What Is Motivation?

  • Motivation is an internal process that makes a person move toward a goal.
  • Motivation may be extrinsic, intrinsic, or both.
  • Drive reduction theories of motivation suggest that people act in order to reduce needs and maintain a constant physiological state.
  • Abraham Maslow proposed that there is a hierarchy of needs and that people pay attention to higher needs only when lower ones are satisfied.
  • Needs may be innate or learned. Learned needs are determined by values. Both innate and learned needs are influenced by society and culture.


  • A genetically influenced set point may allow people to keep their weight constant.
  • The lateral hypothalamus and the ventromedial andparaventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus play key roles in regulating hunger.
  • The digestive system and hormones such as insulin and leptin also regulate hunger.
  • Environmental influences on hunger include availability of foods,preferences, habits, memory, stress, andcultural attitudes.

Sexual Drive

  • Alfred Kinsey was one of the first people to give a modern account of human sexuality.
  • William Masters and Virginia Johnson described the human sexual response.
  • The sexual response cycle has four phases: excitement,plateau, orgasm, and resolution.
  • Testosterone increases sex drive, and sexual activity increases testosterone.
  • Psychological influences on sex drive include internal and external erotic stimuli, desires, and cultural context.
  • Researchers have found that there are some gender differences in sexual behavior and partner choice. Both evolutionary and sociocultural explanations can account for these differences.
  • Estimates of the prevalence of homosexuality vary, and the causes of homosexuality remain unclear.
  • Researchers have suggested that biological factors including hormone levels, genes, prenatal environment, and brain anatomy could influence sexual orientation.
  • Psychologists have proposed several theories about how environment might influence homosexuality, but research has failed to support these theories.


  • Researchers often use the thematic apperception test (TAT) to measure the need for achievement.
  • People who have a high achievement motivation tend to be persistent and hardworking. They are able to delay gratification to meet long-term goals, and they tend to choose careers that allow them to compete with others.
  • People achieve the most when they have high expectations of success,incentives that reward competence, control over tasks,opportunities to achieve, and effective goals.
  • Goals are most effective when they are specific, moderately difficult, and framed in terms of what must be done rather than what must be avoided.

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