Motivation explains why people behave as they do. Some scientists view motivation as the factor that determines behaviour, as expressed in the phrase “All behaviour is motivated”.(World Book, 1986, p.721). Other scientists focus on two certain aspects of motivated behaviour, excitement or exhilaration of behaviour, that is motivation arouses an organism and causes it to act, and the direction of behaviour, which is lead by habits, skills, abilities and structural features. (World Book, 1986).
This essay aims to describe the four theories of motivation, Instinct theory, Sociobiology, Drive-Reduction theory and Incentive theory. I will be relating each theory to George’s behaviour and whether they do or do not apply to George’s behaviour.
Instinct is behaviour that is inherited rather than learned. Instinct is an inborn tendency/biological force that dominates behaviour. (Weiten, 1995). William McDougall (1908) viewed instincts as unlearned, universal in expression and universal in a species. (Weiten, 1995). John Bowlby (1969) views instinct with regards to baby’s attachment to their parents or caregivers, as in-built. His reason for this development is that babies stay close to their parents because they are provided with protection. Human instincts are more flexible and more open to learning experiences than those of other species. Just like the imprinting of baby geese, so too do human babies attach to his/her parents after many hours of interaction. [Wortman, C. , Loftus, E. and Weaver, C. (1999)].
An example of instinctual behaviour is that all ants build anthills in the same way, even when they are not raised together, then the anthill building behaviour is instinctual and not a learned response.(Weiten, 1995). Sex in humans is also instinctual. We are not born with the desire to engage in sexual activities but as we reach puberty, there is a need for sexual stimulation. Even though we might not know what to do, it is instinctual.
But, instincts only describe behaviour, they do not explain why a person engages in behaviour.
Therefore with regards to the case study, George’s behaviour, (running the marathon), is not instinctual. Not everyone is born to run a marathon, it is a learned response. (Weiten, 1995).
Sociobiology is the study of the biological basis for the social behaviour of humans and other animals. (Worldbook, 1986). Sociobiologists try to ascertain the function of various types of behaviour in the life of an animal. Sociobiology is based on the theory that the central process of life is the struggle of genes to reproduce themselves. Theorists believe that natural preference favours behaviour that maximises reproductive attainment – transmitting genes to the next generation. According to this theory, an organism inherits inclinations to develop certain types of behaviour, and these behaviour patterns increase an organism’s chances of transferring its genes to the next generation.
It is believed that an organism can transmit its genes on, not only by reproducing but also by helping related organisms survive and reproduce.(Weiten, 1995).An example of this would be a bee stinging an intruder bee, in order to protect the life and genes of the queen bee (an organism sacrificing their life, for others, therefore passing on its genes). A human’s will, for sacrificing their life for a relative or someone they know, is much stronger than that of sacrificing their life for someone they do not know. A lady will not usually sacrifice her life by running across the road to save a child, (that she does not know), in traffic, whereas if it were her own child, she would sacrifice her life in order to save her child’s life and to carry on the genes. (Weiten, 1995).
There are ongoing debates about sociobiology and its relevance to human motivation. Some theorists believe that sociobiologists overestimate the influence of biology and underestimate the influence of culture. (Deverell, A., 1999). In the African culture, African men consider African women with large buttocks appealing, but may be viewed as unattractive in other cultures. [Wortman, C. , Loftus, E. and Weaver, C. (1999)].
George is exhibiting perseverance in the face of everything bad. George’s perseverance is a trait that is beneficial to his survival. George did not run to protect his genes, it was his own motivation that made him run the marathon. Most people would not persevere as George did.
Drive Theory: Clark Hull (1884-1952) defines a drive as an “observation that organism’s seek to maintain homeostasis, a state of physiological equilibrium/stability”. (Hull in Weiten, 1995, p.378). A drive assists an organism in alleviating inner tension. For example drinking to alleviate thirst. Drive theory explains why people eat, sleep, seek pleasure, avoid pain and engage in sex. [Wortman, C. , Loftus, E. and Weaver, C. (1999)].
According to Hullian theorists, there is a distinction between Primary and Secondary drives. Primary drives are the most basic, inborn needs in our psychological systems and secondary drives, also known as learned motives, are learned through association with the reduction of primary drives. [Wortman, C. , Loftus, E. and Weaver, C. (1999)]. It is understood that most drive theories are unlearned, biological drives, which progressively develop a bigger set of appropriate drives through learning. [Wortman, C. , Loftus, E. and Weaver, C. (1999)].
The sleep motive is an example of drive theory. If a person goes without sleep, for quite a while, they begin to experience some discomfort, tiredness, which is an internal tension and a drive motivates you to obtain sleep. Sleeping reduces the drive and restores physiological balance. (Weiten, 1995).
But drive theories can not explain all facets of human motivation.
In George’s case, drive theory cannot explain George’s behaviour, as homeostasis is not maintained.
George went beyond the point of pain, he endured extreme pain, which is George’s personal motivation. George’s running the marathon has nothing to do with stability/equilibrium. (Weiten, 1995).
Incentive Theory is striving towards attaining external goals. Incentive theorists believe that the source of motivation is external, in the environment, Incentives ‘pull’ you to act, whereas drives ‘push’ you to act. Incentive theory is not related to the principle of homeostasis, it emphasises environmental factors. (Weiten, 1995).
Not everyone can always achieve his or her desired goals. Expectancy-value models explain one’s motivation to persevere in two ways, the merit of the incentive, if it appeals to you, and the probability of one’s chances attaining the incentive. Gambling at a casino is an example of incentive. Your motivation to gamble will depend on the amount of money you could win and on your chances of winning. To draw people to gamble, large amounts of money are offered as the prize, making the incentive value high. (Weiten, 1995).
Incentives can be both positive and negative. A positive incentive is a pupil knowing that they will receive a reward if they obtain a good result for an exam and a negative incentive is a pupil knowing that if they fail the exam, they will be deprived of something they value. (Weiten, 1995).
In relation to George, incentive theory is very suitable to his behaviour. George’s behaviour is highly individualistic. Very few people would subject themselves to what George did. George persevered, ran the marathon, and achieved his goal. George’s incentive was an external psychological motivation. (Weiten, 1995).
Through the different theories of motivation we can see that motivators can be internal and external. We have seen that instinct; sociobiology and drive theories do not explain George’s behaviour. Incentive theory explains George’s behaviour best.
Some psychologists believe that happenings, that we no longer remember, can still affect our lives and can influence behaviour motives.