Sources of Motivation Essay

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Sources of Motivation

Sources of Motivation


            The subject of human motivation is quite complicated for a number of reasons. Firstly, humans mature more slowly than any other organisms on this planet, and for this, the motivational tendencies are acquired more slowly too. Secondly, the individual is dependent on many of his fundamental satisfactions on other people; this is illustrated on his/her use of symbolic language to communicate these needs to others (Franken, 1994). Every human experience involves a causative factor that produces a kind of response. In explaining the behavior of people, we start our description with reference to some kind of active driving force: the individual seeks, the individual wants, the individual fears. Various psychologists describe motivation, in other words, as the driving force behind our behavior (Atkinson, et al. 1983).

            Smith, et al. labels their discussion on motivation as the “Why” of behavior (1982). Why does the tardy student in mathematics spend the rest of the period outside instead of inside the mathematics classroom? Emotions or strong feelings usually accompany motivated behavior.  Often, emotions direct behavior toward goals (Atkinson, et al. 1983).

            Essentially, the role of motivation in a person’s life is crucial to the understanding of human activities. Motivation is never static because in life, there always presents a dynamic and changing pattern of needs. Internal and external motivation provides in brief, an astute way of explaining the “why’s” of people’s behaviors. No wonder then, that in general, educators handle pupils or learners in the light of this ideation.

Definition of motivation

Motivation is defined as the concept that represents the fundamental influence that drives behavior and providing its direction (Morris et al. 1999, p 284). One major motivational model or theory more often used in almost in all applications is the theory by Abraham Maslow (Smith et al, 1982). More prominently called as the hierarchy of needs, this theory explains an individual’s needs on different levels. On the theory, Maslow defines basic or fundamental needs as the individual’s biological needs like hunger, thirst and rest. Maslow believes that on this basic level lies the “evolution” of the other so-called “higher” needs.

If the lower levels are not satisfied, the implications mean the individual cannot or will not move onto the higher levels (Morris et al. 1999, p.302; Marx 1976). Maslow’s theory became a phenomenal one especially in the workplace because of its humanistic desirability; they seemed significant to people. It helps clarify why some work incentives are not effective for some people and situations. And managers in work settings can implement interventions in their workplaces based on their understanding of human behavior according to the hierarchy of needs (Berry, 2002, p. 240).

~Internal and External Classification of Motivation

            Psychology recognizes different perspectives of motivation. One of these viewpoints pertains to the idea of “motivational inducements,” otherwise known as incentives. Incentives are referenced from either the vantage point of internal, or that of external motivation. An inducement coming from within the individual is called intrinsic or internal motivation. It is, according to Morris and Maisto, about the “. . . desire to perform a behavior that originates within the individual.” An inducement coming from outside the individual is called external or extrinsic motivation. It is the aspiration to do or achieve a goal in order to acquire a type of incentives or escape or steer clear of punishment (Morris and Maisto, 1999, p.316).

Children are often induced by the presence of external incentives to perform expected tasks or avoid incurring punishment. For motivation experts, however, a person developing the internal type of motivation will reap more lasting and beneficial effects compared with external motivation (1999). To induce a child to do what the parents ask for by way of rewards or threats are at times less constructive or even detrimental to the overall performance of the person or child.

~Example of Motivation in the Workplace

            In a multinational company like National Panasonic, they practice and execute specific agenda for increasing motivation, one of which is Management by Objectives (MBO). They have faith in involving their employees in goal-setting and in decision-making. MBO works by integrating goal-setting into individual participation in decision-making in order to establish individual work goals to which the employee feels reasonably committed. At the motivational level, it is theorized that resistance to change is decreased if individuals participate in decisions regarding change and that individuals accept and are more committed to decisions in which they have participated in making. To further encourage and increase involvement, the company provides suggestion boxes and hold monthly contests where they give monetary rewards for the best three suggestions.

These give the employee a sense of achievement and responsibility for its success. For this company, the employees receive incentives in the form of Ladder promotion, general salary increase annually plus performance rating salary increases, CBA – employees can expect a minimum of 15% increase in salary annually within three years; and welfare benefits which include group insurances, medical insurance, accident benefits among others (Baron, 1983). A company like this goes to such great lengths at least to assure that it does something for sustaining employees’ morale and motivation.

            Motivation according to Drebinger (2006) is simply the “act of helping someone achieve something that is beneficial to them.” Along this vein, the intentions and usually the methods are ethically and morally right which is synonymous with such internal behavior/attitudes as impetus, drive and inspiration. There are risks involved such as being misinterpreted or misperceived which happens very commonly to almost anyone (Llewellyn , 2003; Kitchener, 2000).


            Essentially, the role of motivation in a person’s life is crucial to the understanding of human activities. Motivation is never static because in life, there always presents a dynamic and changing pattern of needs. Internal and external motivation provides in brief, an astute way of explaining the “why’s” of people’s behaviors.


Atkinson, Rita L., Richard C. Atkinson, and Ernest R. Hilgard. 1983. Introduction to      Psychology. 8th ed., New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

Baron, R. Behavior in Organizations: Understanding and managing The Human Side of Work. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1983.

Berry, Lilly M.1997. Psychology at Work An introduction to Industrial and         Organizational Psychology. 2nd Ed. New York: McGraw Hill.

Drebinger, John. 2002. ‘Motivation vs. Manipulation’ in Archive of John’ Weekly Report

            John Drebinger Presentations.

Franken, R.E. 1994, Human Motivation (Belmont, CA, Wadsworth).

Kitchener, K. S. 2000. Foundations of ethical practice, research, and teaching in psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Llewellyn, David J. 2003. The Psychology of Risk Taking. Accessed in

Marx, Melvin H. 1976. Introduction to Psychology: Problems, Procedures, and Principles.         Columbia: Collier MacMillan.

Morris, Charles G., Maisto, Albert A., 1999. Understanding Psychology.4th ed., Prentice           Hall: New Jersey, pp.315-316.

Smith, Ronald E., Sarason, I.G., and Sarason, B.R. 1982. Psychology: The Frontiers of Behavior.2nd Ed.. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.

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