Motivation is complex topic, one that I didn’t know much about prior to taking this class. Everyone knows what motivation is, however it could be difficult to define. In this class we learned everything about motivation from what it means, to its sources, how it evolved, and how it relates to goals, stress, needs, performance, arousal, and emotion. There is so much complexity to what motivates us, how certain factors influence our motivations, and where motivation all comes from. Everything we learned about was relatable to everyday life, which made each idea intriguing and easy to understand.
There are three words (motive, motivated, and incentive) that kept coming up in this course and therefore were important to know. An incentive is an environmental stimulus that attracts or repels. A motive is an internal disposition to approach or avoid an incentive. And last but not least, motivated means to be moved to an action/behavior or change in action/behavior. An example of something we learned about incentives is how external sources such as food can be an incentive. For example in a study by Tolman &Honzik (1930) hungry rats were learning a maze. They found that if they provided a food incentive maze errors decreased. A real life example of this could be if a professor gives out a mini research paper and uses extra credit as an incentive. Many students will therefore complete the paper because are attracted to the extra credit idea.
The chapter on universal motives was very interesting to me and was one of my favorite things we talked about in class. Universal motives are shared human motives due to evolution. Some examples are hunger, food, sleep, sex and reproduction, and fear. The universal motive we talked a lot about is mate selection. Characteristics of long-term mates indicate that women prefer mates who have good financial prospects and are ambitious and industrious. This seems stereotypical but it makes sense because these traits are needed to raise a family successfully. Males prefer mates who have good looks because it is a sign of fertility, which is a trait needed to produce many children. We watched a video on an experiment done with males and females on mate value and I loved it. Another universal motive is fear. Fear is the motive for escaping dangerous stimuli or circumstances and is a result of interaction of evolutionary history and personal history. I have a friend who is deathly afraid of snakes just like I am and we come from opposite sides of the country. Many people are afraid of snakes, but now I can see the evolutionary aspect of it because snakes can be extremely dangerous and our ancestors probably learned that and therefore fear was instilled. Although motives have a heredity and experience aspect to them, I find it really interesting how evolution has created these motives. It’s amazing that someone living on the other side of the world shares the same motives as us.