Motivation Lecture Notes – Nov 19 2013
Chapter 10 Cognitive Theory and Motivation
“Physical or material basis of motivation”
Cognition> Thoughts, Ideas, Expectancies
Context of therapeutic psych > thought, feeling // action
Attribution Theory (attribute – explanation of behaviour by assigning it to certain
“To what do we attribute success?” > Causes to explain the behaviour
The study of decisions we make about the causes of events. Humans are
motivated to attribute or assign causes to outcomes. Motivation from the need
to make sense of events, personal, interpersonal, impersonal.
Persuaded to influence the outcome when we are aware of the causes. Reduces
uncertainty. – equilibrium – reduces anxiety
Social attribution: People assign (attribute) particular causes to other people’s
behaviour. We assign personal causation to other’s behaviour or we assign situational
causation to other’s behaviour. In some sense, assigning causes to other’s behaviour is
accounting for the motivation underlying their behaviour.
For example, so and so succeed (or failed) at a task because of : Dispositional forces –
person’s ability, effort and the like, or because of : Situational forces – task difficulty,
good (0r bad) luck and the like.
1. According to Heider (1950s): We are biased towards dispositional attributions.
That is, the tendency to attribute other’s behaviour to stable, internal
characteristics. This tendency is called fundamental attribution error. Thus,
attributions are biased against situational explanations.
a. de Charms suggests that this bias may be stem from our belief that as we
ourselves try to control outcomes, so we believe that others are doing the same.
As a result we tend to misattribute behaviour to internal causes when they can be
very much situationally determined. Further, once we make these dispositional
attributions, they are difficult to change
b. Nonnormative behaviour – Eccentric nonconforming behaviour is likely to
elicit dispositional attributions. When the behaviour is socially undesirable, there
is the tendency to attribute the behaviour to internal, personal characteristics. c. In studies on stigmas, how we attribute their onset in terms of controllability or
noncontrollability influences whether we are motivated to pity and help (non
controllability) or scorn in anger. Stigmas presented as controllable – resulting
from some mental –behavioural characteristic of the person, lead to more anger
and less pity and less helping. Thus, certai