• Motivation – process that influences the direction, persistence, and vigour of goal directed behaviour

Perspectives on Motivation

  • Instinct Theory and Modern Evolutionary Psychology
    • Instinct (fixed action pattern) – an inherited characteristic, common to all members of a species, that automatically produces a particular response when the organism is exposed to a particular stimulus
    • Theories faded due to circular reasoning (People are greedy.  Why?  Because greed is an instinct.  Why?  Because people are greedy.)
    • Modern evolutionary psychologists propose that many motives have evolutionary underpinnings
  • Homeostasis and Drive Theory
    • Homeostasis – a state of internal physiological equilibrium that the body strives to maintain
      • Requires a sensory mechanism for detecting changes in internal environment, a response system that can restore equilibrium, and a control centre that receives information from sensors
    • Drive theory – physiological disruptions to homeostasis produce drives, states of internal tension that motivate an organism that reduce this tension
      • Clark Hull proposes that reducing drives is the ultimate goal of motivated behaviour
      • Flaws in theory found in certain behaviours, such as when people  skip meals to diet (increases rather than decreases state of arousal)
  • Incentive and Expectancy Theories
    • Incentives – environmental stimuli that pull an organism toward a goal
    • Modern incentive theorists emphasize the pull of external stimuli and how stimuli with high incentive value can motivate behaviour, even in the absence of biological need
    • Expectancy x value theory – goal directed behaviour is jointly determined by two factors: the strength of the person’s expectation that particular behaviours will lead to a goal, and the value the individual places on the goal (incentive value)
      • Motivation = expectancy x incentive value
    • Extrinsic motivation – performing an activity to obtain an external reward or to avoid punishment
    • Intrinsic motivation – performing an activity for its own sake (enjoyment of the activity)
    • Overjustification hypothesis – giving people extreme rewards to perform activity that they intrinsically enjoy may overjustify that behaviour and reduce intrinsic motivation
  • Psychodynamic and Humanistic Theories
    • View motivation within a broader context of personality development and functioning, but take radically different approaches
    • Freud believed that most behaviour resulted from a never-ending battle between unconscious impulses struggling for release and psychological defenses used to keep them under control
    • Abraham Maslow believed that psychology’s perspectives ignored a key motive: our striving for personal growth
      • Deficiency needs – concerned with physical and social survival
      • Growth needs – motivate us to develop our potential
      • Proposed concept of need hierarchy, a progression of needs containing deficiency needs at the bottom and growth needs at the top
        • Physiological > safety > belongingness and love > esteem > cognitive > aesthetic > self-actualization (need to fulfill our potential, ultimate human motive)
        • Can only focus on needs of highest level if bottom levels are satisfied
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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