Get Complete Information on Different Theories of Motivation

Freud, Jung, and Adler were the chief exponents of psychoanalytic theories of motivation. Freud originally conceived of sex as a primary driving force in behaviour. He called this psychic energy the libido, later he spoke of the life instinct and the death instinct.

Psychoanalytic theories put emphasis on the ego and the rational aspect of personality. The ego regulates the impulses of the id, that is, the primitive part of the unconscious, composed of instinctive cravings characterized by unrestrained pleasure seeking.

Murray defined need as “a construct which is a force in the brain, a force which organizes perception, appreciation, intellect and action in such a way as to transform in a certain direction in existing, unsatisfying situation.” According to him, an unsatisfied need would arouse a person to work that would be sustained until satisfaction had been attained.

THEORIES | Regression

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Behaviouristic Theories

Thorndike, Hull, Miller and Dollard, Mowrer, Spence, Skinner and P.T. Young are the chief proponents of behaviouristic theories. Concepts of motivation are largely governed by the principle of reinforcement.

Behaviour is assumed to be purposive, and different theoretical concepts are employed to deal with the energizing and directive aspects of motivation. The classical form of behaviorism utilizes a “drive reduction” concept, which regards the basic source of energy in the organism as undifferentiated drive.

Skinner 1953 exercises purely a functional concept of drive, stressing that no assumptions need to be based about internal energy source beyond recognition of the functional Purposivism or goal directedness of behaviour.


In short was can say that this theory has the following main points-

(a) All behaviour is motivated in the sense that all behaviour is based on needs and drives.

(b) Needs may be biological or psychological, primary or secondary.

(c) All learning involves reward in the sense that only those responses that reduce need or drive are stamped in.


(d) Energy is the function of need reduction, or of functional reinforcements, its direction is accounted for by habits.

Physiological Theory

Lord Ruthford, William James and Morgan are the exponents of this theory. To them all explanations must be in physical terms. All science is physics or stamp collecting. They believed that the secrets of the mind are locked within the cells of the nervous system.

Cognitive Theories

Lewin, Heider, Festinger, Newcomb and Helson were the major proponents of cognitive theories. Cognitive theories of motivation centre on an understanding and anticipation of events where, by means of perception, thought, and judgment, we choose relative values that govern our behaviour. We build up beliefs, opinions, and expectancies, which regulate our goal-seeking behaviour.

According to behaviorists, man is like a machine which is governed by fixed principles and motivation of behaviour originating from physiological derives. The motivation is an urge which results from a stimulus which may be internal or external.

Maslow’s Theory of Self Actualisation

Maslow defined that needs are arranged in a hierarchy. As one general type of need is satisfied, next higher order need will emerge and become operative. He divided needs into two broad categories; (a) Deficit needs and (b) Growth needs.

The deficit needs include physiological needs such as hunger and thirst. Once these needs are fulfilled, the person seeks to satisfy safety needs. Under the growth need, there is one general need called self-actualization.

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