Motivation Theories Presentation

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Slide 3 Notes

The motivation of behavior is a complex internal disposition predicated on biological and environmental factors, mediated by choice (Deckers, 2005). Incentives and motives exist in both our internal and external environment, and act to inform our motivations. What is more, incentives comprise an interactive duality of anticipated rewards and inhibition of aversive events. It is the acquisition of positive incentives and the avoidance of negative incentives that is most responsible for the repertoire of motives at our disposal. Environmental incentives and internal motives act in concert, acted upon by free will or by association the choice between motivations, which causes the movement to action. It is within this framework of motivation that the biosocial and opponent-process theories of motivation are best understood.     

Slide 5 Notes

Biosocial theory of motivation looks into the interaction between social experiences and the differences between males and females. This theory looks at the differences in motivation because of the differences between males and females. Males are physically bigger and stronger and women can bear and nurse children. These differences affect individuals and their motivations for interaction ( Derckers, 2005).   

Slide 6 Notes

There are people out there who have theories on this type of motivation. It has been shown that there are some instances where social aspects do get in the way of the reproductive capacity, where feelings may come from and get in the way “Darwin also postulated sexual selection, in addition to environmental pressures, as selecting for physical and psychological traits. In this case, one member of the species selects a mate based on some trait. For example, peahens sexually select to mate with the peacock that has the most eyespots. Natural selection led to the evolution of orgasm as one of the rewards for sexual behavior and to the development of romantic love as a help in forming pair bonds” (Deckers, 2005).

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Slide 7 Notes

“What is important in biosocial theory is that men are physically bigger and stronger and that women can bear and nurse children. What is not relevant in this theory are the evolved psychological mechanisms that are postulated by evolutionary psychology” (Decker, 2005). This is something that was shed of the light by Wood and Eagly, who felt that women had a less than important roll than men did. Women bore the children for those men, and kept house; while the men supplied the house with food and continued paying the bills.

Slide 8 Notes

Based on societal views, certain behaviors are accepted even expected from a male or a female.  The behavior caused by biological differences is often times quite obvious. The XX and XY chromosomes are the beginning of all biological differences.  Behaviors related to biology are those of feminism and masculinity.  The social differences are those that can be seen in behaviors.  Psychological differences can be seen in how men and women process things differently. These three differences are the inter-workings of the biosocial theory and how it applies to human behavior. A person’s behavior is based on their makeup, including genetic and environmental. As time has evolved and men and woman have adjusted to fill their social sexual roles the differences between these two has also grown.

Slide 9 Notes

The effectiveness of the biosocial theory of motivation as it relates to behaviors seems to be what causes men to act like men and women to act like women.  Gender differences are highlighted throughout this theory.   It is important to understand that men are built stronger and bigger, while women are built to be able to bear children. All this in relation to behavior creates an ideal that men possess a greater power and take on the role of provider and head of household. A woman is subjected to take on a less powerful role and focus more on the areas of home care.  Based on these genetic differences motivation is quite different for each sex. Both men and women prefer to take on tasks that allow them to behave in ways that represent their classified gender role. For example men would   rather complete tasks that are more physical such as; yard work, car repair or coaching. The examples for woman who take on less physical roles could be child care, cooking, and home care.

Slide 10 Notes

Homeostasis explains the myriad of operations that are carried out within and without the body to maintain set-point levels of salience, temperature, and energy (Deckers, 2005). At the heart of the opponent-process theory of motivation is the homeostatic tendency for the body to offset the effects of drug use. When drugs are consumed a positive process (PP) is begun which brings about the positive hedonic effects of the drug; while, also initiating an opponent process (OP) which acts to neutralize the effects of the drugs, thereby re-establishing homeostasis. The subject feelings that accompany drug use are experienced as the sum of the PP and OP, and usually result in a positive reaction. However, the positive effects of the drug quickly reside and only the OP is left. In this case, withdrawal symptoms begin as the subjective feeling of only the OP in the absence of the PP. It is this cycle which leads to repeated drug use and eventually tolerance.  

Slide 11 Notes

As drug use continues it takes higher consumption of a drug to overcome the OP. This increase use and decreased sensitivity to the positive effects of the drug is called tolerance. The body builds up an “immunity” to the PP over time, through the homeostatic action of the OP. This is just the bodies way of trying to balance out the effects of the drug. As an example, Batman et. al. (2005) conducted a study in which a set of mice were given different oral doses of nicotine over the course of 42 days. At the end of the 42 days the mice were given a 2.5 mg. injection of nicotine and the affects were observed. The mice that had been administered the greatest doses over the 42 days showed less deviation from observed tail-flicking, time on a hot-plate before moving off, and difference in body temperature. This study established that tolerance in mice is increased due to higher levels of nicotine. Furthermore, because the OP continues to take affect even after drug use has ceased, the subjective sensation of overpowering, uncontrollable cravings can become a stepping-stone to addiction. Through the mechanism of habituation drug tolerance increases while drug use increases to compensate, eventually leading to the cyclical addiction of a drug. Once an addiction has become habit the cessation of drug use can bring about the psychological, physiological, and behavior symptoms of withdrawal. As to the opponent-process theory of motivation, withdrawal is the subjective feeling of the homeostatic mechanisms of the OP in the absence of the positive hedonic PP.    

Slide 12 Notes

“Richard Solomon (1980) has developed a theory of motivation/emotion that views emotions as pairs of opposites (for example, fear-relief, pleasure-pain). The opponent-process theory states that when one emotion is experienced, the other is suppressed. For example, if you are frightened by a mean dog, the emotion of fear is expressed and relief is suppressed. If the fear-causing stimulus continues to be present, after a while the fear decreases and the relief intensifies. For example, if the dog didn’t move, your fear would decrease and relief that the dog didn’t attack would increase. If the stimulus is no longer present, then the first emotion disappears and is replaced totally with the second emotion. If the dog turns and runs, you are no longer afraid, but rather feel very relieved” (Exploring Psychology, 2009).  Most people can only feel one emotion at a time, sad or happy, scared or safe, in any case one emotion is always dominant and eventually the counter part takes over, normally a more calm emotion.

Slide 13 Notes

Drug users use drugs to feel an sense of utopia, they find this pleasure by smoking a cigarette, have a few beers or setting at a casino and gambling.  Without this stimulus they find no pleasure any anything else, these activities replace what most of us naturally have in our brains, dopamine.  For those who lack the natural process of dopamine tend to suffer from reward deficiency syndrome.

There are many levels of drug use, circumstantial or utilitarian suffer from the opponent-process even if only for a specific reason or occasion. “A person might occasionally use a drug to achieve a specific short term benefit under special circumstances. This kind of drug use is known as circumstantial (drug use prompted by certain circumstances) or utilitarian (drug use that serves a particular purpose). The utilitarian

use of amphetamines might include students who want to increase their endurance and postpone fatigue when studying for a test, truck drivers who need to stay awake on long hauls, athletes competing in endurance events, or military personnel on long missions.  Most observers consider the first three examples to be abuse or misuse of a drug. The fourth example is not seen as abuse, because military authorities prescribe such  drug use to achieve necessary combat goals under unusually dangerous circumstances” (Addictions, n.d.).

Everyone who tries any licit or illicit drug has the choice to continue or to quit in most cases.  However some are “predisposed to become addicted to psychoactive drugs.  A characteristic of these individuals is that they suffer from what Blum and associates (1996, 2000) call reward deficiency syndrome” (Deckers, 2005, p. 85).  These individuals lack the normal “number of receptors that are sensitive to a neurotransmitter known as dopamine” (Decker, 2005, p. 85).  If you do not find pleasure naturally then you will seek it artificially, meaning drug usage.

Slide 14 Notes

The Opponent-Process Theory of motivation is based on the ideals that the initial positive feeling created by drugs is contradicted by the negative feeling. The positive process is repetitive and rapidly declines the opponent process has a more gradual onset and persists even after the high is gone. This has a direct effect on a person’s behavior.  Addiction, tolerance, cravings and withdrawal symptoms can all be based off of this theory.

Slide 15 Notes

Following the steps of a drug addiction; a person first begins to use based on filling a need. Once they have become addicted they will begin to seek out the drug by any means necessary, to achieve the positive feeling associated with being high. They continue to do this even though they are aware of the outcome. Craving is similar to that of addiction whereas, the person has unmanageable desire to reach the “high” point, or ease the negative emotions or feelings related to not being high. Withdrawal is closely related to that of craving, only craving tends to be before the high and withdrawal comes after. An intense withdrawal process occurs after repeated or extended use of the drug has taken place and the person is subjected to being without the drug. Withdrawal has been compared to a compulsion, constantly yearning for the drugs. The behaviors related to addiction can be traced out using the opponent-process theory,

Slide 16 Notes

Clearly, both the biosocial and opponent-process theories of motivation are rooted in the ever-present interplay of biological and environmental variables, mediated by choice. Admittedly, the biosocial theory of motivation emphasizes environmental factors as the cause of motivation and the opponent-process theory stresses the underlying biological processes of drug use and dependence. This however does not negate the fact that motivation is the result of biological and environmental variables, working in concert with available incentives and motives, to bring about behavior. For instance, Bowden et. al. (2004) concluded upon an extensive survey of drug use in adolescent teens that the greatest mediating factor to the use of drugs was having academically motivated friends. Plainly, there is a social component to the opponent-process theory of motivation that has very little to do with internal biochemical reactions. Additionally, the biosocial theory of motivation seeks to emphasize relative body size and reproductive capabilities, while minimizing the evolutionary psychology aspects of gender identity (Deckers, 2005). However, Palmer & Tilley (1995) construed from their research on gang motivation that the evolutionary psychology aspects of gang membership account for the male incentive to join gangs as a way to find female companionship. These two theories of motivation seek to explain the precursors of behavior inside a framework of psychological mechanisms, including incentives, motives, biological factors, environmental factors, and choice.


Addictions: Concepts and Definitions. (2006.) Retrieved May 8, 2009 from  Gale Virtual Reference Library,

Batman, A. M., Damaj, M. I., Grabus, S. D., Martin, B. R., Sellers, E., &Tyndale, R. F. (2005). Nicotine physical dependence and tolerance in the mouse following chronic oral administration. Psychopharmacology, 178(2/3), 183-192. Retrieved May 7, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database.

Bowden, B. S., Ferrari, J. R., Grant, K., Razzino, B. E., Ribordy, S. C., & Zeisz, J. (2004). Gender-related processes and drug use: Self-expression with parents, peer group selection, and achievement motivation. Adolescence, 39(153), 167-177. Retrieved May 10, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database.

Deckers, L. (2005). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental, Second Edition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Exploring Psychology. (2009). The McGraw Hill Companies. Opponent-Process Theory. Retrieved May 9, 2009 from

Palmer, C. T., & Tilley, C. F. (1995). Sexual access to females as a motivation for joining gangs: An evolutionary approach. Journal of Sex Research, 32(3), 213-217. Retrieved May 10, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database.

Presentation Topic

  • Resources: Assigned readings, Electronic Reserve Readings, the Internet, and other sources
    • Select at least two theories concerning human motivation.
  • Prepare a 15 to 20 Microsoft® PowerPoint® slide presentation, in which you analyze your selected motivational theories. Presentation  must include detailed speaker notes. In your presentation, address the following:
  • Explain the major themes of your selected theories.
    • Identify the individuals associated with your selected theories.
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of your selected theories in explaining various behaviors.
  • Include at least five references from scholarly, peer-reviewed sources.

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