Motivation is what influences individuals to act in a certain way towards achieving their objectives. Inspiration comprises social, emotional, biological, and cognitive forces that activate behavior. It does not only refer to the aspects that activate behaviors in people; motivation also includes the factors that maintain and guide goal-directed actions. Consequently, people often have to deduce why individuals do the things they do by observing their actions. Motivation is expressed through engagement, behavior, psychophysiology, self-report, and brain activations (Stoyanov, 2017). Various inspirations include instrumental motivation, intrinsic process motivation, self-concept-external motivation, goal internalization motivation, and self-concept internal motivation. There is a solid connection between motivation, brain, and behavior. Different scholars have developed theories that try to explain how behavior exhibits motivation.
Sources of Motivation
Intrinsic process motivation
Intrinsic process motivation is how an individual is motivated to do a certain work or engage in certain activities for sheer fun. For example, intrinsic motivation can result from reading a book since one enjoys the story rather than reading because a person needs to pass a test. In this type of motivation, the work acts as the enticement (Fuhrmann, 2018). Intrinsic motivation derives immediate pleasure or enjoyment from doing the activity and not from achieving a certain goal.
Instrumental motivation tends to reward individuals when they act in a certain way that guarantees tangible results such as promotions, pay, and bonuses. There is a massive difference between instrumental motivation and classic external or extrinsic motivation because these motivations arise from tangible external benefits (Fuhrmann, 2018). In contrast, external motivations are derived from interpersonal relations and social rewards. People that are motivated by instrumental motives tend to seek the optimal balance between the inputs and outputs.
Self-concept-external motivation is achieved when a person primarily seeks affirmation of character, values, and competencies from a person or a group. An individual’s behavior is directed towards satisfying a certain group of people to gain acceptance and status. This source of motivation bears a resemblance to social identity theory, which emphasizes developing and maintaining stand and social reference (Fuhrmann, 2018). In self-concept-external motivation, peer comparisons and social rewards are inherent.
Self-Concept Internal Motivation
Self-concept motivation is inside-based when a person is internally directed. In this kind of motivation, an individual arrays inner standards of qualities, values, and competencies that act as the basis of the ideal self. The individual is motivated to participate in behaviors that strengthen the set standards and, hence, later achieve higher competency levels. This motive has also been defined as intrinsic motivation to chase personal achievements and intrinsic motivation to overcome difficulties.
Goal Internalization Motivation
Goal internalization motivation is when individuals embrace behaviors and attitudes because their content corresponds with their value system. Strong beliefs and ideals are vital in this motivational source. Individuals believe in the cause of an event and have a strong sense of responsibility, and hence they are motivated to work hard towards their goals (Fuhrmann, 2018). An individual strongly believes in the cause of something, which alone motivates them to achieve what they want.
The Relationship Between the Brain, Motivation, and Behavior
The connection between behavior and motivation is complex in many ways. The relationship is complicated because identical behaviors can be expressed as a result of different motivations. For example, different motivations can be manifested by similar behavior, and different behaviors can result from the same motivations (Garrett & Hough, 2017). The idea of motivation is mostly used to show behavior persistence. Psychologists argue that the complex the motivational level, the lengthier the behavior will be, even when the strength is relatively low.
There is a substantial affiliation between motivation and the brain. Motivation occurs when a person’s dopamine increases because of anticipating something important. If the brain is trained to feed off dopamine surges that develop from rewarding experiences, then an individual’s productivity can be increased (Garrett & Hough, 2017). All a person needs to do is create more dopamine, and the brain does the work of increasing a person’s productivity. A person can achieve rewarding experiences by establishing incremental goals. As a result of the incremental goals, the dopamine flows every time a new step is completed.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
This model was established by Abraham Maslow, who was considered one of the greatest psychologists of the 20th century. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs concept claims that people have requirements ranked in a hierarchical order. The theory acknowledges that some needs are basic to all individuals, and nothing else matters without them being satisfied first. Individuals first fully fulfill their basic needs before satisfying higher-order needs (Stoyanov, 2017). The basic needs no longer serve as motivators once they are met. Maslow’s ideology mainly focuses on bodily needs such as air, food, and water. For example, imagine a hungry person; at this point, his or her behavior will be directed towards finding food. Individuals tend to stop being motivated by food once they have eaten.
When physiological needs have been satisfied, individuals shift towards their safety concerns. People start questioning how safe they are from pain, danger, or even from an uncertain future. After satisfying their safety needs, individuals move one level up. They start worrying about their social wants, which refers to the need to relate well with other human beings and be loved. Meeting social needs leads to esteem needs which become more salient. To feel important, to be respected, and appreciated are the esteem needs that should be met. At the highest level of the ladder is self-actualization need (Stoyanov, 2017). Self-actualization is the process in which individuals can achieve their ultimate best. This want is depicted by handling new tasks, acquiring new abilities, and behaving to enable one to achieve his or her personal goals.
Clayton Alderfer developed the ERG theory, a modification of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Clayton recommended that basic human needs be grouped into three (Relatedness, Growth, and Existence). Relatedness aligns with the social needs; growth need is associated with the esteem need and self-actualization while existence need relates to safety and physiological wants in Maslow’s concept.
There is a ‘frustration-regression’ proposition in the ERG theory, which suggests that when individuals are frustrated while trying to satisfy one need, they may regress to another (Stoyanov, 2017). For example, when people are not satisfied with their current jobs, they tend to regress to relatedness and start spending less time in those jobs. This theory argues that multiple needs should be recognized to comprehend why individuals behave the way they do and hence this can help motivate them.
Motivation is very important to people in their daily activities. It enables people to achieve their goals and set new ones. Understanding what motivates an individual can play a major role in increasing their overall productivity even at job places. It is also important to understand that productivity can be increased by triggering dopamine. Dopamine is triggered by feeding one’s mind with only positive information on how a certain goal can be achieved.
Fuhrmann, T. (2018). Motivation centred learning. 2018 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE). Web.
Garrett, B., & Hough, G. (2017). Brain and behavior: An introduction to behavioural neuroscience (5th ed.). SAGE Publications.
Stoyanov, S. (2017). An analysis of Abraham Maslow’s theory of human motivation. CRC Press.