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Instinct theory

Innate patterns of behavior that occur in every normally functioning member of a species under certain, set conditions

Instinct theory

Dominant in late 1800s and early 1900s

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution

William James

argued that humans are more influenced by instincts than are lower animals because they are motivated by not only biological instincts but also by psychosocial instincts such as jealousy, sympathy, and sociability

James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts

Parental love

James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


James 15 instincts


By 1920s, how many instincts proposed to account for every kind of human behavior


Basic flaw of instinct theory

Instincts did not explain behavior, they provide another way of labeling it

Behaviors under influence of genetics

selection of a potential mate

Behaviors under influence of genetics

personality traits

Behaviors under influence of genetics


Behaviors under influence of genetics

susceptibility to addiction

Behaviors under influence of genetics

susceptibility to severe behavioral disorders

behaviors influenced by learning

impossible to find one example of human behavior that fits definition of instincts

Early behavior theory

drive reduction theory

Drive-reduction theory

motivation originates with a need that is experienced in an unpleasant, aversive condition

Clark Hull (1943)

drives are any unpleasant internal condition that motivate an organism to engage in behaviors that reduce this unpleasant state of tension

Clark Hull

Primary drives and secondary or acquired drives

Primary drives

induced by internal biological needs such as water or food deprivation and they do not depend on learning

Secondary (acquired) drives

derived from experience

Acquired drives

Pavlovian conditioning

major problem with drive reduction approach

many behaviors don't appear to reduce any primary or conditioned drives.

example: many people enjoy working out. Exercise drive not reduced by weightlifting, running, cycling

major problem with drive reduction approach

sometimes stimuli in our environment can energize or motivate us to behave in a certain way in the absence of an internal drive state.

eating cookies because they smell good, not because we are hungry


any external stimulus that can motivate behavior even when no internal drive state exists

experiment shows that saccharine, which has no value and does not satisfy hunger, reinforces behavior and motivates subsequent performance of animal just because it tastes good.

behavior can be maintained by conditions that increase drive or arousal

Sheffield demonstrated that rats could learn a response that led to the initiation of copulatory behavior, even when copulation was interrupted before completion

major problem with drive reduction approach

many motivated behaviors do not decrease as they are expressed

example: the desire to explore our environments

influence on our casual explanation of behavior

drive theory

Cognitive theory

our cognitions, expectancies, beliefs, and other mental processes play an important role in motivating our actions

cognitive theory

expectations in both classical and operant conditioning

example: when we study for exam (operant behavior), a consequence occurs (good grade) that serves as a reinforcer. this association generates an expectation that if behavior repeated, it will produce positive consequences

cognitive expectancies

learned by observation

ex: if a child watches another behave aggressively with satisfactory consequences the child may come to expect positive consequences from aggressive behavior (Bandura)

Expectations are important motivators

Edward Tolman and Julian Rotter

Our likelihood of engaging in a given behavior depends on 2 factors

our expectations that a certain behavior will lead to a desired goal

value and location of that goal


animals don't learn specific stimulus-response associations; they learn which behaviors lead to which goals


How cognitive expectancies enter into our learned associations


need for high achievement

Need for high achievement

complex psychosocial motive to accomplish difficult goals, attain high standards, surpass the achievement of others, and increase self-regard by succeeding in exercising talent

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

Murray developed to measure the need for achievement and other human motives


asks people to make up stories about a series of ambiguous pictures. people will project into the stories their own motives, interests, and values

cognitive expectancies

learned expectancy of relationships between stimuli (in Pavlovian conditioning) ad between responses and outcomes (operant conditioning)

cognitive dissonance theory

people experience psychological discomfort or dissonance whenever two related cognitions or behaviors are in conflict

cognitions are inconsistent

negative motivational state results, which activates us to resolve inconsistency

cognitive dissonance

occur as a result of inconsistencies between your behavior and beliefs, particularly when behavior is justified.

believe that cheating is wrong but cheat anyway. inconsistency created unless cheating justified by new belief,

biological drives

underlying needs are inborn, expression of drives is learned

sensation seeking motive

the need for certain levels of stimulation including the need to explore the environment and the need for sensory stimulation

survival value

motivation to seek stimulation evolved in many species

organisms that explore and manipulate their environment become more aware of its parameters of safety and danger


refers to a behavioral state / physiological state

ability to process information effectively and to engage in motivated behavior

express goal directed behavior

minimum level of arousal needed

too much arousal

over-stimulated, overloaded, and temporarily incapable of effective action

Donal Hebb - optimum level of arousal

level where their performance will be most efficient. varies according to the type of task performed.

optimum level of arousal theory

our performance on a task will improve as arousal increases to an optimal level. further increases will begin to interfere with our efficiency

low levels of arousal

have frequently been shown to hinder performance

Yerkes-Dodson law

optimum level of arousal for peak performance varies somewhat depending on the nature of the task.

if you are involved in a simple task, performance best if arousal level relatively high

if you are involved in a difficult task, performance best if arousal level relatively low

oversimplifies complex relationship between arousal and performance

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