Chapter 12: Motivation and Work
Perspectives on Motivation
Motivation is the energizing and directing of behavior, the force behind our yearning for food, our longing
for sexual intimacy, our need to belong, and our desire to achieve.
Instincts and Evolutionary Psychology
Under Darwin’s influence, early theorists viewed behavior as controlled by biological forces, such as
specific instincts. When it became clear that people were naming, not explaining, various behaviors by
calling them instincts, this approach fell into disfavor. The underlying idea—that genes predispose
species-typical behavior—is, however, still influential in evolutionary psychology.
Drives and Incentives
Drive reduction theory states that most physiological needs create aroused psychological states, driving
us to reduce or satisfy those needs. The aim of drive reduction is internal stability, or homeostasis. Thus,
drive reduction motivates survival behaviors, such as eating and drinking. Not only are we pushed by our
internal drives, we are also pulled by external incentives. Depending on our personal experiences, some
stimuli (for example, certain foods) will arouse our desires.
Rather than reducing a physiological need or tension state, some motivated behaviors increase arousal.
Curiosity-driven behaviors, for example, suggest that too little as well as too much stimulation can
motivate people to seek an optimum level of arousal.
A Hierarchy of Motives
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs expresses the idea that, until satisfied, some motives are more compelling
than others. It indicates that physiological needs must first be met, then safety, followed by the need for
belongingness and love, and finally, esteem needs. Once all of these are met, a person is motivated to
meet the need for self-actualization. This order of needs is not universally fixed but it provides a