The 10 Most Common Sources of Motivation

In general, motivation is the power that propels us to pursue a goal (the desired outcome). Every decision starts with motivation (e.g., careers, spouses, hobbies). We are often driven to increase pleasure and decrease discomfort (Touré-Tillery & Fishbach, 2017). However, individuals are motivated to pursue their objectives by more than carrot and stick incentives (Sharot 2017).

  1. External motivations. Emphasizing benefits (such as money) may be effective when trying to get others to accomplish something. External incentives, however, promote a concentration on short-term outcomes at the cost of long-term ones.
  2. Reducing losses. We like success but detest failure. We experience loss’ anguish more intensely than gain’s joy. Customers, for instance, react more favorably to price increases than decreases. Inertia or status quo bias, which refers to a strong desire to maintain your existing situation, is produced by loss aversion.
  3. Hitting “rock bottom.” The idea of “hitting bottom” implies that before changing, a person must “hit rock bottom.” In alcohol research, “hitting bottom” is a key motivator for getting treatment (Kirouac & Witkiewitz, 2017). However, each person’s tipping point could be different (e.g., losing a job, spouse, and home and experiencing severe physical problems).
  4. Internal driving forces. Behavior motivated by internal incentives is intrinsic motivation (wanting to do something for its own sake). The enjoyment of doing something is prioritized above obtaining a particular result. As individuals become older, they focus more on internal aspirations and less on outward ones. Instead of succumbing to external influences, they adopt objectives representing their fundamental interests (Ryan & Deci, 2017). This might be the reason why the elderly are happy.
  5. Keeping an optimistic outlook about oneself. People are compelled to think well of themselves (e.g., kindness). Our behavior provides a glimpse into our character and preferences. For instance,  giving money to a panhandler or updating Facebook profile pictures to honor the recent disaster victims.
  6. Self-validation. People are also driven to confirm or validate their current self-perceptions. Because of this, we choose to associate with people who share our perspective on the world and stay away from those who do not. For instance, when you are with a partner who validates your self-view as a spouse, you feel better about yourself.
  7. Curiosity. According to Aristotle, “all persons seek to know by nature.” The need to know more and see more of the world is ingrained within us. According to one theory, curiosity develops when a knowledge gap comes to the fore. To lessen or altogether remove the sensation of deprivation, the curious person is driven to learn the knowledge that is lacking. We are curious once we are informed of what we do not know. The opposite of curiosity is disinterest or boredom.
  8. Autonomy. People like feeling in charge. We are hardwired from birth to look for control. In many ways, it improves our health and overall happiness. Providing individuals a sense of control by giving them alternatives is thus a strong motivator.
  9. Current mood. The advice we are providing (such as health messaging) must fit the present state of mind of the person in front of us. For instance, individuals are far more receptive to unfavorable information when they feel threatened. A person is more likely to think negatively when they’re unhappy. On the other hand, when individuals are in a good mood, they are considerably more inclined to do monotonous tasks. Therefore, match your words to the other person’s feelings.
  10. Other individuals. We care about other people’s perspectives since we are social animals. The desire to gain the esteem of our colleagues motivates us. People favor accomplishments that are supported, affirmed, and appreciated by others. Forming and sustaining social ties need approval. When asked which pleasures make them the happiest, many individuals choose love, intimacy, and social connection above fame, fortune, and even physical health.

In conclusion, humans have a variety of motives. They each have various wants and interests that drive them. These numerous motivational factors enable us to understand the difficulty of motivating others.

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