of burnout in the literature is the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Maslach and her colleague Jackson first identified the construct "burnout" in the 1970s, and developed a measure that weighs the effects of emotional exhaustion and reduced sense of personal accomplishment. This indicator has become the standard tool for measuring burnout in research on the syndrome. The Maslach Burnout Inventory uses three general scales:

1)      emotional exhaustion – feelings of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one’s work;

2)      depersonalization – an unfeeling and impersonal response toward recipients of one’s service, care treatment or instruction;

3)      personal accomplishment – feelings of competence and successful achievement in one’s work.

Some researchers and practitioners have argued for an "exhaustion only" model that sees that symptom as the hallmark of burnout.

Many theories of burnout include negative outcomes related to burnout, including job function (performance, output, etc.); health related outcomes (increases in stress hormones, coronary heart disease, circulatory issues) and mental health problems (depression, etc.).

Although burnout is work-related, most responsibility for burnout currently rests on the individual worker in the United States, as well as the individual company, as it is in a company's best interest to ensure burnout doesn't occur. Other countries, especially in Europe, have included work stress and burnout in occupational health and safety standards, and hold organizations (at least partly) responsible for preventing and treating burnout.

There are four general groups of approaches to the description of the sources of burnout. Individual approaches focus on the role and processes inside the person; interpersonal approaches pay attention to the relationship of an invidious with his colleagues in work processes. Organizational approaches are related to the importance of the organization (such as, for example, long hours, little down time, continual peer and superior surveillance) in the appearance of burnout. Social approaches focus on more broad social and cultural aspects. It’s important to notice that all four approaches are not mutually exclusive.

All individual approaches mark out motivation, which includes high work-related goals, values and expectancies. For example, Pines and Aronson (1988) proposed the humanistic existential theoretical model of burnout. They examined burnout through Frankl's (1963) humanistic existential paradigm. Frankl believed that "the striving to find meaning in one's life is the primary motivational force in man" (p. 154). According to Pines (1993b), people search for meaning in life because of the finality of death, and burnout is the result for those human beings who fail to find meaning in life. In previous periods in history, people more often found their existential meaning in life through religion. Today, many people have directed their quest for meaning in life to their work. When individuals look to work for meaningfulness and feel that they are failing, the result is often burnout (Pines, 1993a). This can be a particular problem for many counselors, who often come to the field because they feel it is a "calling." Burnout occurs "when the calling of caring for others and giving to others in an area such as emotional development, intellectual growth, or physical wellness no longer gives sufficient meaning and purpose in one's life" (Skovholt, 2001, p. 111). When meaningfulness in work disappears, an existential crisis can arise, eventually resulting in burnout. This conceptualization of burnout may explain why burnout tends to occur in highly motivated, goal-oriented, and idealistic professionals who have high expectations of themselves and their professions (Pines, 1993b). That is, the high expectations lead counselors to set unrealistic and unattainable goals; consequentially, they increase their efforts but still do not attain the goals, and this lack of success causes them to feel like failures. Within the humanistic existential model, "in order for one to burn out, one must first be 'on fire'" (Pines, 1993b, p. 40). As Farber (1983) stated, "a high level of commitment to one's work is often regarded as a prerequisite to burnout" (p. 9).

The notion of highly motivated and idealistic professionals being at an increased risk of burnout has been supported in the empirical research that has been conducted (Maslach, 2003; Pines & Aronson, 1988). Specifically, the characteristics of highly motivated individuals include having a successful impact on and being successful with all clients and needing to feel appreciated (Pines, 1993b). In a study of 205 professionals in varying helping professions, Pines and Aronson (1983) concluded that burnout was negatively correlated with a sense of success, with the ability to express oneself at work, and with the level of appreciation received for one's work. People who have low expectations and do not care about their work generally do not experience burnout.

It is important to remember that within this humanistic existential model, burnout is not stagnant (Pines, 1993b). That is, people may move from one end of the continuum to the other. For example, a counselor may perceive a period of failure and lack of achievement and lose a sense of existential significance. Thus, burnout is a product of an interaction between the one's expectations of his or her occupational roles and the dynamics of the work environment.

In a nutshell, humanistic existential model focus on the individual’s search for meaning in life as the most important part of motivation, but doesn’t pay attention to another aspects of the motivation (other approaches to burnout don’t also do it).

According to Maslow, self-actualization is the highest need in a hierarchy of needs that humans strive to fulfill. He postulated that, in general, people need to fulfill the needs that are lower in the hierarchy first before they can move on to fulfilling higher needs. This can be expressed with the following diagram:

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs.gif

The diagram appeals ranks the most urgent physiological needs like air, water and food before higher needs like love and belonging. Clearly someone who is starving can do without love, they will rather focus all their energy on satisfying their hunger. To Maslow, in order to be able to strive for a need, we need to first fulfill a lower need. With his concept of the hierarchy of needs Maslow achieved the great intellectual feat of not only explaining why humans are always desiring something and never seem to reach a state of complete satisfaction. He also tried to predict in which order these desires or needs would arise. Whether this is generally true has yet to be confirmed by research. The necessary longitudinal studies have not been carried out yet.

Maslow distinguished between deficiency needs (D-needs) and being needs (B-needs). D-needs arise from a lack in one area, or tension that can arise from hunger, for instance. This lack or tension gives rise to motivation to lessen or overcome it. Motivation will drive people to engage in activities to reduce the drive for food. Motivation and D-needs take precedence over metamotivation and B-needs. Metamotivation refers to growth tendencies and people’s drive to self-actualize. Once our D-needs have been fulfilled (or get fulfilled on a regular basis), B-needs arise, such as the search for truth and beauty. Because B-needs do not stem from a deficiency they push forward to self-fulfillment. This is consistent with the teleological view postulated by Adler. Metamotivation is, in contrast to motivation, concerned with increasing tension to bring more stimuli to life to bring a life lived to the fullest.

Metamotivational knowledge are knowledge about one’s motivational functioning (e.g., what thoughts produce an increase or decrease in motivation, what environments contain effective personal incentives, etc.).


The Metamotivation inventory is a tool designed to evaluate one’s metamotivation, which is the knowledge of the self, derived from increasing self-awareness in the exciting life process of learning and growth that provides the means of developing and exercising individual’s full potential. The Inventory was designed to assist one’s progress in the process of growth, and provide feedback on one’s characteristic personal, management and leadership styles. The Inventory consists of thirty-two personality dimensions contained in the following six major categories:

-          achievement motivation,

-          concern for people,

-          deterministic,

-          need for control,

-          self-actualization,

-          stress.

As it’s possible to see, metamotivation is more than the only search for meaning in life. It analyzes life as a complete full system, which consists of different parts, and each one of them can be understood and developed. Improving oneself continuously in different areas of life without focusing on one particular area of life can help to avoid burnout. Anyway, while individuals can cope with the symptoms of burnout, the only way to truly prevent burnout is through a combination of organizational change and education for the individual. Organizations address these issues through their own management development, but often they engage external consultants to assist them in establishing new policies and practices supporting a healthier worklife.


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Electronic media

Association for Humanistic Psychology, 2000, From Maslow to the 21st Century, [Online, accessed 21 Oct. 2000]. URL: http://ahpweb.org/aboutahp/whatis.html

Boeree, C. G. 1997, Alfred Adler [Online, accessed 15 Oct. 2000]. URL: http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/adler.html

Boeree, C. G. 1997, Abraham Maslow [Online, accessed 17 Oct. 2000]. URL: http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/maslow.html



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