What is Motivation: Definition and 122 Discussions

Motivation is what explains why people or animals initiate, continue or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-directed behavior. It is often held that different mental states compete with each other and that only the strongest state determines behavior. This means that we can be motivated to do something without actually doing it. The paradigmatic mental state providing motivation is desire. But various other states, like beliefs about what one ought to do or intentions, may also provide motivation.
Various competing theories have been proposed concerning the content of motivational states. They are known as content theories and aim to describe what goals usually or always motivate people. Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the ERG theory, for example, posit that humans have certain needs, which are responsible for motivation. Some of these needs, like for food and water, are more basic than other needs, like for respect from others. On this view, the higher needs can only provide motivation once the lower needs have been fulfilled. Behaviorist theories try to explain behavior solely in terms of the relation between the situation and external, observable behavior without explicit reference to conscious mental states.
Motivation may be either intrinsic, if the activity is desired because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable, or extrinsic, if the agent's goal is an external reward distinct from the activity itself. It has been argued that intrinsic motivation has more beneficial outcomes than extrinsic motivation. Motivational states can also be categorized according to whether the agent is fully aware of why he acts the way he does or not, referred to as conscious and unconscious motivation. Motivation is closely related to practical rationality. A central idea in this field is that we should be motivated to perform an action if we believe that we should perform it. Failing to fulfill this requirement results in cases of irrationality, known as akrasia or weakness of the will, in which there is a discrepancy between our beliefs about what we should do and our actions.
Research on motivation has been employed in various fields. In the field of business, a central question concerns work motivation, for example, what measures an employer can use to ensure that his employees are motivated. Motivation is also of particular interest to educational psychologists because of its crucial role in student learning. Specific interest has been given to the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in this field.

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  1. P

    B Questions on a numberphile video

    The above two video from numberphile are trying to motivate real analysis (I think?). The latter continues on from the former. Presenter's argument goes kind of like this: He first considers the real number line and talks about measuring distance between numbers 4-3=1 Then he talks about...
  2. yucheng

    Studying Balancing Theory and Applications?

    Merely studying formalism and theory in quantum mechanics is too dry and demotivating for me. I would appreciate being able to do more practical calculations and realistic applications instead of canned problems. Is there a way to balance this theory and applications? I have thought of doing...
  3. Hacker Jack

    What was your motivation to learn programming?

    Personally I don't know exactly why I want to learn programming. I am doing it anyway but my views on life are very dull and bland, I don't have any real interests besides basic human survival instincts which I think are where all my motivations stems from. I am a young adult now but as a kid...
  4. Bartellj

    Any advanced physics students/academics that have failed?

    Hello, I'm new here, and really just looking for a community/advice. I'm a physics major at Grand Valley State University, and I studied at the University of North Dakota for two years prior to this. I decided that I wanted to major in physics after a lot of thought, the catch is that I am not a...
  5. Frigus

    What am I misinterpreting in this video? (Self motivation)

    In this video the presenter says that motivation comes after starting the process and achieving the goal but when I start the process and I achieve it I get relax and start doing things slowly, maybe i am not able to grasp something in this video. Will i have to gain external motivation on daily...
  6. P

    Courses Struggling in my First Year of Graduate School

    Hey everyone! I started Astronomy Ph.D at a very good (as good as any top university) university this fall but I'm struggling a lot and it's only been 3 weeks! The problem isn't the amount of stuff that I have to do (I am taking two undergrad classes, one grad class and am being a TA), it's...
  7. PGaccount

    A Physical Motivation for Supersymmetry

    How was supersymmetry discovered? 13:00 And what were the original motivations for it? Is there some kind of intuitive way to look at and work with the formulas? For instance, in the theory of differential forms, the scalar product of two 1-forms U and V is *(U ∧ *V) = UiVi. It is useful to...
  8. K

    What can we do to reduce depression or improve motivation?

    In addition to sports and exercising, what is proved or widely believed by the field of medicine that we can do to reduce depression, manage emotion or improve motivation?
  9. L

    A Definitions of Cylinder Sets and Cylinder Set Measure

    I'm trying to learn about Abstract Wiener Spaces and Gaussian Measures in a general context. For that I'm reading the paper Abstract Wiener Spaces by Leonard Gross, which seems to be where these things were first presented. Now, I'm having a hard time to grasp the idea/motivation behind the...
  10. Z

    Admissions Masters degree letter of motivation feedback.

    This is my motivation letter for the university of Regensburg (Masters). The bad thing is that my grades are above average, not great. And I have little to no research experience due to my BSc school. I avoided useless mumbo-jumbo and flatter so it's going to be short and to the point. I pushed...
  11. C

    A physicist wannabe somehow doing a Master's degree

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  12. A

    Studying Motivating Yourself to Study Physics | In Search of Motivation

    Hi there! A couple years ago, I failed my physics exam taken in upper secondary school (Norway), which has led me to having to retake the subject. I realize that I likely failed due to being lazy and tired of school. But a lot has changed since then, and I really do wish to learn physics. In...
  13. L

    Courses Help with a motivation problem

    I realize this isn’t really the place to ask for this, but I’ve kind of hit a wall. I came into physics grad school intent on doing theory, and I’ve hit a brick wall in my first semester. I got B’s in Classical mechanics and Quantum mechanics, which looks really bad for trying to get into any...
  14. Robin04

    Studying Managing individual research projects, how to self study

    I’m starting my undergraduate physics degree next semester but I really like to study different fields on my own without any external motivation or obligation related to school. As I want to be a theoretical physicist I think this is something that I really have to be good at, because I imagine...
  15. N

    I Einstein's Pursuit of Unified Theory: Motivation and Observations

    I just finished reading Walter Isacson's Einstein. I note that Einstein's motivation for Special Relativity was the constant speed of light as shown by Michelson and Morley, and his motivation for General Relativity was the equivalence of gravity and acceleration as experienced, for example, in...
  16. F

    I Motivation for mass term in Lagrangians

    In field theory a typical Lagrangian (density) for a "free (scalar) field" ##\phi(x)## is of the form $$\mathcal{L}=\frac{1}{2}\partial_{\mu}\phi\partial^{\mu}\phi -\frac{1}{2}m^{2}\phi^{2}$$ where ##m## is a parameter that we identify with the mass of the field ##\phi(x)##. My question is...
  17. H

    ChemEng newbie, looking for motivation

    Hi! I'm a newbie here from Chem Engineering Im trying to build up my motivation back in this major. I don't hate Chem Eng courses, but I DONT FEEL MYSELF IS DEVELOPING IN THIS AREA. * I chose ChemEng in the first place because I was okayy in Sc and Maths subjects BACK THEN in high school...

    What is the motivation for using a ceiling fan in a high ceiling?

    Homework Statement Homework EquationsThe Attempt at a Solution
  19. S

    Studying How can I regain motivation in studying Physics?

    Hi everyone. I'm a final year undergraduate physics student, in fact, in my final semester wrapping up courses & my thesis. I had dreamed about getting PhD, becoming a decent physicist and such but...the truth is, I am not even sure if I want to continue going down that path anymore. Here is my...
  20. zonde

    B Is it a myth that serves as motivation for decoherence?

    This paper about Quantum Darwinism https://arxiv.org/pdf/0903.5082v1.pdf starts with statement: "The quantum principle of superposition implies that any combination of quantum states is also a legal state. This seems to be in conflict with everyday reality: States we encounter are localized...
  21. O

    Other No motivation, considering taking time off -- what are some....

    I graduated college back in 2015. I did nothing but party and the bare minimum and luckily managed to finish a degree in sociology; I'm good at writing. I was a chemistry major when I first started college, and I had the intention of going to medical school. However, I screwed up big time by...
  22. MexChemE

    I Motivation for Fourier series/transform

    Hello, PF! I am currently learning Fourier series (and then we'll move on to the Fourier transform) in one of my courses, and I'm having a hard time finding motivation for its uses. Or, in other words, I can't seem to find its usefulness yet. I know one of its uses is to solve the heat...
  23. T

    I Motivation and proof behind cross products

    this question is a repost from math stackexchange because that guy worded the question so perfectly the question i really wanted to ask about cross products. *please see image below* as far i can understand, the formula for the cross product is basically that the idea of a cross product is sort...
  24. S

    A Motivation behind the theory of cosmological perturbations

    What is the main motivation behind the theory of cosmological perturbations? Is it the observational data, observational hints, or perhaps the theory of inflation?
  25. C

    A Einstein's Real Motivation Behind GR

    I wonder what really motivated Einstein to formulate his general theory of relativity: a) would be due to the principle of equivalence? b) it would be because after the relativistic formulation of Maxwell's equations, there was only the classical gravitation with the factor 1 / r ^ 2? c) would...
  26. gulfcoastfella

    I What's the motivation for bracket notation in QM?

    I took a semester of QM as an undergrad engineering major, and I don't recall the motivation for replacing traditional vector notation with bracket notation. Can someone enlighten me? Thank you.
  27. A

    Studying Motivation for studing phyisics

    Hey...people.. I have some bad problems with motivation when comes to studing physics... now i will go to my 3rd year but i did not pass all my exams form the 1st and 2nd year.. The main problem is that i do not study at all.. I do not know why?? everything is better than studing for me... I...
  28. T

    I Motivation for large cardinals

    Reading this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_large_cardinal_properties I perfectly understand the motivation for the inaccessible cardinal, it looks very natural from the theory of ordinals, but everything beyond makes no sense to me. Why Mahlo? Why superstrong? It looks like a game...
  29. F

    I Particle number conservation and motivations for QFT

    I've read that one of the primary motivations for the need for QFT is that quantum mechanics cannot account for particle creation/annihilation, however special relativity "predicts" that such phenomena are possible (clearly they have been observed experimentally, but I'm going for a heuristic...
  30. F

    I What is the motivation for principle of stationary action

    Is the motivation for the action principle purely from empirical evidence, or theoretical arguments, or a mixture of the two? As I understand it, there was some empirical evidence from Fermat's observations in optics, i.e. that light follows the path of least time, notions of virtual work and...
  31. F

    I Motivation for the usage of 4-vectors in special relativity

    I recently had someone ask me why we use 4-vectors in special relativity and what is the motivation for introducing them in the first place. This is the response I gave: From Einstein's postulates( i.e. 1. the principle of relativity - the laws of physics are identical (invariant) in all...
  32. F

    Motivation for Lagrangian mechanics

    I know how to implement Lagrangian mechanics at a mathematical level and also know that it follows the approach of calculus of variations (i.e. optimisation of functionals, finding their stationary values etc.), however, I'm unsure whether I've grasped the physical intuition behind the...
  33. F

    I Motivation for the introduction of spacetime

    What exactly are the theoretical motivations for considering space and time as a four dimensional continuum? Is it a natural consequence of requiring that the speed of light is independent of the frame of reference that it is measured in, since this implies that time and time are not absolute...
  34. T

    Loss of motivation when research becomes 9-5 job.

    I'm 6 months into a PhD (admittedly in Chemical Engineering, not physics, but my project has a modelling bent) and, as the title suggests, I've been struggling to find motivation day in and day out. It's silly: give me an interesting problem in a project not related to my work (say a math...
  35. F

    Physical motivation for integrals over scalar field?

    I'm looking for good examples of physical motivation for integrals over scalar field. Here is an example I've found: If you want to know the final temperature of an object that travels through a medium described with a temperature field then you'll need a line integral It appears to me that...
  36. A

    Help with my letter of motivation

    Hello, I will be applying to Utrecht University soon and I would like some constructive criticism of my letter of motivation. It is not complete and i am still working on it but i would like some feedback. Here are the questions i have to answer: Which subjects and subject areas are you most...
  37. loops496

    Motivation Letter suggestions and improvements

    Hello everyone, So my university opened some Summer Research Opportunities for Undergraduates and part of the application requires a motivation letter. Here is what I wrote, I'm open to any suggestions or improvements, Thanks in advance!Respected Sir/Madam, I was very excited when I learned...
  38. Vinay080

    Motivation for geometrical representation of Complex numbers

    I am seeing in "slow motion" the development of vectorial system. I am reading the book "A History of Vector Analysis" (by Michael J.Crowe); it seems from my acquaintance that the vector concept came from the quaternions concept; and the quaternions concept came from the act of search for...
  39. F

    I need support, I'm in a rougher patch than usual

    Hello. I am a physics student and recently I have not done so well. This is one of those times when even your best effort isn't enough. I have had those before and have come through, I know I can, I just don't believe it right now,. And I really love this dang, I really do, that's why I am so...
  40. M

    Profs asked me to send motivation letter

    Recently I have been contacting profs from different research groups about the possibility to work my PhD research in their group. Again, the e-mail I have sent to them only asked if there are open positions in their research group as well as asking for a brief description of the position. I...
  41. M

    Motivation of sin and cos functions

    Is there a way to motivate the sinus and cosinus functions by looking at their Taylor expansion? Or equivalently, is there a way to see that complex numbers adds their angles when multiplied without knowledge of sin and cos?
  42. P

    Motivation for research and careers in physics

    I've been struggling to find my own motivation for studying and researching physics, so I wanted to pose this question to anyone willing to answer. What is your motivation/drive/ambition to study physics? What do you hope to accomplish with a career in physics? And finally, was there a moment...
  43. A

    Need Help Perfecting Your Motivation Letter for a PhD Program?

    Hi, I have just finished writing my motivation letter and I would be glad if you could check it. Please, make your correction, comments, advice. I want to make my letter good as much as possible! Thank you! Motivation letter: I am writing to apply for PhD program “…” at the … Institute. My...
  44. M

    Overcoming the First-Year Physics Wall: Advice for Struggling Students

    I'm a first year physics major, and I feel like I'm hitting a wall in physics. I have been doing well in physics so far, even though I have been studying more and more and I just feel like I am hitting a wall and not learning anything. Even though I still like physics a lot, I'm losing the...
  45. matqkks

    Half Range Series: Benefits & Applications

    If we have a standard function like x or x^2 defined between 0 and pi. Then why should we be interested in extending this function to give a Fourier series which resembles this function between 0 and pi? What is the whole purpose of this process? Does it have any real life application or is it...
  46. binbagsss

    Covariant Derivative: Understanding Motivation Quickly

    As we can not meaningfully compare a vector at 2 points acted upon by this operator , because it does not take into account the change due to the coordinate system constantly changing, I conclude that the elementary differential operator must describe a change with respect to space-time, How do...
  47. A

    Struggling with motivation to study physics

    Hello all, new poster here. I don't want to sound like I'm ranting but I feel like I have no one else to tell. Studying physics has been my life dream since about a year and a half ago. After a long and hard journey (college would not let me take further maths), I finally made it into a...
  48. Pythagorean

    Orexin: a unifying theory for a lesser known neurotransmitter

    This perspective article covers several functions of Orexin, a lesser known neurotransmitter: Arousal and sleep/wake transitions Reward seeking Stress Homeostatic regulation Cognition: attention, learning and memory and concludes: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v17/n10/abs/nn.3810.html
  49. matqkks

    Germain Primes: Exploring Sophie Germain's Motivation

    Why did Germain come up with her Germain primes? I am intrigued to know why Sophie came across these primes. Do they have any applications?