Expectancy Value Theory

Expectancy Value Theory

Expectancy value theory postulates that the behavior of a person is determined by how much they value a goal as well as the degree that a person expects to be successful. Expectancy is the judgment of an individual of his or her capabilities. The question, “can I accomplish this task?” is answered by the expectancy. Value is the belief of a person regarding the importance of a particular thing or simply the reason for engaging in a particular task. Value provides an answer to the question, “why do I want to perform this task?” This theory brings both expectancy and value together and they play a vital role in predicting the future decisions, persistence, engagement as well as the achievement of a person. The basis of this theory is that the motivation of a person depends on their retention of values and positive expectancy.

What are the weaknesses and strengths of the expectancy value theory?


Among the strengths of this value include:

  • It offers a framework on which individuals’ decision making process is based; values and expectations
  • It is supported by the current research generally.
  • It accounts for variations in choices among individuals even when there is similar efforts’ input towards the achievement of something.


Among the weaknesses of this theory include:

  • This theory stresses that the motivation of a person is dependent on their values and expectancy.
  • This theory fails to consider that the emotional state, abilities, personality, skills, past experiences and knowledge are some of the factors that may affect the results of a model.
  • It is based on perception.
  • It is difficult to implement the theory in a group situation or environment.

How the theory is applied

In practical settings, this theory is applied in different ways. For instance, there are learners from families where education is not given high value. The expectations of such learners tend to be lower too. Instructors may promote learning value through the application of strategies or activities in a classroom setting. For instance, instructors can set attainable, clear goals with specific purposes. They can also ensure that the tasks assigned early allow learners to succeed so that they can enhance their expectancy. Instructors can also call role models to the class to share their past experiences in class. The instructors can stress that the role models were not excellent at first but they improved with time becoming more confident and gaining more knowledge as well as experience.

Who developed this theory and when?

This theory was developed by Martin Fishbein. He proposed this theory in 1970s.

Its function is expressed as follows:

Motivation=expectancy x value.

This indicates that behavior or motivation is the expectancy’s and values’ function. The behavior of a person is based on the expectancy that a person has as well as the value of the goal that the person is working for. This theory or approach predicts that, if there is a possibility for two or more behaviors, a person will chose the behavior that has the largest combination of value and expected success. This theory indicates that the behavior of a person is directly related to the belief or perception of that person on a given objective as well as the value that the person attaches to the achievement of that particular objective.

Who uses the expectancy value theory?

This theory is used by almost everybody in making decisions. People guesstimate the type and amount of work that they need to perform in order to achieve certain results as well as their pre-conceived ideas of the way they hope to feel or what to accomplish by applying certain amount of effort. The theory is also a marketing/ consumer behavior theory.

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