Motivation Theories



Motivationis the desire to do things or a person’s direction of behavior. Theterm is a theoretical construct that is used to explain behavior[ CITATION Mot16 l 1033 ].It is also what influences an individual to act in a certain way,what prompts them to repeat aparticular action or have an inclination towards it. Caitlin, asophomore student in a new school whose parents recently divorced, isentirely unmotivated. She displays this lack of motivation by herdisinterest in school work although she is a bright student.

Herparents’ divorce has her clearly affected her severely and is thecause of her demotivation. She probably feels like something she hadhas been taken from her, and this is where hopelessness settles in.She feels alone and being in a new school does not help thesituation. Caitlin could be convinced that it is not worth putting somuch effort into anything because it always comes to an end. Thispaper summarizes various theories and strategies that could beemployed to help her develop her motivation and how she responds tothem.

Behavioristand Social Cognitive Theories and Strategies

Behaviorismis a theoretical perspective whereby learning and behavior have astimulus-response relationship. This method developed by behavioristssuch as Ivan Pavlov, John Watson, and Edward Thorndike reveals thatbehavior is influenced by the environment [ CITATION Mel16 l 1033 ].This methodcan be applied to Caitlin’s situation by, for example, placing herto live in a single room. As much as this makes her feel more alone,she will soon get conditioned to being by herself, and moreindependence will manifest the behavioral change. According to thistheory, learning must involve behavioral change. Caitlin will bemotivated. She will learn to deal with issues alone and will not beaffected easily by many things.

Anotherstrategy that could be applied in line with the social cognitivetheory would be to make Caitlin join a club or movement in theschool. Specifically, this movement should be one that consists ofpeople who have similar issues and challenges to hers. This theorydeveloped by thinkers like Jean Piaget suggests that people learnbased on how people think, perceive, speak, remember and solveproblems[ CITATION Dal12 l 1033 ].In such a group, Caitlin will be able to interact with other people,listen to their narratives and talk about hers. She will rememberthings and speak up as well as solve issues arising,and these activities may ultimately make her learn how to deal withher demotivation.

Also,still in line with the social cognitive theory, Caitlin could beintroduced to see a counselor. Sessions with such a professional alsohelp people that lack the motivation to address the cause of it plushow to deal with it. It is done by both parties speaking what theythink and how they perceive the issue. With understanding,compassion, and non-judgment from the counselor, the victim’sesteem is raised, becoming more motivated.


DaranBrown, Caitlin’s World History teacher, is concerned aboutCaitlin’s condition and wants to help. He uses the social cognitivetheory by making her join the “Life Transformers Movement.”Caitlin gets a chance to interact with people from differentbackgrounds and circumstances and thus appreciates that there is somuch more in life and dwelling on setbacks hinders one from achievingtheir goals and experiencing a sense of accomplishment. It isaccording to David McClelland’s achievement motivation theory.

Deficiencyneeds, according to Abraham Maslow, motivate people when they areunmet. These include the first four components of Maslow’sHierarchy of Needs psychological needs, safety needs, belonging andlove needs as well as esteem needs. The first two are basic needs andshould be provided by her mother. The movement helped Caitlin feelloved and that she belongs. Her self-esteem also improvedtremendously. These are psychological needs, and together with thebasic needs, Caitlin is in a position to achieve self-actualization[ CITATION Sau16 l 1033 ].

Thekind of motivation that Daran managed to develop in Caitlin wasintrinsic. It was necessary, fulfilling and eventually becamepersonally rewarding as it improved the quality of her life. It is incontrast with extrinsic motivation where one does something becausethey expect to earn some form of reward or avoid punishment [ CITATION Ken16 l 1033 ].Itis according to the Cognitive Evaluation Theory that recognizesintrinsic and extrinsic motivators, how they affect each other andthe motivation of an individual [ CITATION The14 l 1033 ].


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