Friday, October 28, 2011


Key Psychological Processes
hen you come from school, you feel hungry and want to eat something. You
want to eat because there is a force which compels you to have food. Likewise if
a question is asked why do you want to join a college? The answer can be given
in various ways like you want to learn or you need a degree to get a good job. You
may want to join college to have lot of friends. This basic question of the ‘why of
behaviour’ or factors which compel us to do certain activities makes us study the
psychological process called motivation. In this lesson you will study about the
nature of motivation, types of motives, intrinsic and extrinsic types of motivation,
conflict, and frustration. Understanding motivation helps us to have insights into
the dynamics of action.
After studying this lesson, you will be able to:
explain the meaning of motivation;
describe the types of motives;
differentiate between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation;
describe self efficacy, life goals and values as motivators; and
describe conflict and frustration.
Key Psychological Processes
Motivation is one of the most frequently used words in psychology. It refers to the
factors which move or activate the organism. We infer the presence of motivation
when we see that people work toward certain goals. For example, we might
observe that a student works hard at almost every task that comes to him/her;
from this we infer that the person has motive to achieve.
All human behaviour appears to arise in response to some form of internal
(physiological) or external (environmental) stimulation. The behaviours, however,
are not random. They often involve some purpose or goal. It is often held that
behaviours take place as a result of the arousal of certain motives. Thus motivation
can be defined as the process of activating, maintaining and directing behaviour
towards a particular goal. The process is usually terminated once the desired goal
is attained by the person.
The process of initiating action is technically called ‘motivation’. Directing behaviour
towards certain goal is the essence of motivation. Motivation is not always directly
observable. It is inferred and used to explain behaviour. When we ask “What
motivates a person to do a particular task?” We usually mean why does she behave
as she does. In other words, motivation, as popularly used, refers to the cause or
why of behaviour.
Interestingly, we are not aware of all our motives. Behaviour can be governed by
unconscious motives too. If our understanding of motives is correct, we have a
powerful tool for explaining behaviour. We explain our everyday behaviour in
terms of various motives.
Motives also help us make predictions about behaviour. We may tell what a person
will do in future. Motives may not tell exactly what will happen but they give us an
idea about the range of activities a person will do. Thus a person with a need to
achieve in academics will work hard in school, an individual with a strong need to
excel in sports will put in a lot of hard work in that field; similarly in business and in
many other situations.
(1) Fill in the blanks with correct alternative:
a) The process of initiating ________________ in the organism is called
b) All intentional behaviours involve ______________.
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c) Motivation is ______________ observable.
d) Motives help in predicting _____________.
(2) Define motivation.
There are certain terms which you will commonly come across when you learn this
lesson on motivation such as needs, goals, incentives etc. Let us understand some
of these concepts.
(a) Needs and Motives
A need is a condition of lack or deficit of something required by the organism.In
order to maintain homeostasis or balance the organism finds it necessary to satisfy
the needs.
The needs are of different types. The need for food or water is a physiological
need, which arises out of lack or deficit of food or water in the organism. The
needs for excretion and urination are also physiological needs. They are due to
the organism’s necessity to eliminate waste matter from the body. The need for
contact with other persons is a social need. The other social needs include need
for prestige, status, affection, self-esteem, and so on. A person becomes more
aware of his needs when they are not fulfilled. In other words, when you are
hungry, you need food, and, when you are thirsty you need water. In these cases
you are in a state of deprivation and your bodily system suffers from some kind of
The needs may be broadly categorised as,
primary or physiological needs and
secondary or social needs
. Needs for food, water, sex, sleep and rest, and
elimination are primary needs. Needs for achievement, affiliation, power are
examples of social needs.
The term ‘motive’ refers to goal directed behaviour and energising conditions
within the organism that drive behaviour. It is generally used to refer to certain
conditions which, besides arousing, predispose a person to respond, or behave in
a way appropriate to that motive. Motives direct the activity of the individual
towards person’s goals.
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(b) Goals
Thinking about the goal motivates a person to organize his or her action. If hunger
is a need, eating food is a goal. Thus goal is related to the need state. However, in
certain cases, behaviour is also guided by intrinsic goals. It means behaviour does
not always need external goal. It may be satisfying and enjoyable in itself. Some
people may like to sing, dance or play just for the sake of singing, dancing or
playing. They like such activities. Thus goals can be intrinsic or extrinsic.
(c) Incentives
Incentives refers to the goal objects which satisfy the needs. Incentives vary in
quality and quantity which make them less or more satisfying and attractive. Thus
one can put in greater amount of effort to attain a more attractive incentive. As a
matter of fact many incentives assume considerable significance in the lives of
people and they do every thing possible to attain those incentives.
(d) Instincts
Instinct is an old concept in the field of motivation. It is defined as an innate biological
force that predisposes the organism to act in a certain way. At one time all
behaviours were supposed to be results of certain instincts. Some of the instincts
identified by early psychologists are fight, repulsion, curiosity, self abasement,
acquisition etc. It was thought that instincts were inherited and compelling sources
of conduct, but can be modified by learning and experience. This term is no more
used in relation to human behaviour. Animal behaviour is sometimes explained
using this term. In current usage 'instinct' is reserved for innate response tendencies
found among animals.
Fill in the blanks with appropriate words:
a) Need is a condition of ___________ or _________.
b) Goals are ___________ representations of _________ states
c) Incentives are ______________ that satisfy needs.
It is difficult to classify needs into distinct categories because the behaviour displayed
by an individual at a given time is not the outcome of a single need. Many needs or
Key Psychological Processes
motives contribute to it. But on the basis of information gained through the analysis
of human behaviour, psychologists have attempted to classify human needs into
two broad categories. As mentioned earlier these categories are as follows.
(i) Primary or physiological needs, and (ii) Secondary or socio-psychogenic needs.
The primary needs are rooted in the physiological state of the body. They are
innate and include bodily conditions such as hunger, thirst, sex, temperature
regulation, sleep and pain. These needs are of recurring type becaue they can be
satisfied for short periods only.
The secondary or socio-psychogenic needs are unique to human beings. Many of
them are learned and they drive the individual toward special kinds of behaviours.
Since these needs are learned, their strength differs greatly from one individual to
another. Some of the important socio-psychogenic needs are power, affiliation,
achievement and approval.
Psychologists have developed a number of standardized tests for the assessment
of these needs. They may also be assessed through non testing procedures as
Abraham Maslow, who was a humanistic psychologist, argued that needs are
arranged in a ladder-like steps. He proposed a rising order of needs from the level
of physiological to self transcendence. The order of needs starts from basic survival
or lower order needs to higher order needs. As one level of need is satisfied
another higher order need will emerge and assume importance in life. The hierarchy
is shown in Fig. 9.1.
Physiological needs:
The most potent and lowest level of all the needs are
physiological needs. Thus the needs of hunger, thirst, sex, temperature regulation
and rest occupy the lowest step in the ladder. According to Maslow, when these
physiological needs are deprived for a long period, all other needs fail to appear
We must eat to live. The bio-chemical processes which sustain life get their energy
and chemical substances from food. Food deprivation results in contractions in
the stomach which are felt by the individual as hunger pangs. When this happens,
the individual spends energy in trying to get food. Factors like habits and social
customs also influence eating behaviour.
We can go without food for weeks but we cannot live without water for more than
a few days. The brain directs the organism to obtain water. Sex need differs in
many respects from hunger and thirst. Sex is not vital to the survival of the organism
but is essential to the survival of the species
Key Psychological Processes
Self Transcendence
Self actualization
Esteem needs
Love and Belongingness needs
Safety needs
Physiological needs
Fig. 9.1:
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Safety needs :
When the physiological needs are satisfied safety needs become
the dominant force in life. Safety needs are mainly concerned with maintaining
order and security, to feel secure, safe and out of danger.
Love and Belongingness needs:
These are the needs of making intimate
relationship with other members of the society. People want to become an accepted
member of an organised group, need a familiar environment such as family. These
needs are dependent on the fulfilment and satisfaction of physiological and safety
The Esteem needs:
Esteem needs are divided into the following two categories:
(a) Needs related to respect from others like reputation, status, social success
and fame. The need of self evaluation occurs in those persons who are
comfortably situated and satisfied with the fulfilment of lower order needs.
For example, a competent professional who has established a high reputation
and does not have to worry about getting a job, may become quite choosy
about what type of work he/she would accept.
(b) Self esteem, self respect and self regard.
The other type of esteem needs include need to achieve, to be competent, to gain
approval and to get recognition. The need to feel superior to others also falls
under this category. For fulfilling this, a person may buy good quality and costly
Self actualisation:
Self actualisation refers to the desire to utilise one’s personal
capacities, to develop one’s potentialities to the fullest and to engage in activities
Key Psychological Processes
for which one is well suited. One should realize and be satisfied that he or she has
achieved what one is capable of.
Self actualization is possible only when the needs of a person are met to the degree
that they neither distract nor consume all available energy. When the person
succeeds in satisfying his/her lower order needs, only then he can act upon his/her
higher order needs.
Self transcendence:
This is the highest level of need where a person becomes
conscious of broader reality. He transcends the boundaries of self and attends to
the needs of collectivity and society. At this level one becomes aware of the entire
humanity. At this level spiritual concerns become very important.
In this hierarchy it is assumed that the lower order needs dominate people’s lives
until that level is fairly satisfied; then comes the next one and so on. However,
Maslow explains that every individual does not follow this hierarchy step by step;
exceptions do arise. An individual sometimes risks his life to save someone or to
save a valued object by defying his own safety needs. There are certain examples
in Indian history when women sacrificed their lives to save their honour. There
have been freedom fighters who starved themselves to death fighting for the cause
of the freedom of the country. Here the higher order needs superceded the hunger
and thirst needs. Sometimes individual rejects love, family, friends, etc. by
committing suicide, thus defying the needs of love and sense of belongingness.
It may be noted that the hierarchy, however, does not imply that lower order
needs become dormant once they are satisfied and the higher order needs become
One of the important needs present to some degree in all human beings is the
“need for achievement” or the need to attain excellence and higher level of
performance. People in whom the need for achievement is strong seek difficult
work and improve their task performance. They are future oriented, aspire for
higher goals and persist on the task chosen. They are task oriented and prefer to
work on tasks that are challenging and on which their performance can be evaluated
in some way. It may be by comparing it with other person’s performance in terms
of some standard. Achievement motivation can be seen in many areas of human
endeavour such as job, school or sports competition.
The differences in early life experiences are found to be related to the strength of
achievement motivation in later stage. The expectations parents have from their
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children also play an important role in the development of achievement motivation.
Parents who expect their children to work hard, encourage and praise them for
their performance do so as to promote achievement oriented behaviour.
The degree of achievement oriented behaviour depends on many factors. One of
these is “fear of failure”. It inhibits the expression of achievement behaviour. When
some one is successful in school, sports and other activities, we say that achievement
motivation is very strong in him or her.
While thinking about motivation we often try to locate its source whether it is
internal to the person or external to him or her. Undertaking a given task may be
motivated by promise of a prize or some other kind of gain which is external to the
task. Thus, the task is instrumental in receiving or gaining access to the external
reward. In all such situations the locus of control is external to the person who is
asked to undertake the activity. Such situations characterize the kind of motivation
which is extrinsic. On the other hand, we have situations in which the source of
motivation lies inside the task. In such cases we work because the task itself is
interesting and does not require any external source of motivation. Here, the task
is not instrumental in obtaining any external reward. The locus of control is inside
the person. Person’s involvement in the task is spontaneous and the task itself acts
as its own reward. This situation represents intrinsic motivation such as a child’s
play, reading an interesting novel, writing a poem or a story.
It has been found that intrinsic motivation leads to high quality of work, meeting
challenges, and pursuit of excellence. Infact attachment with outcome often distracts
the process or activity. This is why Indian thinkers realized the significance of nonattachment
Anasakti). It is the action which is important and on which we have
control and therefore we need to focus more and more on the action without
bothering much about the outcome of action. In the modern life extrinsic rewards
are being emphasized more and more and everything is becoming contractual.
The exchange relationships are becoming central. This situation is creating many
problems in personal and social lives of the people. It is therefore important to
plan activities and organize relationships in such a manner that the task remains in
the center of interest.
Key Psychological Processes
(1) Who has given the theory of hierarchy of needs? List the needs in hierarchy.
(2) What is intrinsic motivation? Give an example.
(3) What is extrinsic motivation? Give an example.
People hold beliefs about their competence to undertake some task and such
beliefs influence the level of their performance. The self efficacy beliefs are the
subjective standards held by the people that inform judgements about choosing
specific goals. Introduced by Bandura, the concept of self efficacy has been used
to motivate people in a variety of settings. By learning appropriate or realistic self
efficacy beliefs one can plan behaviours and perform at a higher level. Self efficacy
beliefs are found to play significant role in adjustment and physical health. It is
what people believe they can do with their skills under certain conditions. Self
efficacy beliefs develop over time. They reflect development of understanding that
actions produce results and one can produce action that causes results. It may be
noted that efficacy beliefs also operate at collective levels. Thus, collective efficacy
involves a group’s shared belief in its joint capabilities to organize and execute the
courses of action required to produce the given level of attainment.
Key Psychological Processes
Values work as important motivators. They are considered as desirable and
cherisliable goals that serve as guiding principles in people’s lives. Values help to
make choices. Values prioritize needs. It is only because of values that people
take purposeful long range actions. Pleasure and pain connected with specific
behaviours have momentary effects.
In the analysis of values, moral values are given special significance. These values
guide choices and actions. Moral values differentiate between good and bad. In a
recent study based on data from several countries, some values have been noted
which are given below:
Power :
This includes social status and prestige, control and dominance over
people and resources
This includes personal success by demonstrating competence
according to social standards.
This includes independent thought and action, choosing, creating,
and exploring.
This includes understanding, appreciation, tolerance and protection
for the welfare of all people.
This includes preservation and enhancement of the welfare of
people with whom one is in frequent personal contact.
This includes respect, commitment and acceptance of the customers
and ideas that are given importance in the traditional cultures or religions.
This includes restraint of action, inclination, and impulses likely to
upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms.
This includes safety, harmony and stability of society, of relationships
and of self.
In the Indian context the framework of Dharma provides a set of values which are
considered central to the sustenance of life. They include truth (
Satya), non stealing
asteya), keeping tolerance (driti), intellect (dhi), knowledge (vidya), non-anger
akrodh), forgiveness (kshama), purity (saucha), control of sense organs (indriya
) and self control (dam). These values provide basis for maintaining and
promoting life at the individual and the social levels. It maintains a the view that
holds entire universe into account.
Key Psychological Processes
You must be aware that it is not always easy to satisfy the needs. You must have a
variety of needs at a time. We all face certain difficulties in our attempts to satisfy
the needs. We sometimes meet with failures. Also many obstacles prevent us from
reaching the goals. When our needs are not satisfied, we get frustrated.
Frustration is the feeling within an individual of being blocked in the attempts to
satisfy needs which one considers significant. Frustration refers to the blocking of
behaviour directed towards a goal. An individual displays some sort of disturbed
behaviour when he or she is prevented form fulfilling the desired goals. If motives
are frustrated or blocked, the person may feel anxious, depressed or angry. For
example, if you want to go to a movie or want to play and your parents refuse
permission, you may show some kind of disturbed behaviour such as anger and
shouting. Frustration often leads to aggression directed towards to source of
Generally there are three main sources of frustration. These are as follows:
Environmental Forces: The environmental factors can frustrate the satisfaction
of motives. The obstacle may be physical such as lack of money or a road
block. They may be social. For instance, yours parents, teachers or classmates
may prevent you from doing something what you want to do.
Personal Factors or Limitations: They make goals unattainable and produce
frustration. The personal inadequacy may be either physical or psychological.
The personal characteristics of individual like personality or intelligence affect
performance. The limitations of ability frustrate individuals because they do
not let him or her to achieve very high goals. At times we have conflicting goals
which create frustration.
Conflict : A conflict is a situation in which an individual is required to act in
two or more incompatible ways to achieve two or more exclusive goals. It
occurs when an individual is unable to choose between two or more goals.
We all confront some degree of conflict in every stage of our life. We sometimes
face a situation where we are supposed to choose between two or more alternatives.
For example, we may have to decide whether to buy a book or go to a movie. On
the one hand, you may like to play and get company of your friend, and on the
other, if you study for the examination you may be successful in the exams. The
motive to play and get the company of the friend is thus in conflict with the motive
to be successful in examination.
Key Psychological Processes
Types of Conflicts:
There are three kinds of conflict which are called “approachapproach
conflict”, “avoidance – avoidance conflict” and “approach – avoidance
approach-approach conflict is a situation when one has to choose between
two positive and equally attractive goals. It is caused when we have two pleasurable
goals within our reach. We have to choose one out of these two. The example of
this kind of conflict may be found in a situation when you are offered admission to
two equally attractive courses of study for higher education and you have to decide
between them.
The second type of conflict is
avoidance- avoidance conflict. It occurs when
we have to decide between two equally undesirable and negative goals. For
example, such a conflict may arise when you have to choose between goals that
are equally disliked by you.
approach-avoidance conflict, we are both attracted and repelled by the same
goal. It arises when there are both desirable and undesirable feelings associated
with a single goal. For example, you want to marry a girl to whom you love because
your parents are not agreeable. You cannot marry her as you do not hurt your
parents as well. This kind of conflict is most difficult to resolve and brings emotional
Motivation refers to the driving and pulling forces which result in persistent
behaviour directed towards a goal. The primary needs such as hunger, thirst
and sex, have their origin in the physiological state of the body. Hunger may
be, initiated when blood sugar level falls below certain point. A decrease in the
volume of blood due to water loss causes to thirst. Sexual motivation depends
on sex hormones.
Socio-psychogenic motives such as need for power, affiliation, achievement
and approval are learnt motives and involve other people. The need for
achievement is a motive to accomplish things and to be successful in performing
tasks. Power motivation is a social motivation in which the goal is to influence,
control, persuade, lead, charm others and enhance one’s own reputation in
the eyes of others.
Intrinsic motives are those activities for which there is no apparent reward but
one gets enjoyment and satisfaction in doing these activities. Competence is
an intrinsic motivation. Self efficacy, life goals, and values held by people also
Key Psychological Processes
work as sources of motivation. Motivation are often blocked or frustrated.
The major sources of this frustration are environmental factors, personal factors
and conflict. Three types of conflicts are a) approach-approach conflict b)
avoidance – avoidance conflict and c) approach – avoidance conflict.
1) Briefly explain the nature of motivation.
2) Explain the basic concepts of motivation.
3) What do you understand by primary needs? How are these different from
socio-psychogenic needs?
4) What is self efficacy? Show its relationship with behaviour.
5) Define values and describe some important values.
6) What are the sources of frustration? Name the three kinds of conflict of motives.
1. a) Action
b) motivation
c) not
d) behaviour
2. Motivation is the process of activating, maintaining and directing behaviour
towards a particular goal.
a) lack deficit b) cognitive, and c) objects
1) Maslow . The hierarchy is:
(i) Physiological needs
(ii) Safety needs
Key Psychological Processes
(iii) Love and belongingness needs
(iv) Esteem needs
(v) Self actualization
(vi) Self transcendence
2) Intrinsic motivation is when motivation arises from satisfaction due to own
3) Extrinsic motivation is when motivation arises because of external rewards.
1. Refer to section 9.1
2. Refer to section 9.2
3. Refer to section 9.7
4. Refer to section 9.8
5. Refer to section 9.9

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