Theories of motivation

Definitions of Motivation: 
According to B.F. Skinner, “Motivation in school learning involves arousing, persisting, sustaining and directing desirable behavior.” 
According to Woodworth, “Motivation is the state of the individual which disposes him to certain behavior for seeking goal.” 
Motivation is a state or condition of internal need, desire, or want that serves to activate or energize behavior and give it direction (Kleinginna and Kleinginna, 1981a).
Franken (2006) provides an additional component in his definition:
  • The arousal, direction, and persistence of behavior.
Importance of motivation
Motivation is the most important factor involved in the modification of behavior, it direct and energized learning and performance of the individual toward the achievement of needs or desires.  The major question that motivation theorists’ psychologists raise is whether motivation is a primary or secondary influence on the modification of behavior.  Furthermore, are changes in behavior could be better explained by the principles of environmental influences, cognitive development, perception, emotion, personality or the unique concepts that is pertinent for motivation.
The source of motivation can be categorized intrinsic (internal) either extrinsic (external) in a person. Intrinsic sources could be further subcategorized as either mind, mental, physical or body/ e.g. cognitive and thinking, emotional, conative or spiritual.

Today need is also a factor that creates a condition for motivation towards taking action or making a change in a certain direction to achieve that need. According to Franken, Action or overt behavior may be initiated by either positive or negative incentives or a combination of both. 
The following provides a brief description of the different sources of motivation, initiation of action can be traced back one of these domains.
·         Associated with stimulus
·         The individual obtain desired and pleasant consequences
·         The individual avoid undesired and unpleasant consequences
·         The individual imitate positive models/ behavior
·         The individual acquire effective social competence skills
·         The individual became part of an institution, or community
  • The individual give attention to something interesting or threatening
  • The individual develop meaning or understanding
  • The individual increase/decrease cognitive disequilibrium; uncertainty
  • The individual solve a problem or make a decision
·         The individual maintain homeostasis, balance
·         The individual eliminate threat or risk
·         The individual increase feeling good
·         The individual decrease feeling bad
·         The individual increase security of or decrease threats to self-esteem
·         The individual maintain levels of optimism and enthusiasm
·         The individual obtain personal dream
·         The individual develop or maintain self-efficacy
·         The individual take control of one's life
·         The individual eliminate threats to obtaining dream
·         The individual reduce others' control of one's life
·         The individual understand purpose of his life
·         The individual connect self to ultimate unknowns
Theories of motivation
There are many theories of motivation.  Some of theories trace their roots to the information processing (Cognitive) approach, some are behaviorist.

Behaviorist Approaches to Motivation 
The primary factor behavioral learning theory is motivation.  Classical conditioning states that biological responses to associated stimuli energize and direct behavior (Huitt & Hummel, 1997a). While in the Operant learning the primary factor is consequences: the reinforcement provides incentives to increase behavior and punishment decrease in behavior (Huitt & Hummel, 1997b).
Cognitive theory motivation
The cognitive motivational theories trace their roots to the information processing approach to learning (Huitt, 2003b).  The focus of this approach is the categories and labels people use to help identify behaviors, emotions, thoughts, and dispositions.
One cognitive approach is cognitive dissonance theory which is similar to disequilibrium of Piaget's theory of cognitive development (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).  This theory was developed by Leon Festinger social psychologist; he states that when there is a difference between two beliefs, actions, or in a belief and in an action, individuals will try to resolve the conflict and discrepancies.  If as result disequilibrium is created, it will lead to change his behavior which will lead to in behavior.
In Attribution theory an individual has an external attribution of success; self-concept is not likely to change due to success or failure because the individual will attribute it to external factors.  If the individual has an internal ability, his self-concept will be ready to learning, and to do a new activity easily and quickly. When in the process a failure or difficulty occurs, the person will quickly lower his expectations to maintain self-esteem. 
Humanistic Approaches to Motivation 
The source of motivation can be categorized intrinsic (internal) either extrinsic (external) in a person. Intrinsic sources could be further subcategorized as either mind, mental, physical or body/ e.g. cognitive and thinking, emotional, conative or spiritual. Intrinsic motivation is when we are intrinsically motivated, to do things for which we do not need incentives or punishments. The humanistic perspective of motivation means motivation from inner self, one’s own sense of competence, self-esteem and self-actualization, Maslow’s is the influential humanistic theorist Humanistic Approach.

Maslow’s Hierarchy Motivation (of Needs): 
Abraham Maslow (1954) presented his theory hierarchy of human needs based on two factors: first deficiency needs and second growth needs.  In deficiency needs, one must lower the need before moving to the next higher level.  When these needs of an individual satisfied, if in future at some point a deficiency is detected, the individual will remove the deficiency easily.  The first four levels of attribution are:
Physiological: hunger, thirst, and comforts etc.
Security: need of Safety and Security (out of danger)
Belongingness: Love and Belongingness, affiliation with others, acceptance by others
Esteem: Get approval and recognition from others for his achievement, and competency
According to Maslow, an individual is ready to act upon the growth needs if the deficiency needs are met. 
Characteristics of Motivation:
  • Personal and internal feeling.
  • Art of stimulating someone.
  • Produces goal.
  • Motivation can be either positive or negative.
  • It is system oriented.
·         It is a sort of bargaining.

AACAP and David Pruitt. Your Child: Emotional, Behavioral, and Cognitive Development from Infancy through Pre-Adolescence. New York: Harper Collins, 1998.