Motivation Theories

Topics: Motivation, Edward Thorndike, Psychology Pages: 5 (1517 words) Published: July 3, 2013
Motivation Theories

PSY/355

Motivation Theories
All kinds of motivation cannot be explained by Hedonism. The subjective nature of motivation in Hedonism lies in the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. The law of effect, however, emphasizes the objective nature of motivation—some stimuli increase behavior and other stimuli decrease it. The internal incentives of hedonism, and the external incentives of law and effect are two different sources of motivation, however, they can share a valuable end state – the preservation of life. The absence of a punishing stimulus would have been enough to convince primitive man that he needed to be good at throwing rocks if he wanted to escape death from a wounded animal. In addition, one might decide that the risk is too great for an accurate shot, and option for a reward of berries instead of meat. Law of Effect Theory

In 1905, one of the earliest American psychologists, Edward Thorndike, discovered a principle of behavior that he called the law of effect. We now consider the idea so basic and intuitive that it seems surprising anyone even had to “discover” it. In simple terms, the law of effect states that if a behavior produces a satisfying effect in a particular situation it is more likely to occur again under similar circumstances, and if it produces a negative or uncomfortable effect it is less likely to be repeated. Hedonism Theory

One theory that philosophers have conjured in regard to motivation is Hedonism. According to Deckers (2010), Hedonism is "the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain" (p. 22). The theory of Hedonism implies that human beings are motivated, or driven into action, toward choices and behaviors that result in pleasure and away from those resulting in pain or discomfort. Individuals are motivated differently because what one person finds pleasurable or painful, another may not. While this theory refers to chasing pleasure and avoiding pain, philosophers like Epicurus insist that moderation is key because undergoing pain is inevitable and the two often balance each other out, especially when seeking pleasure that lasts longer (Deckers 2010). Hedonism refers to people behaving in ways to achieve a “greater good” (Deckers, 2010, p. 22). Philosophers agreed that the “greater good” refers to achieving the most pleasure and satisfaction for as long as possible. This means that when one is faced with choices of attaining instant gratification, or waiting to receive a greater amount of gratification later, one should choose the latter resulting in the most amount of pleasure and satisfaction for a longer amount of time. An example of this interpretation is presented by Deckers (2010): “To illustrate, a university student might forgo the immediate benefit of earning money at an unskilled job in hopes that spending her time earning a university degree will provide more meaningful and fruitful employment later” (p. 22). The student sacrifices instant gratification of earning money right away in order to benefit more from her hard work in the future. Thorndike and Laws of Effect

Edward Lee Thorndike’s theory of law of effect was introduced by his experiment with the cat in the puzzle box. The experiment helped him identify that “pain and pleasure motivate behavior when those feelings reach our awareness” (Deckers, 2010, p. 25). Thorndike was very known by his work with animals in his experiments. For example, the cat with the puzzle box was one example Thorndike use to prove that trial and error could affect behavior and produce positive responses that would occur more often (Cherry, 2013). Thorndike’s puzzle boxes were used as instrumental conditioning, much like classical conditioning. Thorndike’s work with instrumental conditioning was formed by the ideas of Herbert Spencer. The positive outcomes that are presented are more likely to produce the same behavior than a negative outcome. With the experiment of the cat showing the...
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