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Biological, Psychological, and Environmental

Lambert Deckers

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Biological, Psychological, and Environmental

Lambert Deckers

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Motivation provides an accessible introduction to motivation and emotion, combining classic studies with current research and uses numerous real-world examples to engage the student and make, often difficult, theoretical concepts come to life. By understanding and applying the principles of motivation described in the text, students will not only discover insights into what motivates their own behavior but also how to instigate self-change through goal-setting.

Throughout the book the author adopts an evolutionary approach to explore the effect of interpersonal relationships, food preferences, fear, music, and the emotions on motivation, at the same time considering how personality traits and psychological needs are essential for understanding why people are motivated by different things. The motivation of compulsive behavior from addictions, such as drugs, gambling, Internet gaming, and obsessive exercise is also considered, providing a truly comprehensive overview of biological, psychological, and environmental sources of motivation.

The sixth edition has been thoroughly updated throughout and is accompanied by an instructor's manual that contains multiple choice questions, essay questions with answers, websites related to motivation and emotion, power point slides, in-class activities, and discussion questions. It is an essential read for all students of motivation.

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Chapter 1Introduction to Motivation and Emotion

“There's no free will,” says the philosopher; “to hang is most unjust.” “There is no free will,” assents the officer; “we hang because we must.”
—Ambrose Bierce, 1911
Either our actions are determined, in which case we are not responsible for them, or they are the results of random events, in which case we are not responsible for them.
—Hume's Fork
David Hume, 1711–1776


Why did the chicken cross the road? This is a question about motivation. There are many possibilities. First, the chicken was simply motivated to achieve the goal of reaching the other side. Or the chicken was motivated to avoid remaining on the current side because of the approaching chef. The motivation may also have resided within the chicken. Maybe she was motivated to satisfy a psychological need , such as the need for closure. She needed a definite answer of what was on the other side. Another is the need for competence. I, a mere chicken, am as competent and capable as anyone in crossing the road. Perhaps the answer lies in the chicken's various personality traits . A chicken high in the trait of openness-to-experience, like her, would eagerly embrace the experience of being on the other side. Finally, the chicken may have been experiencing various emotions. She was afraid and the other side provided safety. Or the current side was disgusting and the other side was not. Also, the chickens on the other side appeared happier; so why not join them? And finally, maybe she was in love with the majestic rooster on the other side of the road?
These questions about what motivated the chicken serve as an introduction to the complexities of human motivation. The chicken's motivation and behavior were simple. In contrast, human behavior is vastly more complex, as are the sources of motivation. Reaching the other side of the road is like end-states in human motivation. End-states resemble the aim or purpose of motivation like attaining incentives, achieving goals, or satisfying needs. Where does the motivation to reach these end-states reside? Does it reside outside the person in the environment or does it reside within the person as needs, traits, or motives? Read further to find the answers.

To Be Moved into Action

Consider the implication for motivation of the following statements:
  • Hunger drives a person to raid the refrigerator for food.
  • Math anxiety made her reluctant to enroll in the statistics course.
  • The residence hall students enjoyed playing volleyball Sunday afternoon.
  • If you pay your credit card bill on time, then you will avoid an interest charge.
  • Students attend classes at the university in order to earn a bachelor's degree.
The individuals in these examples, who ate, avoided enrolling, played volleyball, paid their bills when due, and attended classes were motivated to do so. Individuals who did not were not motivated to do so or were motivated to do something else. According to the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1841/1960), to be motivated is to be moved into action, or a change in action. It comes from being pushed by the past and pulled by the future. The past resides in our internal motives and the future exists in anticipated external goals and incentives. The past and future define three categories of motivation: motive, goal, and incentive . A motive is a person's relatively stable internal disposition to be concerned with and approach positive situations and avoid negative situations (Atkinson, 1958/1983). For example, people have a stable disposition or motive to eat over their life time. Sometimes the motive to eat can be strong, which occurs when a person is hungry. Emotions also serve as motives like anxiety motivating avoidance behavior. A goal is represented as the internal image of a future outcome; an end-state . It motivates and guides the behavior necessary for achievement. For instance, students imagine their goal of graduating from a university. This image motivates and guides the academic behavior necessary to achieve that goal. People's goals often stem from their motives. The goal of a motive is the satisfaction of that motive (Atkinson, 1958/1983). For instance, hunger motivates eating because that achieves the goal of satisfying hunger. Similarly, gaining friends is the goal of the need to affiliate because friends satisfy that need. An incentive is an anticipated reward or aversive event available in the environment. Positive incentives attract us, while negative incentives do the opposite; they deter us. An incentive is also contingent on behavior, which means a person must perform the prescribed behavior in order to attain or avoid it. Goals and incentives are connected. While goals are the focus of motivation, incentives can contribute to that motivation. Incentives do so by making a goal seem more attractive or valuable. For instance, grades, parental approval, and feelings of self-esteem are positive incentives that help motivate (incentivize) a student to work toward the goal of graduation. A late charge is a negative incentive that helps motivate the goal of prompt bill paying. Sometimes, however, the distinction between motives and incentives or goals is not clear. For example, in a murder mystery, detectives may ask “What was the perpetrator's motive?” when they meant to say “What was the goal of the crime?” In life, the motivation of behavior is a function of all three: motives, goals, and incentives.

Push and Pull

Is motivation the result of being pushed, pulled, and their combination? The chicken's motive, such as fear of the approaching chef pushed her to the other side of the road while other chickens or the rooster already there, pulled her over. Likewise, human motives (desire, emotion, longing, need) push individuals toward some end-state while external events, referred to as incentives and goals, pull individuals there. Figure 1.1 illustrates this push/pull view of motivation. A person's internal disposition specifies the nature of this end-state or goal. Internal dispositions may consist of biological motives like hunger, psychological motives like the need to belong, or a value system that confers worth on an incentive or goal. Figure 1.1 illustrates that hunger pushes a person toward a goal of eating food and a psychological need to belong pushes a person toward a goal of being with good friends or family members. In addition, a person's values determine the pulling power of a particular incentive or goal, such as the value placed on a university degree. From the combination of push and pull, individuals are motivated toward the appropriate end where motives and goals become linked together. There, for example, eating satisfies hunger, relating to others fulfills the need to belong, and completing university requirements achieves the valued goal of graduation.
FIGURE 1.1 Push/Pull Motivation. Motives like biological needs and psychological needs act like push motivation while external incentives and goals act like pull motivation. The actions of push/pull bring individuals to the desired end-states.

Emotions as Motives

How do you feel when insulted/dissed, when faced with an exam, or when your best friend moved away? Many individuals will feel anger, anxiety, and sadness, accordingly. These subjective feelings are known as affect . It is part of the array of reactions that make up emotions. These reactions include physiological arousal, a readiness to act, and facial expressions. They operate in synchrony because they are motivated to meet the aim of the emotion. For example, for anger, the aim is to redress a wrong, for anxiety to attain a secure feeling, and for sadness to seek comfort from others. During an emotion , the various reactions act in unison because that way they most effectively cope with a challenging environmental event. This unity enhances an individual's well-being, as well as their chances of survival (Keltner & Shiota, 2003). Challenges like insults, being tested, or a personal loss have occurred many times in human history and emotions have evolved to cope with them effectively. In short, emotions motivate behavior in order to achieve the aim of the emotion.

Purpose of a Motivation Psychology

Does motivation apply the same way to everyone? Are there grand theories of motivation that would apply equally to everyone, such as the law of gravity? For example, imagine a tall, heavy person and a short, light person jumping simultaneously off the high platform into the swimming pool. Regardless of their difference in height and weight, both will hit the water simultaneously. A simple explanation is based on the law of gravity; it applies equally to all objects, regardless of their size or weight. Unfortunately for psychology, things are not so simple. What motivates a person at one time may not do so at another time. And what motivates one person may not motivate another.
For example, food motivates people to eat when they are hungry but less so when not hungry. Furthermore, the motivation for eating may be greater for heavier people, since they require more calories compared to lighter people. To illustrate, Figure...