Although we want to focus on aspects of psychology, we consider that the subject of motivation must be understood from the most diverse points of view.

Keep in mind that motivation is the fuel of the human being . If motivated, it is unlikely that objectives will be achieved. In this case, the things that are done are done without the utmost interest.

However, there are some interesting questions to ask yourself. For example: Where does motivation come from? More to the idea of ​​a matter of taste, it can be subjective, it is important to bear in mind that motivation is always personal. Those people who achieve their goals do so thanks to the fact that they get motivation and it beats in their own being.

The concept of motivation

According to the ” Dictionary of Psychology by Umberto Galimberti ” (pp. 714, 728), motivation is a “dynamic factor of animal and human behavior that activates and directs an organism towards a goal”. Key word to understand what “motivation” implies is “need”.

Thus, the need is a state of tension that varies in intensity due to the lack of something that responds to certain aspects such as those indicated below:

  1. More or less intense physiological requirements
  2. To superficial demands made necessary by customs
  3. To psychological requirements perceived as essential for the realization of the human being
  4. Likewise, to assimilated social requirements of the environment.

The need, related to the incentive (for example, earning a salary), the drive (for example, the baby who sucks breast milk), desire and motivation, are stimuli that drive individuals towards a goal, which a Once achieved, it is satisfied.

Motivation as a force to overcome obstacles

The individual is activated to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving the goal. And it is here where need and motivation find a common point: the need occurs in different degrees related to many other instances (social, physiological, psychological), partially superimposing those highlighted by motivation, where the need is a construct fundamental.

In sum, every time individuals undertake a task and manifest a behavior, they are driven by subjective and environmental motives.

To this end, motivation is linked to the reasons that accompany a behavior. Motivation, which constitutes the: why? Of a behavior, has functional and adoptive implications .

Motivation characteristics

Motivation is defined as a dynamic process of the human psyche and behavior, so it can undergo changes or variations. That is to say, something that motivates us at a certain moment … then, you can stop doing it.

Two instances of motivation have to be distinguished . These are known by the name of ” motivational state ” and the ” motivational trait “. We are going to briefly discuss each one of them.

  • The first ( motivational state) corresponds to a very short-lived dynamic process. The second implies a predisposition to behaviors and actions. In other words, when the “motivational states” are analyzed, the differences in the instantaneous dynamics of the action are defined.
  • Instead, we have the second (the motivations trait). This happens when “motivational traits” are addressed, the accent is placed on inter-individual differences.

There are other variables to take into account. Which? Well, in this regard we mention some in the next section of this post.

On the other hand, motivational changes are considered to be delimited by two dimensions, namely: 1) by their intensity and 2) by their quality. We briefly describe these couple of issues:

  1. Due to their intensity, the changes are referred to the mobilization of effort and energy that is used for the action that will lead to the goals. This is what the more or less energetic force of motivation indicates. It is obvious that motivation could move between extreme laxity and maximum energy.
  2. Due to its quality, the changes occur in the selection of the course to take for the execution of the action, which indicates exactly what goal the action is directed towards. This is what is called the “type of motivation”: training, work, existential, and so on.

The first limited dimension, referring to the intensity of motivation , receives the general name of “activation”. Furthermore, considering the time available for the process of executing the goals, a “phasic dimension” and another “tonic dimension” have been described.

What is the phasic dimension and the tonic dimension?

The ” phasic dimension ” is the one concerning the temporal reactions that are related to a specific stimulus or objective. For example, when several young people agree, at any time, to play basketball, because they find it attractive.

The “ tonic dimension ” refers to the response that causes a significant objective and that requires –necessarily- a prolonged dedication in time.

The subject requires going step by step and maintaining a level of dedication to achieve the goal , so a high level of excitement is preserved over time. For example, the student considering pursuing a graduate degree.

The concepts of activation and direction in motivation 

Now, the main characteristics of motivation are “activation” and ” direction .”

Motivation, as mentioned, has biological and cultural aspects . In this way, a diverse number of adoptive challenges that individuals face have social implications, since it is society, crossed by its cultural peculiarities, that exerts a true influence on biological and psychological needs.

When you talk about goals you also talk about direction . Goals direct the subject, depending on contextual factors and motivation leads to appropriate actions.

This point is important: for psychology, the understanding of motivation is correct taking into account the biological and cultural aspects. That is, the biological, behavioral, or cognitive perspective is required.

Consequently, the understanding of the motivated behavior of an individual has been analyzed from a scientific point of view , which necessarily involves understanding the needs that the human biological system must satisfy in order to survive; and from a cultural perspective, which understands that motivation obeys the cultural variables that determine it.

The group dimension when it comes to motivation

Understanding motivation as the result of cultural variables, the group dimension dominates over individual aspects. A particular example is seen in the workplace, where it seems unavoidable to observe cultural factors to understand the motivational aspect of the behavior of employees and managers.

Cultural influence shapes the cognitive system (motivational preferences, goal selection, etc.) And if it is necessary to be more explicit, one would only have to think about the importance given to computer experts (and professions) in these times . A computerized society has necessarily produced the redirection of training motivations.

In short, the mediation between biological and cultural aspects are present from an early age in individuals; however, the cultural dimension begins to take a decisive presence during the individual’s socialization process.

This is how all motivations are traversed by this socialization process and adaptive responses to the environment that individuals are generating. That is to say, we cannot at all deny the influence of the environment on motivation. It can even be asserted that human beings learn to be motivated by certain elements that trigger that motivation.

Types of motivation

Motivations can be conscious or unconscious simple and complex, transitory or permanent . Furthermore, they are of a primary or physiological nature and secondary, of a personal or social nature .

There are also higher motivations , constituted by the existential ideals that people assume in order to achieve their self-realization.

This all seems complex (and it is). However, that is why the urgency to create a way of cataloging motivations is born. In this regard, it is clear that a typology of motivation should take into account various interpretations of this concept, namely:

  • first interpretation of an intellectualist character places motivation as the categorical tendency of the personality . It is the free will that is analyzed with the method of induced introspection. Therefore, each person is motivated by something that captures their interest according to their personality.
  • second interpretation, the biological one , understands that motivation is related to the physiological need, which drives pro-subsistence sensations and actions in the human body. Therefore, all motivation is something natural and satisfying the instincts is a case of motivation.
  • third interpretation understands that motivation responds to an instinctual dimension . The instincts in the human species (of innate nature); however, they are modifiable by learned habits.
  • fourth interpretation reduces motivation to a “drive” phenomenon , as understood by psychoanalysis. Thus, the motivation for behavior must be found in the unconscious. That is, people do not plan to be motivated, since it is something that they do not decide rationally.
  • fifth interpretation of an anthropological nature believes that motivation obeys cultural matrices, which are present from birth and throughout the life of human beings. That is to say, it is not something natural; rather, it is the result of human beings themselves.
  • sixth sociological interpretation discerns that motivation depends on people’s need to fit into society and to feel valuable in it. Therefore, it seems to be understood that everything that humans do happens because of their desire to integrate and be accepted in a group.
  • seventh interpretation, of humanistic-existential foundation , defends the idea of ​​separating need from motivation, raising this last notion to the category of values and ideals. That is, the fact of being hungry, for example, is not a motivation to eat, but a need to be satisfied.

It is necessary to add that the motivation by humanistic-existential factors belongs to the anti-homeostatic motivations, which do not obey, like the physiological ones, to a decrease in need.

It happens that the motivations of a humanist-existential talent actually respond to the search for some external element , such as material reality, hoarding, the construction of the social sphere, power, success, prestige, life projects, consummation. ideals, the scope of knowledge, self-realization, etc.

In conclusion

Living motivated is the basis of life itself . It is the energy that moves the world towards small, medium and great goals. Of course, every company -formative, work, family, existential, social, material- requires a good dose of sustained motivation, for its consummation and conservation.

From the ” Theory of Self-realization ” it is precisely defended that the beginning of human motivation resides in the desire for fulfillment of individuals. The foundation of this thesis is that, unlike animals, people set out to carry out “things” without being obliged to do so. The subject conceives (cognitively) something (potentially, it is the anticipation of the behavior), followed by its concretion.

The conclusion must be left that there is a clear distinction between “human nature” and “human culture”. In the motivational sphere of the construct “human being culture” the importance of the organic state and the condition of need is relative.

The normal state of people is not passivity but activity , which is self-motivating and is framed in the theory of the autonomy of motives. The “individual-culture” is distinguished, whose motivational scope is essentially governed by its transcendental projects.

The desire to be loved and accepted by the other ; group membership and projection; the social need for power, prestige, control; the need for individuation, social success, etc., are part of these projects.

It remains to say that the subject of motivation exhibits quite complex edges . For this reason, we have not only wanted to stop in something psychological, but in a variety of much more open disciplines.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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