The study of motivation includes the relationship between motives, incentives, and behavior. Motivation is what drives a person to act or change the direction of their actions. To be motivated, individuals are driven by either the acquisition of positive incentives or the avoidance of negative incentives. Incentives are characterized as a predictable reward or opposable event existing in the environment. To understand behavior, psychologists explain that behavior is the result of motivation resulting from an internal disposition or external incentives. (Deckers, 2010).
One source of internal motivation is the biological variable. According to Dr. Lambert Deckers (2010), “biological variables refer to the characteristics of the body and brain that serve to motivate behavior” (p. 8). Physiological needs include oxygen, food, water, sex, sleep, and physical stimulation. It also includes the need to avoid harm, toxic stimuli, heat, and cold. For example, a person is driven to eat by hunger in order to satisfy their body’s physiological need for sustenance. As a general rule, when the feelings of hunger increase, coincidentally the motivation to eat will also increase. The incentive value of food can be so prominent that it can cause people to overeat, to the point of obesity. In contrast, there are individuals, such as people with anorexia disorder, who place little to no value on food (Deckers, 2010).
Another source of internal motivation is the psychological disposition. In Dr. Lambert Deckers view (2010), “psychological variables refer to motives and are studied through measurable indicators.” For instance, scientists are able to measure perspiration and smiles indicative of psychological variables, anxiety and happiness. A general rule for psychological variables states that, “as indicators of a psychological need increase, the motivation for need-relevant incentives, consummatory behaviors, and associated feeling increase” (Deckers, 2010, p.8). As psychologists have identified some basic psychological needs shared by all people. Among these are existential concerns about life’s challenges which motivate people in different ways. One of the five major existential concerns is the concern about one’s own death, which encourages the need to maintain life. Some speculate that many psychological needs are derived from the five primary existential concerns, such as the need for safety stems from the concern about death (Deckers, 2010).
One more internal source of motivation are emotions. In fact, the word emotion stems from the Latin word emovere, which mean to move out. Emotions motivate people to behave a certain way. Subsequently, different emotions cause people to act appropriately, for example when a person feels fear, they will withdraw in order to avoid pain. “Currently, an emotion consists of the integration of affective feelings, physiological arousal, behavior, and facial expressions” (Deckers, 2010, p. 44). While scientists do not yet have a specific physiological profile for each emotion, researchers seek to map emotional feelings with the corresponding neurons that are activated in the brain (Deckers, 2010).
In addition to internal sources of motivation, one must look at external sources as well. A primary source of external motivation is the environment. Dr. Deckers