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Human Motivation

Before we take an excursion in to the theories of human motivation, we should consider that earlier understanding on the topic was based on early psychological milestones: Freudian Theory of Id, Behaviorist Theory of Watson, Humanistic Theory of Maslow. For example, according to Freud, the basic biological urges, that he called “id” were instinctive by nature and drove human behavior according to uncontrollable urges, i.e, “negative” urges that humans needed to learn how to control.

Freud speculated further that human “ego” was there to “subdue” (i. e. control) those “negative” urges thus rendering the owner more socially adaptable. Under the same umbrella, we are familiar with instinct theories of human motivation, so progressively mentioned in the work of Dugger (2006). In it, this particular author takes us back on what was known Evolutionary Theory

(a. k. a.Pawlov’s Theory of Evolution), and yet, so masterfully suggests that human motivation can be viewed through these lenses. In the same arena we can place what contemporary psychologists understand under Need Theory of Human Motivation. Referring back to Maslow, we recall that he developed that particular milestone under guidance of human needs. In particular, he saw the hierarchy of human needs in the form of the pyramid in which the bottom portion occupied the most primary ones.

Watson and his followers maintained that humans are born with a “blank state” which, as the human child grows, is filled with the content influenced by the environmental factors. To extrapolate, their perspective suggested that external stimuli are responsible for the human motivation. It is curious to inquire further, would the human produce motivational impulses if completely isolated for an extended period of time? If we view human motivation only from behaviorist perspective, the answer to this question can become logically as follows.

If deprived from any external stimuli from his/her birth, the human will be completely and absolutely amotivated in every aspect of his or her life. Such supposition was evidenced as wrong through and with research on stimuli deprived children (Brown, 1961) Brown (1961) also argued that humanistic psychologists discussed human motivation from the self-actualization point of view. He made a case that every one of us has the internal need to learn to naturally develop self be it conditioned or vicarious learning situations.

Maslow and Rogers gave a thrust to a completely new group of psychologists who began considering a combination of cognitive, social-cognitive, and social-behaviorists angles on the human motivation. The names of the motivational theories, as descriptive as they are, imply on important differentiation. Each framework refers to the specific perspective, as in human consciousness being the great part of the motivational impulse, or human consciousness being influenced by a social structure, or even social structure having a full impact on the human motivation thus his or her behavior.

From this perspective, one would find a great point of interest to consider that humanistic and Gestalt theories tend to view the human being as the whole with implied emphasis on the positive state of mind (i. e. mental health versus mental illness) whereas behaviorist and Freudian theories view human behavior from the point of view on the negative state of mind (i. e. mental illness versus mental health). Obviously, to view human motivation through either lenses would shift the clinician’s approach.

Accirding to Stacey, DeMartino, Stacey, & DeMartino, (1958), especially, there is an interest in note of the fact that Gestalt psychologists argued in favor of free will as the necessary ingredient of human motivation. Cognitivists defended the position of the necessity of good memory and importance of perception in order for the learner to develop a strong motivational impulse. Theirs gave birth to the Learning Theory of Human Motivation.

With the more insight, cognitivists and humanists alike started considering integration of different theoretical perspectives. For example, Pelham, (1997) wrote in one of his articles that an individual as the wholesome being can be better understood from the point of view of social, cognitive, conative, affective, and biological perspective. It is more and emphasis on how mind configure and organize the external and internal experiences. Again, we desire to understand the origins of human mind and its relationship with our physiology.

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