Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Major Professor

Michael E. Gordon


The purpose of this study was to investigate a relatively new and highly controversial theory of work motivation promulgated by·Dr.Frederick Herzberg . This theory, called the Motivator-Hygiene or Two Factor Theory, was based on information obtained using an open-ended, semi-structured interview technique. An extensive review of the literature indicated that all supportive studies were based on a similar technique; most studies using other techniques were non-supporting.

Using experience and information obtained in a pilot study, a 135-item performance specimen checklist was developed, validated, and administered to more than 100 students at a Tennessee vocational-technical training school. The test instrument was found to provide data similar to Herzberg's significant events data while avoiding the limitations and sources of criticism mentioned in the literature.

Using the data obtained from this study and from the pilot study, eight hypotheses based on predictions of the Motivator-Hygiene Theory were tested. In every case, both sets of data failed to support the Motivator-Hygiene Theory. In many cases, the responses were actually opposite to those predicted by Herzberg's theory.

In addition, five possible versions of this theory, explicated and expounded by Nathan King, were tested. None of the five versions were supported by either set of data.

The results of this study indicate that certain job factors (motivators) appear to have greater potential for providing job satisfaction than do others (hygienes). This agrees with results of earlier empirical studies reported in the literature.

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