Motivation Definition and Concepts

Subject: Psychology
Pages: 5
Words: 1107
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Bachelor

Motivation is the process through which people are inspired to act (Drillings & O’Neil, 2004). Motivation can be initiated from biological and psychological sources as well as goal-oriented incentives. Internal sources of motivation originate from our emotions throughout our evolutionary history. External sources originate from factors in the surrounding environment. Motivation sources, therefore, stimulate specific behavior in an individual on an issue the person had no control over. Motivation causes behavior to develop in a particular direction. The hedonistic theory postulates that motivation inspires certain behavior concerning the anticipated outcomes of either pain or pleasure.

According to philosophers, human beings strive to ensure the equilibrium between positive and negative feelings always shifts towards the positive aspects of life (Deckers, 2009). However, there are differences between people on what causes pain or pleasure in life. This is a product of evolutionary processes in the life of human beings which shape every person with unique behavior and motives. According to psychological belief, human beings are varied on what incentives motivate them to act in a certain way. External incentives from the environment such as goal-oriented organizational incentives and rewards motivate individuals differently. Psychologists further state that some human beings may not be aware of the motivation they need to change their negative feelings to positive behavior. Motivation is therefore a process and not an abrupt occurrence in one’s life.

The process of motivation is accomplished and realized through an individual’s consciousness. Consequently, individuals undergo progressive evolutionary processes along with divergent psychological and physiological outcomes that culminate in personalized motives and behaviors which are unique to every individual (McClelland, 2007). As such, people attach different weights to various incentives and internal emotions as far as motivation is concerned. Individuals anticipate future causes of pain and pleasure in life which then direct their responsive behavior. Incentives and motives are complementary in terms of the type of behavior that each inspires in a person. For instance, “hunger and food, power motive and political office, fear and danger, or monetary value and wages” illustrate the complementary aspect of motives and incentives (Deckers, 2009). Strong motives and big incentives combine to consolidate the power of motivation.

Emotion refers to the external manifestation of behavior physically and emotionally. Emotions were therefore thought to direct different thoughts and actions in various people. Motive is the innate drive to respond to positive incentives and reject negative incentives. Incentive refers to the anticipated reward from external sources of motivation. Motives and incentives are related in the sense that the goal of achieving a positive incentive motivates people to think and act in a particular pattern. Hunger is the motive that drives human beings to eat. The motive of attaining a bachelor’s degree drives a student to attend lectures and study hard in college. The fear of charging interest on late payment of bills causes consumers to adapt the custom of timely payments. People are therefore motivated towards positive incentives away from negative ones (Drillings & O’Neil, 2004). The motive of getting entertained and enjoyment causes fans to dance passionately to a popular song. Internal sources of motivation are therefore a product of individualized desires, needs, and aspirations.

External incentives are related to goals and outcomes which direct an individual’s behavior in a certain manner. A “pull and push” scenario, therefore, exists in the connection between motives and incentives. The physiological and psychological motives push people to respond in a specific manner while external prospects of goal-oriented incentives pull individuals to a particular pattern of behavior (McClelland, 2007). Academic behaviors pull university students towards attaining a bachelor’s degree. Hunger pushes a person to look for food. The innate desire to be loved and to belong to a family of friendship causes an individual to dedicate enough time for quality relationships to thrive. Both motives and incentives are defined by the ultimate goal associated with either of them.

The push and pull concept is therefore characteristic of the process that accompanies the manifestation of a goal unique to either motives or incentives. An individual’s internal motive determines the nature of the end-state. Internal motives consist of attributes such as hunger, value system, or social needs for companionship. An individual is pushed towards people from the internal motive to be loved and to belong (Deckers, 2009). The value system unique to an individual pulls him/her to make specific decisions such as enrolling for a university degree of choice for career purposes. The relationship between these pull and push factors determines the appropriate end that materializes. Fruitful relationships culminate into stable relationships, appropriate academic behaviors help a student to achieve a university degree and subsequently a lucrative career while eating a delicious meal satisfies hunger.

Emotions of fear, anger, and sadness have specific end-states. Emotions are a reaction to an external stimulus. Stimulus-generated psychological, cognitive and behavioral response is emotionally centered. During an emotional reaction, psychological changes are generated in an integrated manner by different faculties of human beings. Human emotions are universal (Drillings & O’Neil, 2004). The outcome of emotions is motive-oriented behavior since specific feelings are derived from them. Since motivation is a process and not a stationary event, individuals undergo certain emotions which determine a sequence of feelings and thoughts which define their behaviors. A motivated person is moved to act and think in a certain manner.

The supply of energy to act or think in a certain way originates from the internal motives and external incentives around an individual. Biological needs and psychological expectations push motivation-oriented behavior while incentives have a pull effect from external motivation. Motivation is exhibited in behavior through a combination of an individual’s character traits and personality (McClelland, 2007). The mind is a factor of the psychological needs and emotional wants that a person develops in response to different motivational sources. External sources of motivation are manifested through the desire for material needs.

Cognitive and mental representation defines the internal sources of motivation and the physical manifestation of their outcomes in behavior. How a person reacts to an environmental stimulus is exhibited through cognitive faculties (Deckers, 2009). For instance, stress causes negative outcomes in a person’s wellbeing causing panic, fear, and anxiety. Self-esteem and personality determine an individual’s emotional growth. Motivation induces specific actions, thoughts, and feelings corresponding to the nature of the surrounding environment and differentiated evolutionary histories. The value system and ethics that a person subscribes to determine the subsequent behavioral traits associated with them.

Reference list

  1. Deckers, L. (2009). Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental. New York: Allyn & Bacon.
  2. Drillings M. & O’Neil H. F. (2004).Motivation: theory and research. London: Rout ledge.
  3. McClelland, D. C. (2007). Human motivation. Washington: CUP Archive