Theoretical Perspectives of motivation, Biology tutorial

Instinct Theory:

Instinct theory states that motivation is the outcome of biological and genetic programming. Therefore, all beings in a species are programmed for the similar motivations.

a) At the heart of this viewpoint, is the motivation to survive - we are biologically programmed to survive. And, all of our behaviors and motivations stem from the biological programming. Therefore, are actions are instincts.

b) William McDougal (1908) - influential theorist who viewed instincts as the behavior prototypes which are:

  • Unlearned
  • Uniform in expression
  • Universal in a species

For illustration, in a species of bird, all the members might build similar nests and work in the similar manners. This is true even for such birds of that species born and increased in captivity and isolation, and therefore could not have learned the suitable nest building behavior from other, experienced role model birds.

c) Problems by this perspective:

- Theorists have never been capable to agree on a list of instincts; most of the instincts are not universal and seem to be more based on individual differences (for illustration, jealousy. Not all human's exhibit the similar jealously levels, behaviors and so on).

- Today - instinct theory consists of a more biological emphasis for particular motives and not all (similar to aggression and sex). However, there is still a strong instinct viewpoint in the study of animals (or ethology).

Sociobiological Perspective (Sociobiology):

It is the study of genetic and evolutionary bases of behavior in all the organisms, comprising humans. This view spawned from the instinct theory, although it is not purely an instinct theory.

1) Major Viewpoint - sociobiology defines that natural selection favors social behaviors which maximize the reproductive success. Therefore, the primary motivating force for living organisms (comprising humans) is to pass on our genes from one generation to the subsequent.

2) This viewpoint can describe motives like aggression, competition, sexual activity and dominance.

3) It can as well describe differences in men and women's mating preferences.

4) Seems Selfish - this viewpoint might seem selfish; however it can as well elucidate seemingly altruistic behaviors:

Drive Theories:

a) A Drive is an internal state of tension which motivates an organism to engage in activities which must (hopefully) decrease this tension.

b) Most of the organisms seem to try and maintain Homeostasis - a state of physiological equilibrium.

c) There are certain problems:

- Homeostasis seems irrelevant to certain human motives - 'thirst for knowledge'....what the heck is that?

- Motivation might exist with no a drive arousal. For illustration, humans don't eat only if they are hungry. Do not believe me? Ever go out for a nice dinner, eat adequate to be full, however then still decide to have that great chocolate desert anyhow? I thought so.

Incentive Theory:

An incentive might be defined as an external goal that consists of the capacity to motivate behavior. This doesn't mean that it will for all time motivate behavior, only that it can.

Drive theory acts by an internal state pushing you in a specific direction. However, incentive theory acts when an external stimulus pulls you in a certain direction.

This is directly associated to Skinner. Here we can observe a move away from biological influence toward the environment and its affect on behavior.

Maslow's Need Hierarchy:

This Humanistic viewpoint is a blend of biological and social requirements and is a sweeping overview of the human motivation. As Maslow believed that all requirements differ in strength, he arranged them in a pyramidal form to point out which encompasses more strength. The most fundamental requirements (such as food and shelter) are very important to daily survival and are at the bottom, whereas needs that are less significant to staying alive are higher on the pyramid.

We might define the Need Hierarchy as - a systematic arrangement of requirements according to priority, which supposes that fundamental requirements should be met before less fundamental requirements are aroused. Therefore, like stage theories, we should meet up one requirement before we move on to the next.

Maslow's Levels:

1) Physiological: These comprise the requirement for food, water and other essential components of life. When these requirements are not met up, the organism cannot survive. Therefore, these are the most fundamental and significant.

2) Safety and security: Such requirements refer more to the long word survival than day to day requirements. Humans tend to seek out order and encompass a desire to live in a world which is not filled by chaos and danger. As an outcome, they seek out stable lives by careers, homes, insurance and so on.

3) Belongingness and love: After getting a safe milieu to live and establishing some long term plans, people search for love and affection from friends, family members and lovers.

4) Esteem: At this stage, people become concerned with self-esteem that might be based on the accomplishments that they earn, recognition from others for jobs they do and so on.

5) Cognitive: Requirements at this level are based on getting knowledge and understanding of the world, people, behavior and so on. If you are in the college to study (that is, not just to get a degree) then you are trying to accomplish your cognitive requirements.

6) Aesthetic: Aesthetic requirements comprise beauty and order in life. Getting your life in order might give a sense of comfort which people often lack. Moreover, spending time finding and noticing beauty in the world becomes a choice and a wish as people don't have to struggle and fight to stay alive.

7) Self-Actualization: This is the highest and most hard level to reach. However, according to Maslow, a few people in reality reach this level. Self-actualization is the requirement to fulfill one's own potential. As Maslow defined, 'What a man can be, he should be'. Interestingly, Maslow point out that people will be frustrated when they can't pursue their true loves and talents. For instance, if a person has a talent for painting, although they become a doctor, they will be eternally frustrated as the requirement for self-actualization will be obstructed.


Emotions are the essential component of motivational systems. Wanting is a dopamine-dependent procedure which makes animals more approachable to certain stimuli and converts them into desired goals - the incentive salience component of the motivation. The wanting system perhaps evolved early in the vertebrate evolution to intercede the innate pursuit of key objects like food and mates and the evasion of stimuli related with predators. However desired goals are generally liked goals (and dangerous objects are fear-inducing objects), liking and disliking show dissimilar hedonic (or emotional) processes compared to wanting and liking and wanting are facilitated through various neurotransmitters and neural circuits. Expressions of the hedonic pleasure or displeasure and related neurological changes take place on the consumption of a reward (example: tasty food versus bitter food). These emotions operate as reinforces throughout the process of learning the incentive value of different environmental stimuli (Cardinal et al. 2002; Berridge and Robinson 2003). In the construct of motivation, the feelings produced by hard-wired emotional systems ease the acquisition of ecological knowledge and ability. In the wide view, various emotions arouse organisms to respond quickly to external events in manners which optimize fitness (Darwin 1872).

The Emotion is an umbrella word which comprises affect (feelings), all along with cognitive, behavioral, communicative and physiological expressions. Emotions are triggered through external events and frequently lead to fast onset and short period effects, in contrary to moods, which are brought on through less apparent antecedents and encompass longer lasting effects. Most of the mammals have a core set of emotions - seeking, anger, fear, play, lust, panic and care (Panksepp 2005). Birds and other vertebrates as well exhibit most of such emotional behaviors. Evidence for such core emotional systems comprises the capability to draw specific response behaviors through stimulating key sub cortical brain nuclei, and in human fMRI studies the activation of various brain areas through individuals experiencing various emotions. In humans, emotional responses take place on two stages: a subconscious level which comprises sub cortical pathways, the autonomic system and the involuntary behaviors and facial expressions; and a conscious level which directs the behaviors to suitable targets and modulates a few of the involuntary expressions.

Theories of Emotion:

1) James-Lange Theory:

William James and Karl G. Lange - Proposed that emotions pursue behavioral responses instead of cause them; responses are instinctive behavior prototypes

2) Cannon-Bard Theory:

Walter Cannon and Philip Bard - Proposed an event trigger the emotion and a response concurrently.

3) Theory of Cognitive Appraisal:

Stanley Schachter - Discover that all the emotions contain approximately the similar arousal prototype; theorizes that variation is just in strength of the impulse and actions are highly dependent on our cognitive appraisal of the situation; the manner we appraise is affected by numerous factors, comprising other people's reactions when they are present.

Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer - Discover that appraisal of the similar emotion can be severely dissimilar in various situations.

Rogers and Decker; Maslach - Reproducing the Schachter-Singer experiment, got various results.

4) Evaluation of Emotion Theories:

Emotional responses differ more than any one theory allows based on the condition; thus, no emotional theory is presently accepted as totally correct.

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