Edited by Jen Moreau, Shelleymarie

Classification of Motivation

Motivation is Power! To motivate, is to charge your desires to do better to be better. The strength of motivation reinforces someone's future behavior according to the situation and condition. It explains the reasons behind a person's behavior and actions. The term comes from the Latin word movere, meaning "to move." Psychologists who study motivation focus on the internal and external influence that might move a person. Motivation is the general term for the process of starting, directing and maintaining physical and psychological activities.

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Motivation Theory

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is one motivation theory that describes the basic needs of a human being. This is an important theory that's studied on a worldwide level. This theory follows these basic needs that must be met for well-being in pyramid form. Starting from the base of the pyramid, the most important need is Biological/physiological satisfaction. Safety is another very important factor of motivation. Need of belonging satisfies the need for love from family, parents, etc. Self esteem is a source of motivation and it can also be a cause of distress.Self-actualization, such as having a goal for one's life, is at the top of the pyramid.

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Types of Motivation

Primary Motives

The primary motives of human beings are physiological functions. They're necessary for the survival of a living organism. They can also be shared by animals. If primary motives are left unsatisfied for too long, the individual becomes disturbed physically and mentally. That's why they're named survival motivates, as well.

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People get hungry when they don't eat, which is a primary motivator and one of the most studied. It's a required process for the body to maintain its balance. While studying hunger, psychologists study where these sensations come from. Walter B. Cannon was one of the first people who studied the stomach activity during hunger. As the stomach was considered the major source of hunger cues, other cues were also noticed.

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The significance of thirst is stronger than hunger, as we can survive more than a month without food, but we would die within several days without water. It was generally believed that thirst originated in the tongue, throat, and stomach. More than 75% of our body weight is accounted for by water, maintenance and regulation of this liquid.

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Temperature Regulation

The ability to keep ourselves at a comfortable temperature is the prominent role of the homeostatic system. Temperature regulation is critical for survival. Our cells cannot function outside certain limits of temperature above 45 degrees C. The anterior hypothalamus functions like a thermostat. Sweating is another physiological means of heat loss. If body temperature dips too low, the body will also generate heat shivering.

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Lack of Sleep"'

If an individual remains sleepless for a long time, then it hinders his or her performance. A headache or stress are considered common effects of sleeplessness. Although sleep is also a survival motive, it doesn't harm an individual directly, and lack of sleep or extraordinary sleep are abnormal conditions common in psychological patients.

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Oxygen motive is the most important motive which must be fulfilled at any cost. We can't survive without it. Deprivation of oxygen, even for minutes, causes death. A fresh supply of oxygen is a constant need for our brain function. Lack of oxygen creates suffocation, nausea, and weakness. If deprivation prolongs, the individual can't survive.

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Bowel and Bladder

It is called excretion motive, in which waste from digestive processes is excreted out of the body. If this system doesn't work properly or is disturbed, the person becomes sick. Toxins can build up in the body and create serious problems. Many diseases and issues occur due to the improper functioning of the digestive system, such as ulcer, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery, etc.

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Secondary Motives

Secondary motives are not basic, biological or physiological in nature. They are learned, social and psychological in nature. Social motives include approval from others, good relationships, social comparison, and individual and cultural differences.

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These are the motives related to our social lives, but all are also psychological in nature. Social motives compel the individual to live in a social group. Club membership, political parties, friendship circles and teams of players are all indicators of social motives. This social need serves as a psychological vitamin, which in turn produces feelings of appreciation and reward.  

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Social Comparison

Some psychologists say that social approval and social comparison are just two aspects of one motive. An individual living in a social group compares himself with others in all fields of life as in status, job, sports, money, power, liking, disliking, etc. An individual wants to maintain his position and win love and fame from others, as social comparison motivates him.

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Social Approval

Social approval is a fundamental, purely psychological and social need. The need to have others approve of us and our actions. It's obvious that the need to affiliate with others would be based on a need for approval. Social approval is the actual measure of our social behavior and interactions.

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One can say whatever happens with individuals can be labeled as psychological, but different psychologists like this term in their own way. Maslow explained his motivation theory and discussed the need for love and belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization as psychological motives.

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People who are higher in affiliation needs are particularly sensitive to relationships with others. Affiliation needs are related to our social aspect. Being social creatures, we are satisfied and relaxed with social interaction. We join different clubs, associations, parties or groups to fulfill this need. We try hard to make friends and often become very dependent on them. Affiliation is a goal which is acquired by some other needs, such as to escape or avoid anxiety.

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Self Esteem

An individual becomes secure and protected after affiliating himself with his loved ones. He also needs his self-esteem. This motive is related to self-respect. Those who pay much importance to this need can sacrifice for the sake of their self-esteem. If an individual feels that his self-esteem is at risk, then he feels inferiority complex.

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Self Actualization

Self-actualization is conceived of as a need to fulfill oneself, to become whatever one is capable of becoming. It is a need to develop and utilize one's talents, abilities, and potential fully. It's a need that very few people have ever fully satisfied.

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General Motives

Some general motives have become so dominant that they are treated as a basic motive. They're related to psychological and social motives. There is a long list of general motives which will be discussed below. Power, aggression, and achievement are interdependent from general motives.

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Aggression is any verbal or physical behavior with an intention to hurt or destroy. Social psychologists often define aggression in terms of intent and purpose behind the behavior, and aggression is intentional injury or harm to another person.

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Power motive is a tendency to seek impact, control or influence on others in order to be seen as a powerful individual. Those who have strong power motivation want to win the praise and love of others. They want to dominate other people and situations.

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Curiosity motives are considered very important. To explore or to manipulate is the indicator of curiosity. Exploration and manipulation are considered curiosity motives.  

This article is part of a series on 'Introduction to Psychology'. Read the other articles here:

1) Introduction to Psychology

2) Nervous System

3) Stages and Types of Learning

4) The Psycological Theory of Emotions

5) Nature and Psychology of Intelligence

6) Motivation

7) Personality

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Categories : Approaches

Recent edits by: Jen Moreau

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