Equity theory, Benevolence and Entitlement

When we replace a sense of service and gratitude with a sense of entitlement and expectation, we quickly see the demise of our relationships, society, and economy.”

― Steve Maraboli

In 1963 John Stacey Adams came up with equity theory of motivation. This theory was different from earlier theories which were based on needs ex. Maslow’s needs hierarchy. Adams instead focused on fairness. I put certain efforts ( inputs) and in return get something back in form of rewards etc. ( outcome) , now my motivation to continue doing same thing will depend not just on ratio of outcome/inputs but also by comparing this with other person.


As long as outcome/input ratio of mine is equal to outcome/input ratio of  person with whom I am comparing, I feel good, if ratio is more then I feel even better and of course I not happy at all if ratio is less. This shows that we are sensitive to equity and this can affect our motivation level.


This may not be always be true, if we overpay a person he may not necessarily feel motivated and increase his efforts. Instead he may feel that his is actually entitled for those kind of rewards and his level of efforts may remain same.


Also, it may happen that if a person is underpaid, his level of output may remain same, he will not ask for pay rise or reduce his efforts. This called benevolence. A person doesn’t mind being paid less than peers.


People are differently sensitive to equity; it is continuum…benevolent, equity sensitive and entitled.

So next time while issuing increment letters keep this aspect of equity theory in mind.



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