What are the Approaches to the Study of Motivation? – Explained!

January 16, 2019 0 Comment

The psychoanalytic theory of Freud emphasizes two basic drives: sex and aggression. These motives arise in infancy, but their expression is forbidden by parents, and repression occurs. A repressed tendency remains active, however, as an unconscious motive and finds expression in indirect or symbolic ways.

Social learning theory, on the other hand, focuses on patterns of behavior that are learned in coping with the environment; learning may occur through direct reinforcement or vicariously through observing the consequences of behavior modeled by another person.

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A cognitive process enables a person to foresee probable consequences and to alter behavior accordingly. Self reinforcement, based on one’s own standards of conduct, also provides an important motivational control.

The psychoanalytic and the social learning approaches to human motivation can be illustrated by considering aggression as a motive. Aggre­ssion, defined as behavior intended to injure another person or to destroy property, may be primarily hostile-aimed at inflicting injury-or ins­trumental aimed at goals other than the victim’s suffering.

For Freudian theorists, aggression is an instinct or a frustration produced drive; for social learning theorists it is a learned response.

Evidence indicates that observing aggressive behavior, either live or filmed, is not cathartic; it tends to increase aggressiveness.

The humanistic approach to motivation primarily focuses on the motivation towards self actualization. Thus Abraham Maslow in his need hierarchy theory places self- actualization at the peak.

A minimum level of lower level needs satisfaction has to be attained before one could strive towards self-actualization. Apart from self- actualization, the other needs analysed by him are: need to explore the environment for competence and need to master the environment.

Finally the homeostatic approach to motivation is based on behavior directed towards the reduction of tension in the system caused by the deprivation or a need. Thus according to this approach behavior is motivated towards need- reduction.

However, this approach cannot explain certain behaviors like exploratory and self- ac­tualization behavior which increases the tension in the system rather than reduce it.


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