Internal and external motivators affect behaviors

Internal and external motivators affect behaviors

There is an assumption that the word motivation comes from the Latin word “movere”, which would in English mean “move”. Nowadays such simple definition of the word is considered insufficient. But in reality it is rather difficult to present a definition of this notion, as motivation has a hypothetical construction. We are not able to observe the motivation of a person directly. We are able to see only the surrounding of the person and his behavior as a reaction to it and to some other facts. Thus we are able to come to certain conclusions concerning motivation. It is still only an assumption that there is something inside the person that appears in some certain situation, under some certain circumstances and makes the person act this or that way. This thing we can not see or measure directly. The final general definition of motivation is as follows: "A system of psychological factors that arises maintains and directs behavior." (5).
So, motivation is the main factor, the main energy that prescribes the behavior of people.
An interesting fact is that there is little difference between cognition, motivation and emotions in the every day life. An example of cognitive activity would be the planning of a vacation. This panning process is connected with person’s ideas about his/her holiday, hope for a good rest and fears that something goes wrong. Thus the planning process plays an important role and all the thoughts are supported by emotive values.
It is not possible to separate cognition and motivation as high cognitive processes, for example problem solving is appropriate only in case when it helps to reach some goals of a person, that means as well that it is motivated. Often this very aspect of cognition is ignored.
It is as well important that motivation goes before cognition, cognition is based on the motivational system, and this system in its way is able to function without cognition.
Thus the motivational state is characterized by two important properties, first of all the motivational state is the center of the whole being. All the time the being is influenced by some motivational state, which provides the single engagement. The motivational state is dynamic, it means that it can change any time as soon as internal needs or external possibilities change.
Behavior is determined by learning a lot, but the more important determinant is motivation. The older theories didn’t take the motivation into consideration related to the matters of behavior. They were talking only about learning. The famous experiments of Pavlov ignored the motivation and its role. It seems strange as the association of a bell with salivation was a part of learning process only in case the dog was hungry. The dog would not be able to produce salivation effect if it didn’t want to eat.
The experiments of Thorndike show even less interesting in motivation. People gave the cat food when it managed to run away from a box, but it was actually an afterthought. We can never state for sure what was the reason was for the cat to escape, either the longing for food or wish to be free from the box.
The experiments of Clark came close to the role of both learning and motivation. Rats were trained to press a bar to get food. Later on these rats were separated into some groups and didn’t get food from 1 to 23 hours. The longer the rats were not getting their food the faster they were pressing the bar. All the rats were trained together and thus the learning results were the same, this would mean that the reason of this difference was hidden somewhere else. The conclusion is that motivation – in this case this is getting food – played a great role in determining the behavior of animals.


In this connection Hull talked about the state of drive as an aversive state of the organism. Drive is a part of a need which as well motivates the behavior. Hull stated that drive was an important energy for motivating the behavior, but that it was not able to determine the exact kind of behavior. It was later called a generalized drive or the concept of arousal.
Drive is one of the most versatile and vague terms in psychology. There are a lot of cases and a lot of meanings when this term is used and there are even some negative ones. Here we are talking about drive as “a state or value representing the urgency of a behavior”. Drive has also to do with the states of organism which lacks or gets too much of food, hormones and so on. There are cases when drive is related to the presence of noxious stimuli – loud noise, pain etc. There are the so-called constant drives that do not change with the time. Generally six types of drives are identified.
Homeostatic drives – comes from violation of homeostatics, examples are simple – hunger or thirst. When homeostatics is violated the motivational system gets the signal. This type of drives is close to the model of Powers. “Powers' model is built on the assumption that the present action of an organism is a function of its present perceptions and an internal reference perception. These are compared to generate an error signal which facilitates behavior” (3). It means that the difference between the present state of an organism and the desired state causes the behavior.
According to his model behavior has two variants of function – the present perception and the reference perception, there is an opinion that his scheme misses one more component – the present motivational state.
Noxious drives – the signals of noxious stimuli could be also considered as drivers. The bright example of such type of driver would be the sensation of pain.
Cyclical drives – these drives change depending on the time of the day or of the year season. They are hardly directly influenced by internal or external stimuli. They come from oscillator, which in its turn depends upon the length of a day or the amount of light. Most hunger drives also belong to this type.
Default drives – they are called so as they have the influence power only because there are no other. Usually this is a kind of behavior when there is no other choice what to do.
Exploratory drives – very close to default drives, but it can also “interact with the perception of unknown stimuli to produce exploratory behavior which is directed toward a specific stimulus” (3).
Anticipatory drives – there are some reasons to believe that at least higher animals have the so-called sixth sense source of drive signals. They have nothing to do with present time needs, they are used for planning the future needs and can influence other types of drives, especially homeostatic drives.
Schachter talked a lot about the distinction between internal and external determinants of behavior. Different people are more or less under the influence of either internal or external signals.
The external motivation usually depends upon the environment and conditions in which the person exists. Satisfaction and motivation are created with the help of external rewards, for example money, praise, recognition and negative such as punishment or rejection as well.
Internal motivation appears when the behavior is not controlled by the environment. The inner motivation is the result of a need of competence and self- determination. Thus the difference between external and internal motivation is not difficult for understanding, but a really big mistake is made when intrinsic/extrinsic are confused with internal/external. No matter internally or externally a person is motivated in two different ways:
-intrinsically – it happens when a person is himself passionate about doing some task
-extrinsically – when a person is made to perform a task, either externally (for example for getting money or avoiding punishment) or internally (because of an individual sense of self-worth).
The motivational system helps an individual to make the optional choice of behavior. A lot depends on the goal of a person. A person would try to build his behavior so that he gets maximum of reward and minimum of some negative consequences. Thus the motivational system has to calculate the potential results of each possible action in a concrete situation with the respect of a specific goal. Sometimes there is more than one goal and then the closest goal has to be calculated.
We come to the conclusion that the motivational state is influenced by three main factors: internal and external incentive and drive. Both incentives inform an individual about the present possibilities of fulfilling the need and the drive signal informs about the level of urgency of this need. There is another classification of incentives – primary or innate or secondary – acquired. Primary incentives are associated with primary motivators and secondary incentives – with secondary motivators.
In nowadays life people are influenced by both internal and external motivators constantly, sometimes it is even hard for others to determine the real motivators of the behavior of an individual in some certain situation. Motivation itself is a very important psychological component as it serves a base for determination of human behavior.

Sources:

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