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The sources of motivation

In the post The study of motivation we study the definition of motivation, the two main fundamental questions and also the need to have motivational theories that explain certain aspects of the motivation of individuals. We saw that motivation is that which gives energy and direction to behavior, that is, motivation is that which drives us to get good grades or exercise, and to perform a type of exercise and not other types.

When we say that something gives energy to the behavior we are referring to the fact that said behavior is intense, strong, persistent, etc. When we say that something gives direction to behavior it means that the behavior we carry out has a purpose, an objective, a goal that we want to achieve, etc.

Those processes charged with giving energy and direction to our behavior come from forces found both in the individual and in the individual’s environment. Specifically, there are two sources of motivation in broad strokes: internal motives and external motives. These motives not only drive us to do things, but they also drive us NOT to do other things. That is, what energizes the individual is his behavior of both avoidance and approach to something. Next, we will describe in greater depth what internal motives are and what external motives are.

Internal reasons:

Internal motives are internal processes that have the ability to direct and energize the behavior of the individual. They are considered internal experiences and can be of three different types: needs, cognitions and emotions. The differences between the types of internal motives lie solely in the level of analysis of each. When what motivates us derives from a need, cognition or emotion, that is, from an internal motive, we will say that we are intrinsically motivated. Let’s go on to describe the three types of internal motives. Needs

This would be the most basic motivation plane, as it refers to behaviors such as eating or drinking. A need is a condition that resides within the organism and that is necessary and essential for the organism to live, grow and have well-being. In this sense, water and food are necessary things for the survival, growth and well-being of organisms. It must also be said that in this example (eating and drinking) we are talking about biological needs, but as you can imagine, biological needs are not the only ones that human beings possess.

On the other hand, we also have psychological needs, such as the feeling of belonging or the feeling of competence, that is, of being able. Needs (psychological or whatever kind) energize and direct our behavior towards the achievement of our goal, that is, towards the satisfaction of the need. By satisfying the need we ensure our survival, our growth (biological and psychological) and our well-being in every way. There are also social needs and physiological needs. Cognitions

Cognitions are phenomena or processes that our mind is capable of performing. Examples of cognitions would be the expectations we have and can create for ourselves, also the thoughts that flood our mind and the beliefs from which they are derived. They can also be the thoughts we have towards ourselves, which is known as self-concept. In general, cognitions are related to people’s thinking. Emotions

Another source of motivation from internal motives is emotions. Emotions are phenomena that we all experience, although in a different way each, so it is necessary to emphasize that they are subjective phenomena. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that emotions are phenomena of very short duration. If what we feel extends over time we would go on to talk about mood, a concept that denotes stability and durability, unlike the concept of emotion.

As you probably already know, emotions are physiological phenomena, that is, they cause changes in our physiology. For example, when we are afraid, our heart pumps faster. This is because if in a situation we feel fear it may be that the situation demands a flight response, so the body prepares with that increase in heart rate. In addition, emotions are functional, that is, they help us achieve what we want at a certain time. Finally, emotions have an expressive component, through which we show others how we are feeling while the emotion lasts. External reasons

External motives or events come from motivating environmental, cultural, and social events that are capable of directing and energizing people’s behavior. To give you a clear idea of what external motives are, the example of the money you receive when doing, for example, a certain job is usually given. But it’s not just money, as a simple verbal reward towards your work is also an external source of motivation. Approximation and avoidance

Approximation and avoidance are the consequences of external events. For example, if you receive money for performing a certain action, that money will encourage your approach behavior toward that particular action. On the contrary, if instead of receiving money for what you do you receive a fine, that external reason will encourage you to have a behavior of avoidance towards the action that has caused you to be sanctioned.

These external events, therefore, have the ability to direct and energize an approach behavior or an avoidance behavior, and this is highly related to the psychology of learning, since we can understand it in terms of punishments and rewards. All areas of psychology are related to each other, and this helps us to understand the motivational factor of behavior that comes into play when talking about learning.

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