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When Ivan Pavlov and his dogs led to the discovery of learned behaviour through repeated exposure, and Edward Thorndike discovered the Law of Effect that stated that rewarded behaviours tended to increase, many psychologists were impelled to separate psychology from armchair introspection and formulated their theories as mathematical formulas.
Donald Hebb realised that existing theories were too focused on reacting to the immediate environment. Thoughts, ideas and goals could be just as strong for triggering action as sights and sounds.
Together with John Atkinson, they noted that the study of motivation had undergone a "paradigm shift", where motivation couldn't be seen as how actions get started, but how the organism decides to change its behaviour from one thing to another.
Thorndike’s Law of Effect led B.F. Skinner to the study of instrumental conditioning, where behaviour could be manipulated by applying rewards and punishments.
To describe this paradigm, some terminology is useful since they are often confused in popular discussions:
Neuroscience offers clues on how motivation works within the brain.
This theory is not focused on how human motivation can be controlled and manipulated from without, but how it is functionally designed and experienced from within.
Intrinsic motivation is when we are more motivated to pursue actions when it emanates from the self. Extrinsic incentives and rewards have the potential to decrease intrinsic motivation. However, the form of reward matters greatly. If the reward is not directly related to the completion of the activity, it does not have a negative effect.
The experience of actions starting from oneself is a matter of degree. Some actions are controlled, while others feel spontaneous. Most are somewhere in-between.
People have three basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Our internal motivations often depend on how these needs are met.
Goals that satisfy these needs tend to be more motivating, while goals that don't may cause harm. The underlying reasons for a goal may matter more.
Procrastination is delaying an intended course of action despite expecting negative consequences for the delay.
Possible causes for procrastination:
Learned industriousness claims that when you are rewarded for expending higher effort, the experience of effortful activity itself is reinforced, leading to a willingness to work harder for bigger payoffs.
While motivation is a huge topic, and the science on it is not in agreement, there are many takeaways we can use to understand how motivation operates and use it to improve our lives.
SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:
It’s your ability to resolve conflicts between your short-term desires and your long-term goals.
For example, successful self-control means sacrificing immediate pleasure (cookies a...
People who have high self-control aren’t missing out on enjoyment. Not being able to resist temptation and enjoying life are not the same things.
They tend to eat in a healthily way, exercise more, sleep better, drink less alcohol, smoke fewer cigarettes, achieve higher grades at university, have more peaceful relationships, and are more financially secure.
Research showed that self-control is ultimately limited by our biology. We can’t exercise effortful self-control indefinitely – the brain has to do regular maintenance to remain functional.
Inaction is the biggest cause of our failures and our miseries. If we could consistently do the things we know we should do, we would be more successful, and our lives would be better. Yet w...
Some possible but weak reasons why action is hard:
If your projects tend to fail, your expectations are low, and motivation fades. If your projects tend to succeed, your expectations go up, and motivation stays strong.
At a basic level, there are three elements of motivation.
We are awful at long-term planning. We can stay motivated for a couple of days or a week, but we find it hard to plan a semester-long paper or a retirement plan.
It is essential to have definite goals, in well-defined words, and measured hours. What matters is if you can visualize yourself working on the goal.
You can't have complete control over every outcome. You may not always have the best set of cards, but it shouldn't stop you from playing those cards the best way you can.
Learn to work with what you've got. Just like a poker game, you can maximize your chances. It starts with basic elements, like getting enough sleep and eating well.