Motivation explains why people behave as they do. Some scientists view
motivation as the factor that determines behaviour, as expressed in the phrase
All behaviour is motivated.(World Book, 1986, p.721). Other scientists focus on
two certain aspects of motivated behaviour, excitement or exhilaration of
behaviour, that is motivation arouses an organism and causes it to act, and the
direction of behaviour, which is lead by habits, skills, abilities and
structural features. (World Book, 1986). This essay aims to describe the four
theories of motivation, Instinct theory, Sociobiology, Drive-Reduction theory
and Incentive theory. I will be relating each theory to George’s behaviour and
whether they do or do not apply to George’s behaviour. Instinct is behaviour
that is inherited rather than learned. Instinct is an inborn tendency/biological
force that dominates behaviour. (Weiten, 1995). William McDougall (1908) viewed
instincts as unlearned, universal in expression and universal in a species. (Weiten,
1995). John Bowlby (1969) views instinct with regards to baby’s attachment to
their parents or caregivers, as in-built. His reason for this development is
that babies stay close to their parents because they are provided with
protection. Human instincts are more flexible and more open to learning
experiences than those of other species. Just like the imprinting of baby geese,
so too do human babies attach to his/her parents after many hours of
interaction. Wortman, C. , Loftus, E. and Weaver, C. (1999). An example of
instinctual behaviour is that all ants build anthills in the same way, even when
they are not raised together, then the anthill building behaviour is instinctual
and not a learned response.(Weiten, 1995). Sex in humans is also instinctual. We
are not born with the desire to engage in sexual activities but as we reach
puberty, there is a need for sexual stimulation. Even though we might not know
what to do, it is instinctual. But, instincts only describe behaviour, they do
not explain why a person engages in behaviour. Therefore with regards to the
case study, George’s behaviour, (running the marathon), is not instinctual. Not
everyone is born to run a marathon, it is a learned response. (Weiten, 1995).

Sociobiology is the study of the biological basis for the social behaviour of
humans and other animals. (Worldbook, 1986). Sociobiologists try to ascertain
the function of various types of behaviour in the life of an animal.

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Sociobiology is based on the theory that the central process of life is the
struggle of genes to reproduce themselves. Theorists believe that natural
preference favours behaviour that maximises reproductive attainment –
transmitting genes to the next generation. According to this theory, an organism
inherits inclinations to develop certain types of behaviour, and these behaviour
patterns increase an organism’s chances of transferring its genes to the next
generation. It is believed that an organism can transmit its genes on, not only
by reproducing but also by helping related organisms survive and
reproduce.(Weiten, 1995).An example of this would be a bee stinging an intruder
bee, in order to protect the life and genes of the queen bee (an organism
sacrificing their life, for others, therefore passing on its genes). A human’s
will, for sacrificing their life for a relative or someone they know, is much
stronger than that of sacrificing their life for someone they do not know. A
lady will not usually sacrifice her life by running across the road to save a
child, (that she does not know), in traffic, whereas if it were her own child,
she would sacrifice her life in order to save her child’s life and to carry on
the genes. (Weiten, 1995). There are ongoing debates about sociobiology and its
relevance to human motivation. Some theorists believe that sociobiologists
overestimate the influence of biology and underestimate the influence of
culture. (Deverell, A., 1999). In the African culture, African men consider
African women with large buttocks appealing, but may be viewed as unattractive
in other cultures. Wortman, C. , Loftus, E. and Weaver, C. (1999). George is
exhibiting perseverance in the face of everything bad. George’s perseverance is
a trait that is beneficial to his survival. George did not run to protect his
genes, it was his own motivation that made him run the marathon. Most people
would not persevere as George did. Drive Theory: Clark Hull (1884-1952) defines
a drive as an observation that organism’s seek to maintain homeostasis, a state
of physiological equilibrium/stability. (Hull in Weiten, 1995, p.378). A drive
assists an organism in alleviating inner tension. For example drinking to
alleviate thirst. Drive theory explains why people eat, sleep, seek pleasure,
avoid pain and engage in sex. Wortman, C. , Loftus, E. and Weaver, C. (1999).

According to Hullian theorists, there is a distinction between Primary and
Secondary drives. Primary drives are the most basic, inborn needs in our
psychological systems and secondary drives, also known as learned motives, are
learned through association with the reduction of primary drives. Wortman, C. ,
Loftus, E. and Weaver, C. (1999). It is understood that most drive theories are
unlearned, biological drives, which progressively develop a bigger set of
appropriate drives through learning. Wortman, C. , Loftus, E. and Weaver, C.

(1999). The sleep motive is an example of drive theory. If a person goes
without sleep, for quite a while, they begin to experience some discomfort,
tiredness, which is an internal tension and a drive motivates you to obtain
sleep. Sleeping reduces the drive and restores physiological balance. (Weiten,
1995). But drive theories can not explain all facets of human motivation. In
George’s case, drive theory cannot explain George’s behaviour, as homeostasis is
not maintained. George went beyond the point of pain, he endured extreme pain,
which is George’s personal motivation. George’s running the marathon has nothing
to do with stability/equilibrium. (Weiten, 1995). Incentive Theory is striving
towards attaining external goals. Incentive theorists believe that the source of
motivation is external, in the environment, Incentives pull you to act, whereas
drives push you to act. Incentive theory is not related to the principle of
homeostasis, it emphasises environmental factors. (Weiten, 1995). Not everyone
can always achieve his or her desired goals. Expectancy-value models explain one’s
motivation to persevere in two ways, the merit of the incentive, if it appeals
to you, and the probability of one’s chances attaining the incentive. Gambling
at a casino is an example of incentive. Your motivation to gamble will depend on
the amount of money you could win and on your chances of winning. To draw people
to gamble, large amounts of money are offered as the prize, making the incentive
value high. (Weiten, 1995). Incentives can be both positive and negative. A
positive incentive is a pupil knowing that they will receive a reward if they
obtain a good result for an exam and a negative incentive is a pupil knowing
that if they fail the exam, they will be deprived of something they value. (Weiten,
1995). In relation to George, incentive theory is very suitable to his behaviour.

George’s behaviour is highly individualistic. Very few people would subject
themselves to what George did. George persevered, ran the marathon, and achieved
his goal. George’s incentive was an external psychological motivation. (Weiten,
1995). Through the different theories of motivation we can see that motivators
can be internal and external. We have seen that instinct; sociobiology and drive
theories do not explain George’s behaviour. Incentive theory explains George’s
behaviour best. Some psychologists believe that happenings, that we no longer
remember, can still affect our lives and can influence behaviour motives.