Various definitions have been postulated as to what motivation concerns and they all share a common consent that it is an inherent condition, responsible for the stimulation or rejuvenation of behavior towards a defined direction. This inherent condition is in other cases referred to as a necessity, aspiration or want. In recent refinements, motivation is viewed as the arousal, course and resolution of conduct. The latter definition has infused a level of development in the psychology discipline by the concession that different factors are responsible for conduct rejuvenation and resolution. Psychological theorists assert that motivation plays a significant role in the execution of all trained reactions. Note that, emotion that is defined as an indistinct subjective impression occurring as a condition of stimulation should not be confused to be the same as motivation, as the former may not be objective oriented while for the latter, it serves as an inevitable factor (Shah & Gardner, 2008).

There are two main causes of motivation namely the intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are those that emanate from within a person while the extrinsic factors are those that emanate from the outside environment. There are two sources for intrinsic motivation, namely instincts and drive factors. As humans, definite things like consuming, sleeping, excreting, and drinking activities among others are prerequisite to survival (Nairne, 2008). Psychologists believe that the motivation attached to these activities is natural in every individual. However, animals like bears are not learned or possess an intellect that is responsible for discerning the names of different seasons, yet they always have their dens ready for hibernation during winter. Other animals that hibernate exhibit such behavior where they store up food during the hot seasons as stock during winter. Similarly, aestivating animals store their food supplies in the cold season in anticipation of the hot season when they are inactive. These are examples of untutored typical behavioral patterns that are scientifically referred to as instincts.

Instincts are initiated and governed by certain events in the atmosphere and they are similar in their predispositions as reflexes. It is generally consented that instincts in animals are a source of motivation from their pronounced state. However, the former is more intricate in composition than the latter. Charles Darwin proposed that humans also possess instincts by arguing that parents need not be instructed concerning the care of their young ones (Heckhausen, 2000). In addition to this, he argued that humans and especially young ones are curious in nature, and they do not need tutoring on subjects such as how to love and play. However, this does not mean that these mentioned actions as love, play and childcare are not taught; children may enquire as to why individuals hug and informed that it is a show of affection, schoolteachers do monitor playtime to ensure that healthy play activities occur and parenting literature as well as doctors’ instructions act as a learning point for parents.

These two opposing views have infused a point of contention as to whether human instincts exist. Further arguments have asserted that instincts are indefinite elements that cannot be measured to ascertain whether they are inhering in humans or not (Zelick, 2007). The measurement argument also infused yet another challenge as to what actions would be considered as instinctive and which ones would not. Due to the lack of adequate empirical and observational information, human instincts have been rejected by many psychologists with regard to motivational behavior. However, a few researchers are still on the path to determine the subject’s relevance in motivation. Sigmund Freud proposed his psychoanalytic theories in an attempt to explain human instincts as resulting from the biological processes of sex as a pleasure tool and hence life’s blossoming and aggression as the consequence for life’s repression and therefore death. These theories were challenged and rejected by a number of his scholars including Adler, Jung and Sullivan.

With regard to humans, psychologists have used the drive factor as the intrinsic source for motivation. A drive is defined as, “… an internal state that arises in response to a need, such as hunger or thirst,” (Nairne, 2008, pp. 346). Needs therefore, act as dispositions leading towards a given action. In other words, they generate a given state that requires an individual to move towards a given direction in a bid to act on the want created. Constructive or negative incentives or a blending of both, result to the execution of an action. Various elements are responsible for need creation in human beings. The first regards behavior, where motivation may be an initiated incentive that is drawn from stimuli linked to inherent factors such as the need to attain satisfying results such as rewards or the need to circumvent undesired outcomes. An athlete will be drawn to proper diets, body-fitting exercises and hard work by the need to stay fit for running (reward) as opposed to gaining weight that is often a source of ridicule.

The classical conditioning theory postulates that natural responses to connected stimuli rejuvenate and determine the path posted by a behavior. The operant learning theory hinge behavior on outcomes in the sense that, positive reinforcements act as behavior enhancers while penalties act as behavior repressors. Secondly, socially human beings tend to acquire role models spurred by the desire to conform to their way of dressing, work ethics or simply conduct (Heckhausen, 2000). In-group settings, all humans adapt to healthy group relations by the fact that they want to be and feel significant to the group, as well as identify to it. The observational theory views role models act as motivation factors by the fact that humans tend to analyze and attach action effects on a person and if the consequence is positive, they will emulate it. The social cognition theory on the other hand postulates that an individual’s determination is the key to knowledge and motivation. Both conduct and attributes of an individual interplay in the determination of each other.

Cognitive needs serve as the third element for motivation. Individuals will retain interest to things that they may deem as appealing or frightening from the need to expand a deeper meaning or appreciation, or rid a possible hazard or danger respectively. Humans will therefore work towards the raising or diminishing the cognitive disequilibrium with regard to the given situation. The attribution theory holds that humans tend to recognize own and others achievements or failure by the use of intrinsic or extrinsic attributions, which in nature are either manageable or out of control. The intrinsic controlled state acts as the optimal point that all individuals have to work towards (Brown, 2007). For instance, a dancer who is not confident about his dancing ability is categorized as being intrinsically out of control. Due to this, the dancer will revert to a defeatist attitude towards dancing lessons especially when met with difficult dancing moves.

The expectancy theory asserts that motivation is a combined product of the supposed prospect of success, the association between achievements and incentives, and the worth attached to the acquisition of an aspiration (Brain, 2003). The cognitive dissonance theory argues that, when an individual faces two ideals, two deeds, or a deed and an ideal, the resolution will be found by the creation of a state of disequilibrium on both elements to a level where both can be accounted for concurrently. This will result in behavior change to fit the compromised definition. Fourthly, the need to understand life’s purpose and meaning that is generally referred to as a spiritual need motivates an individual in search for God and the ultimate truth among the various religions present in the world. Transpersonal theories as well as spiritual ones deal with the significance of life. Abraham Maslow, a renowned writer also contributed to the spiritual element by advancing his humanistic theories that are based on human needs that he ranked in accordance to priorities to come up with a hierarchy.

At the base of Maslow’s pyramid are the physiological needs as hunger and thirst, followed by the safety need that is concerned with protection. Thirdly, there is the need for belonging and affection, and fourth, self-esteem. These four needs were identified as being fundamental to self-actualization. The cognitive and aesthetic needs fall under the fifth and sixth level respectively, while the self-actualization and self-transcendence are the seventh and eighth need aspects related to the spiritual component and personal belief (Biddle & Mutrie, 2008). Maslow proposed that, before an individual moved from one level to the other, they must meet the needs for the current level. His hierarchical needs representation defines all elements under the same theories. Fifth, emotional needs stem from the need to work towards the elimination of affective dissonance by enhancing moments of joy, laughter, love, and fun that make a person feel good while at the same time reducing sadness, guilt, hate and remorse that infuse a bad feeling. Self-esteem and identity encompass the bulk of emotional needs in a person. High levels of optimism and zest are imperative to the maintenance emotional health.

Sixth is the conative needs founded on the premises of independence and autonomy in terms of decision making, motivating an individual towards own selection and development of personal aspirations, goals and personal efficacy (Olsson, 2008). These serve as solutions to the inherent want of having total control with regard to ones life, which involves the lessening of other’s power in own life and the riddance of threats that stand in the way of achieving one’s aspirations and dreams. Lastly, in biological terms, undesired feelings of thirst and hunger drive a person in the search for food and fluids that will solve the bodily-created need. Positive stimulations like sweet scents, warm bathing water, and tasty foods tend to activate body senses in a way that the individual will be motivated towards the smell, bathing time and feeding periods. Body reflexes like shivering or sweating, vasodilatation or vasoconstriction, and pupil dilation or enlargement are also spurred by the need to create a homeostatic environment for bodily functions.

Extrinsic factors on the other hand comprise mainly of incentives. Money serves as the easiest incentive factor used to motivate individuals towards work (Khan, 2008). Note that however, it is not the best. Verbal appreciation in the working environment serves as a powerful incentive towards a lasting drive in hard work. Individuals attach worth to incentives, which may be constructive or negative in nature affecting their decisions accordingly. An athlete may be motivated towards maintaining a balanced diet and jogging for long hours by the need to win a gold medal in a competition. The gold medal here acts as the incentive for the athlete’s dietary and physical preparations towards the competition and it is categorized as an external factor by the fact that the medal is not an internal need. Many people use the terms incentive and drive interchangeably as they work similarly and have the same results. However, the difference between the two arises from the nature of each factor.

A drive is an intrinsic factor that pushes an individual towards a certain direction, while an incentive is an extrinsic factor that pulls an individual towards a given direction. Intrinsic and extrinsic elements are correlated in various ways (Nairne, 2008). A hungry individual, propelled by the need for food, and a satiated one, who requires no food, share the incentive premise that food is more appreciated and fulfilling when a person has been deprived of the same. In this case, when both individuals are offered food, the hungry one will attach more worth to it than the satiated one. A lazy worker will attach more worth to a ten thousand dollars incentive infused to achieve more work than an industrious one. Some intrinsic factors may lead an individual towards certain coping mechanisms, which in our case are the extrinsic factors (Ross, 2006). From this, psychologists have proposed that both extrinsic and intrinsic factors work together in initiating motivation and that none can work independent of the other.

Achievement motivation serves as a good example of a factor that relies on both the intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Every human has an internal desire to achieve different personal goals in life that acts as a push towards the realization of the same. However, the passion injected to a goal clearly depends on the success prospect attached to it. An individual may aspire to be a doctor yet he may give up the goal based on a research that may make the individual view themselves as inadequate. Cultural settings can also act as a motivating factor towards an achievement (Zelick, 2007). For example, societies that place higher praise and incentives on male achievements as opposed to female achievements will act as an incentive for the men while at the same time is a disincentive for women. Close-knit societies that accord higher incentives in-group attainments as opposed to individual ones propel its members towards the collective edification and working towards by the need to attain higher commend. In conclusion, motivation can be viewed as being determined by a combined effort between the intrinsic and extrinsic factors yet, the positive use of both is highly imperative towards success and goal motivation.








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Biddle, S., & Mutrie, N. (2008). Psychology of physical activity: determinants, well-being, and interventions. Hamden, CT: Routledge.

Brown, L. V. (2007). Psychology of motivation. Carbondale, IL: Nova Publishers.

Heckhausen, J. (2000). Motivational psychology of human development: developing motivation and motivating development. Gauteng, SA: Elsevier.

Khan, W. A. (2003). Teaching Motivation. New Delhi, Delhi: Discovery Publishing House.

Nairne, J. S. (2008). Psychology. Independence, KY: Cengage Learning.

Olsson, F. M. (2008). New developments in the psychology of motivation. Carbondale, IL: Nova Publishers.

Ross, B. H. (2006). The Psychology of Learning and Motivation: Advances in Research and Theory. Camp Hill, PA: Academic Press.

Shah, J. Y., & Gardner, W. L. (2008). Handbook of motivation science. Lynton, UK: Guilford Press.

Zelick, P. R. (2007). Issues in the Psychology of Motivation. Carbondale, IL: Nova Publishers.





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