Essay by dj.portsmouthUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2008

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DefinitionThe following definitions of motivation were gleaned from a variety of psychology textbooks and reflect the general consensus that motivation is an internal state or condition (sometimes described as a need, desire, or want) that serves to activate or energize behavior and give it direction.

•internal state or condition that activates behavior and gives it direction;•desire or want that energizes and directs goal-oriented behavior;•influence of needs and desires on the intensity and direction of behavior.

Franken (1994) provides an additional component in his definition:•the arousal, direction, and persistence of behavior.

While still not widespread in terms of introductory psychology textbooks, many researchers are now beginning to acknowledge that the factors that energize behavior are likely different from the factors that provide for its persistence.

Importance of motivationMost motivation theorists assume that motivation is involved in the performance of all learned responses; that is, a learned behavior will not occur unless it is energized.

The major question among psychologists, in general, is whether motivation is a primary or secondary influence on behavior. That is, are changes in behavior better explained by principles of environmental/ecological influences, perception, memory, cognitive development, emotion, explanatory style, or personality or are concepts unique to motivation more pertinent.

For example, we know that people respond to increasingly complex or novel events (or stimuli) in the environment up to a point and then responses decrease. This inverted-U-shaped curve of behavior is well-known and widely acknowledged (e.g., Yerkes & Dodson, 1908). However, the major issue is one of explaining this phenomenon. Is this a conditioning (is the individual behaving because of past classical or operant conditioning), a motivational process (from an internal state of arousal), or is there some better explanation?The relationship of motivation and emotionEmotion (an indefinite subjective sensation experienced as a state of arousal) is different from...