MCAT Content / Motivation / Factors That Influence Motivation

Factors that Influence Motivation

Topic: Motivation

Motivation is a complex psychological and behavioral event that can be influenced by a variety of lower-level factors such as needs, instincts, arousal, and drives.

Motivations often originate from unsatisfied needs, which can be physical or psychological. An instinct is a biological, innate tendency to perform a certain behavior that leads to the fulfillment of a need. Since instincts are not based on experience, all people share the same basic instincts. For example, infants are born with the instinct to seek out a nipple for feeding and to suck, which originates from the physiological need for nourishment.

Another major factor in the development of motivation is arousal, physiological and psychological tension. High arousal triggers attempts to return to an ideal and more comfortable level of arousal. Drives are urges to perform certain behaviors in order to resolve physiological arousal when that arousal is caused by the biological needs of the organism. Many drives contribute to the maintenance of physiological homeostasis. One prominent example of drive is thirst. Much like hormonal processes, thirst operates as a negative feedback system. When the body is dehydrated, thirst increases, which increases the drive to drink water in order to regulate blood osmolarity. This process is triggered by changes in blood volume and communication between the kidney and the brain. Once water intake has occurred, homeostasis is achieved, and the drive to drink is reduced.


Practice Questions


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Key Points

• A motivation is a complex psychological and behavioral event that can be influenced by a variety of lower-level factors such as needs, instincts, arousal, and drives.

• Motivations often originate from unsatisfied needs, which can be physical or psychological.

• Major factors in the development of motivation include needs, instincts, arousals, and drives.


Key Terms

motivation: a psychological factor that provides a directional force or reason for behavior

need: a psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a goal, giving purpose and direction to behavior

instinct: a basic biological drive (e.g., hunger, thirst, sex, aggression) that must be fulfilled in order to maintain physical and psychological equilibrium

drive: an urge to perform certain behaviors in order to resolve physiological arousal when that arousal is caused by the biological needs of the organism

arousal: physiological and psychological tension

negative feedback system: used to maintain homeostasis and achieve the set point within a system. They are characterized by their ability to either increase or decrease a stimulus, inhibiting the ability of the stimulus to continue as it did prior to sensing of the receptor



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