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Motivation

Motivation is a topic of immense interest to sport psychologists. What motivates someone to train with such intensity when their objective chances of winning are not great? Why do some kids not do anything in school, behavior that seems to indicate a lack of motivation?

Motivation is a need or desire that energizes behavior and directs it to a goal. We infer motivation from behavior. As with any inference, we can be wrong. Having said that, we still can rely only on either inferences from observation or self-reports.

There are several prominently accepted theories of motivation. One is instinct theory which says that behaviors are automatic and follow a fixed pattern. There are few human behaviors that are instinctual.

Biological states underlie another group of theories. These theories include need, drive and drive reduction theory. Maslow's hierarchy of needs also falls into this category since it is based on the physiological needs being met.

Another set of theories fall into the cognitive/cultural group. These theories focus on how incentives influence motivation.

There are also many different types of motives including stimulus, social and affiliation. The most interesting component of motivation, though, is the question of how do we motivate people. Millions, if not billions, of dollars and countless hours have been spent trying to figure out how to motivate people. What motivates you?