Motivation Cycle

Motivation Cycle | Psychology

Motivation Cycle
Understanding the Process of Goal Directed Behavior
Fundamentals of Psychology
Management Notes

Motivation Cycle: Motivation cycle is a transition of states within an organism that propels the organism toward the satisfaction of a particular need, where motivation itself is considered a hypothesized state.The psychology of motivation is concerned with the ‘why’ of behavior. Questions such as: why do we eat, drink, and make love? Why do we strive to get ahead? Why do we try new things?” can be answered through the study of motivation. Motivation is a hypothesized state within an organism that propels the organism toward a goal.

Motivation Cycle

Broadly, there are four aspects of motive:

  • Need
  • Drive, and
  • Incentive
  • Goal/Reward 


A need is a state of physical deprivation that causes tension within an organism, which tends to organize the field of organism with respect to certain incentives or goals and to incite activity towards their attainment. When an organism has been deprived of such basic necessities of life as food, water, and sleep, the internal environment is imbalanced and the need develops tissue needs, which are the biochemical requirements of the body. Need is the first condition for goal directed behaviour. 


Need gives rise to drive. The concept of drive is used to mean that the organism is particularly sensitive to certain stimulation and usually is driven to activity. The activity persists until the need is satisfied or until weakness or death occurs. Therefore, drive, a physiological state, is an original source of energy that activates the human organism. It arouse person to action. It is a strong persistent stimulus that demands an active response. Drive is the result of need.


An incentive is an object, a situation of our activity, which excites, maintains, and directs behaviour. Incentive has capability to satisfy a need. Without an incentive or reinforcer, motivation cannot be fulfilled. It is an object toward which motivated behaviour is directed. It can provide satisfaction of the aroused drive. Food is an incentive to hungry man. Need alone do not produce motivated behaviour and drive alone does not make a selective and rational behaviour. Incentive is necessary.

It channels the drive to specific behaviour. In sum it can be said that need is a physiological or psychological state which gives rise to drive, an energy or force. Drive is a state of heightened tension leading to restless activity and preparatory behaviour. According to HiIgard, an incentive is something in the external environment that satisfies the need and thus reduces the drive through consumatory activity.


The goal of energized activity is to reduce the tension created within the body. Here in the above example consumption of food and reduction of tension is the goal. When goal is achieved the need reduced, body is in balanced condition and tension is reduced. The person is again ready for other goal directed activity.

Motivational cycle, therefore, means that behaviour goes in a sequence. Since the sequence is cyclical and needs are never ending there are more than one motivated behaviour that constantly influence the person to act and react. Many times single motivated behaviour fulfils more than one need.

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