Another Version: How Motivated are You?

Personal motives are those that drive us to fulfill our ideas of our self as a person.

All men are born with certain fundamental needs or drives which make us behave in ways tending to ensure our physical survival. These basic drives lead us to seek warmth, food, drink, protection, the avoidance of pain and suffocation. As we grow up, other motives are acquired through learning and personal experience. If we are treated with loving care during our infancy, we learn that association with other people is a source of pleasure. Many of our adult motives for behaviour can be traced back to the early experiences in childhood, when many experiences are associated with the satisfaction of basic needs. These experiences produce secondary motives, some of which gain strength and persistence. Acquired motives can  be divided into two categories: common social motives and common personal ones.

The common social ones listed below have been observed as motives of behaviour among  people of different societies and cultures. These needs are:



Many people want praise and credit for their effort and accomplishments. They want to be recognized for what they  think they are, and this may involve the use the ‘club’ badge in one form or another.


Most individuals require a feeling of belonging, in which other people regard them as trustworthy and worthwhile persons. The clubs we join, the friends we associate with, etc., all satisfy our desire for acceptance.


All people need to exercise some control over their affairs and to feel free and independent. Some attain this feeling simply by dressing differently although such behaviours can cause some conflict with the desire for acceptance and group membership. Independence needs may be satisfied partly by opportunities to suggest ideas and to participate with others in the making of decisions. The  need may also  be satisfied if the mere opportunity to control and influence our affairs is available, even if it is not taken.


Many people have varying needs for security, which may be fulfilled in different ways. To one person, security may mean the accumulation of sayings, and other needs are subordinated to this goal. To others, it may mean a permanent job or happy home. Like all the other motives security is a relative  thing. The manual labourer who  works some days a week may feel quite secure, but another employee in the same situation would be insecure.

The way we behave is largely a matter of our perceptions of our environment and our learned motives. If we feel we are deprived of the satisfactions associated with any of these motives we are more easily galvanized into action. The direction and the degree of success will depend on the choices for satisfaction available, as well as he learned habitual patterns for pursuing the goal.

Personal Motives:

Personal motives are those that drive us to fulfill our ideas of our self as  a person. These self – achievement motives include the desire to ‘maintain one’s good name’, to acquire material spiritual possessions, to dominate other people, to invent things, r to do virtually anything which will give us a sense of attainment and self – respect.

The constellation of our personal motives and our individual patterns for their achievement and satisfaction are marks which distinguish each of us as a unique, individual personality.

The motives we have do not appear as direct causes of behavior but may be disguised and obscure. Consider three men in a pub, each drinking a glass of beer. One man may simply be satisfying his thirst – drive. The second man may be in the pub in search of others to associate with and thereby satisfy his social needs  for acceptance and recognition. The third man may be suffering from a variety of personal problems, and is trying to drown his sorrows in the vague hope of recovering his self – esteem. All three are apparently behaving in the same way and yet each is achieving the satisfaction of a different need. This shows that different motives can be satisfied by what appears as the same kind of behaviour. On the other hand one motive may lead to many different forms and expressions of behaviour. For a thirsty man, the half – pint at the pub  is enough. To another thirsty man, many cups of tea are the only source of satisfaction. To a third, sucking on a lemon drop, which activates the salivary glands, may prove satisfactory. This shows different behaviour springing from the same motive. This may  be an obvious   example, but the implications are far – reaching. It may be quite difficult to decide on the different motives that drive people to different sorts of behaviour.

We must also remember that we are often motivated by impulses that we are not aware of. These unconscious  motives govern much of our activity. We cannot often say with accuracy why we did this or that, and not the other.

The capacity to modify and change our responses and not to respond to instinctive drives only, is one of the characteristics which distinguish humans from other living creatures and machines. The plasticity or flexibility of behaviour  is the way we develop what is called purpose in life. All motives are purposeful, but, where the basic drives satisfy the object of survival, other experiences associated with that satisfaction may become needs and motives themselves quite independent of their original association. The young child who has to fight for his nourishment may grow up into an aggressive adult, as if the threat of hunger was always present in his environment. He may generalize this aggression  towards the entire structure in which he lives.

The result of the experiences of home and school can motivate a young  person against a particular way of life in the experiences were painful. Experiences which  are associated with pleasure will tend to motivate a person in favour of that way of life.

“Homeostasis” is the name used for the stabilizing process whereby a need sets up a type of behaviour which ceases when the need is satisfied. Homeostasis in organisms is very much like an automatic control system. When a homeostat is used to control the domestic water supply, for example  (when, of course, it is called a thermostat). Then it switches on the heat when the water reaches a lower temperature and switches it off when it reaches a higher temperature. This is a simple example of the process of need – satisfaction and drive – reduction, which is at the core of the whole motivational process.


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