Psychological Properties of Motivation

P A R T T H R E E

Psychological Properties of Motivation

Can two individuals be both the same and different in what motivates them? Do people with different needs, traits, and concerns know they are motivated by different things? The themes of this section are population thinking, differences between motives and traits, awareness of what is motivating, and self-concept as a motivational system. Population thinking emphasizes the notion that every person is different. Chapter 8 (Drives, Needs, and Awareness) shows people differ in the intensity of their psychological needs. Individuals with stronger psychological needs or motives are pushed harder toward satisfaction. Chapter 9 (Personality and Self in Motivation) stresses population thinking by emphasizing differences in personality traits. Trait differences explain why people are attracted or repelled by different incentives.

What is the motivational distinction between psychological motives and personality traits? One distinction is that motives like drives and psychological needs push behavior, whereas traits do not. Drives are created through incentive deprivation. For example, food deprivation creates a hunger drive, which pushes or motivates a person to seek, attain, and eat food. Psychological needs are persistent deficits that push an individual toward activi- ties or incentives that provide satisfaction. If left unsatisfied, needs produce psychological ill health. Thus, people are motivated from within to satisfy their needs and attain psycho- logical health. The need to belong or affiliate, for example, pushes people to join clubs, organizations, fraternities, and sororities in order to satisfy this need. Personality traits, however, determine whether incentives are valued positively or negatively. To illustrate, for the trait of extraversion, extraverts positively value and are pulled to attend large, noisy parties. Introverts, in contrast, negatively value those parties and decline to attend.

Are people aware that they are motivated by their psychological needs and personal- ity traits? Although needs and traits affect the motivation of behavior, people may not be aware of the source of that motivation. They seem to act automatically but with limited in- sight as to why. This lack of awareness may result from the fact that needs and traits are con- sidered stable and unchanging. Stable needs and traits cannot explain why the same person behaves differently at different times. However, people differ in needs and traits, and this can account for differences in their behavior.

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Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, Third Edition, by Lambert Deckers. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

 

 

Does how you view yourself in the present and in the future motivate your behavior? A person’s view of him- or herself defines self-concept, which is an organized system of knowledge about the self. Envisioned future selves may serve as positive or negative in- centives. A positive future self motivates approach behavior toward that end while a nega- tive future self motivates avoidance behavior, which is designed to prevent a negative self from happening. Self-esteem, however, refers to the outcome of an evaluation about the self. Self-esteem depends on the outcome of evaluations that occur in critical domains. Positive evaluations in important domains boost self-esteem and negative evaluations lower self-esteem.

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Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, Third Edition, by Lambert Deckers. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

 

 

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Drives, Needs, and Awareness

By annihilating desires you annihilate the mind. Every man without passions has within him no principle of action, nor motive to act.

—Claude Adrien Helvetius, 1715–1771

Body cannot determine mind to think, neither can mind determine body to motion or rest or any state different from these, if such there be.

—Benedict de Spinoza, 1677

■ The focus of this chapter is on motives—that is, the internal source of motivation. Keep that idea in mind as you consider the following questions, which introduce the contents of this chapter:

1. What are the differences among physiological needs, drives, and psychological needs?

2. What is the relationship between psychological needs and incentives?

3. Can needs be categorized and ranked for their potential to motivate behavior?

4. What are some of the major psychological needs that motivate behavior?

5. Is awareness of a need or incentive necessary before it can motivate behavior?

Drives and Needs as Internal Sources of Motivation How does one become a world renowned actor, a popular musician, a Nobel-prize winning scientist, or a gold medal-winning athlete? To reach this level of achievement, it is proba- bly necessary to be a genius, such as an acting, musical, scientific, or athletic genius. With this provision in place, one source of motivation for these achievements is the value placed on financial rewards, fame, winning, or the adoration received from others. The philoso- pher Schopenhauer (1851/1970), however, suggests that these incentives are not enough. The money may not be worth it and fame is too uncertain. In addition, the possibility that these incentives will be the result of one’s actions is vague, uncertain, and far in the future. Schopenhauer instead suggests that there are processes inside these individuals that will explain their motivation. He reasons that these individuals possess some inner force or drive that compels them toward their achievements. Schopenhauer likens this inner drive to an innate instinctual process that compels these individuals into action toward their goals as if they had no choice in the matter. This inner force is today labeled drive because it refers to

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Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, Third Edition, by Lambert Deckers. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

 

 

184 P A R T T H R E E / Psychological Properties of Motivation

TABLE 8.1 Internal and External Motivation and Likelihood of Behavior

Strength of Internal Motive

Strength of External Incentive Weak Strong

Weak Behavior not likely Behavior likely

Strong Behavior likely Behavior very likely

Note: The combined effects of internal and external sources of motivation must be strong enough to exceed the threshold in order for behavior to occur. For example, eating depends on the palatability of food (external) and the degree of hunger (internal).

that internal push, urge, or force that moves a person into action. It could also refer to psy- chological needs such as a very high need for achievement, competence, or autonomy. What internal drives and psychological needs do humans possess that motivate their behavior?

The purpose of this section is to contrast internal with external sources of motivation, with a major emphasis on internal sources such as drives and physiological and psycholog- ical needs. The section will conclude with a description of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and an evaluation of that hierarchy.

Interaction of Push and Pull Motivation As emphasized in Chapter 1, motivation comes from internal sources that push and from external sources that pull an individual. Internal motivation refers to drives and physiolog- ical and psychological needs, while external motivation concerns incentives and goals. The combined push and pull effects of internal and external sources must exceed some thresh- old for behavior to occur, as described in Table 8.1. When above the threshold, behavior oc- curs; when below, it does not (Kimble, 1990). Behavior can result from little external motivation, provided that there is a lot of internal motivation. For example, the food may not be very tasty but a hungry person will eat it. Or behavior can occur with little internal motivation, provided there is a lot of external motivation. For example, even though a per- son may not be very hungry, he will still eat a bowl of delicious ice cream. Internal moti- vation is the disposition to perform a particular action. It can be created through depriving an organism of an incentive such as food, water, or visual stimulation. In other instances, the disposition to respond is dormant, and a situational stimulus will arouse it. For instance, a psychological need such as the need for power could be activated by being a member of the police force, which allows for the legitimate exercise of power.

Physiological Needs and Psychological Drives There is a very important difference between physiological and psychological needs that is anchored in the distinction between materialism and mentalism. Physiological needs refer to deficits that exist in the material body or brain. Psychological needs, however, do not have any material existence and are mental or psychological in nature. There is reference to a deficit of some psychological entity; a discrepancy between a desired level and a current amount. In some cases, psychological needs are assumed to emerge into consciousness

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Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, Third Edition, by Lambert Deckers. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

 

 

C H A P T E R E I G H T / Drives, Needs, and Awareness 185

from physiological needs. Murray (1938), for instance, assumed that psychological needs emerged from processes that occurred in the brain. However, the possible physiological ori- gin of psychological needs is usually ignored.

Need as the Physiological Basis for Motivation. Homeostasis (see Chapter 5) describes the maintenance of constant conditions within the body. Motivation theorists who emphasize internal events, such as Clark Hull (1943, 1951, 1952) and Judson Brown (1961), accepted the idea that a set of ideal internal conditions was necessary for survival. Deviation from these conditions defines physiological need and is responsible for pushing an organism into action. The need for food can correspond to a low amount of glucose in the blood. The need for putting on a sweater corresponds to a drop in body temperature below 98.6°F. The need for iron exists when the amount in the body is so low so that the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen is reduced. This condition results in feeling tired and weak and being unable to per- form manual work without extensive feelings of fatigue (Sizer & Whitney, 1997). Thus, a physiological need implies that it is possible to specify a deficit in a physiological state that is detrimental to a person’s physical well-being. Another category of need refers to sensory stimulation that exceeds a certain intensity thereby causing pain or harm. Excessive sensory stimulation occurs when french fries are too hot, the volume on the stereo is too loud, or the light in one’s eyes is too bright. Sensations of pain or discomfort are warnings of possible tis- sue damage and prompt the need to escape and avoid such stimulation.

Hull’s Drive Theory. Related to physiological need is psychological drive, which is a mo- tivational construct that results when an animal is deprived of a needed substance (Hull, 1943, 1951, 1952). Drive is the persistent internal stimulus or pushing action of a physio- logical need. Drive has several properties or characteristics (Hull, 1943, 1951, 1952). First, it energizes behavior by intensifying all responses in a particular situation. The more intense the drive, the more intense the behavior (Hull, 1943, 1952). This point is illustrated in an experiment by Hillman and associates (1953), who deprived two groups of rats of water for either 2 or 22 hours and then measured how long it took them to run a 10-unit T maze for a water reward. After 10 trials, one-half of each group remained at the original deprivation level, while the other half switched to the other deprivation level. For example, group 2-2 and group 22-22 remained at 2 and 22 hours of water deprivation, respectively, throughout the experiment. Group 2-22 switched from 2 to 22 hours of water deprivation after the first 10 trials, while group 22-2 switched from 22 to 2 hours of water deprivation. According to Hull’s theory, 22 hours of water deprivation corresponds to high thirst drive, while 2 hours of water deprivation corresponds to low drive. High drive should multiply or intensify instrumental behavior much more than low drive. As shown in Figure 8.1, the rats took less time to run the maze under high drive than under low drive. The interpretation based on drive theory is that high drive is a more intense source of internal motivation than low drive.

A second characteristic is that each drive has its own unique internal sensations that serve as internal stimuli for guiding behavior. For example, hunger and thirst feel different and provide the basis for knowing when to eat and when to drink. Leeper (1935) used thirst and hunger drives as cues for rats to choose the correct goal box when water or food de- prived. In his experimental apparatus, rats had to make a choice between an alley leading to food and another alley leading to water. The rats learned to choose the alley leading to

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Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, Third Edition, by Lambert Deckers. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

 

 

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Trial

R u

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Group 2-2 Group 22-22 Group 22-2 Group 2-22

Rats speed up (group 2-22)

Rats slow down (group 22-2)

FIGURE 8.1 Intensity of Drive and Running Behavior. Effects of deprivation time on mean log time to run a 10-unit T maze for a water reward by water-deprived rats. Note the increase in running time immediately after the 22-2 hour shift and the decrease in running time after the 2-22 hour shift.

Source: From “The Effect of Drive Level on the Maze Performance of the White Rat” by B. Hillman et al., 1953, Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 46, figure 1. Copyright 1953 by American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission.

food on food-deprived days and to choose the alley leading to water on water-deprived days. Thus, hunger drive stimuli became associated with the location of food, and thirst drive stimuli became associated with the location of water. A third characteristic of drive is that it motivates the individual to behave in order to reduce its intensity. Hull considered drive to be unpleasant. In fact, he felt that “Bentham’s concept of pain is equated substantially to our own [Hull’s] concept of need” (Hull, 1952, p. 341). Recall from Chapter 2 that Bentham (1789/1970) is the utilitarian philosopher who claimed that people are under the governance of two masters: pain and pleasure. Humans are motivated to reduce drive—that is, to get rid of any painful or unpleasant feeling. Since drive is characterized as being painful, then the behavior that reduces it will be more likely to occur. Eating reduces an unpleasant hunger drive, and drinking reduces an unpleasant thirst drive. The importance of Hull’s drive con- cept is that drive motivates the voluntary behavior that restores homeostasis. Drive moti- vates an individual to reduce feelings of hunger, thirst, or internal temperature deviation, thus maximizing the conditions necessary for well-being and life.

Characteristics of Psychological Needs The definition of psychological needs parallels that of physiological needs since both center on the notion of a deficit. In the case of a psychological need, there is a deficit between a per- son’s desired or set point level and the current level of the matching incentive or behavior.

Chronic or Temporary Psychological Needs. Psychological needs are chronic if a per- son desires some incentive or behavior of which she is habitually deprived. For example, if

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Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, Third Edition, by Lambert Deckers. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

 

 

C H A P T E R E I G H T / Drives, Needs, and Awareness 187

a person has a large appetite for social inclusion then she might be chronically unsatisfied if the current social environment does not provide enough social inclusion. A person might have an enduring need for cognition if she is consistently deprived of her daily opportunity to solve Sudoku or crossword puzzles. However, psychological needs can also be temporary and are aroused occasionally. In this case, it is as if psychological needs are preexisting but remain dormant until aroused by the appropriate stimulus situation. When aroused, the psy- chological need serves as a motive that reminds a person of the discrepancy between his current situation and a final desired state (McClelland et al., 1953). Redintegration describes the process by which a need is activated or restored (Murray, 1938). For example, a safety need is aroused or redintegrated when an unlighted parking lot late at night is discrepant from a person’s ideal level of lighting. The aroused safety need produces a hurried pace to reach one’s car and drive away. The need to achieve is activated or redintegrated by the sight of a textbook, reminding a student of the discrepancy between his current knowledge and the amount necessary to succeed on an exam. The resulting need state or achievement motive leads to studying a textbook to reduce the discrepancy. Stimuli activate, redinte- grate, or restore psychological needs because they have been associated with the arousal characteristics of needs in the past (McClelland et al., 1953). To illustrate, the presence of people arouses the need for affiliation, and textbooks arouse the need to achieve, because in the past these stimuli have been associated with feelings of affiliation and achievement.

Using Needs to Explain Behavior. A final consideration involves demonstrating the relationship between need intensity and need-satisfying behavior. Do people differ in their intensities of psychological needs? How is a person’s level of need intensity measured? These questions cannot be answered by measuring behavior that is instrumental in satis- fying the need, since this behavior could have resulted from other factors. For example, if a person’s residence hall room is neat and tidy, does that mean she has a high need for or- der (Murray, 1938)? Or could it be she is just expecting company or likes being able to find things easily? If the concept of need is used to explain behavior, then two steps are neces- sary: measuring need intensity and showing its relationship with behavior satisfying the need. First, psychologists measure need level with a valid scale or questionnaire. Just as the number on the bathroom scale reflects the amount a person weighs, the score on a need scale reflects the intensity of a need. Second, need scale scores must correlate with be- havior instrumental in satisfying the need. Thus, when need is high, there must be a greater amount of need-satisfying behavior than when need is low. For example, the greater a per- son’s measured need for affiliation, the more friends he visits and telephones (Lansing & Heyns, 1959). In the next few sections, we will examine how various psychological needs are measured and the relationship between specific needs and behavior.

Maslow’s Theory of Needs Are all needs equally important or are some more potent than others? One view is that there are categories of needs that differ in their potency to motivate behavior.

Abraham Maslow (1970) constructed a hierarchy of needs: physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. These needs are organized into five tiers whereby the lower tier of needs is more likely to be acted on first, followed by needs at higher tiers (see Figure 8.2). Notice that in ascending the hierarchy, needs have been

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