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Motivation and Behavior Essay

Motivation refers to the process that drives an organism to behave the way it does. Simply put motivation causes an organism to eat, sleep, and drink and individuals to participate in the activities they find satisfying. Motivation can separate people into two categories optimist and pessimist. Optimists are those looking for the good in situations and pessimists finding the bad. Motivational sources can be described as extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic is the motivation that comes from outside of the individual. Intrinsic is the motivation of an individual that comes from within. Motivation affects an organism’s behavior. Dr. Whitbourne describes six theories in here article from psychology today; instinct, drive reduction, arousal, incentive, cognitive and self-determination.


As defined by psychology.about.com, motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation is the psychological process that tells humans what to do. A motivation causes humans and other species to drink, eat, play, sleep and reproduce. Without motivation there would be no reason for accomplishing anything. Within the motivation process there are different factors with each individual. Motivation can come in the form of positive motivation and negative motivation.

These motivating factors eventually lead to an emotional state within the individual. Generally motivation creates to type of individuals that society recognizes and relates with; optimist and pessimist. Optimistic is disposed to take a favorable view of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome, (“Optimistic,”2012). These are the individuals who tend to have a positive outlook on life. In most cases these individuals are look for the good in every situation. From dictionary.com, pessimistic is pertaining to or characterized as the tendency to expect the worst and see the worst in all things. Pessimists are those individuals who see the worst in everything

. Sources of Motivation Extrinsic/Intrinsic

Extrinsic is defined by dictionary.com as, not essential or inherent; being outside a thing; outward or external; operating or coming from without, (Extrinsic, 2012). Extrinsic motivation is simply that, things that motivate from the external. When looking at individuals who have extrinsic motivation, they tend to not enjoy certain activities, (Huitt, 2011). They tend to be a reward based group and need affirmation from an outside source. Throughout society many people can be found to fit this category of motivation. As shown a person who only writes poems to be submitted to poetry contests as well as a person who does not like sales but accepts a sales position for the amount of money he/she will make, (Psychology, n.d.).

Intrinsic is defined by dictionary.com as, belonging to a thing by its very nature; of or relating to the essential nature of a thing; inherent, (Intrinsic, 2012). If extrinsic is from the external, the intrinsic is from within the individual. These individuals to things because it please them and they find the activity enjoyable, (Psychology, n.d.). These people are not concerned as much with what the outside world or society thinks. They are motivated from within. An example shows, playing chess because the individual enjoys effortful thinking, and a person reading a non-fiction book because they are curious about the topic, (Psychology, n.d.).

Motivation and Behavior

From an article written by Susan Drauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. motivation as the cause of behavior is examined. In her article Dr. Whitbourne discuss insights to explain the complexity of behavior. The instinct theory as Dr. Whitbourne refers to it as the biological set instincts that organisms have, (“Motivation: the why’s of behavior,” 2011). These factors are what tell organisms to do in order to survive, such as the lion hunting the antelope or a flock of geese migrating south for the winter. The second she describes is the drive reduction theory, (“Motivation: the why’s of behavior,” 2011). This theory talks about organisms and how they will try to just ensure that their needs are met and not look for anything else, (“Motivation: the why’s of behavior,” 2011).

The article goes on to discuss how critics argue that if this theory were true no one would do thinks that were considered risky, (“Motivation: the why’s of behavior,” 2011). Third Dr. Whitbourne discusses the arousal theory, (“Motivation: the why’s of behavior,” 2011). Arousal theory is the opposite of drive reduction, (“Motivation: the why’s of behavior,” 2011). Arousal theory is the motivation which drives individuals to increase their stimulation and seek out things that are exciting and outside just what the individual needs, (“Motivation: the why’s of behavior,” 2011). Dr. Whitbourne goes on to discuss 3 more theories such as the incentive theory, cognitive theory, and the self-determination theory, (“Motivation: the why’s of behavior,” 2011)..


Motivation is the process that drives individuals to behave the way they do. Individuals are categorized into two, optimist and pessimist. There are multiple sources of motivations that can be describe as either extrinsic or intrinsic. Whatever the source, individuals are either motivated from within or the world around them. In an article written by Dr. Whitbourne, six theories are described which examine the “why of behavior.”

Extrinsic. (2012). In Dictionary.com
Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/intrinsic Huitt, W. (2011). Motivation to learn: An overview.Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University.
Retrieved from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/motivation/motivate.html Intrinsic. (2012). In Dictionary.com.
Retrived from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/intrinsic Motivation: the why’s of behavior. (2011, October). Fullfillment at Any Age, (), Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201110/motivation-the-why-s-behavior Optimistic. (2012). In Dictionary.com.

Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/optimistic Psychology and society. (n.d.).
Retrieved from http://www.psychologyandsociety.com/motivation.html

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