Chapter 13 Notes
Motivation – A general term for a group of phenomena that affect the nature, strength, or persistence of
an individual’s behaviour.
It includes 2 types of phenomena:
-Stimuli that have become associated with pleasant or unpleasant events motivate approach or
-Being deprived of a particular reinforcer increases an organism’s preference for a particular
There are many approaches to motivation:
-Physiological, Behavioural, Cognitive and Social
Our behaviour is motivated by situations that we tend to approach or to avoid. Situations that motivate our
behaviour also provoke emotions.
We are motivated to perform a behaviour to gain (avoid losing) a reinforcer or to avoid (escape) a
Regulatory behaviour – A behaviour that tends to bring physiological conditions back to normal, thus
restoring the condition of homeostasis. Examples: eating, drinking, hunting, shivering, building a fire and
putting on a warm coat.
Homeostasis – The process by which important physiological characteristics (such as body temperature
and blood pressure) are regulated so that they remain at their optimum level.
Deficits or imbalances motivate us because they cause us to perform the appropriate regulatory
A regulatory system has 4 essential features:
System variable – The variable controlled by a regulatory mechanism; for example, temperature
in a heating system.
Set point – The optimum value of the system variable in a regulatory mechanism. The set point
for human body temperature, recorded orally, is approximately 37 C.
Detector – In a regulatory process, a mechanism that signals when the system variable deviates
from its set point.
Correctional mechanism – In a regulatory process, the mechanism that is capable of restoring
the system variable to the set point.
Chapter 13 Notes
Negative feedback – A process whereby the effect produced by an action serves to diminish or terminate
that action. Regulatory systems are characterized by negative feedback loops.
It is an essential characteristic of all regulatory systems.
Drive reduction hypothesis – The hypothesis that a drive (resulting from physiological need or
deprivation) produces an unpleasant state that causes an organism to engage in motivated behaviours.
Drive – A condition, often caused by physiological changes or homeostatic disequilibrium, that energizes
an organism’s behaviour.
Another example of a drive is sexual behaviour. An individual can survive without sexual behaviour, but
their sex drive is certainly motivating and sexual contact is certainly reinforcing.
The drive reduction hypothesis has fallen into disfavour for 2 main reasons:
Drive is almost impossible to measure. The hypothesis cannot be experimentally tested
If we examine our own behaviour, we find that many events we experience as reinforcing are also
exciting or drive increasing. (skiing)
Researchers have discovered that an essential component of the reinforcement system consists of neurons
that release dopamine as their transmitter substance.
Optimum-level hypothesis – The hypothesis that organisms will perform behaviour that restores the level
of arousal to an optimum level.
So, when an individual’s arousal level is too high, less stimulation is reinforcing and when it is too low,
more stimulation is desired.
Berlyne hypothesized 2 forms of exploration related to arousal:
-Diversive exploration is a response to understimulation (boredom) that increases the diversity of
stimuli the organism tries to come in contact with.
-Specific exploration is a response to overstimulation (usually because of a specific need, lack of
food or water) that leads to the needed item, thereby decreasing the organism’s drive level.
Hebb focused on how arousal affects the effectiveness of behaviour. At the optimum level of arousal, the
mid-range behaviour is organized and effective. Within that optimal range, increasing arousal will
produce increasingly effective behaviour. Too little arousal, in the suboptimal range, leads to ineffective
behaviour because the person is not sufficiently motivated. Too much arousal, outside the optimal range,
leads to disorganized and therefore ineffective behaviour.
Once again we cannot measure an organism’s drive or arousal; we cannot say what its optimal level is.
Chapter 13 Notes
Perseverance – The tendency to continue to perform a behaviour even when it is not being reinforced.
Intermittent reinforcement leads to perseverance, even when the behaviour is no longer reinforced.
Overjustification hypothesis – The superfluous application of extrinsic rewards to intrinsically
motivated behaviour will undermine intrinsic motivation.
The overjustification hypothesis predicts that after a shift from intrinsic to extrinsic motivation occurs and
the extrinsic rewards disappear, the person will show what amounts to a loss of interest and perseverance
in the rewarded activity.
Lepper, Greene and Nisbett (1973) in their preschool kids and drawing experiment found that it is the
contingency between behaviour and the extrinsic reward that matters. When the reward was simply a
surprise, no shift from intrinsic to extrinsic motivation occurred.
Extrinsic rewards that are understood by their recipients to convey information about competent
performance (and therefore that function as praise) and that are not offered coercively, may actually
increase intrinsic motivation. Direct verbal praise can enhance intrinsic motivation, provided that it is seen
as sincere, that it conveys positive information about competence, and that it is not seen as just another
kind of coercive, contingent, extrinsic reward.
Extrinsic rewards can be very useful, and have their place. But judiciousness is required. Rewards can be
useful to instigate and maintain behaviours that otherwise would not occur.
Learned helplessness – A response to exposure to an inescapable aversive stimulus, characterized by
reduced ability to learn a solvable avoidance task; thought to play a role in the development of some
Overmeier and Seligman (1967) learnt that dogs got used to the shocks and just learned to be helpless.
When people have experiences that lead to learned helplessness, they become depressed and their
motivational level decreases.
If all other factors were eliminated, eating would be determined by some internal physiological state. In
this general sense, physiological factors clearly are responsible for eating.
Cannon and Washburn (1912) suggested a strong physiological model in which hunger simply results from
an empty stomach. The walls of an empty stomach rubbed off against each other produces something
called hunger pangs. Cannon also suggested that thirst was a result of dry mouth, because a loss of body
fluid resulted in a decreased flow in saliva. Some sceptics called this the spit and rumble theory. Even
without a stomach, hunger fangs seem to exist.
Depletion of the body’s store of nutrients is a more likely cause of hunger. The primary fuels for the cells
of our body are glucose (a simple sugar) and fatty acids (chemicals produced when fat is broken down).
When our gut is empty, there are 2 reservoirs that stores nutrients to keep the cells of the body nourished: