In the course Motivation, we learned about what moves people into action or what causes them to decide to act. We are pushed by internal motives, internal dispositions, and pulled by incentives, anticipated rewards or avoidance of an adverse event in the environment. There are personal motives, but there are also universal motives, which have become common among all humans through evolution. Some internal motives we learned about are addictions, temperature regulation, thirst and hunger, physiological and psychological arousal, coping with stress, and psychological needs. Some external incentives are improvement of economic status, educational success, and pride. Finally, we learned about the various neurological and psychological functions acted out in the brain to allow us to feel motivated, for example the role of neurotransmitters.
My favorite topic was temporal motivation theory because it explained why people procrastinate. Being an avid procrastinator myself, I was intrigued to understand what motivates people to put things off, even if we know that we will be stressed later and our work may suffer. Temporal motivation theory integrates how incentive utility changes temporally (page 248). The utility of an incentive depends on the value of the expected incentive and when it becomes available in the future.
Utility = Expected incentive value
(1 + Delay interval)
In the above formula, utility refers to the ability of a positive incentive to motivate approach behavior and a negative incentive to motivate avoidance behavior. When applying this formula to procrastination, the utility of completing the assignment is weighed against other activity-related utilities. The further away the due date, the less incentive to complete the assignment and the higher utilities of the other activities win our attention. However, as the due date approaches, the assignment quickly overtakes other activities in utility and we decide to do the assignment. Another factor that comes into play is incentive value. If completing the task has a low incentive value, we are more likely to procrastinate because other activities have higher incentive values.
The video below describes seven categories of procrastinators and explains how each type can overcome the urge to procrastinate.
Ellen DeGeneres relates: