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What is motivation?

The psychology of motivation

Motivation in psychology is defined as the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behavior.  It is the desire to act in the service of a goal, it is a crucial force necessary to achieve our goals, whether it is to drink a glass of water to satisfy thirst or to read a book to expand our knowledge.

Motivation is considered a driving force of human behavior.  It is the energy that fuels behavior and creates social connections, its absence is linked to mental illnesses such as depression.

Motivation implies the strength necessary to continue striving for meaning and purpose in life.  It involves the biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate behavior.

The term is commonly employed to describe the behavior of a person performing something, in essence it is the driving force behind human actions.

Motivation does not only refer to those factors that activate behavior; it also involves the factors that direct and maintain actions directed to a goal.

Different theories of motivation have been proposed from psychology, including Freud’s theory of impulses, the theory of instinct and Maslow’s humanistic theory of the hierarchy of needs, among others. The sources of motivation

Behind the impulse of individuals to participate in any behavior is motivation.  As such motivation can be external, when a person is inspired by forces outside of himself such as other people or rewards.

Motivation can also be internal, when inspiration comes from oneself: the desire to improve in a certain activity, when so, motivation tends to push people with more energy and the results obtained are usually more satisfactory.

In psychology, the theory of the hierarchy of needs proposed by Abraham Maslow is one of the most frequently used to understand the phenomenon of motivation.

According to Maslow, human beings possess an inherent motivation which pushes them to improve themselves and advance towards the expression of their full potential: self-realization, which is achieved by progressively satisfying various levels of needs.

At the base of the most fundamental needs, there is food and security, on these are the needs of a higher order such as love, belonging and self-esteem.

At the top, Maslow expanded his theory to include the need for self-transcendence: people reach the peak of growth and find the highest meaning of life by paying attention to things beyond the self.

Although the universality of Maslow’s theory is currently questioned, many believe it captures the fundamental truth about human motivation. Types of motivation

Motivation is classified according to its origin into two different types, extrinsic or intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation is that which comes from outside the individual and often involves a reward such as money, social recognition or praise.

Intrinsic motivation is that which arises from within the individual, such as obtaining personal satisfaction by performing an activity such as reaching a personal goal or solving a specific problem. Components of motivation

Anyone who has ever set a goal in life, such as losing weight or training to practice a profession, will know for themselves that the simple desire to achieve something is not enough.

To be able to achieve any goal requires the ability to persist even in the face of adversity and possess sufficient endurance to continue forward despite difficulties.

From psychology, three essential subprocesses in motivation are differentiated: activation, persistence and intensity. Activation

It implies the willingness to undertake an action oriented to an end, it is the beginning of motivated behavior, it implies taking the first steps to achieve a goal, no matter how simple or complex it is.   An example is signing up for a gym for the first time to start an exercise regimen or making the decision to study any career as psychology.

In any case, activation implies moving towards the achievement of a specific objective and rarely lacks an end, seeks in the background an emotional reward, that warm and diffuse feeling of the enjoyment of the proposed goal such as reducing a few extra kilos or graduating as a professional.  Perseverance

It is the continuous and faithful effort aimed at the materialization of the proposed goal despite the obstacles that may arise along the way.  Continuing with the previous example, there are many who enroll in a gym but few who achieve their goal of losing weight or acquiring a better physique, also enrolling in a career does not imply graduating from it, there are many who faint along the way.

This sub-process of motivation is the one that most characterizes elite athletes or those who manage to stand out from others in any activity.   As such it involves a significant investment of time, energy and personal resources. Intensity

It refers to the focused energy and attention applied by the individual in search of completing all those activities or tasks that involve the achievement of their objective or goal.  It is common in gyms those who enroll in January to defect in March, have the activation and intensity but lack perseverance, train with great impetus two months to faint the third to not get results.

There can be activation and perseverance without intensity.  This is the case of students who start a career and continue in it despite the lack of motivation, lack energy and continue by inertia, surely with poor academic performance or even worse dragged by their peers.

One student can pass without much effort, while another student will study regularly, participate in discussions, and take advantage of research opportunities outside of class.  The first student lacks intensity, while the second pursues his educational goals with greater verve.

In most cases, motivation will be determined by its source: intrinsic or extrinsic.

The strong desire to be fit is an internal motivation enough to persevere with enough intensity despite the discomfort and physical pain that physical exercise implies.

Likewise, the student whose motivation is external, continues to study despite the lack of intensity, due to the recognition or social demand involved in obtaining a university degree.

The degree of each of these motivational components can affect whether or not the goal is achieved. Strong activation, for example, means you’re more likely to start pursuing a goal. Perseverance and intensity will determine whether you continue to work toward that goal and how much effort will go into achieving it.

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