Motivation in life and achieving goals. Types of motives in psychology

What is motive


- this is a process that controls human behavior, contributing to its organization, direction, activity and stability. It is also believed that a motive is a certain generalized image of material or ideal objects that are valuable to an individual.

Achieving these objects is the meaning of his activity for him. To a person, a motive is presented in the form of special experiences that can be both positive (when expecting to achieve these objects) and negative (when realizing the incompleteness of one’s position, the lack of this object). Schopenhauer was the first to use the concept of “motivation” in psychology.

Nowadays, the word “motivation” in psychology is understood in different ways. Some researchers believe that this is a set of processes responsible for motivation and activity; while others believe that it is a purely mental phenomenon, representing a collection of motives.

What is motivation in psychology in essence? This concept is used where they talk about achieving a certain goal and specific ways to achieve this. It is known that the same goal can be achieved in different ways.

So, if a person wants to become rich, then he can get a job in a prestigious company, open his own business, write a good book, engage in criminal activity... And vice versa - the same action can be performed for different purposes.

In addition, the desire to achieve a specific goal can also be explained by one’s own considerations. Why does a person want to get rich? Someone wants to buy a mansion by the sea, someone wants to get married, someone wants to professionally do what they love (and not something that just generates income). In such cases, they say that a person is guided by certain motives.

Usually, a person organizing some kind of activity and achieving a certain goal is guided by several motives at once, which is why psychologists talk about one or another motivation. The problem of motivation in psychology is one of the most difficult. Often a person himself does not realize exactly what motives he was guided by when he performed some actions.

There are hidden motives associated with some memories, fears, etc. Such motives are not reflected in consciousness and act on a subconscious level; a person only feels some kind of vague tension, discomfort, which he strives to overcome with the help of certain actions.

Thus, a goal is what we want to achieve, and a motive is the reason why we want to achieve it. Motivation in psychology is understood as both the set of motives that control an individual’s behavior and the process of this control itself.

Types of activity

Psychologists identify different forms of organizing types of activity, each of which entails its own motivation for activity. The motive of the game is to have fun. Study and work are motivated by a sense of responsibility and duty. These are no less strong feelings than ordinary interest. But when studying and working, it is necessary to arouse in the individual interest in the course of practical implementation or its outcome. The habit of working itself is also important, as are the motives for creative activity, which must be developed in the child.

The study of the motives of educational activity showed that various types of activity are interconnected, they complement each other and flow from type to type. While in kindergarten, in addition to games, a child learns to draw and count. A schoolboy spends time playing games after school.

Types of motives in psychology

Psychologists identify a large number of types of motives, dividing them into several categories. It is not easy to create such a classification, since there are a lot of circumstances that guide a person; Each direction of psychology and each school has its own system. However, the most widespread division of motives into four groups.

Internal and external motives

These types are important not only in terms of the choice of means and ways to achieve the goal, but also for the self-realization of human individuality. Internal motives are such as interests, hobbies, the need for positive emotions and avoidance of negative ones, the desire to increase self-esteem, etc. These circumstances are related to the person himself and his attitude to his activities.

External motivation is circumstances that do not depend on a person and his desires and lie outside his personal sphere. These may be motives such as public opinion, a change in weather, the desire to get a higher grade or avoid punishment, etc.

External and internal motivations can work simultaneously, or they can act separately. For example, a student diligently does his homework. He can do this both because he is interested in the topic, and in order to get a good grade, please his parents, brag to his friends, etc.

External motivation plays a fairly large role in human life, since most people need a certain socialization. Such motives are often more effective than internal ones; this is the same “kick in the ass” without which some people will not do anything at all. However, for personal development, internal motives are still the most preferable. Only with their help can you do your work truly productively. All creative activity is based primarily on internal motivation.

Positive and negative motives

Like needs, drives are associated with emotions. A person in his actions can be driven by the desire to receive pleasure, pleasure, and then this is a positive motivation, or he can also be driven by the desire to avoid punishment, pain, fear and other negative experiences, and then this is a negative motivation.

Researchers cannot yet definitively say which of these motives are more effective in achieving a goal. Negative motivation can encourage one to overcome obstacles, endure minor inconveniences, and work until exhaustion; but it also destroys a person who will never truly love or understand his business. Therefore, positive motives still seem more preferable.

Sustainable and unstable motives

Stable motivations are those that are based on human needs and do not require any additional reinforcement. Such motives have existed for quite a long time. Unsustainable motivation changes quickly. Thus, the internal motivations of the individual are stable, since changes in worldview, interests, and tastes occur rarely and gradually. External motivation, on the contrary, is unstable, since the demands of society, the mood of others, and the weather outside change quickly.

Achieving success

This is a separate type of motivation that has become relevant recently. Modern society sets a person up for success from childhood. It is not prestigious to be unsuccessful; success brings with it material well-being, public recognition, and other benefits. Success increases a person's social status.

It would seem that every person wants to achieve success. However, in reality, there are many obstacles on the way to achieving it, which sometimes discourage the desire to achieve success altogether. One of the reasons for this is a person’s lack of understanding of why he needs to achieve this goal. It happens that the set goal is too far away and gets lost among the many obstacles that arise; in this case, it is advisable to break the achievement of this success into several intermediate goals.

Often achieving great success involves leaving the so-called comfort zone. This means sacrificing something small in order to get something much bigger in the end; the ability to take risks, endure small troubles with the expectation that these problems will be more than compensated for when success is achieved. And this is where many potentially successful people give up.

Often the “comfort zone” is presented as a physical, mental, ideological or spiritual space in which a person feels good and comfortable, he does not suffer and, it would seem, is provided with everything he needs. In fact, psychologists understand something different by this concept. For some people, the “comfort zone” is associated precisely with suffering, inconvenience, pain, and leaving this zone can relieve suffering and bring happiness. But a person does not want to make this exit; he feels “good” when he feels bad. What is the reason for this paradox?

This situation is perfectly illustrated in the famous play “Dragon” by E. Schwartz, based on which a film was made in the late 80s. The inhabitants of the fairy-tale city come to terms with the fact that a terrible dragon has established dictatorial rule over them, who sets his own rules and, in particular, regularly demands that the most beautiful girls in the city be given to him.

When a brave knight appears and kills the dragon and gives the inhabitants freedom, they immediately... elect a new dictator who makes them suffer in the same way. It turned out that the residents could not make an effort to learn to live without any dictators and suffering: in their minds, freedom, thinking, responsibility and hard work seem to be even greater suffering than the insane rules of this or that dictator, which one can get used to.

The dragon freed people from the need to think and gave them, albeit unfair and deceitful, but a simple and understandable picture of the world, which was enough to learn by heart.

Main characteristics

The phenomenon of motivation can be described through the following characteristics:

  1. Directional vector.
  2. Organization, sequence of actions.
  3. Stability of selected goals.
  4. Assertiveness, activity.

Based on these parameters, the motivation of each individual is studied, which is important, for example, at school. These characteristics are also of great importance when choosing a profession. A sales manager, for example, must be consistently focused on high income and active in achieving the goal.


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The problem of the struggle of motives

As already mentioned, a person is simultaneously controlled by several motives, often prompting him to different actions. For example, a classic situation. It’s early morning, the alarm clock rings, which you set specifically to get up early and go for a morning run. But that was yesterday, and now I really don’t want to get out from under the warm blanket when I can sleep for another half hour.

What will you choose, which motive will win? This depends on many factors, including the importance of motives, willpower, common sense and additional incentives. For example, if you agreed to run with a friend, and he will wait for you.

In the example given, the situation is not so critical, but it happens that a person is faced with a very difficult choice: to save himself or to save other people, to commit a crime and achieve a goal, or not to commit and give up what he wants. The struggle of motives can become a source of very complex and severe internal conflict, leading to the development of neurosis or depression.

Psychologists in a situation of conflict of motives advise relying on the rational sphere, that is, not giving in to emotions, thinking over the arguments for and against, assessing the pros and cons of one or another course of action. And most importantly, focus on the most socially significant motives. After all, having achieved your goal, but lost the trust and respect of society, you will lose more than you gain.

Despite the fact that we are not aware of all motives, it is possible to control the motivational sphere. To do this, you should learn to build a hierarchy of motives, focusing on the most important and significant ones. The hierarchy of motives is associated with social values ​​and the priorities that exist in our lives.

Stable and unstable

The basis of sustainable motivation is the needs and requirements of a person, to satisfy which the individual acts without obtaining additional reinforcement. An example of sustainable motivation would be quenching thirst, warming up after hypothermia, and so on. In case of unstable motivation, a person needs constant stimulation from the outside. Here, as a rule, we are talking about those actions, failure to perform which will not become a problem for a person and will leave him at the same level. Unsustainable motivation can manifest itself when trying to lose weight, quit smoking, and so on. In the theory of motivation, one can often find a division of stable and unstable motivation into two subtypes. The difference between them is perfectly illustrated by the example: “I want to get rid of extra pounds” or “I want to achieve an attractive figure.”

What is Motivation? Motivation concept

In domestic and foreign psychology, many definitions of the concept of motivation have been given, several concepts and motivational models have been developed (the theory of A. Maslow, Herzberg, McClelland).

The word Motivation is a specific and unique system of internal and external incentives that encourage a person to express himself in one way or another. To many people, this concept will seem something sublime, but it is motivation that helps in achieving the goal; it shapes the desires and aspirations of the individual.

If a school graduate wants to become a programmer in the future, then he will be motivated to enter the information faculty and will make every possible effort to do so. And, having become a student of the desired faculty, he will experience unprecedented joy, and his studies will turn out well.

Another example: if a person is hungry, he will be motivated to suppress this feeling, his actions will be aimed at preparing food or buying ready-made food. After satisfying this need, the lowest, according to A. Maslow’s pyramid, a person will experience positive feelings and will be active to achieve other goals.

Most scientists put into this concept everything that encourages a person to be active, calling it a motive. Motives are a set of techniques, explanations of a person’s actions and deeds, or an object (not necessarily animate), towards the possession of which the activity of the individual is directed.

Domestic psychologists S.L. Rubinstein and A.N. Leontyev defines motives as a certain human need, both conscious and unconscious.

An example of an unconscious motive: this is constant criticism and reproaches of another person for small mistakes, which is realized by a person as an increase in his importance and activity, but this is typical for people who are unsure of themselves. The motives of the criminal are often hidden not only from law enforcement agencies, but also from the criminal himself.

To realize the motive, it is necessary to do careful inner work.

In science, it is customary to distinguish between the concepts of motive, goal and need:

  • need is a conscious or unconscious internal urge;
  • goal is the conscious final result of one’s actions;
  • the very definition of motive was described above.

In order to determine your own motivation, you need to answer the following questions:

  1. Why am I doing this?
  2. What needs do I have that I want to satisfy?
  3. What results do I expect to get from my actions and the degree of their significance for me?
  4. What makes me act this way and not otherwise?

Main characteristics of motivation

Motivation has its own characteristics:

  • direction,
  • hierarchy and stability of goals,
  • mediated by the intellect of the individual;
  • has a social origin.

Taking into account the above characteristics, school programs, areas of additional education, incentives for enterprise employees, social support for women in the state, and so on are being developed.

Concept and functions

The term motivation comes from the Latin word movere, which translates as “to move.” This concept has several interpretations:

  1. Inspiration to action.
  2. Dynamic psychophysiological process. It helps control behavior. Activity, stability, direction, organization are determined.
  3. The ability of an individual to satisfy desires through activities.

Main functions:

  1. Stimulating - encourages an individual to perform certain actions. Motivation will be present until the individual gets what he needs.
  2. Directing - redirects energy to the desired object. Behavioral strategies depend on this function.
  3. Incentive - causes a state of need, in which the mobilization of energy begins. Behavior changes, increased activity in actions appears.
  4. Regulatory - the nature of behavior is predetermined by motive.

Many people confuse motive with goal or need, but these concepts have different interpretations. Needs are a subconscious desire to get rid of discomfort. A goal is the result of a person’s conscious choice and direction of action.

Stages of the motivational process

Motivation as a process can consist of several sequential stages:

  1. The occurrence or shortage of something (need);
  2. Finding ways to satisfy or eliminate ways of dissatisfying needs;
  3. Defining goals, specifying them and finding ways to achieve them;
  4. Direct implementation of the action;
  5. Awareness of obtaining or not obtaining the desired result;
  6. Cessation of an action as a result of satisfying a need, or searching for new ways to terminate one’s need.

Classification of motivations

Motivation processes are distinguished according to the following criteria:

By way of use:

  • normative – motivating the subject to action with the help of instructions, psychological influence, explanation, suggestion, information;
  • coercive – the use of blackmail, threats and intimidation to induce an individual to act.
  • stimulating - the creation of external circumstances that encourage a person to be active.

According to the source of motives:

  • Internal (another name is intense) - motivation aimed at satisfying a person’s internal desires, is formed under the influence of the aspirations and personality traits of the person himself. For example, the desire to finish a project faster, fear of heights, desire to draw.
  • External (extreme) – motivation based on external environmental circumstances. For example, wages for employees, rules of student behavior in class, working conditions.

Based on the results of the action:

  • positive - a person’s activity with the aim of receiving positive reinforcement (a salary increase, time off for an employee, watching a cartoon or going to a playroom for a child);
  • negative – avoiding the negative consequences of one’s actions (fines, decreased trust of the team).

By duration:

  • stable – lasts a long period of action, does not require additional reinforcement;
  • unstable - characterized by a change in phases of personality activity, needs additional stimulation.

By coverage:

  • personal, concerns one specific person;
  • group – motivation aimed at a group of people united by a common characteristic.

Play activity

Moments of games perfectly complement the structure of the lesson; elements of game situations captivate children. A game is an imaginary journey across a world map, for example. These are the playing roles of a teacher, seller, guide for mastering a foreign language in dialogue.

Activities cannot exist separately, although at a certain period of life one of them may take over. In one period of life, the main activity is play, in another - learning, in the third - work. Before children arrive at school, the leading type of activity is play; at school, learning prevails. For adults, the main activity is work.

Application in various fields

Psychologists have identified different methods of motivation that can be effectively used in work, relationships, etc. The most effective include methods used in psychology, management, and economics.

In psychology


  1. Self-hypnosis is a process by which a person independently influences his psyche. The main goal is to change behavior, actions, beliefs, interests. With the help of self-hypnosis, a person can make his behavior unusual. For the method to work, you need to prepare a list of attitudes and statements that seem correct. When making statements, you cannot use the particle “not”.
  2. Affirmations are expressions or small texts that can be used to influence a person on a psychological level. For affirmations to work, you need to divide a blank sheet of paper into two parts. On the left write negative statements that cause fear and anxiety, on the right - positive ones. It is important to write down negative statements in detail to reveal hidden fears. After this, you need to cut the sheet into two parts, carry the side with positive affirmations with you constantly, reading them every day.
  3. Self-motivation is the desire, the desire to continue activities when natural motivation is lost. You need to constantly look for reasons that will make you continue to act so as not to give up.

In management

Motivation techniques used in management:

  1. Economic - material incentives. These include increased wages, financial assistance, bonuses, and loans.
  2. Non-economic - moral, psychological or organizational. These include praise, support, approval, trust, respect, blame, prospects for further growth, delegation of authority, tasks.

In economics

The main methods of motivation in economics:

  • penalties;
  • social payments;
  • rewards.

Additional classification

In addition, motivation is divided into individual, group and cognitive.

Individual motivation expresses a set of needs, incentives and goals aimed at ensuring the normal functioning of the individual and maintaining homeostasis. Examples here include: thirst, hunger, the desire to avoid pain, etc. Examples of group motivation: maintaining the state structure; activities aimed at recognition from society; parental care for children and so on. And, finally, cognitive motivation includes scientific activity, the child’s desire to gain knowledge through gameplay, and so on.

Psychologists, philosophers and sociologists have long tried to classify motives - stimuli that potentiate human activity. From the point of view of various motives, scientists have identified the following types of motivation.


Self-motivation is the use of individual motivational methods based on personal beliefs:

  • desires and aspirations;
  • focus and consistency;
  • determination to act and consistency.

The main indicator of correct self-motivation is the situation when, in the presence of great interference from the outside, a person does not give up and continues to move towards his goal.

The individual performs conscious actions aimed at achieving the desired result.

To motivate yourself, you can use methods such as:

  • affirmations - a selection of positive statements that influence the individual’s subconscious and lead to a positive effect;
  • self-hypnosis is an influence that has a person’s independent influence on his own psyche, the purpose of which is to create a new behavioral model;
  • biographies of successful people are an effective way of stimulation based on studying the life stories of great personalities;
  • formation of strong-willed skills - performing actions aimed at overcoming one’s own laziness, fears and reluctance to act;
  • Visualization is an effective method that is based on the mental representation and emotional experience of achieved goals.


Self-hypnosis can be effective only if a person has the ability to do so: he can influence his subconscious and psyche, causing the desired reaction and achieving a positive effect.

Biographies of successful people

Using this method is suitable for both children and adults. A person sees the full picture: there was a desire, then action followed, and then the result.


Visualization is a powerful method of achieving goals, because thoughts tend to materialize. An important condition for its use is the presence of active actions to achieve goals.

Positive and negative

Positive motivation is based on positive expectations and incentives, while negative motivation is based on the opposite. Examples of positive motivation include constructs such as: “If I take this action, I will receive a reward” and “If I do not perform this action, I will be rewarded.” Examples of negative motivation include statements such as: “If I don’t do this, I won’t be punished” and “If I do this, I won’t be punished.” In other words, in the first case positive reinforcement is expected, and in the second - negative reinforcement.

What determines the level of motivation?

Regardless of the incentive that helps a person move forward, the level of motivation is not constant and unchanging.

Depending on the actions performed, accompanying circumstances and other factors, its level can either increase or decrease.

Factors that determine motivation levels:

  • the significance of the achieved result;
  • faith in its achievement;
  • personal forecasts regarding the implementation of the plan;
  • own understanding and idea of ​​success.

Individual motivation is always stronger, because it is aimed at achieving clear goals and obtaining measurable results.

Extrinsic and intense

Extensive motivation is a set of motives that are determined by the influence of external factors on a person: conditions, circumstances and incentives not related to specific activities. In simple words, this is external motivation for activity. Intense motivation, accordingly, has internal reasons that can be determined by a person’s life position: desires, needs, aspirations, interests, drives and attitudes. Within the framework of internal motivation, a person acts “voluntarily”, without relying on external circumstances.

The discussion about the appropriateness of such a classification of motivation was highlighted in the work of H. Heckhausen. However, from the position of modern psychology, such a discussion is groundless and unpromising. A person, being an active member of society, is not able to be completely independent of the surrounding society in choosing decisions.


Social (labor) motivation is a set of measures consisting of moral, material and professional incentives for employees. The purpose of such motivation is to increase the activity, initiative and efficiency of workers. The measures that management uses to encourage active staff activity may depend on the following factors:

  1. An incentive system implemented at a specific enterprise.
  2. Management system in general and personnel management in particular.
  3. Features of the enterprise: direction of activity, number of employees, management style, manager’s experience, etc.

Employee motivation can be achieved in different ways:

  1. Economic (material motivation).
  2. Organizational and administrative. They are based on power (obedience to regulations, observance of subordination, etc.) and may involve coercion.
  3. Socio-psychological. They represent an impact on workers through the activation of their aesthetic beliefs, social interests, religious values ​​and other things.


This type of motivation is based on the individual’s desire to develop existing talents, natural abilities, or qualities. From the point of view of Abraham Maslow, self-development motivation forces a person to make every effort to develop his abilities in order to feel competent in a certain area. Self-development allows a person to feel his own importance and needs self-exposure - understanding his true self.

Moreover, this type of motivation requires courage, determination and bravery to overcome the fear of losing stability and comfort. People tend to hold on to past achievements and exalt them, which often becomes the main obstacle to further development. When embarking on the path of self-development, a person prefers to give up tranquility in favor of the desire to become better. According to Maslow, self-development is only possible when each step forward brings greater satisfaction than past achievements. Despite the internal conflict of motives, self-development in its pure form does not require violence against oneself.


This motive implies the individual’s desire to achieve better results in the activity he performs. Such motivation is highly effective, since it assumes that the subject consciously chooses more difficult tasks. Achievement motivation is the driving force for growth in any field of activity, since victory consists not only of abilities, skills and natural gifts. Success in any endeavor is based on high achievement motivation, which allows a person to show dedication, perseverance and determination for the desired goal.


Motivation for educational activities for students and schoolchildren is the most important link in the educational process. Correctly formed motives and clearly defined goals make the educational process more meaningful and allow students to achieve better results. In childhood and adolescence, voluntary motivation to learn rarely arises. Therefore, teachers and psychologists have developed many techniques to create a thirst for knowledge among students. Learning motivation is most often developed using the following methods:

  1. Creating situations that attract and interest students. These can be fascinating experiments, instructive stories based on real-life examples, unusual facts, etc.
  2. Comparative analysis of scientific postulates and their everyday interpretation.
  3. Imitation of scientific disputes, creation of educational debates.
  4. A joyful experience of achievements and a positive assessment of success.
  5. Making facts new.
  6. Updating educational materials.
  7. Application of positive and negative motivation.
  8. Social motives.


Expresses a person's need to influence other people. At certain moments in the development of the individual and society as a whole, this motive becomes a significant driving factor. A person’s desire to be a leader in a team and to occupy leadership positions causes an increase in motivation and the construction of an active strategy of action. The desire to dominate differs from the motive of self-affirmation, because in this case a person does not strive to confirm his own importance, but to gain influence on others.


Self-affirmation refers to a person’s need for recognition and evaluation from society. The development of motivation in this case is based on self-esteem, pride and ambition. Wanting to assert himself, a person tries to illustrate to others that he is a worthy person. Based on these desires, people strive to obtain a certain status or position, to achieve recognition, honor and respect. In fact, this type of motivation is synonymous with prestige motivation - the desire to achieve and subsequently maintain a high social status. Such a motive as self-affirmation is a very significant factor in motivating the subject’s active work, encouraging him to work on himself and personal development.

Procedural and content

This type of motivation encourages a person to be active not under the influence of external factors, but due to his personal interest directly in this activity. This is internal motivation, which greatly affects the activity of the individual. The essence of the phenomenon is that a person becomes interested and enjoys the process itself, showing physical activity and using his intellectual capabilities. For example, a girl loves to dance. She enjoys expressing her creativity and physical skills. She is motivated by the process itself, and not by external factors such as popularity, well-being, etc.

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