The Three major Categories of Motives Essay


Motives can be define as a distressful feeling experienced by a person or animal that is ended by performing a behaviour that the organism believes will or might end the feeling.  According to encyclopaedia britannica it is defined as those forces acting either on or within a person to initiate behaviour. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

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Motives are often categorize into Primary (basic), Secondary (learned) and Stimulus

Primary Motives include hunger, thirst, sex, avoidance of pain. It’s unlearned motives and common to both animals and human.

It is related to homeostasis which is basically entails maintenance of normal (steady) physiologic body state.  Primary motive acts to maintain homeostasis. Example of primary motives is the feeling of hunger which is also known as need for food.

Secondary motive; are learned motives. They varied from one animal to the other and person to person. Example of secondary motives includes curiosity, ambition, competition, aggression, interest, Attitudes, Achievement and Power motivation. It’s usually acquired as part of socialization process.

Study also indicates that individuals have the ability to learn new motives. The motives can be acquired by the following technique; classical, instrumental, and observational learning.

Stimulus motives are innate but they involve motives to increase rather than decrease stimulation. People and lower animals need stimulation and activity. They also require exploration and manipulation. Example of stimulus motives can occur when someone is walking under a mango tree and a ripe mango fell on his head. The distressful feeling he might experience would be pain on the head as a result of the impact from the mango. This can subsequently motivate him to take analgesic when he gets home.


John, Philip, Smith. (2006).  Motives. Immediate cause of Behavior.

Alternative Psycological Textbook. Retrieved July 12, 2008. From


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