What <i>is</i> Motivation?

E. Tory Higgins

in Beyond Pleasure and Pain

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199765829
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918966 | DOI:

Series: Social Cognition and Social Neuroscience

What is Motivation?

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This chapter presents different positions on what it means to be motivated and what it is that people want, along with the author's own preferred answers to these questions. It proposes that what it means to be motivated is to have preferences that direct choices. This answer provides a beginning for understanding motivation, but it is not sufficient. It is also necessary to know where the preferences that direct choices come from. What is it that people want that underlies their preferences? What does a motivated person really want? There is more than one reasonable answer to the question and the chapter focuses on the strongest ones (as defined by historical precedence and consensus). Among these are that people want to survive, people want to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, and people want to be effective in life pursuits.

Keywords: human motivations; motivated; want; preference; choice

Chapter.  13680 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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