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Human Motivation

Human motivation can be defined as the instigation, degree, and sustenance of an individual’s conduct or performance. It is important to take note that motivation is a constantly changing state and should not be associated with a person’s attitude, personality, or passion. As opposed to a person’s inert personality, an individual’s being motivated is not a permanent property. On the other hand, in contrast to an emotion, motivation does no link immediately to the way a person reacts toward a situation (Barker, 2004). There are two types of motivation.

One is intrinsic motivation, an example of which is having a hobby. This is demonstrated by people who get engaged into something for self-satisfaction, in the absence of outside factors. Psychologists highly associate intrinsic motivation with academic excellence of students. Another type is extrinsic motivation, which on the other hand is much associated with the behavior of employees. This is due to the external factors which contribute to the rise of the level of motivation. Examples of these factors are incentives such as promotions, bonuses, salary raise, and commendation (Spevak and Karinch, 2000).

One of the most popular theories of motivation is Maslow’s Theory. It states that human beings posses different needs and wants, all of which can influence the way they react and behave. Those who have unfulfilled wants have a more affected conduct compared to those whose needs are met. The motivation that a satisfied person experiences elevates to a higher level so that the individual would be more inclined to meet another want or need. This motivation continually increases, and is proportional to the person’s psychological growth which is manifested by positive behavioral changes (Barker, 2004).

Aside from Maslow’s Theory, there are several other theories of motivation though no single one can encompass the entire coverage of motivation. Each has its own strengths and limitations over the others. An example of another theory of motivation is the Instinctual Theory. It states that a person would react to an inert force in some way, which occurs involuntarily and reflexively. The said theory, however, sometimes negates the way individuals deal on many situations since human behavior is more complex than what the theory proposes, making it dwell more on the descriptive rather than the explanatory aspect (Ormond, 2003).

Another is the Homeostatic Theory, which describes human beings as individuals who maintain balance with their environment. It states that people are naturally curious about their surroundings, causing them to explore and seek adventure (Spevak and Karinch, 2000). Incentive Theory refers to the goal-seeking attitude of people that they will behave in such a way that would lead them into achieving these goals. This also covers the fact that individuals tend to maximize their positive feelings while exerting much effort in minimizing whatever it is that makes them experience discomfort and pain.

A limitation of this theory of human motivation is that many goals bring about behaviors that are negative and commonly cause pain even though the goal itself is positive and self-fulfilling (Barker, 2004). One common theory of motivation is the Arousal Theory. The level of arousal of an individual varies from one person to another. There are also, however, external factors which can cause the results. In this case, arousal theory would not be enough to explain the outcome since it is more likely to account for the inert effects on a person’s individuality (Spevak and Karinch, 2000).

There are also simpler theories of human motivation. One is the Behavioral Theory of motivation, which characterizes the behavioral responses of individuals as a reaction to external stimuli. Cognitive Theory, as compared to Behavioral Theory, comprises the motivation a person experiences as a learning approach (Barker, 2004). Human motivation has physiological aspects that can further help explain why people behave the way that they do. Aside from the psychological, cognitive, and emotional aspects; a person’s physiological make up can likewise induce a specific behavior.

Arousal is a main physiological element affecting an individual’s motivation, as people are observed to have a positive level of motivation when arousal level is moderate. The physiology of arousal demonstrates the induction of the nervous and endocrine system, which in turn leads to the elevation of the blood pressure and heart rate. This results to alertness of the sensory system. The main neurotransmitters responsible for arousal are acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These all make the receiving neurons more sensitive and therefore more responsive to stimuli.

Arousal is made possible by systems rooted from the brainstem, with the neurotransmitters working to make these systems highly responsive to different situations (Barker, 2004). An example of a real-life scenario depicting the role of arousal in a teenage male’s performance is a young adolescent’s requirement for a higher level of arousal in playing tennis since the sport needs a strong stamina. When this person is taking a test in school, however, he requires a lower arousal level in order to achieve better focus on performing the test.

Aside from the Yerkes-Dodson Law, this can be supported by the Homeostatic Theory of motivation which suggests that individuals do adjust to their environment in order to maintain balance. The teenage male, when faced with such situations, can adapt by appropriately managing stress and pressure. This situation demonstrates that for the teen male to be able to perform a task well, a certain level of arousal which is specific to his inert behavior and natural make-up must be reached. Too little or too much arousal would adversely affect his motivation and hence, his performance (Ormond, 2003).

The teen male has a tendency to have a better performance when his arousal is moderate. It would vary on the two activities since playing tennis and taking an exam both require different optimal arousal levels. Nevertheless, in both cases, he might not do well if he is either too confident or too worried to perform (Spevak and Karinch, 2000). Arousal is also related to a person’s choice to procrastinate or to avoid or delay a task. To demonstrate procrastination, a teenage female who chooses to go to a party before studying, can be taken as an example.

Being a procrastinator, she believes that she could study better when she is under stress or pressure. Therefore, she prefers going to the party, leaving her less time to study. This time constraint increases her arousal, which makes her more motivated to study. One theory of motivation that can be applied in this case is the homeostatic theory, which discusses that people have the inert tendency to maintain balance with their environment as they are apt to explore different situations. Another is the Arousal Theory, since the teen is more probably able to finish her task when the arousal level is higher.

Another theory applicable to the scenario is the Cognitive Theory since the more she believes that she can study well in a pressured state, the more she will be capable of accomplishing the task. Her procrastination can be explained as her way of approach to learning (Wambach and others, 2001). The female teen can be more described as having a psychological strategy to keep herself motivated, rather than depicting laziness. Different tasks call for different arousal levels. Those who procrastinate enjoy the challenge of high arousal brought about by the small amount of time allotted to perform a task.

The more challenging the task to pending to be done, the higher is the level of arousal. This level makes the teenager more eager to study in a later time since she would believe that delaying the task would make her more motivated into finishing it. Otherwise, when she would try to study beforehand, meaning there is no or little time constraint; she would not immediately study or would not be that eager to do so. This might also lead to being unable to finish studying all her notes, since boredom could arise. (Ormond, 2003 and Barker, 2004).

Arousal indeed has a major role in human motivation, and is dependent both on the situation and the person involved.

Reference List:

Barker, S. (2004). Psychology. NY: Pearson Education. Ormond, J. E. (2003). Educational Psychology: Developing Learners. USA: Prentice Hall. Spevak, P. A. and M. Karinch. (2000). Empowering Underachievers. USA: New Horizon Press. Wambach, C. , G. Hansen, and T. Brothen. (2001). “Procrastination, Personality, and Performance. ” NADE. Retrieved June 5, 2007, from <www. nade. net/documents/SCP01/ Wambach,%20Cathrine. doc>.

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