Chapter 1 - Themes in the Study of Motivation
What Causes Behaviour?
For every behaviour, there is an equal reaction
o Goal: to identify the cause of behaviour
o Constantly moving forward
What instigates behaviour?
o Learning, biology, and cognition
o Is it due to multiple causes or a single cause?
Involuntary vs. Voluntary Motivators
2 domains: environmental and psychological
Involuntary: necessary to stay alive; e.g. see a pizza = salvation
Voluntary: sometimes you commit, sometimes you don’t; e.g. getting a bachelor’s degree = study or don’t want to study
Works consistently with each other
Approach and Avoidant Causes
Approach behaviour: people do things b/c of something they want, desire, or need.
o Often aiming for a specific goal, but not always
o See the world as a source of opportunities and excitement
o e.g. going to a new restaurant to try the different food
o Hot/cool theory of gratification
Hot system (limbic) – the drive, enters quickly, immediate
Go, simple, fast, accentuated by stress, emotional; can be tied into decision making
E.g. impulse buying a simple fix for whatever is currently occurring
Cool system (frontal)
Know, complex, reacts slowly, develops later in life, self-control, accentuated by stress
Avoidant behaviour: people do things to avoid something.
o Often aiming for a specific goal
o aversive, noxious, and difficult to ignore; remove threat to our survival
o e.g. people who are afraid of insects or snakes feel a strong and immediate need to distance themselves from those
goal objects → tries to find a safe place.
There’s a biological basis for underlying personality differences that make some people more motivated to approach (seek
rewards) while others are more motivated to avoid (avoid punishment).
People have different temperaments that range - approach life with a particular orientation that can affect everything we do
Basic Themes of Contemporary Motivation Theories
Behaviour Represents an Attempt to Adapt
all behaviour represents an attempt to adapt to the environment
What mechanisms or principles will allow us to explain it?
The Importance of Determining What Arouses and Energizes Behaviour
Humans often experience conflict:
o Do they put their survival needs first, or do they put their mastery needs first?
o Research says: Survival needs will take precedence – arousal stays active until threat is not present.
By knowing what events in the environment arouse survival circuitry in the brain, we can better understand why people react
as they do.
o Activation of brain circuitry and the energization of behaviour are closely linked.
o Increased arousal = more vigorous performance; doesn’t mean it’s always more efficient
Physiological arousal pounding heart, sweaty palms, muscle tension
Autonomic nervous system – sympathetic = arousal, parasympathetic = counteracts
Brain arousal – different areas aroused depending on operations
Techniques for measurement PET scan (positron emission topography), fMRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Understanding What Governs the Direction of Behaviour
Need theory: the needs are what give direction to behaviour (survival is impossible without direction)
o When a need is aroused = we are pushed in the right direction – CONSIDERED INADEQUATE TODAY.
Current thinking theory: needs are conceptualized as dispositions - they do not fully explain why people do what they do.
Goal theory: goals give rise to actions.
o Goals create a tension, and individuals move toward the goal to reduce that tension – the direction and energy of
behaviour are resulted from goals. (e.g. hunger grab a burger want to diet grab a salad)
Understanding Persistence Study of persistence distinguishes motivational psychologists
Traditional reward theory: we are inclined to repeat behaviours that make us feel good (positive reinforcement) and
discontinue and avoid behaviours that make us feel bad (negative reinforcement – not punishment!)
Intrinsic theories of motivation: persistence grows out of intrinsic motivation; people come to believe that engaging in certain
behaviour will result in a certain outcome which provides for the motivation of the behaviour.
o Critics: does not explain why people persist when they seemingly are making no progress toward a goal.
Persistent b/c people developed optimism or hope and learned to dismiss or manage adversity and failure.
Understanding the Role of Emotions
Feelings are an important determinant of behaviour.
Feelings are often caused by chemical reactions in our body or brain - they are real and connected to emotions.
Negative feelings can and often do undermine goal-directed behaviour while positive feelings can and often do sustain goal-
Jim Coan and the Hand Holding Experiment (YouTube it!)
Accounting for Individual Differences
Other forces modify certain underlying biological tendencies - learned and cognition factors can influence behaviour.
Need to understand how, when and why
The Self-Regulation of Behaviour
People who self-regulate have learned to do such things as set attainable goals, manage negative emotions, and focus their
attention so they do not become distracted
Central characteristic: tendency to engage in planning
Can be learned by everyone over a life time
Do Humans Have a Will?
People can create their own destinies and then construct paths that will enable them to reach chosen destinies
o Not mere products of biology or the environment in which they live
Conservative view: some psychologists do believe we are limited by our biology, our ability to learn, and our ability to think and
solve problems (e.g. you can play football or play the piano, but you can’t go to the NFL or be a concerto pianist)
Self-regulation of behaviour: we can learn to do things that will