Employee and Supervisor Ratings of Motivation: Main Effects and Discrepancies Associated with Job Satisfaction and Adjustment in a Factory Setting1


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    The authors gratefully acknowledge participants in Hardi's spring 1990 seminar on Group Dynamics in Organizational Settings who assisted in data collection, and the invaluable help of the employees and management in the upstate New York shoe factory where the data were gathered. The authors also wish to acknowledge Ed Deci, Elizabeth Whitehead, and other members of the Motivation Research Group at Rochester who made contributions. Funding was provided by a faculty research grant from the University of Rochester and by grants from NICHD (HD19914) and NIMH (MH18922) to the Motivation Research Group.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Barbara C. Hardi, Department of Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627.


Research and theory on employee job satisfaction and well-being has increasingly concentrated on both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors. According to self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985). autonomy, relatedness, and competence are three intrinsic psychological needs that, if fulfilled in the workplace, will lead to greater satisfaction, performance, and general well-being. This study examines employee and supervisor perceptions of the employee's autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the workplace, as well as the degree and direction of discrepancies between employee and supervisor reports. Both employee and supervisor ratings of intrinsic motivational factors were significantly related to work satisfaction, psychological health, and self-esteem, after controlling for the extrinsic factors of pay and job status. Results of discrepancy analyses were somewhat supportive of overrating being associated with greater well-being and job satisfaction. Discussion of the results ties this study to relevant research from a self-determination perspective and to the growing literature on discrepancies and self-perception.