A theory of achievement motivation, for instance, will identify variables such as optimal challenge, independent work, and rapid performance feedback as the naturally occurring causes for achievement strivings, and it will identify variables such as effort, persistence, and career choices (e.g., entrepreneurship) as its naturally occurring consequences.
A theory cuts through the complexity and noise of reality to represent how a phenomenon generally works (“Representation” in Figure 1.1). Once formed, theories generate predictions (i.e., hypotheses) about where a motivational state comes from, what it leads to (e.g., behavioural change), and how, when, and under what conditions it might change.
For instance, one hypothesis about achievement motivation might be that people who set goals and receive rapid performance feedback (e.g., entrepreneurs) should experience greater achievement strivings at work than do people who have service-oriented jobs (e.g., nursing; Jenkins, 1987).
With a valid theory in hand, the motivation scientist can translate discovered knowledge into useful applications in schools, workplaces, and society and, therefore, promote in people more effective functioning and enhanced well-being.
For instance, why does a challenge (e.g., Can you do this?) lead some people to strive for achievement while it leads other people to experience only anxiety and avoidance? If you can identify the antecedents and consequences to a motivational or an emotional phenomenon, then your understanding will be clearer, more sophisticated, and more helpful.

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