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Physiological psychology: Motivation

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In psychology, motivation refers to the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of behavior (Geen, 1995). Motivation is a temporal and dynamic state that should not be confused with personality or emotion. Motivation is having the desire and willingness to do something. A motivated person can be reaching for a long-term goal such as becoming a professional writer or a more short-term goal like learning how to spell a particular word. Personality invariably refers to more or less permanent characteristics of an individual's state of being (e.g., shy, extrovert, conscientious). As opposed to motivation, emotion refers to temporal states that do not immediately link to behavior (e.g., anger, grief, happiness).

Biological psychology of drivesEdit

Drive theoryEdit

There are a number of drive theories. The Drive Reduction Theory grows out of the concept that we have certain biological needs, such as hunger. As time passes the strength of the drive increases as it is not satisfied. Then as we satisfy that drive by fulfilling its desire, such as eating, the drive's strength is reduced. It is based on the theories of Freud and the idea of feedback control systems, such as a thermostat.

There are several problems, however, that leave the validity of the Drive Reduction Theory open for debate. The first problem is that it does not explain how Secondary Reinforcers reduce drive. For example, money does not satisfy any biological or psychological need but reduces drive on a regular basis through a pay check (see: second-order conditioning). Secondly, if the drive reduction theory held true we would not be able to explain how a hungry human being can prepare a meal without eating the food before they finished cooking it.

The traditional view of hypothalamic stimulation has been that there are specific neural circuits controlling each drive behaviour; hunger, thirst, sex etc. but it has also been claimed that both LH stimulation can lead to eating as a secondary effect of non-specific activation. Electrical stimulation causes drinking as well as eating, the response being motivation rather than automation but depends on the goal objects initially present during stimulation. In animals, once a behaviour is established, it tends to stick with it. This seems to fit with the notion of a general drive energising behaviours, which are selected through stimulus conditions. They also resemble displacement in which the arousal from conflicting drives energises another behaviour elicited by local stimuli present at the time. (Robbins, 1978) - Homeostatic Drives - Introduction to Psychology, An Integrated Approach, Peter Lloyd and Andrew Mayes (Fontana)

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