A) Instinct Theories
Many of the different theories of motivation are similar, except for the amount of emphasis they
place on either biology or environment. Most include some level of both (some nature, some
nurture). However, there is one theory that completely emphasizes biology.
1) Instinct Theory -- states that motivation is the result of biological, genetic programming. Thus,
all beings within a species are programmed for the same motivations.
a) At the heart of this perspective, is the motivation to survive - we are biologically programmed
to survive. And, all of our behaviors and motivations stem from biological programming. Thus,
are actions are instincts.
For example, a human mother, unlike many other species, will stay awake with a crying infant all
night long trying to provide comfort. Why? Instinct theory suggests that she is programmed to
behave in this manner - it is not due to learning or conditioning, not to being raised properly or
poorly, not to having strong female role models or weak role models, or anything else, other that
This perspective is very much the sort that was offered recently in the controversial article that
stated, Parents don't matter that much in the development of their children.
b) William McDougal (1908) - influential theorist who viewed instincts as behavior patterns that
2. uniform in expression
3. universal in a species
For example, within a species of bird, all the members may build identical nests and work in the
same ways. This is true even for those birds of that species born and raised in captivity and
isolation, and thus could not have learned the appropriate nest building behavior from other,
experienced role model birds.
McDougal carried it a step further by stating that humans are the same and have instincts for
behaviors such as: parenting, submission, jealousy, mating, and more.
c) Problems with this perspective
1. theorists have never been able to agree on a list of instincts; Many instincts are NOT universal
and seem to be more dependent on individual differences (for example, jealousy. Not all humans
exhibit the same jealously levels, behaviors, etc.).
2. today - instinct theory has a more biological emphasis for specific motives and not all (like
aggression and sex). But, there is still a strong instinct perspective in the study of animals
B) Sociobiological Perspective (Sociobiology) --
the study of genetic and evolutionary bases
of behavior in all organisms, including humans.
This view spawned from instinct theory, but it
is not purely an instinct theory.
1) Major Viewpoint - sociobiology states that natural selection favors social behaviors that
maximize reproductive success. Thus, the primary motivating force for living organisms
(including humans) is to pass on our genes from one generation to the next.