Monthly Archive December 2015

Schools of Thought in Psychology | General Psychology

school-of-thoughts-2-728Schools of Thought in Psychology General Psychology

When psychology first emerged as a science separate from biology and philosophy, the debate over how to describe and explain the human mind and behavior began. The different schools of psychology represent the major theories within psychology.

The first school of thought, structuralism, was advocated by the founder of the first psychology lab, Wilhelm Wundt. Almost immediately, other theories began to emerge and vie for dominance in psychology.

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Perspectives in Psychology | General Psychology

 download (7)Perspectives in Psychology

An approach is a perspective (i.e. view) that involves certain assumptions (i.e. beliefs) about human behavior: the way they function, which aspects of them are worthy of study and what research methods are appropriate for undertaking this study. There may be several different theories within an approach, but they all share these common assumptions.You may wonder why there are so many different psychology perspectives and whether one approach is correct and others wrong.  Most psychologists would agree that no one perspective is correct, although in the past, in the early days of psychology, the behaviorist would have said their perspective was the only truly scientific one.

Each perspective has its strengths and weaknesses, and brings something different to our understanding of human behavior.  For this reason, it is important that psychology does have different perspectives to the understanding and study of human and animal behavior.

The early years of psychology were marked by the domination of a succession of different schools of thought. If you have ever taken a psychology course in school, you probably remember learning about these different schools which included structuralism, functionalism, psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and humanism. As psychology has grown, so has the number and variety of topics that psychologists investigate. Since the early 1960s, the field of psychology has flourished and continued to grow at a rapid pace, and so has the depth and breadth of subjects studied by psychologists.

1. The Psychodynamic Perspective

The psychodynamic perspective originated with the work of Sigmund Freud. This view of psychology and human behavior emphasizes the role of the unconscious mind, early childhood experiences, and interpersonal relationships to explain human behavior and to treat people suffering from mental illnesses.

Psychoanalysis became one of the earliest major forces within psychology thanks to Freud’s work and influence. Freud conceived of the mind as being composed of three key elements: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the part of the psyche that includes all the primal and unconscious desires. The ego is the aspect of the psyche that must deal with the demands of the real world. The superego is the last part of the psyche to develop and is tasked with managing all of our internalized morals, standards, and ideals.

2. The Behavioral Perspective

Behavioral psychology is a perspective that focuses on learned behaviors. Behaviorism differed from many other perspectives because instead of emphasizing internal states, it focused solely on observable behaviors.

While this school of thought dominated psychology early in the twentieth century, it began to lose its hold during the 1950s. Today, the behavioral perspective is still concerned with how behaviors are learned and reinforced. Behavioral principles are often applied in mental health settings, where therapists and counselors use these techniques to explain and treat a variety of illnesses.

3. The Cognitive Perspective

During the 1960s, a new perspective known as cognitive psychology began to take hold. This area of psychology focuses on mental processes such as memory, thinking, problem solving, language and decision-making. Influenced by psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Albert Bandura, this perspective has grown tremendously in recent decades.

Cognitive psychologists often utilize an information-processing model, comparing the human mind to a computer, to conceptualize how information is acquired, processed, stored, and utilized.

4. The Biological Perspective

The study of physiology played a major role in the development of psychology as a separate science. Today, this perspective is known as biological psychology. Sometimes referred to as biopsychology or physiological psychology, this point of view emphasizes the physical and biological bases of behavior.

Researchers who take a biological perspective on psychology might look at how genetics influence different behaviors or how damage to specific areas of the brain influence behavior and personality. Things like the nervous system, genetics, the brain, the immune system, and the endocrine systems are just a few of the subjects that interest biological psychologists.

This perspective has grown significantly over the last few decades, especially with advances in our ability to explore and understand the human brain and nervous system. Tools such as MRI scans and PET scans allow researchers to look at the brain under a variety of conditions. Scientists can now look at the effects of brain damage, drugs, and disease in ways that were simply not possible in the past.

5. The Cross-Cultural Perspective

Cross-cultural psychology is a fairly new perspective that has grown significantly over the last twenty years. These psychologists and researchers look at human behavior across different cultures. By looking at these differences, we can learn more about how our culture influences our thinking and behavior.

For example, researchers have looked at how social behaviors differ in individualistic and collectivistic cultures. In individualistic cultures, such as the U.S., people tend to exert less effort when they are part of a group, a phenomenon known as social loafing. In collectivistic cultures such as China, however, people tend to work harder when they are part of a group.

6. The Evolutionary Perspective

Evolutionary psychology is focused on the study of how evolution explains physiological processes. Psychologists and researchers take the basic principles of evolution, including natural selection, and apply them to psychological phenomena. This perspective suggests that these mental processes exist because they serve an evolutionary purpose – they aid in survival and reproduction.

7. The Humanistic Perspective

During the 1950s, a school of thought known as humanistic psychology emerged. Influenced greatly by the work of prominent humanists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, this perspective emphasizes the role of motivation on thought and behavior.

Concepts such as self-actualization are an essential part of this perspective. Those who take the humanist perspective focus on the ways that human beings are driven to grow, change, and develop their personal potential. Positive psychology is one relatively recent movement in psychology that has its roots in the humanist perspective

Perspectives Conclusion

Therefore, in conclusion, there are so many different perspectives in psychology to explain the different types of behavior and give different angles.  No one perspective has explanatory powers over the rest.

Only with all the different types of psychology, which sometimes contradict one another (nature-nurture debate), overlap with each other (e.g. psychoanalysis and child psychology) or build upon one another (biological and health psychologist) can we understand and create effective solutions when problems arise so we have a healthy body and a healthy mind.

The fact that there are different perspectives represents the complexity and richness of human (and animal) behavior. A scientific approach, such as behaviorism or cognitive psychology, tends to ignore the subjective (i.e. personal) experiences that people have. 

The humanistic perspective does recognize human experience, but largely at the expense of being non-scientific in its methods and ability to provide evidence.  The psychodynamic perspective concentrates too much on the unconscious mind and childhood. As such, it tends to lose sight of the role of socialization (which is different in each country) and the possibility of free will.

The biological perspective reduces humans to a set of mechanisms and physical structures that are clearly essential and important (e.g. genes).  However, it fails to account for consciousness and the influence of the environment on behavior.





 ■ What is the primary function of our sensory receptors?

Sensory receptors transduce raw physical energy into neural impulses, which are then interpreted by our central nervous system.

What does the term absolute threshold refer to, and why is signal detection theory important?

The absolute threshold is the smallest magnitude of a stimulus that can be detected 50 percent of the time. Signal detection theory helps to separate sensitivity from motivational factors.

What is a difference threshold?

The term difference threshold refers to the amount of change in a stimulus required for a person to detect the change.

Can subliminal messages affect our behavior?

 Most careful research fails to show any meaningful effects of subliminal messages on aspects of our cognitive processes or behavior.



What are the basic structures of the eye, and what is the physical stimulus for vision?

Light rays first pass through the cornea and then enter the eye through the pupil. Adjustments to lighting conditions are executed by the iris. The lens is a clear structure whose shape adjusts to permit us to focus on objects at varying distances. Light rays leaving the lens are projected onto the retina at the back of the eyeball. The physical stimulus for vision consists of electromagnetic wavelengths that stimulate the rods and cones in the retina.

What are the basic functions of the visual system?

The basic functions of the visual system include acuity, dark adaptation, and eye movements. Acuity is the ability to see fine details. Dark adaptation is the increase in sensitivity that occurs when we move from bright light to a dim environment. Various types of eye movements are crucial to our ability to track moving objects and to perceive distance and depth.

How do psychologists explain color perception?

Our rich sense of color stems from mechanisms at several levels of our nervous system. Two leading theories that explain how we perceive color are trichromatic theory and opponent-process theory.

 ■ Why is visual perception a hierarchical process?

Visual perception is a hierarchical process because increasingly complex visual information is analyzed and compiled at successive stages—eventually yielding a coherent and flowing visual world.

What are the basic building blocks of visual perception?

The basic building blocks of visual perception begin with feature detectors—neurons in the visual cortex that respond when particular types of stimuli, with characteristic features, are detected.


 ■ What is the physical stimulus for hearing?

The physical stimulus for hearing is sound waves, which stimulate tiny hair cells in the cochlea.

 ■ How do psychologists explain pitch perception?

Place theory and frequency theory help explain how we perceive pitch.

How do we localize sound?

The “sound shadow” created by our head causes sound to reach one ear slightly faster than the other. This small time difference helps us localize the source of sound.

Touch and Other Skin Senses

 ■ What is the physical stimulus for touch?

The physical stimulus for touch is a stretching of or pressure against receptors in the skin.

 ■ Where does the sensation of pain originate?

Sensations of pain originate in free nerve endings throughout the body.

What is the basis for cultural differences in pain perception?

Cultural differences in pain perception appear to be the result of learning, not physical differences.

 ■ What role do cognitive processes play in the perception of pain?

 Negative thinking while in pain, referred to as catastrophizing, can increase the perceived intensity of pain.

Smell and Taste:

The Chemical Senses

What is the physical stimulus for smell?

The physical stimulus for sensations of smell consists of molecules that stimulate receptors in the nose. ■ Where are the sensory receptors for taste located?

The sensory receptors for taste are located in papillae on the tongue.

 ■ What are the practical benefits of using ambient pleasant fragrance to solve real-world problems?

The use of pleasant fragrances can increase alertness among persons engaged in potentially dangerous activities, such as driving.

Kinesthesia and Vestibular Sense

 ■ What information does our kinesthetic sense provide to the brain?

Kinesthesia informs the brain about the location of body parts with respect to each other.

 ■ What information does the vestibular sense provide to the brain?

 The vestibular sense provides information about body position, movement, and acceleration.

Perception: Putting It All Together

Why is selective attention important?

Selective attention reduces interference from irrelevant sensory sources.

Why is it important to consider sensation and perception in the development of warnings?

 The effectiveness of warnings depends on both sensory and perceptual processes.

What role do Gestalt principles play in perceptual processes?

 The Gestalt principles of perceptual organization help us to structure the input from our sensory receptors.

What are perceptual constancies?

 Perceptual constancies are principles describing our ability to perceive aspects of the world as unchanging despite variations in the information reaching our sensory receptors, such as information about size, shape, or brightness.

■ What are illusions?

 Illusion is a term used by psychologists to refer to errors in interpreting sensory information.

 ■ What are the bottom-up and top-down theories of pattern recognition?

The bottom-up theory suggests that pattern recognition stems from our ability to recognize and combine basic visual features. In contrast, top-down theory emphasizes the role that expectations play in shaping our perceptions.

What are geons? What is their role in object recognition?

Geons are basic cylindrical shapes that, when combined according to rules, can be used to form any object. Some evidence suggests that geons are the basis of our representation of objects in memory.

How are we able to judge depth and distance?

Judgments of depth and distance result from both monocular and binocular cues.


 ■ How are the concepts nature and nurture related to perception?

 Both nature and nurture are important determinants of the ways we perceive the world around us. Nature refers to genetic influences on perception, whereas nurture refers to the relative effects of the environment and learning.

Extrasensory Perception: Perception without Sensation?

 ■ How do most psychologists view the possibility of extrasensory perception or psi?

Most psychologists remain highly skeptical about its existence and await the results of further careful research.




Copyright : Shishir Subba


The importance of motivation is obvious. We need motivation in order to reach our goals. In fact it is one of the most important and driving factor for us reaching our goals. So when that being said it is not hard to imaging how things would be if there was no such thing as motivation.

Motivation does not have to be positive emotions. Fear can be a very effective motivating factor. Stress is an example of negative motivating ineffective feelings. Most people have a tendency to become narrow sighted when they are stressed, some even get paralysed or apathy.

Is motivation important in the workplace? You bet! Why? First, you spend more time at work than you do awake at home. And typically, work environments are very goal oriented. Some people argue that getting goals motivates people. This is of course not true. It is the rewards for reaching the goals that motivates or the feeling of fulfilment when they reach their goals or the satisfaction of being important etc. This is why many companies and organisations are very strong on bonuses and appraisals.

  • Motivation is generally what energizes, maintains, and controls behavior; it acts as a stimulus for desirable actions.
  • The importance of motivation in the workplace is straightforward theoretically, but difficult to measure empirically.
  • Salary is often enough to keep employees working for an organization, but not necessarily enough to capitalize on their full potential.
  • Motivated employees will retain a high level of innovation while producing higher quality work at a higher level ofefficiency.
  • Theopportunity cost in motivating employees is essentially zero.
  • Motivated employees always look for better ways to do a job.
  • Motivated employees are qualitative.
  • Motivated workers are more productive and efficient.

In summary, motivated employees will retain a high level of innovation while producing higher quality work at a higher level of efficiency. While these benefits are broad, and therefore relatively vague, it also puts forth the argument that motivated employees have no downsides or costs. The opportunity cost in motivating employees is essentially zero, assuming it does not require additional capital to coach managers to act as effective motivators.


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Types of Motivation | Psychology


psychoTypes of Motivation | Psychology

Primary (physiological) motives:

Motivation is not solely a cognitive process. Physiological arousal can provide the energy that fuels social motives as well as biological ones. Biological motives are largely rooted in the physiological state of the body. These motives are not learned and regarded as inborn. It is primary because their fulfillment is indispensable and of primary importance. Without them individual cannot survive. These primary motives include thirst, hunger, sex, temperature regulation, sleep, elimination, need for oxygen, pain avoidance, maternal needs, and so on. These needs have physiological basis as explained two of the physiological needs below:


Hunger is the drive that arises from the need for food, which in turn develops from food deprivation. Questions like what are the body mechanisms that regulate the hunger drive and what psychological processes are at work during are being attempted to answer by both physiological and psychologists.

The act of chewing and swallowing provide some sensations of satiety (state of being satisfied). Hunger was previously assumed due to stomach contraction. Walter Cannon in 1934 concentrated on linking hunger to the “pangs” produced by an empty stomach. According to him, person does not realize he or she is hungry until such distant signals of pain or discomfort are apparent. Empty stomach leads to stomach contractions called hunger pangs. The pang was considered a signal of hunger. But later experiments with the animals whose stomachs have been removed were found regulating food intake to maintain a normal weight level.

The detail investigations and experiment made by other psychologists in later period confirmed that there is a close relation between blood chemistry and hunger. The reduction of the sugar in the blood starts hunger sensations, while its excess reduces it. Later experiments confirmed that several biochemical conditions regulate this drive (Morgan, 1965). The function of the liver is being considered important in this respect. Research suggests that receptors in the liver are important in regulating hunger (Friedman and Stricker, 1976). These receptors were found sensitive to the blood sugar level. In a state of food deprivation, blood sugar level becomes low and these receptors send rapid messages to the brain. The involvement of the brain has been indicated by experimental removal of the ‘satiety cells’ in the hypothalamus. When this portion of the brain is absent, the animals ate to the point where they become three times their normal size. After removal of other areas of the hypothalamus, the animal stopped eating before its normal need have been satisfied.

Though many areas of the body work to regulate the hunger drive this is only a part of the story. Hunger drive is more complex in human beings. Psychological factor is considered important along with physiological factors. Food taking behaviour is influenced by taste, colour, eating habits, and so on. Individual learns to respond in a particular way to these external stimuli. As a result, people eat even if they are not hungry. Incentive, thus, is important in understanding behaviour that is influenced by hunger motivation. Like Pavlov’s dog, people learn to salivate in anticipation of food cues. Sight, sound, aroma of the food can stimulate eating behaviour. Food taking behavior is shaped and reshaped by socio-cultural environment.

2) Thirst

Like hunger thirst is also a periodic drive. But it is usually felt faster than hunger. The strength of thirst is also greater than hunger drive. The necessity of thirst for survival is greater than food. Common experiences and observations show that people can live for many days without taking any food, but not without taking water. This is because thirst is closely related to survival of body cells.

People experience thirst as dryness in the mouth and throat. This is due to the diminution of water in the salivary glands, which is the result of a reduction of water in the blood. This is called dehydration of the body tissue and it results in thirst drive. Experiments have shown that receptors of the kidney and hypothalamus play more central roles in regulating the thirst drive.

When the body is depleted of fluids the flow of blood through the kidneys drops off. In response to this decreased flow of blood, the kidneys secrete the hormone called angiotensin. Angiotensin, in turn, signals the hypothalamus of fluid depletion.

Experiment results have found that hypothalamus is also responsible for thirst drive. The saturated cells and salty pretzels osmoreceptors in the hypothalamus can also detect fluid depletion from changes that occur within the brain. The brain, like the rest of the body, becomes fluid-depleted. Fluid depletion causes the osmoreceptor cells to shrivel, which in and of itself may trigger thirst.

It is found that receptors in the mouth and throat do play some role in thirst. When a thirsty person begins drinking, the receptors monitor the amount of fluid taken. At some point these receptors signal the hypothalamus to stop taking water. Drinking, like eating, has complex origin. It can be motivated by a combination of internal and external cues. 

3)Sex Motive

Sex motive, although not so essential for an individual’s survival like food and water, constitutes a highly powerful psycho-physical motive. Its satisfaction results in immense happiness and well being to an individual and as a medium of survival to the species. Where the root of the sex motive is purely biological and innate in the non-human animals, it is not so simple to point out the roots in humans whose sex drive is governed by both the physiological and psychological factors. Therefore, the human sex motive is termed as a complex blend of innate as well as acquired tendencies.

In most animals, sex hormones are undeniably essential in stimulating the sex drive. These hormones, the testosterone in the males and estrogens in the females, are secreted by   their testes and the ovaries. The experiments   connected with the removal of the testes and ovaries in the case of male and female animals or birds or injection of the doses of the male or female sex hormones have clearly demonstrated the extent to which secretion to sex hormones actually determines sexual behavior among different species.

This dependency on hormones is seen far less as we move up the phylogentic scale from lower animals and birds to monkeys and chimpanzies. Finally, in sexually experienced adult humans, we see still more freedom from hormonal controls. Castrated males and ovariectomized females sometimes experience little or no decline in sex drive or satisfaction. Females may also remain sexually active after the natural decline in ovarian function that occurs with age (in the form of menopause)

In addition to the dependency on hormones, females of most species, excluding humans are sexually receptive only at certain times when they are on heat or, in more technical language, during the estrus cycle. During this period, the female ovaries secrete a greater quantity of estrogen into her blood stream and she becomes receptive to the advances of the males. This period coincides with the occurrence of ovulation in the females and consequently may results in pregnancy.

In human beings, although the pregnancy is possible only in the estrus periods, the sex drive is not dependent upon the occurrence of an estrus cycle. In general, human females and males can be sexually motivated at any time quite independent of the period of fertility and hormones production. Much of their motivation in the form of sexual arousal and behavior is rooted in earlier experiences and social learning and controlled by lesions in the hypothalamus, the sub-cortical structure in the brain.

On account of the involvement of the cortical areas of the brain, the sources for the instigation of sex drive and sexual arousal vary very much in human beings. Sometimes it is the emotional feelings of the sex partner and at other times it may be a visual, auditory, a tactile sensation, a picture or a fantasy. In practice, the sex game is more psychological than biological or organic. For example, a smell of one’s favorite perfume or even a little moonlight works wonders in stimulating sex drive in humans. The other variables related with one’s socio-cultural environment, sexual experience and learning also play a leading role in guiding and deciding the mode and nature of sex drive and behavior in human beings independent of their fertility period and secretion of hormones.

4)Sleep and Rest

Sleep like food and water is a basic necessity of life. Need for sleep arises particularly when the individual is tired. Sleep acts as a type of rest by providing the cell bodies to recover the energy used in activity. Hence sleep is essential for health.

Research indicates that when people stay awake for long periods of time, perceptual disorientations occur, including depression, extreme elation, and anxiety. Military personnel, after 45, 65, and 95 sleepless hours, showed severe perceptual and emotional disturbances, as well as disrupted intellectual functioning (Morris & Singer, 1961). When talkathon contestants went 88 consecutive hours without sleep, they gradually become intensely concerned about their own mental health (Cappon & Banks, 1960). Whether such symptoms arise from deprivation of sleep, deprivation of dreams or both is not fully clear.

Physiology of sleep certain brain mechanisms are actively involved in producing sleep. Excitation of the thalamus, a switchboard mechanism below the cerebrum, seems to induce quiescence. In contrast, the reticular formation, an important sub-cortical arousal mechanism, influences sleep by ceasing the transmission of impulses to many cortical synapses. In other words, sleep is a consequence of excitation in certain brain regions, quiescence in others and even the brain stem and cortex seem to be part of our sleep inducing system (Murray, 1965).

More recently, it has been discovered that certain respiratory patterns are associated with the brain waves of the hypnagogic state, which is the interval of drowsiness between waking and sleeping. Like Rapid Eye movements (REMs) and study of dreaming, this finding may be especially useful in future investigations of hypnagogiy. This condition is of growing interest to researchers because of the vivid imagery that occurs just before falling asleep and just before awakening (Schacter, 1976).

Need for sleep is very important for our physiological and psychological health because it reduces the effect of fatigue by providing rest to the cell bodies.


Social motives are acquired, social, learned or complex motives. Like physiological drives, social motives prompt goal-directed behaviour. These motives are not related to survival but satisfy us in a number of ways. People sing, play musical instruments, compose music, paint, write. Such urge to create, achieve, and understand the world is somehow related to social survival. These motives result mainly from man’s interaction with his social environment. Some of the social motives include need for praise, recognition and status, achievement, mastery motive, aggressiveness, power, self-submission, gregariousness, imitation, sympathy, life goal, level of aspiration and need for achievement, interest and so on. Psychologist Henry Murray (1938) constructed a list of 20 human motives that consist largely of social motives.

These motives are not innate so people can survive physically without them but it will almost impossible to live socially. Since life is more and more depending upon social survival in most of the countries these social motives have important implication in the life of the people. Some of the secondary motives are like power, prestige, need for approval, curiosity need, aggressive, pugnacity, hoarding, affiliation need, need for achievement, recognition and status etc. As the need themselves indicate they are important aspects to provide some insight of the people and community. These motives are persisting characteristics of a person because they are learned. The strength of these motives differs individual to individual and culture to culture. Below is the description of two social motives.

1)Achievement motivation:

Some people are always continuously driven by goal in their life. They always want to achievement some goal in their life. This is called achievement motivation. People with achievement motivation always want to accomplishment something in their life and advance up the ladder of success. For this kind of people accomplishment is much important than rewards.

In the organizational settings achievement-oriented employees always works harder when they think that they will receive personal credit for their efforts, when the risk of failure is only moderate, and when they receive specific feedback about their past performance. These people take responsibility of their actions, take pride in the positive result, have control over their destiny, seek regular feedback, and they enjoy being part of a winning achievement. Such activity can be both individual and group effort.

2)Affiliation motivation:

Affiliation motivation is a social need. Human beings are social by nature and they always want company, share their basic emotions and help each other. Such needs are vital for group survival. However, in some people affiliation need is more stronger than other social needs i.e., achievement need. In the organizational settings, people with affiliation needs tend to be friendly, helpful, closer and more concerned about other people. People with higher achievement need, however, tend to work hard, impress their managers, respect technically capable people and less concerned with personal feelings. However, the employee with affiliation need are more happy with like-minded people, feel rewarded being with friends and need more time for building personal relationship with others. They derive satisfaction from the company of close people.

Affiliation is important need for most of the people and in organizational setting such need may lead to positive social relationship, cooperation in work, develop friendly environment and may enable to achieve organizational goal. However, overemphasis on affiliation need may interfare in some organizational settings. Affiliation-oriented managers may have difficulty assigning challenging task, directing work activities, and monitoring work effectiveness.

3)Aggression Motivation:

Aggression motive is related to those behaviors that are intended to inflict physical or psychological harm on others. Various views have been propounded about the origin and working of this motive. Those believing in instinctive theory like Freud, Lorenz and Ardrey held that an aggressive motive is linked with an innate independent instinctual tendency in human beings which expresses itself in destructive and violent activities. However, this innate drive concept now stands rejected due to lack of substantial research.

From another viewpoint, aggression is caused as a result of frustration. However, later researches have proved that it is not essential that reaction to frustration always leads to aggression. Bandura (1973) suggests that frustration generates aggression only in those people who have previously developed aggressive attitudes and action as a means of coping with their environment. It leads us to a more accepted conclusion that aggression motive and aggressive behavior is the product of earlier experiences and social learning. One may be aggressive because one has been brought up in the environment where he frequently observes his parents, elders, teachers and peers showing aggression towards him or others. 

Copyright:Shishir Subba

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Motivation Cycle |Psychology

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Motivation Cycle | Understanding the Process of Goal Directed Behavior

The psychology of motivation is concerned with the ‘why’ of behaviour. Questions such as: why do we eat, drink, and make love? Why do we strive to get ahead? Why do we try new things?” can be answered through the study of motivation. Motivation is a hypothesized state within an organism that propels the organism toward a goal.

Broadly, there are four aspects of motive:

  1. Need
  2. Drive, and
  3. Incentive
  4. Goal/Reward                            


A need is a state of physical deprivation that causes tension within an organism, which tends to organize the field of organism with respect to certain incentives or goals and to incite activity towards their attainment. When an organism has been deprived of such basic necessities of life as food, water, and sleep, the internal environment is imbalanced and the need develops tissue needs, which are the biochemical requirements of the body. Need is the first condition for goal directed behaviour. 


Need gives rise to drive. The concept of drive is used to mean that the organism is particularly sensitive to certain stimulation and usually is driven to activity. The activity persists until the need is satisfied or until weakness or death occurs. Therefore, drive, a physiological state, is an original source of energy that activates the human organism. It arouse person to action. It is a strong persistent stimulus that demands an active response. Drive is the result of need.


An incentive is an object, a situation of our activity, which excites, maintains, and directs behaviour. Incentive has capability to satisfy a need. Without an incentive or reinforcer, motivation cannot be fulfilled. It is an object toward which motivated behaviour is directed. It can provide satisfaction of the aroused drive. Food is an incentive to hungry man. Need alone do not produce motivated behaviour and drive alone does not make a selective and rational behaviour. Incentive is necessary. It channels the drive to specific behaviour. In sum it can be said that need is a physiological or psychological state which gives rise to drive, an energy or force. Drive is a state of heightened tension leading to restless activity and preparatory behaviour. According to HiIgard, an incentive is something in the external environment that satisfies the need and thus reduces the drive through consumatory activity.


The goal of energized activity is to reduce the tension created within the body. Here in the above example consumption of food and reduction of tension is the goal. When goal is achieved the need reduced, body is in balanced condition and tension is reduced. The person is again ready for other goal directed activity.

Motivational cycle, therefore, means that behaviour goes in a sequence. Since the sequence is cyclical and needs are never ending there are more than one motivated behaviour that constantly influence the person to act and react. Many times single motivated behaviour fulfils more than one need.


Credit- Shishir Subba

Copyright – Shishir Subba




Copyright – Shishir Subba


In the process of explaining behaviour psychologists have to answer the question of “Why do human beings behave as they do?” The study of motivation is necessary because it explains the “why” of behaviour. The term motivation literally means to move or to energize or to activate. In this sense, anything that is responsible for internal or external activity may be called motivation. But unlike the straightforward term, the motivation is extremely complex, difficult to understand, interpret, predict and control. Modern psychologist thinks that single drive and motive alone does not govern behaviour of individual. Interaction of various drives and motives are responsible for the particular behaviour. Further, the behaviour is not easy to explain since socio-cultural context always influence the behaviour. Thus, while explaining ‘why’ of behaviour psychologists have to understand the socio-cultural context and setting to understand the person’s behaviour.

Motivation is a state of the organism in which the bodily energy is mobilized and the activity is selectively directed toward particular parts of the environment. Such behaviour generally continues until the goal is achieved. The level of activation during the motivated state is determined by the intensity and consistency of the behaviour. Some of the definitions of motivation is as follow:

  • By a motive we mean something that incites the organism to action or that sustains and gives direction to action once the organism has been aroused – Hilgard and Atkinson.
  • The psychology of motivation deals with the variables that activate and direct behaviour –Kendler.
  • A motive is any particular internal factor or condition that tends to initiate and to sustain activity – Guilford J.P. General Psy (1956).
  • A Motivation may be defined more formally as a phyusiological internal process initiated by some need which leads to activity or which will satisfy that need – Lovell.
  • Motivation is the process of arousing, sustaining, and regulating activity. Good.
  • Motivation refers to any inner condition of the individual that initiates or directs behaviour toward a special goal. Coleman.

Important characteristic of motives is that we never observe them directly; we infer their existence form what people say, the way they feel, and from observation. There is no need to be conscious, or aware, of our motives. The behaviour can be driven by unconscious motivation. If inferences are correct the motive is a powerful tool in explaining behaviour. Most of the everyday explanations of behaviours are given in terms of motives. One who understands motives behind particular behaviour usually understands the people as clinical psychologists do. Motives also help us make predictions about behaviour. If inferences are correct then predictions about the person can be made. Motive may not tell us what exactly happens but they give us an idea about the range of things a person will do. Motives are, thus, general states that enable psychologists to make predictions about behaviour in many different situations.

Motivation is considered as a physiological (internal) process that is initiated by some need and leads to activity to satisfy that need. Thus, it determines its level of activation, intensity, and consistency as well as general direction of behaviour. It can be said that psychology of motivation deals with the variables that activate and direct behaviour. The individual is energized due to physical deprivation within the body (e.g., hunger). The need due to physical deprivation arouses and energizes the individual. This energized condition is called drive. Drive is energy or fuel that makes activity possible. In fulfillment of this deprivation individual seeks certain goal (e.g., food). When goal is set individual acts in a particular way. Since this activity is directed to achieve a definite goal and influenced by past experiences it is termed as behaviour. Thus, motivation is considered as goal directed behaviour. Good has defined motivation as the process of arousing, sustaining, and regulating activity. It is also defined it as a state of the organism in which the bodily energy is mobilized and selectively directed towards the parts of the environment. Motivation, thus, is an internal condition of the organism that initiates and sustains activity. The activity is selective and always directed to a particular goal. The activity is possible because the need creates drive. The drive is an energized condition of the individual that continues until goal is achieved. It is evident from the above descriptions that when we use a term motivation, it basically involves need, drive and incentive. The behaviour moves in sequence known as motivational cycle or sequence.


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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, usu rebum errem pericula ea, ei alia quaerendum vix. Ea justo tritani sit, odio ignota quo te. Ei pro vedolor cotidieque. Ut quas commodo signiferumque mei, has ut quas ullum, cum eius sensibus voluptatibus no. Id qui assum legis, cum ut movet definiebas instructior, ex nam vero expetendis adipiscing.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, usu rebum errem pericula ea, ei alia quaerendum vix. Ea justo tritani sit, odio ignota quo te. Ei pro vedolor cotidieque. Ut quas commodo signiferumque mei, has ut quas ullum, cum eius sensibus voluptatibus no. Id qui assum legis, cum ut movet definiebas instructior, ex nam vero expetendis adipiscing.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, usu rebum errem pericula ea, ei alia quaerendum vix. Ea justo tritani sit, odio ignota quo te. Ei pro vedolor cotidieque. Ut quas commodo signiferumque mei, has ut quas ullum, cum eius sensibus voluptatibus no. Id qui assum legis, cum ut movet definiebas instructior, ex nam vero expetendis adipiscing.

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