Motivation is an aspect of the human condition that is universal to all…it evolves not only through our shared histories but through personal history as well, the latter being a unique experience for each culture, society, and individual that ultimately shapes how we react to the world around us. Motivation as we have learned entails simplistic and primitive components such as the need for food, water, shelter, and the need to feel loved and accepted. However, there are complex aspects such as the addiction process, which involves genetic dispositions that are heritable (i.e. sensation seeking or impulsiveness), psychological components that include opponent processing or classical conditioning, and the environment one is exposed too. These combing factors are fascinating to examine; especially for me personally considering I come from a family that has struggled with addiction (at least on my father’s side). Throughout the course, we also reviewed what drives an individual to act; have it be intrinsic (physiological or psychological) or extrinsic (incentives and goals). These aspects of the human condition are very real and inescapable to each and every one of us and because of this very real fact motivation is worthy of study and I am glad that I was able take part in a class such as this.
There were several areas reviewed in this course that captured my interest; these including addictions, achievement motivation, fear as a universal motive, and personality and self in motivation. However, for the sake of discussion, I will be focusing my attention on the latter and how testing methods such as “The Big Five” and “Sensation-Seeking Analysis” apply to me personally and if such tests are accurate or inaccurate. “The Big Five” is made up of five categories: Openness to Experience/Intellect, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Before taking this particular test, I had hypothesised that I would score high on Neuroticism and Extraversion, but was unsure where I would rank on the low end of the spectrum. The results proved accurate in regards to my level of neuroticism (my percentile was 80%) and as for being and extravert I again rated fairly high (with a 64 percentile score), which categorised me as relatively social. As for the other three areas I found that I ranked lower on the scale of openness which describes me as being more traditional and that I prefer familiar experiences; and fairly high in the area of conscientiousness where it deems me to be a well-organised and reliable individual. Finally, I was rated very high on the scale associated with agreeableness, which maintains that I am good-natured, courteous, and a supportive individual. Therefore, the question of the day is did the scale nail my personality?
Overall, I would say yes most definitely. I am a person who most certainly worries over just about everything; especially my scholastic performance, and with such worry comes fear which has worked for me and against me in regards to motivation. In my younger years, my fears of failure drove me to avoid activities where failure was a possibility, but as an adult, I find that this very same fear actually pushes me to strive for the best possible performance I can offer. I have always regarded myself as highly extroverted and open to relationships, so the results in this area also proved accurate. In the areas of conscientiousness and agreeableness I scored high as well; these areas defining me as an individual that is reliable, good-natured, supportive, and courteous which I believe to be true, however, I do not consider myself to be very organised, on the contrary, I would say I am all over the place more often than not. Therefore, it seems that there is something to this “Big Five” scale, but it should be noted that it is not a perfect method of measure; in fact, there are many critics who insist that there are limitations to the construct of the “Big Five” as an explanatory or predictive tool. It is argued that “The Big Five” does not explain all of human personality and I agree, but it does offer an introduction into the examination of human personality.
As for the area of “Sensation-Seeking” which, as we have learned, is a personality trait expressed in behaviour as a tendency to seek varied, novel, complex and intense sensations and experiences and to take physical risks for the sake of having such experiences. I scored very low (14 out of 40), which I was somewhat surprised about only because of my family history and because of its association with alcohol and nicotine use (the latter used more frequently then the former), but again I believe my high level of fear and worry are at play in regards to this. This being because I have in all honesty been guilty of thinking about doing recreational drugs in the past, however, my fear of dependency, overdose, or any other aversive effect steered me away from even trying… proving that fear can be a positive influence in some instances.
I truly enjoyed reviewing the area of personality with all its idiosyncrasies…because, as Deckers explains, “such personality traits help to explain why people are motivated by different incentives, situations, and activities.” However, what I appreciate most is the fact that there is always room for change…our personalities are never completely set in stone, which leaves room for growth in areas we may feel weak in while also allowing for the ability to perfect areas where we excel. This concept is a liberating one that encourages and motivates me to continue to be the best that I can be as I move and evolve in this life.
Enclosing I leave you with a quote that I find poignant: “We continue to shape our personality all our life. If we knew ourselves perfectly, we should die.” ~ Albert Camus.