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What Is Motivation?


What Is Motivation?, page 2

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A motive is an impulse that causes a person to act. Motivation is an internal process that makes a person move toward a goal. Motivation, like intelligence, can’t be directly observed. Instead, motivation can only be inferred by noting a person’s behavior.

Researchers have proposed theories that try to explain human motivation. These theories include drive reduction theories and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory.

Drive Reduction Theories

Drive reduction theories of motivation suggest that people act in order to reduce needs and maintain a constant physiological state. For example, people eat in order to reduce their need for food. The idea of homeostasis is central to drive reduction theories.Homeostasis is the maintenance of a state of physiological equilibrium.

Drive reduction theories fail to explain several aspects of motivation:

  • People sometimes aren’t motivated by internal needs.

Example: Some people fast for long periods for political causes, despite feeling extreme hunger.

  • Sometimes, people continue being motivated even when they have satisfied internal needs.

Example: People sometimes eat even when they don’t feel hungry.

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