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What Is Motivation?

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  • People are often motivated by external incentives as well as internal needs.

Example: If a person is hungry, he or she may choose to eat a salad rather than a cheeseburger because he or she wants to be slimmer.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

A motivation may be intrinsic, extrinsic, or both. Intrinsic motivation is the motivation to act for the sake of the activity alone. For example, people have intrinsic motivation to write poetry if they do it simply because they enjoy it.Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is the motivation to act for external rewards. For example, people have extrinsic motivation to write if they do so in the hopes of getting published, being famous, or making money.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In the 1970s, the psychologist Abraham Maslow suggested that people are motivated by a hierarchy of needs:

  • First, most basic level: physiological needs, such as the need for food, water, safety, and security.
  • Second level: needs for social interaction, such as the need to belong.
  • Third level: needs for esteem, which include the need for respect from oneself and others.
  • Fourth level: needs for self-actualization, or realizing one’s full potential.

Maslow believed people pay attention to higher needs only when lower needs are satisfied.