What is Motivation

The word motivation is derived from motive which literally means a desire or want. So the inner force, power or energy that pushes one towards achieving a certain desire or want (motive) is known as motivation.

According to Bunchanan, Motivation is the decision making process, through which the individual chooses the desired outcomes and sets in motion the behavior appropriate to them.

When we want to do something, our behavior is activated by certain factors. These factors give our behavior a direction which may be either positive or negative. So, dynamics of behavior which are the driving force for our actions is called motivation.

As we said, behind every set of behavior there is a cause which initiates a particular action or feelings. Behavior changes over time or sustains itself with varying degree of intensity. Motivational factors are fundamental and vital components of human personality and behavior which make us humans.

 Principles of Motivation / Theories of Motivation

 1. Need or Drive

It is an internal basis or the push factor which drives one to certain behavior. For example, hunger or thirst is an internal need creating stimulation to achieve a state of satisfying the state of hunger or thirst.

2. Incentive

It is an external factor which is also known as pull factor from the environment. An individual might be pulled by some incentive from the environment pulling him to a course of action or behavior. Example could include money, praise, certificate etc.

 3. Psychological Motives

These are motives which are not directly related to the biological survival of the individual or species. They focus on emotional, cognitive, social needs of humans. Examples could be affiliation, attachment, achievement and so on. The affiliation need is a basic human desire to be in contact with others to create a sense of belonging and social or personal attachments. Similarly, competitive motivation is the desire for success and accomplishment and the desire to excel others.

Psychological motivation can also be purely materialistic. These are the desires or needs related to safety, security and other physical needs

4. Optimum Arousal Theory

According to this theory individuals have an optimum range of stimulation or an optimum level of arousal. Every individual is motivated to maintain this level. For example, one may find oneself relaxing after a tough week in a calm environment away from people. Others may find it thrilling to be in a noisy concert to beat the tiredness of the week. If the arousal level goes too low, one is motivated to increase it to maintain the optimum level. On the the hand, if it goes too high, try to reduce it.

Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson (1908) developed an empirical relationship relationship between arousal and performance. This is also known as the Yerkes-Dodson law. According to Yerkes Dodson Law, if a task is simple or well-learned it is best for arousal to be medium or high for maximum performance. On the other hand, if it is complex, lower levels of arousal provide for the best performance.

 5. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

According to Maslow needs are based on presumed strength or potency. Some needs are more important and must be fulfilled before other needs. According to Maslow the needs must be fulfilled in the following order.

  1. Physiological needs
  2. Safety and Security
  3. Love and belonging
  4. Esteem and self-esteem
  5. Self-actualization
Diagram of Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs


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