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The Psychology of Motivation

Monday, January 19, 2009

Aargh, I'm not feeling particularly proud of myself today - normally I eat well and try to stay active but I went to a pub today to watch football and had some alcohol and chip (fries to you U.S. ppl), not good!

But I was trying to find an old email today to get some old photos and came across an email I sent to my dad with an essay for him to spell check in my first year at uni, which was on the topic of motivation and how to improve it in the classroom. I should try to remember some of the things I wrote and practice them myself because I am only going to do good in my studies and lose weight if I take control and responsibility over my actions and work hard. Here are some quote that I found particularly interesting (excuse my poor grammar):

"Motivation is defined as involving processes that energize, direct and sustain behaviour.
One important concept from the cognitive perspective that has strong links to motivation is attribution. The attribution theory states that people try to make sense of there own performance by trying to understand the cause, and thus make attributions on who or what was responsible for their performance (as cited by Gage and Berliner, 1992). One aspect of attribution is the concept of locus of control. This refers to a person’s belief of whether events that affect them are controlled by internal or external factors. A child who attributes an event as internally controlled would believe that outcomes depend on their behaviour or personal characteristics, such as ability. Attributions have been found by research to be systematically related to subsequent behaviour. If a person attributed an outcome due to an internal or controllable cause, then it could help motivate them after a failure to increase more effort next time. Thus, it seems that failing isn’t necessarily harmful but how a person attributes the cause that can create problems.
If a child believes that outcomes depended on their own actions, they would take more responsibility for their own learning to achieve than a child who believed things occurred outside of their own control.
DeCharms (1976, as cited by Howe, 1999) made a distinction between perceiving oneself as a ‘pawn’ who is controlled mostly by external forces or as an ‘origin’ who regard their actions as being caused by their own free-choice, and thus assume responsibility for their activities. In an experiment conducted by DeCharms, students were encouraged to take more control of their activities and assume responsibility for their actions. Their teachers were trained to teach the students to perceive themselves as origins by acknowledging that they were responsible for their own success and failure, and not as pawns who were only instruments of outside influences. The teaching was effective in changing the children’s thinking about themselves as pawns and had a positive impact on their achievement.
Personal variables are obviously important when studying motivation because of their effect on people’s perception of their own behaviour, but environmental factors also have to be taken into account. A distinction is often made between external (extrinsic) and internal (intrinsic) kinds of motivation. Students who are influenced by intrinsic motivation appear to gain enthusiasm from carrying out tasks and do not need constant encouragement from other people. People who are motivated extrinsically are influenced by external reinforcement and rewards."


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