Monday, July 12, 2010

Final Project: An Overview of Motivation

As my first online class, "Motivation" has taught me a lot. While I didn't expect the course take place over such a brief period of time, I was surprised at how easily-absorbed the material has been. I attribute that to the well laid-out lecture notes, combined with the how relatable the material is to everyday life. Throughout the course, we've covered many different types of human motivation, ranging from motivation via emotions and the evolutionary aspects of motivation, to addiction, stress, and coping mechanisms.

The course covers motivational aspects starting with our natural inherited instincts, and delves into more complex forms of motivation, such as personality, drives, and many other aspects, both internal and external. Through each chapter, we've covered detailed factors that effect our own needs and motivations, and discussed things like addiction, ego, personality types, and different forms of psychological arousal, which are all things we can relate to in our own lives and within our individual histories (yet another tool for understanding motivation). Through this course, I have developed a greater understanding for why we do the things we do, and what factors are the basis for human behavior.

Personally, I feel like the most interesting part of the course was the section titled "Evolutionary Antecedents of Motivation." This particular section covered the evolution of universal motives, such as fear, food, sex, and music. It discussed human nature, and the behavioral, motivational, and emotional characteristics we all have in common, despite our individual cultures and histories. These characteristics are a product of evolution, and are embedded into our DNA. These innate factors are not taught, but are instinctive, unlike other traits that are picked up throughout one's life. Basic emotions, fears, the need to control our environment for survival, and certain things that we find aesthetically pleasing or displeasing are all part of our internal instincts. Other categories of universal motives include goal setting, self concept, sexual interaction, and social factors.

Many concepts covered in the course can relate to real-world issues. I found that this is particularly true for the chapter on addiction. Addiction can relate to a broad selection of substances or activities, such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or even exercise. While I don't see any qualities of addiction in myself, many of my peers display behavior that may be linked to addiction in one way or another. Nicotine is an obvious addiction to spot, as is alcohol. Now that it has been brought to my attention, even addiction to the ever-present caffeine is evident.

The physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms of stress are also extremely evident in real-world settings. Physical symptoms, such as allergies, headaches, and indigestion, are things that many people deal with on a regular basis. Psychological symptoms of anxiety, boredom, depression, and irritability are also common, especially in college students. Stress can effect our behavior by causing bad moods, restlessness, increased caffeine intake, and in some cases, causes the use of nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs.

Below, I've designed a chart depicting the basic Hierarchy of Needs as originally described by Abraham Maslow in 1943 in his paper, "A Theory of Human Motivation." I feel that Maslow's Hierarchy helps give us a basic understanding of the different types and levels of human motivation, and is the basis for which we analyze behavior today. Click the image below for a larger version. Enjoy!

Chart designed by me.

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