Definition of Motivation
What is motivation? Motivation is the drive or reason of an individual to achieve an action or achievement. It can drive the person to a (desired) form of behavior. Motivation consists of a relationship between various factors, including biological (innate) and culture-dependent (learned) characteristics. In addition, the environment can play a role and there are several elements that influence motivation.
Human behavior has been studied for some time in order to predict or influence it. An influential psychologist was BF Skinner (1938) with his research on behavior, also known as behaviorism. This research is concerned with conditioning and proposes that behavior is determined by environment and external factors. Skinner’s discovery was that rewards allow behavior to be controlled. Conditioning means that learning can be done by rewarding, punishing or ignoring. However, this theory does not take human motivation into account.
Another well-known theory is the cognitive effectance theory of RW White (1959). According to White, people have an inner urge to influence their environment. The innate urge for competence helps to realize this. In addition, today there is the theory of A. Maslow, or the pyramid of Maslow. This shows that self-actualization is the most important motivation for behavior, but that other fundamental needs must first be met (incrementally).
Although there are many theories, we can be sure that motivation is an indispensable element in relation to behavior. Motivation determines the degree of effort that one wants to make and certain choices that are made to achieve certain goals. Besides motivation in health care, sport and education, motivation in education naturally plays an essential role.
Motivation is the fuel for change
Motivation is the fuel you need to change. To go from A to B, or to get from the situation where you are now to a new, desired situation.
Unfortunately, you can’t just get this fuel at the gas station. However, there are ways to increase this amount of fuel. And for that, it helps to know that there are several ingredients in this fuel that you can influence.
If you look at different behavioral scientists, most indicate that motivation – i.e. the fuel to change something – consists of 3 ingredients. Everyone chooses their own words and their own perspective. But almost always ingredient 1 and ingredient 2 come down to the same thing. Ingredient 3 sometimes takes a different approach, depending on the background of the scientist.
The ingredients of motivation
In practice, it appears that it works well to think from the ingredients:
- Can / think you can
- Ready to be
1. Want to change
You can think of questions such as:
- How important do you think it is?
- How attractive is it to me?
- To what extent is this what I want?
Willing is the ingredient most people think of when it comes to motivation. Interestingly, this ingredient is also at the forefront when they think about the motivation of others. Is someone not doing what has been agreed? Apparently he doesn’t think it’s important.
2. Confidence to change
In many cases, however, can play a major role. Or better yet, think you can. You can think of questions such as:
- Do I have faith that I will succeed?
- Do I have the skills to do this?
- To what extent do I think I can do this?
Can be the ingredient that often has the greatest opportunity to motivate someone else. It is interesting that people often state of their own intention: ‘I want to, but I think I can’t do it’.
3. Be ready for change
Being ready is an ingredient that has everything to do with time. A change process often goes through different phases. It is important to realize in which phase you are or in which phase your client is. Because this gives concrete guidelines about what you should and should not do.
Usually you need all 3 ingredients for change. However, you don’t know where to start? Then our advice is to always focus on thinking , the 2nd ingredient. In practice, this is where the greatest opportunities lie for seizing motivation.
According to the self-determination theory (SDT), a distinction is made between different forms of motivation. The best known are intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation , but according to this theory there are also intermediate forms, called interest and internal obligation.
1. Intrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation is where motivation comes from within the person. This type of motivation is where the person finds pleasure or interest in the activity itself. So it is not about the purpose of the activity, but about the activity itself. In education, a pupil would find the subject matter interesting or fun to do. Intrinsic motivation often leads to more creativity, an increased level of concentration and more feelings of pride or self-competence.
2. Extrinsic motivation
In extrinsic motivation, a person is motivated by external stimuli. These incentives can include punishment or reward. You do something for someone else or because you have to. In education, this can be seen in students who learn because they have to pass or when they are afraid of punishment. Extrinsic motivation can also have a negative influence on intrinsic motivation. Rewards can reduce the feeling of independence and competence.
Within this form there is no question of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. There is no complete motivation from the person himself, but also no coercion or reward; the person sees the now or importance of the activity. If a student does not like a certain part, such as spelling in the French subject, he/she will do his/her best. This may be because the person needs a good grade for French in the future to compensate for other subjects.
4. Internal obligation
In this variant, individuals impose a certain obligation to receive appreciation or to avoid debt. An example is that a student wants to maintain good grades with his parents or teachers and therefore commits himself to the subject that he actually hates.
The above forms can be reduced to intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation and interest make an individual want to learn on their own, and therefore fall under Intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation and internal obligation give the feeling of having to and therefore get the term extrinsic motivation. There are also situations where extrinsic and intrinsic motivation coincide.
Performance Goal Theory
Performance Goal Theory (PDT) examines why a person is committed. A distinction is then made between learning objectives and performance objectives.
- Learning objectives: aimed at learning itself, developing competences. Learning goals are almost equivalent to intrinsic motivation. Students who use learning objectives often perform better.
- Performance Goals: Performing in comparison to others. In this regard, first of all, a performance-approach goal can be distinguished. In this variant, a person would like to show the competency to others. For example, a student wants to get higher grades than the rest. In addition, there is the performance-avoidance goal in which the individual wants to keep up with the rest at least as well. In this case, a student will stay close to a certain assignment so that he does not make mistakes and does not appear stupid.
Influence expectations on motivation
An individual’s motivation is closely related to expectations about his own effectiveness, the difficulty of an activity, and the outcome of the behavior or action. Here again a number of elements or theories can be distinguished.
- Self-efficacy : a person’s confidence in one’s own ability or accomplishment of the task in which he wishes to successfully influence the environment. The psychologist A. Bandura formulated a theory about this in which it emerged that people are more likely to be motivated for an act in which they have the confidence to successfully complete it.
- Expectancy theory (V. Vroom): the strength of motivation depends on expectation, instrumentality and valence (dignity). When there is a choice between different options of trading, the option with the greatest motivational strength will be chosen.
- Fantasy: when an individual wants to achieve a goal, he will first have a positive fantasy about this goal. The psychologist G. Oettingen noted an important relationship between fantasy and motivation. Motivation will increase greatly when a person has a positive fantasy that contrasts with how the current situation is if the required commitment is not delivered.
A final aspect to take into account is cognitive self-confidence. This includes confidence that you can handle what is being asked. In education this can therefore be about the control that the student thinks he has over the execution of an assignment. When there is intrinsic motivation or the use of a learning goal, low self-confidence can still lead to less motivation. One way to motivate students in education is, for example, autonomy-supporting teaching. In this way of teaching, teachers take students’ feelings and beliefs into account while exerting little control. This promotes the commitment and autonomous functioning of students.