What drives us – General psychology

General psychology
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One of the most important components of the activity is motivation. It is common for a person to ask questions about the reasons that prompted another person to act in a certain way. It becomes obvious that our evaluation of a given behavior always includes taking into account the causal or motivational factor (from the motif – the cause).

In modern psychology, the term “motive” (“motivating factor”) denotes completely different phenomena, such as instinctual impulses, biological drives, interests, desires, life goals and ideals.  The motivational sphere of the individual is mainly composed of needs (the answer to the question “why?”) And motives (the answer to the question “why, for what?”). Like any other system, the motivational sphere of personality includes a certain set of its components, as well as regular and stable links between them.

1. Motivational sphere of personality

Every activity of a person is motivated not by one motive, but by several, i.e. activity is usually politically motivated. The totality of all motives for this activity is called the motivation of the activity of the individual. Motivation is defined as a process that brings together the personal and situational parameters on the way of regulation of activities aimed at transforming the subject situation for the implementation of the appropriate motive, for the implementation of a specific subject relationship of the individual to the surrounding situation. You can talk not only about the motivation of an activity, but also about the general motivation that is characteristic of a given person, having in mind a set of persistent motives.

The set of stable motives that determine the selectivity of human relationships and activity and relatively independent of the available situations is called the personality direction. Directivity as a substructure of the personality includes various motives: its motives, needs, dispositions, interests, aspirations, intentions, ideals, norms, self-esteem, other people’s assessments, level of claims, attitudes, etc. Some of its components are dominant, others perform a secondary role.

Attraction is the primary emotional manifestation of a person’s need for something, an impulse not yet mediated by a conscious goal-setting. In domestic psychology, attraction is seen as a stage of formation of the motive of behavior, i.e.acts as a transient phenomenon: the need presented in it either fades away, or is realized as a concrete desire. Thus, the drives are determined not only by biological factors, but also by social factors. In addition, in the domestic science prevails the opinion that in a person with a developed consciousness of attraction as motives of behavior do not play a leading role, but act as a “building material” for conscious motives. On the other hand, attraction is one of the central concepts of psychoanalysis, where he is given a leading role in the activity and regulation of human behavior.

Installation is a person’s unconscious state of readiness for a particular behavior or activity. Installation is most often the result of repeated repetition of situations in which a person reacts in a certain way. D.Nuznadze developed a theory according to which the needs and situations arising at a meeting determine the direction of the behavior of the subject until the behavior meets certain obstacles. In these cases, unconscious behavior is interrupted, and conscious mechanisms of objectification begin to act. The arising difficulties attract attention and are realized. After consciously finding a new mode of regulation, behavior control is again carried out by subconscious settings. This continuous transfer of control ensures a harmonious and more economical interaction of consciousness and the unconscious.

Desire is one of the forms of a motivational state based on a need that is conscious of content, which does not yet act as a strong motivation for action. Having a motivating force, desire aggravates the awareness of the purpose of the future action and the construction of its plan. If it is impossible to satisfy the desire, a state of frustration arises, accompanied by disappointment, anxiety, irritation, despair, etc.

Interest – a form of manifestation of cognitive needs, expressed by the selective relationship of the individual to the object due to its vital meaning and emotional attractiveness. By promoting orientation, acquaintance with something new, fuller and deeper reflection of reality, interests ensure the person’s orientation to the realization of the goals of activity. In content, interests can be material (to housing amenities, beautiful clothes, etc.) and spiritual (professional, cognitive, aesthetic, etc.). By volume, they can be divided into wide and narrow. They can also be deep and superficial, stable and unstable. The evaluation of interests, in the final analysis, is determined by their content and significance for the individual.

Addiction is the selective orientation of the subject to a certain activity. It is based on a deep and steady need for this activity, aspiration to improve it. Addictions are usually a prerequisite for the development of appropriate abilities, although there may be inconsistencies in propensities and abilities.

The ideal is an important goal of a person’s personal aspirations, a peculiar example, an emotionally colored standard of action.

The worldview is a system of views of man on the world and its laws. The worldview serves as the supreme regulator of the personality’s behavior, determining not only the general orientation of the personality, but also its purposefulness.Ideals and worldview are formed in a person on the basis of his interests and inclinations.

Theories of motivation

Leontiev defines the motive in the following way: “In the most needy state of a subject, an object that is able to satisfy a need is not rigidly recorded.” Prior to its first satisfaction, its need, it must still be detected. acquires its objectness, and the perceived (represented, conceivable) object is its motivating and guiding function, that is, becomes the motive. ”

In other words, the motive is an objectified need.

For example: thirst is a need, water is a motive, and a bottle of water.

Motive is a motivation for action. So, G. Godroit defines the motive as “consideration, according to which the subject must act.”

H. Hekhausen, defines the motive as “the desired target state within the framework of the” individual – environment “relationship.

If, when analyzing needs, a person gives an answer to the question of why he acts or does not act in a certain way, then in analyzing the motives.

According to Leontiev, genetically the initial for human activity is the discrepancy of motives and goals. Unlike goals, motives are not really realized by the subject. At the same time, they find their mental reflection in the form of emotional coloring of actions (that is, they give personal meaning to action).

Leontiev believed that the motives of activity are determined by the needs of the individual. In the subject’s needfulness, an object that is able to satisfy. Prior to its first satisfaction, its need, it must still be discovered. Only as a result of such a discovery, the need arises, the objective, and the perceived (represented, conceivable) object is the motivating and guiding function of the function, which informs it of the status of the motive.

The development of human activity. Some motives, by stimulating activity, giving it a personal meaning (meaningful motives), while others, acting as motivators, lack meaning-generating functions (motives-stimuli).

Human activity is guided not by motive, but by their totality. In this case, you can identify internal motives and external motives. At the heart of internal motives, human needs, his emotions, interests. External factors include goals that emanate from the situation (environmental factors). The totality of internal and external motives is organized in a certain way and constitutes the motivational sphere of the individual. The main relationship characterizing the motivational sphere of the individual is the relationship of the hierarchy of motives.

A. Maslow built in hierarchy of motives in terms of their proximity to satisfaction of vital needs. The hierarchy is based on the need to maintain physiological homeostasis; above are motives for self-preservation; further – confidence, prestige, love. At the top of the hierarchy are cognitive and aesthetic motives, leading to the development of self-actualization and the individual.


Fig.2. The hierarchy of fundamental needs (according to A. Maslow)

These groups are ordered in the value hierarchy according to their role in the development of the personality. At the same time, the needs of the higher and higher levels are interpreted as less instinct-like (innate) than lower needs. While the need is not satisfied, it activates the activity and affects it. Activity is not so much “pushed from within” as it is attracted from outside. The main idea of ​​A. Maslow’s classification is the principle of the relative priority of the actualization of motives, which states that before the activation of the demand for higher levels and the behavior of the need for higher levels, the lower level needs to be satisfied.

G. Murray, the creator of the well-known thematic apperceptive test (TAT), tried to systematize various theoretical approaches and concepts in the study of motivation. From his point of view, the central, interrelated concepts should be considered the need for the person and the pressure from the situation. Murray had various reasons for classifying needs.

  1. First, allocate primary needs – in water, food, sexual discharge, avoidance of cold, etc. – and secondary (psychogenic) needs: humiliation, achievements, affiliations. aggression, independence, opposition, respect, protection, domination, attracting attention to oneself, avoiding harm, avoiding failures, patronage, order, play, rejection, comprehension, sexual relations, seeking help (dependence), understanding. G.Murray also added to them the needs of acquisition, avoidance of accusation, cognition, creation, training, recognition, preservation. Primary needs, unlike secondary ones, are based on organic processes and arise either cyclically (food) or in connection with the need for regulation (avoiding cold).
  2. Secondly, the needs are subdivided into positive (search) and negative (avoidance), explicit and latent. Explicit needs are expressed freely and objectively in the external behavior, latent ones are manifested either in game actions (semiobjective), or in fantasy (subjective). In certain situations, individual needs can be combined into motivations of behavior: conflict with one another, obey one another, and so on.

The pressure is determined by the scientist in the following way: “… some influence”, “exerted on the subject” . When determining the pressure, it makes sense to distinguish:

  • alpha pressure – then the actual pressure that can be established by scientific methods;
  • beta-pressure, which is interpreted by him. “

The need and pressure to correspond to each other meaningfully, the interaction of human activity.


So, the motivational sphere of the person is mainly the needs and motives.

All the components of the motivational sphere of the personality are represented not chaotically, but whole: they are ordered and interrelated. The motivational sphere of a person can be compared to a building where the above components are located in a strict hierarchy (subordinate).

Genetically, the initial for human activity is the discrepancy of motives and goals. Their coincidence is secondary: the result of acquiring the goal of an independent motive force or the result of an awareness of motives that turns them into motives-goals. Unlike goals, motives are not really recognized by the subject: at the moment of doing certain actions, we usually do not realize the motives that motivate them. Despite the fact that it is not difficult for us to cite their motivation, this motivation does not always contain an indication of the actual motive. When motives are not realized, i.e.when a person does not realize what motivates him to perform certain actions, they find their mental reflection in a special form – in the form of an emotional coloring of actions.

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