What is motivation in psychology and what features does it have?

Internal and external motivation: which is more effective? There is hardly a person who does not know what motivation is and has not heard about its varieties: internal and external motivation, motivation to and from... But the question is how to successfully motivate yourself and, especially, others, and maintain this very motivation for at the proper level for a long time, still remains very mysterious for many. Let's try to bring greater clarity to the question of what internal and external motivation is, and which one is better.

First of all, let’s clarify the term “motivation” itself. This popular word today hides the force that makes a person do something, in simple terms. This driving force can come from within a person or from without, and this distinguishes between internal and external motivation. Amotivation (lack of motivation as such) also stands out. It is believed that if a person himself is eager to do something, or there is a sufficient external incentive, the issue of motivation is resolved by itself.

However, we all know very well that everything is not so simple. Who hasn’t encountered a situation when you perfectly understand the need for some action, and it may even be easy and pleasant, but you can’t force yourself to do it?! Can you remember cases when significant external rewards (whether in the form of a large cash bonus, prestigious benefits or other “goodies”) did not motivate you to achieve heroic deeds?

Behind these and numerous similar stories lies the fact that motivational mechanisms do not work so primitively and linearly. In order for you, your children or subordinates to show desire and readiness to act, to do something specific, to overcome inertia, you need to know a number of important points about motivation. In fact, rewards and motivators can have the opposite effect. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We will try to cover this issue briefly and succinctly in our article.

Concept and characteristics

A motive in psychology is a certain goal, a value for a person that he strives to achieve.
The motive becomes the meaning of his activity. It can be positive, causing positive emotions, or negative, caused by dissatisfaction. The motive is often not obvious. Understanding it requires deep introspection. For the first time, the concept of “motivation”, as the main motivator for activity, was used in scientific work by A. Schopenhauer. Some psychologists have proposed other interpretations. K. Platonov understood motivation as a set of motives, and V. Viliunas understood it as a system of processes that encourage activity. Soviet psychologists A. Leontyev and S. Rubinstein defined motive as a need expressed in form.

Motive is often confused with purpose and need, but the terms are not interchangeable. A need is a perceived discomfort and a desire to eliminate it. The goal is to select an item that satisfies the desire. The motive is to achieve a goal.

How to highlight the goal and form tasks?

You also need to separate the goal (result) and the task (the situation, the solution of which will lead to the goal). The goal answers the question “What?”, the task answers the question “How?”. Correct goal setting and task selection are interconnected. If an individual does not distinguish between them, then instead of achieving a global result, he focuses on small tasks and moves away from the goal.

Tasks should be distributed according to degree of importance:

  • current - routine actions that need to be performed often, but they do not take much time (for example, checking mail);
  • key - actions that require a lot of effort and need to be completed quickly (for example, submitting a quarterly report);
  • deferred - tasks that do not need to be completed immediately (for example, preparing stands, giving a presentation);
  • minor - such tasks do not affect the approach to the goal; their implementation can be transferred to subordinates or completely excluded from the list.

Each task has stages - the date of completion of the work or one task. If the sequence of stages is not followed, the process of achieving the goal is stalled.

Known models of motivation

  • Abraham Maslow's model , the founder of one of the most popular theories of motivation, is a 5-level pyramid of human needs:

1 (lowest) level – physiological needs (breathing, sleep, food, etc.);

2 – need for security (material security, housing, legal security);

3 – the need to belong to a group (relatives, colleagues), to receive support and understanding;

4 – need for respect;

5 – the need for self-affirmation, disclosure of personal and professional potential.

According to Maslow, a person satisfies his needs gradually - from primary (physiological) to higher ones.

  • V. Vroom's model of motivation, based on the theory of expectations, is subject to the laws of mathematics and looks like a product of 3 variables:

— the expectation that the actions performed will lead to the desired result;

- expectation of reward for the achieved result;

- valence, reflecting the degree of manifestation of individual motives.

Motivation according to this model depends proportionally on the values ​​of each of the variables - the higher the value, the higher the motivation. In the case of a zero value of one of the factors, motivation will also be equal to zero.

Historical summary

Many foreign and domestic psychologists are interested in what motivates an individual to act. Ancient Greek thinkers studied motivation.

Since the 14th century, when philosophers focused on the study of hedonism as the individual's natural desire for pleasure, internal drive was seen as a natural survival mechanism. Subsequently, the unity of impulses inducing action was called motivation. This term began to be used to explain the causes of human and animal behavior.

Closer to the 20th century, motivation was studied in a number of schools. Behaviorists viewed it as the cause of bodily impulses, the body's reaction to influence. This gave rise to the stimulus-response formula, which explained any type of activity. In Freudian psychoanalysis, the basis of motivation is human attraction. Desire originates in the organ and is embodied in an irresistible attraction. Humanists understand this term as the satisfaction of instinct.

Among foreign psychologists, interest in the problem of studying motivation is inextricably linked with the study of the emotional sphere. When receiving a positive emotional stimulus, a person becomes more active and remembers more information. But there is no single theory that would explain the principle of how motivation works. Among Soviet scientists, V. Bekhterev, I. Pavlov, and I. Sechenov paid the most attention to the study of motivation. Instead of the “stimulus-response” scheme, they proposed the “signaling-reinforcement” formula. The signal irritates the senses, but action requires reinforcement—multiple repetition of the signal. Bekhterev believed that psychological processes are subject to the same reflexes as the nervous system.

At the present stage of development of psychology, the problem of studying motivation also remains relevant. Scientists have identified the main provisions that are shared by domestic and foreign researchers:

  1. Motivation is a socially determined formation. It may change during life.
  2. The motivational sphere has a motive, a goal, and emotions.
  3. For activity, the coincidence of motive and goal is important.
  4. Emotions reflect the relationship between motives and the possibility of implementation.

The study of psychological theories of motivation continues. Scientists are considering different versions of the emergence of motives, and this has made it possible to identify separate types of motivations.


Based on the needs that arise, motives are formed. If a need is a certain tension caused by the need for something, but it does not yet determine the direction of the subject’s activity, then the motive acts as an incentive to action, as a desire to satisfy the need, it is the readiness of the psyche, directing towards a specific goal. Thus, motives specify ways to satisfy emerging needs. Figuratively speaking, the “input” of the motive is the need, and the “output” is the intention and motivation of a person to carry out some action or act of behavior.

Stages and types

The hypothalamus plays a leading role in the mechanism of formation of biological motivation. He starts the scheme for the appearance of the motive:

  1. Hormone production - biological needs are transformed, sending signals to other organ systems. For example, there is a feeling of hunger.
  2. Motivational arousal - the need to satisfy a desire arises. The individual seeks to get rid of the feeling of hunger.
  3. Choosing a behavior strategy - it is necessary to determine further actions. You have to choose how to eliminate the feeling of hunger: choose ready-made food, cook something yourself, or eat in a cafe.


  1. External - due to circumstances, not related to specific activities. It can be stimulated externally (by offering rewards) or internally (by managing emotions). Suitable for solving simple problems. Complex creative work requires a different approach.
  2. Internal - related to the essence of the activity. It requires not a material, but an emotional reward. By completing a task, a person feels moral satisfaction and this is already a sufficient incentive.
  3. Negative - based on the desire to avoid failure. By suppressing the fear of punishment, the individual experiences negative emotions. To get rid of them, he gives up activities. Long-term negative motivation can demoralize a person.
  4. Positive - based on positive incentives. The individual strives to realize abilities and reveal psychological potential. Passion helps you achieve good results at work.
  5. Individual - helps to satisfy basic needs. Thanks to physiological motives, a person strives to improve living conditions.
  6. Group - necessary for normal socialization. Helps maintain the structure of society and take one’s place in the group hierarchy.
  7. Cognitive - aimed at satisfying research activities. It works in childhood, when the child learns about the world around him through play.

Different stimulation methods can be used for the same type of activity. In certain areas, only one, main type of motive is used, without which it is impossible to achieve the goal.

Theories based on a specific picture of a person

There are 2 concepts based on a specific picture of a person: “Theory X and Y” by McGregor and “Theory Z” by Ouchi. They describe the types of work motivation.

McGregor's XY theory

These are 2 theories in which the author compares the employee’s incentives and the behavior of the company’s management from 2 sides.

Theory X states that:

  • people are naturally lazy and use every opportunity to procrastinate;
  • a person seeks to escape responsibility, so he becomes an employee;
  • he adheres to principles such as stability and security;
  • sheds ambition as ballast;
  • complete control, pressure and the threat of punishment push a person to work with greater efficiency.

According to Theory Y:

  • work is an integral part of human life;
  • good working conditions contribute to the development of responsibility and control over one’s actions;
  • creative and intellectual potential is not fully used;
  • Having achieved the goal, the person receives encouragement.

These are 2 diametrically opposed theories that have the right to life.

Ouchi's Z Theory

In addition to the previous 2 theories, American professor William Ouchi developed Theory Z. It is based on collective principles of motivation, according to which the incentives of employees should be influenced by the company’s values:

  • coincidence of the goals of the employee and the enterprise;
  • proper organization of work;
  • dedication to the team and common goals;
  • solidarity;
  • confidence.

Positive aspects of this theory:

  1. The vector of attention is aimed at motivating all employees.
  2. The presence of managers in the company, their positive communication with subordinates.
  3. Organization of on-the-job training.
  4. Providing growth opportunities.

Disadvantages of the theory:

  1. Excessive requirements for applicants.
  2. Compliance with established principles, patriarchy.
  3. Slow promotion.

Areas of application

To realize potential, an individual must use the right motive suitable for a specific activity:

  1. The work is professional fulfillment. Managers often choose fines and bonuses as incentives. Material reward affects the employee only at the initial stage. An employee gets used to monetary stimulation very quickly. When the effect wears off, and there are no new methods of motivation, performance decreases. To increase it, the employee must have the mindset to reveal his professional potential.
  2. Studying is gaining knowledge. The main incentive is high grades. Low scores are not only frustrating, but they also discourage you from trying to understand a complex topic. In educational activities, the main incentive should be to increase the level of knowledge. If it is not there, teaching will be perceived as punishment and the student will avoid it.
  3. Sport is victory over yourself. Achieving a new sports record motivates a small part of people. An athlete should want to improve his own results, and not surpass his opponents. Otherwise, he will constantly compare himself with others and he will quickly experience professional burnout.
  4. Personal goals - the desire for self-improvement. Having chosen to acquire a new profession or open their own business as a goal, a person should strive to unlock his potential. If the motive of activity is to prove one’s worth to someone, then the desire will disappear as soon as the external stimulus disappears.
  5. Advertising, entertainment - getting pleasure. Psychological comfort is related to income level and purchasing power. It is difficult to motivate a person who is not initially interested. Self-motivation methods that you can come up with for yourself will work better for him.

Self-motivation methods to achieve results

When accepted methods of motivation do not work, methods that facilitate the search for internal resources to carry out activities will come to the rescue:

  1. Small steps method. The big task looks daunting. The use of a step-by-step method will help reduce the unpleasant psychological effect. Large tasks need to be broken down into small ones, and these into even smaller actions that can be completed in 5–10 minutes. Trying to get the job done right away is demotivating, but it’s easy to get motivated to complete a small task. In psychology, this approach is called “baby steps” - after all, in order to learn to run, a child must first take the first hesitant step.
  2. Negative reinforcement method. It is suitable when you need to overcome a bad habit or addiction. You need to come up with a punishment for yourself (for example, put 10 rubles in the piggy bank) and every time you failed to restrain yourself, “pay” for your mistake. The disadvantage of this method is that it cannot be used for large purposes.
  3. Authority method. Every person has an idol - a person whose opinion is significant. This technique is based on the desire to gain the approval of the idol. You need to imagine that he is monitoring the progress of the work. You can even write a report for it or record a video.

The main way to achieve a goal is a clear understanding of why a person needs it. It is useless to impose motivation. When performing an activity that one does not like or that irritates one, a person will dream of only one thing - to get rid of this responsibility. Motivation should be based on personal desire - then it will be effective.

The power of motivation 06/17/2015

Probably every person has experienced a turning point in their life when their activities ceased to bring both satisfaction and joy. And in order for something new to become something you like and begin to generate income, you need to set the right goal and have sufficient motivation.

How to set a goal for yourself so that it is not only a desire, but also a guide to action?

Goals are divided into several types.

1. Pointless

A meaningless goal is a goal for the sake of a goal, which, by and large, carries nothing in itself.

Here are some real life examples.

— I rent an apartment on the outskirts for 30,000 rubles, but I want to rent in the center for 35,000 rubles.

— My monthly income is 37,000 rubles, but I would like it to be 38,000, because every month I pay 1,000 for the loan.

Achieving such goals does not bring absolutely any changes in life and often does not bring satisfaction either. Usually the brain simply does not react to such desires and goals, so it doesn’t go beyond talking.

A minority of people fall into this category. As a rule, such people do not strive for anything, and all their goals and desires remain only at the level of words.

2. Unrealistic goals

Unrealistic goals are goals that a person sets for himself without understanding how he will further realize them.

For example, a 17-year-old teenager talks about how in a year he will have a brand new Mercedes for 3 million, despite the fact that today he has nothing.

Such boasting can be explained simply: he opened a business and believes that in a year he can increase his income thousands of times, without doing anything for it.

Or another example. Do an experiment. Write down your monthly income on paper. Then add zero to this figure and imagine that your income has increased 10 times. What is going on in your head at this moment? Your brain thinks: what to do with such income, and whether you need such an amount every month. With such thoughts and such an attitude, you will never achieve anything.

The brain reacts to unrealistic goals in the following way: “I don’t have such a reserve of energy, and therefore there is no point in taking on this task.”

In fact, there are not as many people belonging to this category as in the previous category.

3. Implicit goals

Implicit goals are those that most people are exposed to. For example: “I want to be rich, I want to be thin, I want to have my own business. Your subconscious mind reacts to these goals in the following way.

Let’s say you set yourself the goal “I want to lose weight.” You go to the supermarket and buy yourself low-calorie foods. As a result, you lose a couple of kilograms and receive a signal from the brain with the following content: “Goal achieved. You can relax and eat as much as you want.”

The same thing happens with money. You set yourself the goal of “Getting additional income.” And at this moment you remember that you borrowed 1000 rubles from your neighbor or accidentally find 500 rubles in your jacket pocket. The money is received, which means the brain again sends a signal: “The task is completed and the goal is achieved.”

Most people fall into this category. Those who set a goal and even begin to do something to achieve it, having received the slightest result, stop. The reason is actually simple. These people are overcome by basic laziness.

4. Correct goals or SMART goals

The right goals are goals that are divided into stages and achieved gradually.

For example: “I want a three-room apartment overlooking a pond, so that in one room I have Italian furniture, in the other there is high-tech furnishings, and a designer has worked on the interior of the third room.”

Everything seems to be correct. Today you already have a two-room apartment, but you want to increase it to a three-room apartment. It seems that the goal is achievable and quantifiable, and its achievement is outlined in stages. But! Even if the goal is achieved, no special changes occur in your life.

How can you make sure that your goals are achieved and that achieving them brings pleasure?

Usually in such cases they say that the person lacks motivation. That is, in order to achieve something, you need self-motivation.

All motivation is divided into several types.

1. Internal motivation

This is the same “I want”. This is your desire that matures inside you and pushes you to take certain actions.

2. External motivation

Most often it can be characterized by the word “must”. For example, you took out a loan to buy a car. Whether you like it or not, you must pay so as not to lose your purchase.

3. Motivation "to"

You are gradually moving towards achieving your goal. You picture some goal for yourself, for example, buying an apartment, and try in every possible way to achieve it.

4. Motivation “from”

Motivation from the opposite. For example, “I really don’t want to be homeless, so I pay my mortgage every month.”

Today there is one serious snag. The standard of living of citizens has increased significantly in the world, so no one dies from anything for nothing.

Today, even the last person without a fixed abode (homeless), from the point of view of the risk of death, lives much better than the most noble Viking, or the most famous knight, and sometimes even better than the king himself.

Have you ever thought about this?

Due to the fact that the standard of living of the population has become much higher than before, people have lost the desire to change anything in their lives. Everyone thinks something like this: “Even if I do nothing, I will still always have bread, milk and matches, and I will not die of hunger.”

Now, even in your worst condition, you still live better than people 150 years ago with the best income. No matter how paradoxical it may sound, it is a fact!

But the most surprising thing is that even in the most difficult situation, apart from dissatisfaction and complaints, you do not make any attempts to somehow improve your situation.

Most likely, you naively believe that the time will come when you will definitely get out of the routine of everyday unloved things and hated work on your own. And this will happen on demand. Nothing like this! If until now you have not been satisfied with your life, and you have not moved a single step from the dead point, then in a year, and in 5 years, you will continue to be at the same level, without trying to fix anything.

If you have a logical question “Why”, that’s normal. Answer: “They are interfering with you.”

Who is working against you? What prevents you from becoming a happy and wealthy person?

1. Money system

What is the money system and how does it work?

Money is exactly what you pictured in your head, and nothing more! Agree, it’s hard to calculate the price of the dollar when America owes the whole world several trillion. It is also difficult to calculate the price of the euro when half of the European countries are bankrupt. It is also difficult to understand the value of the ruble when Russians depend on oil prices.

Money is a conventional unit of exchange. Namely, the exchange of you, your knowledge, skills, experience, skills, labor, physical strength for your needs and desires. Why? Yes, because no one knows the real price of money today.

What does the banking system, or rather the money system, do? This system makes money non-cash. If 200 years ago each money corresponded to a piece of gold, 100 years ago each money corresponded relatively to precious metals and stones, then today money does not correspond to anything.

This is the main problem people have: You can't get what you want. And the reason is that you mistakenly believe that you are worth exactly as much as you currently receive at work, and not a ruble more.

Imagine that yesterday you worked and received 37 thousand rubles. And today you changed your job and began to receive 52 thousand rubles. And now the question: “How much are you worth, 37,000 or 52,000 rubles?”

Maybe the problem is that you are worth so much not because you are so worthless, but because you simply haven’t found anyone who will give many times more for your knowledge and skills?

The money system is the first obstacle that prevents you from realizing your value and, accordingly, living many times better than you are living at the moment.

2. Deep instincts

This is what is embedded in your subconscious. Most people reason as follows: all my ancestors always went to work and received money for it. My great-grandmother worked in the fields all her life, my grandmother went through the war and then worked at a factory, my mother worked at a post office and then at a bank. Everyone went to work, so I have to do exactly that.

The essence of the deepest instinct is that we all consider ourselves slaves: slaves of the master, slaves of the party, slaves of the factory or boss. This worldview is inherent in almost every person from childhood.

Someone is trying to fight this and thinks that they can easily open their own business. He believes that it is not difficult and provides an excellent opportunity to earn good money. As a result, the “woeful entrepreneur” burns out. This happens because most people are accustomed to thinking that their real price is the level of their monthly salary. It is embedded in the subconscious that he must work for someone, but he simply cannot work for himself.

It turns out that you are a slave, since in all generations your relatives were slaves. This has been ingrained since childhood. That’s why many people end up in this situation: “I want to achieve something, but I don’t know how to do it.

3. Banking system

This is a huge system that constantly needs slaves. Moreover, slaves in the literal sense of the word. That is, people who cannot make any decisions on their own. They just do what the system tells them.

Today, even in the most developed Europe there are slave countries. Neither these countries nor their residents decide anything on their own. All decisions are made for them by external management. They are slaves of the World Bank, slaves of the countries on which their economies depend, slaves of the exporting and importing countries, and so on. If entire countries become dependent on banks, then what can we say about ordinary people.

Every day for many years there has been propaganda of loans. From TV screens, radio waves and billboards you are encouraged to use borrowed funds because it is convenient, affordable and, most importantly, it makes it possible to buy what you want now and pay for it later. But in the end it turns out that you live “in minus”: you use a “minus” vacuum cleaner, drive a “minus” car, live in a “minus” apartment.

However, they forget to warn you that a loan is bondage. And, having taken it, you can no longer live as you want and manage your funds as you see fit. You have obligations to creditors, and you must repay them if you do not want to lose what you just recently acquired.

It turns out that when you are bound by your credit obligations, you cannot be free. You are not your own boss, because you cannot do what you want, for example, change jobs or change your place of residence, because you need money to pay the loan.

There are a great many such examples. But the essence remains the same.

The most important thing is that not a single person can independently break out of the “system of impossibility of achieving one’s goals.”

Here is an example from life that clearly illustrates all of the above:

At one of the trainings, participants were given two tasks.

1. Ask for a loan of money, formulating your request as follows: “Could you lend me money, but, really, I’m unlikely to be able to return it to you.”

The outcome of this experiment is probably not worth explaining.

2. Come and offer your services for money. For example, “I’m ready to wash your car for 500 rubles.”

The group's highest result was $4,000 per day. In total, in the 2 days allotted for this experiment, about half a million rubles were earned.

In fact, there is no difficulty in offering your services to someone yourself. If you don’t have enough money to live on, then you can always use this method. However, few people do this.

That is, it turns out that almost every person knows how to behave in a crisis situation and what needs to be done in order to get out of it, but does not do it. The thing is that such people lack internal motivation.

Why is this happening?

Because there are a million restrictions. This is the system in which you live. This is your worldview because you simply do not believe that you are worth more than what you receive today. These are your deepest instincts, because you know that none of your relatives did this, and that means you shouldn’t do it either. The banking system also works against you, limiting your freedom.

Agree, it’s very strange to earn half a million out of thin air in 2 days.

Now answer yourself honestly the question: “If this was not a task as part of the training, but you came up with it yourself, would you begin to bring your idea to life?

Almost everyone's answer will be no. This raises the question: “Why do you know what needs to be done, understand how it needs to be done, but don’t do it?” The whole point is that you have come up with an excellent excuse for yourself, which is called “Laziness”.

What does this concept mean?

Never mind. It's just one of those dummy words that are made up to do nothing.

These words also include the words “Love”, “Success” and similar words and expressions.

These are the so-called words about nothing. It seems that the word exists, but has no specific meaning. And if you ask several people what these concepts mean to them, you will probably get different answers. And some may find it difficult to answer at all.

Everyone knows the legend of Troy. About how the Trojan men tried to sail away from the warriors attacking them on ships, and when the escape failed, they accepted the battle and turned out to be quite strong warriors.

This situation is very similar to the actions of many people today. As soon as something needs to be done, or a problematic situation arises, this person immediately tries to run away from the problem on the ship, tries to find many reasons and excuses not to do it. But once he realizes that the escape was unsuccessful, he agrees to do what needs to be done. And the strangest thing of all is that he does it quite well and achieves the desired result.

Laziness is an empty word. It does not exist as such. This is just an excuse, this is the ship on which many sail away from problems.

There is only one way that always works. This is an external influence. Moreover, this external influence should be uncomfortable for you.

For example, when you have health problems, you consult a doctor. That is, you resort to external influence. And the doctor, in turn, treats you through external influence, giving pills and giving injections.

When something hurts you, you decide to go to the doctor. And during treatment, you most likely feel discomfort. But, no matter how unpleasant it may be, the treatment helps you.

The same is true in all other situations. If you have a problem that you cannot solve yourself, try to do so in order to get outside influence. And then, most likely, the problem will be solved.

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