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Types of Motives – Concept of Motives | Understanding Individual Behavior

Types of Motives

Concept of Motives

Motives are the reason for choosing specific action behavior from several alternative choices to fulfill needs. Human motives are created whenever there is psychological or physical imbalance.

It is the reason for action, purpose and direction of certain behavior, individuals are different from nature and different types of motive help them for successful motivation.

Understanding such motives help manager to apply most appropriate technique to motivate every employee.

3 Types of Motives

3 Types of Motives

Motives can be categorized into three parts as explained below

a) Primary motives 

Primary motives are essential basic needs of individuals to satisfy them. They are physiological needs which are not needed to be learned.

They are basic and foremost motives that are expected by an individual like hunger, thirst, cold, pain etc. Physiological motives are biological motives. They are vital to the organism’s survival.

An imbalance in the body activates these motives. In many of its internal physiological processes, the human body tends to maintain a state of equilibrium called “Homeostasis.”

This balance is essential for survival. The physical body operates at optimal levels with Homeostasis. There is an optimal level of nutritional intake, fluid intake, body temperature, etc.

An individual’s motivation for restoring the state of equilibrium arises as a result of some variation in these levels.

Primary motives

i) Hunger motive

We eat to survive. Nutrients are absorbed from the food we consume. Life is sustained by biochemical processes that get energy from food. The bodies try to maintain homeostasis by developing a hunger drive when these substances are depleted.

Hunger pangs are due to contraction of stomach muscles and cause some pain or discomfort. Psychology has demonstrated this to be true through experiments.

ii) Thirst motive

Water and other liquids are regularly consumed by us in our daily lives. Water is necessary for the health and function of our cells. We develop a desire to drink water when our body’s water level drops. A dry mouth usually indicates thirst.

Researchers have found soaking a dried mouth with water isn’t enough in order to moisten it. Keeping our thirst satiated requires drinking enough water. Thirst is a primary motive that drives humans to seek out and consume water.

Here are some points that explain the importance of thirst as a primary motive:

Thirst is needed for survival because water is necessary for many bodily functions, including digestion, circulation, and temperature regulation. Dehydration can lead to serious health issues.

Thirst is regulated by the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, which regulate fluid and electrolyte balances. When the body detects a water deficit, it triggers the thirst sensation to encourage the person to drink and restore balance.

Water keeps the brain hydrated, preventing cognitive impairment, fatigue, and mood changes caused by dehydration. Thirsting helps to keep the brain hydrated so it can function properly.

Staying hydrated while exercising prevents heat exhaustion and improves performance. During exercise, the body loses water through sweat.

Monitor thirst levels to identify potential health issues and help guide treatment. Thirst can also be a symptom of illnesses, such as diabetes and kidney disease.

iii) Need for oxygen

We need oxygen continuously for our bodies to function. Our bodies obtain oxygen through breathing continuously. Oxygen is necessary for blood purification.

It is absolutely crucial that we obtain oxygen regularly. The absence of oxygen can cause serious consequences, such as damage to the brain or death.

Here are some key reasons why oxygen is a crucial element for human survival and a primary motive for human beings:

As oxygen is essential for respiration, which is the body’s way of turning food into energy, oxygen is necessary for breathing.

Having enough oxygen in the brain is essential to its functioning. Without oxygen, brain cells start to die within minutes, resulting in permanent brain damage.

As oxygen helps to deliver nutrients to body tissue and remove waste, it is a crucial component of the cardiovascular system.

Energy is produced by oxygen, and every activity, from thinking to running, requires oxygen to function.

It is crucial to maintain the immune system in order to fight off infections and diseases, and oxygen plays a crucial role in doing this.

From mild headaches to severe respiratory distress, oxygen deficiency can cause a range of health problems.

There is no way human life would be possible without oxygen. It is the most crucial requirement for human survival, and it is what allows us to breathe.

iv) Motive for regulation of body temperature

It is important to maintain a normal body temperature (98.6°F or 37.0°C). High or low body temperatures cause numerous problems. Body temperature is regulated by automatic mechanisms, such as sweating when the temperature rises above normal or shivering when it falls below normal.

As a result, we respond by taking action. In order to keep cool in hot weather, open windows, use fans, drink cool beverages, remove clothes, and so on; and to stay warm in cold weather, wear sweaters, and take hot beverages. Our body temperature is regulated in this way.

v) Need for sleep

The body and mind function properly when we sleep. We need rest for the rejuvenation of energy when our mind and body are tired. When you are tired, you accumulate too much lactic acid, a toxin.

Once the person sleeps, the toxin disappears and the individual becomes active again. The lack of sleep can also cause psychological problems, such as confusion, inability to concentrate, droopy eyelids, and muscle tremors. The human body’s physiological need for sleep serves a variety of important functions.

Here are some of the reasons why sleep is needed as a primary need:

When you sleep, your body repairs and regenerates its cells, tissues, and organs, ensuring optimal health.

During sleep, the brain consolidates information gathered during the day, strengthens neural connections, and integrates new information with existing knowledge.

A good night’s sleep helps individuals cope better with stress and anxiety and maintain emotional stability.

Sleep conserves energy by reducing the metabolic rate of the body, which conserves energy for physical activity.

During sleep, a number of hormones are produced and regulated by the body, including growth hormone, cortisol, and melatonin. Hormones regulate metabolism, growth, and immunity during sleep.

Assists in maintaining a robust immune system. Sleep boosts cytokine production, which helps regulate the immune response, so it can combat infections and diseases.

Maintaining attention, memory, and problem-solving skills requires adequate sleep for optimal cognitive functioning.

Human beings engage in sleep primarily to recuperate, consolidate memories, regulate emotions, conserve energy, regulate hormones, and support their immune systems.

vi) Need for avoidance of pain

Pain cannot be tolerated by any organism for a long period of time. In order to cope with pain, we try to avoid it as much as possible. Getting away from painful situations motivates us.

As an example, when we are exposed to hot weather, we seek shade. We tend to avoid pinching things when they pinch us.

The ability to avoid pain is critical to survival. Pain alerts us to danger and helps us avoid dangerous situations.

We learn to avoid harm-causing actions and behaviors when we experience pain. The negative experience of pain can be a powerful learning tool.

Taking action to prevent or alleviate pain is often a powerful motivation.

Keeping yourself healthy means avoiding pain. Pain can be the result of a underlying health issue. Seeking treatment can prevent further damage from occurring.

An individual’s quality of life can also be improved by avoiding chronic pain. Chronic pain can severely affect one’s daily activities and overall wellbeing, and seeking treatment can help.

vii) Drive for elimination of waste

We cannot tolerate anything excessive or wasteful in our bodies. Sweat and urine are both ways for excess water to leave the body.

Similarly, digested food particles are also sent out in the form of stools after absorption of nutritional substances. It takes some time for these waste products to be eliminated.

viii) Sex motive

As a result of hormone secretion-androgens and estrogens-this motive arises in the organism. Individual sexual needs are not vital to survival, but they are critical to the survival of species.

Sex needs are not satisfied in the same way that hunger or thirst are. Several rules and regulations govern our behavior. People are required by these rules to follow. In most cases, this can be satisfied by marriage.

Humans are driven by a biological urge for sexual reproduction, which is a powerful force that influences their behavior. The sex motive is a primary motive because it is a biological drive.

The sex motive is closely related to survival and reproduction, which explains why humans have an innate drive to engage in sexual behavior to ensure survival and the continuation of the species.

The sex motive is also influenced by psychological factors, including attraction, desire, and pleasure, which can affect a person’s motivation to engage in sexual behavior.

There are also social factors that contribute to the sex motive, such as cultural norms, religious beliefs, and social expectations. These factors affect how sexual behavior is expressed and the level of acceptance of sexual behavior within a society as well.

The sex motive is ultimately driven by the desire for personal satisfaction and fulfillment. Sexual behavior can facilitate intimacy, pleasure, and connection with others, which can enhance happiness and well-being.

ix) Maternal drive

This is an instinct or an inborn tendency. All women dream of becoming mothers. Researchers have discovered that this is one of the most powerful drives in the brain.

Because of this, many women who are unable to bear children of their own will satisfy this desire in socially acceptable ways, like working in orphanages, babysitting or adopting others’ children.

Dedicated to protecting and caring for her children, maternal drive drives a mother’s instinctual motivations.

Various species of animals, including humans, demonstrate this drive, which is thought to be largely innate.

Several hormones, including oxytocin and prolactin, promote maternal behavior, including maternal drive.

Depending on genetics, upbringing, and environmental stressors, maternal drive can differ from person to person.

In order for offspring to survive and thrive, motherly drive is considered the primary motive.

b) Secondary Motives

Secondary motives are taken into consideration when primary motives and basic necessities are no longer an issue to fulfill or satisfy. There are more needs in modern and developed society.

They are not physiological but are learned motives. Individuals involved in the action to fulfill personal motives such as power, achievement, affiliation, status or prestige, etc.

As explained above, both animals and humans have physiological motives, but only human beings have social motives.

As a result of interaction with the family and society, they are referred to as social motives. Each individual has different strengths and weaknesses.

Secondary motives

i) Achievement Motive

Motivation for achievement refers to the desire to achieve some goal. A person develops this motive after viewing people in society attaining high success, attaining high positions, and reaching high standards. As a result, he/she becomes more concerned with doing better, with improving performance.

In a study conducted by David McClelland who investigated what characteristics distinguish high from low achievers, McClelland found that high achievers choose and perform better at challenging tasks, take personal responsibility, use feedback to improve performance, and have innovative ideas to improve performance.

A low achiever, meanwhile, does not accept challenges, puts on average standards, and accepts failure easily. For children to achieve success in the future, parents must try to instill leadership qualities in them.

Children must be able to make their own decisions and to be guided to higher achievement from a young age, so that they develop high achievement motivation.

ii) Aggressive motive

An aggressive response to frustrations is motivated by this motive. An individual might become frustrated if they are obstructed from reaching a goal or if they are insulted by others.

Individuals may resort to aggressive behavior even in the face of a fearful and dangerous situation. People use such behaviors as a means to overcome opposition, which may be physical or verbal aggression.

A secondary motive can be defined as a psychological need or desire that isn’t directly related to basic survival, such as food or shelter.

Those motivated by aggressive motives want to harm or dominate others in some way. Aggressive behavior can be expressed through physical violence, verbal aggression, or other means.

Among the factors that can motivate aggressive behavior are frustration, anger, and a desire for power and control.

Both the aggressor and victim may suffer negative consequences from aggressive behavior, but it can also be useful for establishing dominance hierarchies and protecting oneself or one’s group.

iii) Power motive

When a person has a power motive, he or she is concerned about how their actions will affect others. They try to influence others through their reputation.

When a person has a power motive, he or she will expect others to bow to them as they give instructions. People with a strong power motive normally choose jobs in which they can use their power.

Followers are important to them. These people expect high status and recognition from others. People may wish to become police officers, politicians, or deputy commissioners, for example.

As a secondary motive, power refers to the desire to exert influence or control over others, and is often used to achieve other primary motives like achievement, affiliation, and autonomy.

When someone has a strong power motive, they may seek leadership or authority positions, as these positions allow them to exert influence and control over others.

Depending on how it is expressed, the power motive can have both positive and negative effects. If it is positively expressed, it can lead to effective leadership, inspiring others, and commitment to social justice. Negatively expressed, it can lead to aggression, manipulation, and exploitation.

Self-report questionnaires, projective techniques, and behavioral observation are all effective methods for measuring the power motive.

Individual differences in personality and behavior can also be better understood when understanding an individual’s power motive, which can help with personnel selection, leadership development, and conflict resolution.

iv) Acquisitive motive

Motivated by this motive, individuals acquire material possessions. They can be material possessions or money. In our everyday lives, we come across a lot of people who have earned a lot of money and have a good life. Humans are inclined to acquire all the things they find pleasing.

Those with an acquisitive motive desire to accumulate material possessions, such as money, property, and other tangible items. The need for security, power, or status is often a primary motive driving this behavior.

Consumrism and advertising, both of which promote the acquisition of goods as a symbol of success and happiness, influence the acquisitive motive.

Money and material comfort are positive outcomes of acquisitive motive, but greed, selfishness, and overemphasizing material values are negative effects.

Having a better understanding of the motivations for acquisitive behavior can enable individuals to balance their desire for material possessions with their other values and goals.

v) Curiosity motive

A stimulus and exploration motive might also be called this. The tendency to find out and explore new things may be called curiosity. Traveling is a common way for people to discover new places, new things, and new developments taking place outside their environment.

By exploring new things, people want to expand their knowledge and experience. When children are growing up, they are driven to explore new things. Toys or other articles are not accepted unless they are examined from various angles, even if the items become damaged or ruined in the process.

Rather than meeting a basic biological need like hunger or thirst, curiosity arises from a desire to explore and learn about new things.

Newness, complexity, and uncertainty are believed to drive curiosity both intrinsically and extrinsically.

We engage in further exploration and seek out more information when we are curious, as our brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

Curiousity can enhance learning, creativity, problem-solving skills, and promote personal growth and development.

vi) Gregariousness

It is also referred to as affiliation need. Gregariousness refers to the act of associating with other members of a group or species. It is important for the individual to establish, maintain, and repair friendly relationships, and to participate in group activities.

Individuals conform to social norms, mores, and ethical standards of various groups, including those in which they are interested.

Graciousness is developed to a large extent due to the fulfillment of basic needs, safety and security needs. The above motives are in addition to a number of others like the need for self-esteem, approval from others, self-actualization, autonomy, the master motive, and abasement.

c) General Motives

It is kind of middle of primary and secondary motives. They are physiologically based but not needed to be learned. It is important to understand and study general motives to managed organizational behavior. Broadly there are two types of general motives i.e Curiosity and Affection Motives.

In addition to the above said physiological and social motives, there are some other motives which are allied with both of the above said motives. These are highly personalized and very much individualized motives. 

General Motives

i) Force of Habits

The different habits formed by different people, including chewing tobacco, smoking, and drinking alcohol, are evident. Also, there are good habits like exercising regularly, reading the newspaper, praying, and meditating.

When these habits are formed, they act as drivers and compel the person to do it. Habits have the distinct advantage of motivating the individual to engage in that behavior automatically.

ii) Goals of life

Almost every person has some goals in life. Educational, occupational, monetary, sports, and social factors, among others, may have a significant impact.

A goal will motivate him to fulfill it once it is set. People set goals based on many factors like knowledge, information, guidance, support, personality, facilities available, aspirations, family background, etc.

iii) Levels of aspirations

Aspire is to attain something or to reach a goal. However, reaching such a goal depends on one’s motivation. In life, each individual will strive to achieve a goal. However, every individual will put in a different amount of effort to accomplish that goal.

A person’s level of aspiration determines how much satisfaction he will experience. In an examination, if a student is expecting 80% of marks, but receives only 75%, he may be unhappy.

In contrast, a student expecting failure may be very happy if he receives only 35% with a passing grade, since he has high aspirations, while the student with low aspirations may not.

Therefore, there is always a need for higher aspirations. These should still be appropriate for his abilities also. As a result, if an individual strives for higher achievements without having the right skills, he will eventually become frustrated and disappointed.

iv) Attitudes and interests

Motivation is determined by our attitudes and interests. Every individual has their own set of interests. In a family, a member may have a positive attitude toward family planning and everyone else may have a negative attitude. Likewise, everyone has different interests. One might be interested in sports, television, etc.

We will always be motivated to accomplish our goals when we maintain a positive attitude. We will only want to avoid if we have a negative attitude. Music will become more interesting for someone who is interested in it. Our personal motives determine our behavior.

Types of Motives Quiz/MCQs


Primary Motives Quiz/MCQs

What is the primary motive that drives humans to seek food and water?

  • A. Hunger and thirst
  • B. Love and attachment
  • C. Fear and anxiety
  • D. Power and dominance

Answer: A. Hunger and thirst

What is the primary motive that drives humans to form social connections and relationships?

  • A. Hunger and thirst
  • B. Love and attachment
  • C. Fear and anxiety
  • D. Power and dominance

Answer: B. Love and attachment

What is the primary motive that drives humans to avoid danger and seek safety?

  • A. Hunger and thirst
  • B. Love and attachment
  • C. Fear and anxiety
  • D. Power and dominance

Answer: C. Fear and anxiety

What is the primary motive that drives humans to seek power and control over others?

  • A. Hunger and thirst
  • B. Love and attachment
  • C. Fear and anxiety
  • D. Power and dominance

Answer: D. Power and dominance

 Secondary Motives Quiz/MCQs


Which of the following is NOT considered a secondary motive in psychology?

a) Power
b) Achievement
c) Love
d) Hunger
Answer: D – Hunger

Which psychologist first proposed the concept of secondary motives?

a) Carl Jung
b) Abraham Maslow
c) Sigmund Freud
d) Erik Erikson
Answer: C – Sigmund Freud

Secondary motives are considered to be __________ in nature.

a) Biological
b) Psychological
c) Sociological
d) All of the above
Answer: B – Psychological

Which of the following is an example of a secondary motive?

a) The need for safety
b) The need for social status
c) The need for food
d) The need for water
Answer: B – The need for social status

Secondary motives are believed to be __________ in order of importance.

a) Less important
b) More important
c) Equally important
d) Depending on the individual
Answer: A – Less important

Which of the following is NOT a secondary motive according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

a) Self-actualization
b) Esteem
c) Safety
d) Love and belonging
Answer: C – Safety

Which of the following is NOT a secondary motive according to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development?

a) Intimacy vs. isolation
b) Trust vs. mistrust
c) Autonomy vs. shame and doubt
d) Industry vs. inferiority
Answer: A – Intimacy vs. isolation

Secondary motives are believed to be __________ to primary motives.

a) More important
b) Less important
c) Complementary
d) In conflict
Answer: C – Complementary.

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