Motivation and Attitudes

  • Physiological Concept of Positive and Negative Feedback
    • Positive, increase production of product.
    • Negative, works to decrease product.
    • Negative feedback is put into place to inhibit production of product.
  • Instincts, Arousal, Needs, Drives: Drive-Reduction and Cognitive Theories
  • Motivation asks the question why?
  • 5 schools of thought:
    • Evolutionary – role instincts play in motivation. Think about baby, cries, sleep, eats. Basic instincts all humans have.
    • Drive Reduction Theory – drives vs. needs. Need is lack or deprivation that will energize the drive, or aroused state. That drive is what will reduce the need. Maintains homeostasis. Ex. need for water, driven by thirst, doing pushups is means to fulfill drive for water. Or sleeping.
    • Optimum Arousal Theory – people want to reach full arousal/alertness. Why people go to amusement parks. Drive to get full arousal, and natural high.
    • Cognitive – thought processes drive behavior.
    • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – we want to satisfy needs in particular order. Why we use a pyramid.
  • In reality, all schools are related.


  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • A pyramid. Needs must be fulfilled from bottom to top.
  1. Physiological – food, water, breathing, sleep. Essential to survive.
  2. Safety – safety of employment, health, resources, property. Can only be fulfilled after physiological needs are met.
  3. Love – need to belong, intimacy, love. Social needs.
  4. Self-esteem – feel confident and sense of achievement, recognition. Respect.
  5. Self-actualization – one reaching their maximal potential, achieving the most one can be. Differs from person to person.
  • Incentive Theory
    • Reward, intangible or tangible is presented after an action. Associating positive meaning to a behavior.
      • doing well at work is getting promotion. Or intangible, job satisfaction.
      • Incentive for team is winning a game and recognition.
      • Studies have shown is if reward is given immediately, chance of it happening again is higher.
      • If person isn’t rewarded, less likely to do again.
    • Positive reinforcement is done through continuous positive stimulation.
    • Removal of a punishment would be negative reinforcement, not what incentive theory is focussed on.
    • Skinner, most distinguished incentive theory psychologist said person will more likely do action that’s positively received, and less likely to do action that is negatively received.
  • Biological and Sociocultural Factors – Food, Sex, and Drugs
  • Many factors that regulate our intake of food, sex, and drugs.
  • 2 categories: biological and socio-culture.
  • Food
    • Biological: Hypothalamus sends positive signal to stomach, when full sends leptin to tell us we’re full. Another one is insulin. Brain can detect level of insulin to see amount of sugar and fat store in blood. Metabolism rate. Genetic predisposition to our weight, influenced by parents.
    • Socio-culturally: Eat for different occasions, time, desire, appeal, availability
  • Sex –Investigated by Master & Johnson.
    • Biological: Sexual response cycle. First part of cycle is excitement phase, marked by increased heart rate, BP, etc. Second is plateau. Then orgasm. 4th is resolution. They noticed activity was related to testosterone for women and men. Also have genetic predisposition to sexuality, found by looking at homosexuality.
    • Socio-culturally: age, cultural, stimulus, emotions, and desires to procreate or not.
  • Drugs
    • Biological: family history/genetic predisposition, withdrawal and cravings, biochemical factors, dopamine – affects our limbic system and leads to feelings of euphoria
    • Socio-culturally: curiosity, rebel, poor control, cope with stress, low self-esteem, relief from fatigue, feel good, and more prevalent in areas of higher poverty


  • Components of Attitude
    • What is attitude? A learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way – people, events, objects.
    • 3 components – affective (emotional), behavioural (how we act or behave towards object/subject), cognitive component (form thoughts/beliefs, and our knowledge)
    • Called the ABC model of attitude
      • “I love yoga because I get to mediate and I believe it helps me relax so I will go to class each week.” – ‘I love yoga’ is emotional,’ I believe it helps me relax’ is cognitive, and behavioural is ‘I will go to class each week’
      • “I am frightful of rollercoasters and believe they are stupid so I will be on the carousel.” Affective – ‘I am frightful’, behavioural is ‘I will be on the carousel’, and cognitive is ‘I believe they are stupid’
  • Attitudes Influence Behavior
  • 4 theories that answer question how do our attitudes influence behavior.
  1. Theory of planned behavior
    • We consider the implications of our intensions before we behave.
    • Intensions are based on 3 things – our attitudes towards a certain behavior (ex. I like studying), subjective norms (what we think others think about our behavior), and perceived behavioural control (how easy/hard we think it is to control our behavior)
  1. Attitude to behavior process model
    • An event triggers our attitude (something that will influence our perception of an object)
    • Then attitude + outside knowledge together determines behavior.
    • Tommy has attitude that junk food is unhealthy, because many of his relatives have diseases. So when he’s at home he does not eat chips/soda/candy.
  2. Prototype Willingness Model
    • Behavior is a function of 6 things: past behavior, attitudes, subjective norms, our intentions, our willingness to engage in a specific type of behavior, prototypes/models – a lot of our behavior is carried out from prototyping/modelling.
  3. Elaboration Likelihood Model for Persuasion
    • More cognitive approach – focuses on the why/how of persuasion.
    • 2 ways info is processed:
      • Central – depends on quality of arguments by persuader
      • Peripheral – superficial/non-verbal persuasion cues, such as attractiveness/status of persuader
    • People are more likely to be honest when social influences are reduced (ex. secret ballot), when general patterns of behavior are observed versus a single one (principle of aggregation), when specific actions are considered, and when attitudes are made more powerful through self-reflection.
  • Behavior Influences Attitude
  • Is it possible for our behaviours to shape our attitudes? Yes.
  • Strong social attitudes can cause our attitudes to follow our behavior.
  1. Foot in the door phenomenon
    • We have a tendency to agree to small actions first. Eventually over time comply with much larger actions.
    • Basic concept of how people are brainwashed too. Door is eventually pushed completely open.
  2. Role-playing
    • Everyone plays roles in life. Picture yourself in a new role. First few days are a bit fake – we’re trying to follow social quota in that role. Trying to sound professional. But over time, what feels like acting starts to feel like you.
    • Changed attitude as a result of our behavior and carrying out that role.
    • Zimbardo’s prison experiment
  • Also public declarations (more likely to follow through if you’ve told everyone), and justification of effort (people do something they don’t want to justify effort they put into it, such as going to med school after working so hard)


  • Cognitive Dissonance Theory
  • 2 or more conflicting cognitions – ideas, beliefs, values, or emotional reactions.
  • Feelings of discomfort can lead to alterations in our beliefs/behaviours.
  • 4 things we do to reduce that discomfort.
    • Modify our cognitions – ex. smoker might say, I really don’t smoke that much.
    • Trivialize – make less important, ex. evidence is weak that smoking causes cancer.
    • Add – adding more cognitions, ex. I exercise so much it doesn’t matter
    • Deny – denying the facts, ex. smoking and cancer are not linked.
  • People strive for harmony in our thoughts, actions, words. As soon as our cognitions, attitudes and behaviours don’t align, we have cognitive dissonance.


  • Situational Approach
  • Social psychology – emphasizes influence of changing environmental circumstances over stable personality traits. Situational approach of behavior is under this branch of psychology.
    • Focuses on interactions between individual and their environment.
    • People behave differently depending on their situation – external instead of internal.
    • Hard to predict behavior based off 1 situation. Have to acknowledge we sometimes behave differently.
  • Attribution is the process of inferring causes of events/behaviours.
    • Can be internal or external, our focus will be on external.
    • Everyday, we make tons of attributions on environment/etc.
    • Inference a person is behaving a certain way based on situation they’re in.
    • 3 parts: consistency (does person usually behave this way), distinctiveness (does person behave differently in different situations), and consensus (do others behave similarly in situation?).
    • If yes to last 2, then we know situation is influencing their behaviour.
    • If person is consistent in all situations, then maybe not environment, and more internal.
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