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Specific Motivation

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Specific Motivation

Candy was enough of a motivator for us as children. But, as adults, we find that motivation isn't quite that easy. Motivation can be difficult to come by at times. Sometimes there isn't even any motivation at all.

  • What is specific motivation?
  • How does specific motivation works?
  • What is situation-specific motivation?
  • What are the four types of motivation?
  • What is task-specific motivation?

Specific Motivation Theory Definition

Two men playing basketball depicting competence motivation, pexels.com | StudySmarterTwo men playing basketball depicting competence motivation, pexels.com

Numerous motivation theories show just how complex motivation is. People get motivation differently, and your motivation may not necessarily work for another person. Specific motivation theory explains the ways that drive us to act through specific motivations. But first, what is specific motivation?

Specific motivations are usually short-term motivations based on expectations or goals set by the individual. External factors mainly affect specific motivation.

Generally, we all want to gain new knowledge or learn new skills. But, whether we participate or not in an online workshop depends on our specific motivations, such as achievement, competence, power, and affiliation.

One way specific motivation works is through positive reinforcement. When a person's efforts are successful, coupled with positive feedback from significant people (e.g., family, friends, and teachers) in his life, he begins to internalize a standard of excellence he sets for himself, increasing his sense of competence. A high sense of competence encourages him to take on more challenging tasks and exert tremendous effort. As significant people influence motivation, the relevance of the positive reinforcement also matters, and the basis of evaluation, such as the outcome or personal mastery.

Specific motivations, such as the affiliation motive, work when people experience emotional triggers (e.g., fear, anxiety, and joy). The interplay of biological and social elements is at the heart of affiliation behavior, as evidenced by our ancestors' forming social attachments, which helped them in their ability to survive and reproduce. Social attachments offered our ancestors access to basic needs and other material resources.

So, what is specific motivation theory?

Specific motivation theories explain how specific motivations such as the need for achievement or power cause an individual to work towards a goal.

Specific Motivation Theory Examples

A child sketching in her drawing pad, pexels.com | StudySmarter A child sketching in her drawing pad, pexels.com

Harter's Competence Motivation Theory

In her competence motivation theory, Susan Harter suggested that people participate in activities based on their perceived competence. She built on the work of Robert White, who introduced "effectance" to describe the motivation to join with and influence his surroundings. According to White, if a person achieves success, he will continue interacting with his environment.

This idea is central to Harter's motivation theory with a few modifications:

  • Individuals have differing perceived competence in many aspects (e.g., intellectual abilities and social skills)

  • They are motivated to exhibit competence in all of these areas.

  • Competence motivation improves when people succeed in their tasks and receive socio-emotional support from their loved ones.

A child who receives praise from his parents after successfully sketching a dog will continue to improve his drawing skills.

Achievement Motivation Theory

According to David McClelland, everyone strives for a particular level of excellence, defined as achievement motivation. People with high achievement motivation choose somewhat difficult activities that offer satisfaction but at the same time avoid too easy or impossible tasks. People with low achievement motivation choose very easy or unachievable activities to prevent accounting for themselves for failure.

College students with high achievement motivation will most likely attribute their failure in exams to a lack of preparation and effort.

Protection Motivation Theory

Ronald Rogers introduced the idea that people are motivated to protect themselves and others upon perceiving danger or threat. A person determines his response by evaluating the threat's severity and the possibility of it happening. He also looks at how effective the response will be, the difficulty of enacting the response, and his own ability beliefs to cope. If a person believes that the threat is not that severe and the cost of adopting a new behavior is more costly, he may deny or minimize the danger.

A person told by his doctor to lose weight thinks that changing his diet and lifestyle is too costly and instead dismisses the matter altogether.

Four Types of Motivation

We all have activities that we like because they are enjoyable. This enjoyment stems from intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the inner determination to do something for the sake of doing it rather than for a reward. Individuals who rely more on intrinsic motivation have greater mental health overall.

Rachel enjoys DIY projects because she considers it an accomplishment to be able to make things from scratch.

But, intrinsic motivation doesn't always last as extrinsic motivation can occur in performing a task, which is the overjustification effect.

The overjustification effect occurs when a person with an intrinsic desire to accomplish something receives an extrinsic reward. The reward replaces the inner satisfaction as a motivator for that work.

Hannah likes baking cakes for her friends and family, but it seemed less enjoyable when her passion became a family business.

When a child does a chore in exchange for a toy, his motivation to do the task is extrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation refers to a desire to engage in a behavior in exchange for an outside (extrinsic) reward, which includes recognition, money, and material things.

Earlier perspectives on motivation state that behaviors brought about by extrinsic motivation were non-determined due to lack of choice. Still, research (Deci & Ryan, 2004) identified four types of extrinsic motivation according to levels of self-determination to non-determination.

The types of extrinsic motivation are external, introjected, identified, and integrated regulation.

  1. External regulation is the least self-determined extrinsic motivation to achieve an end state separate from the behavior.

  2. Introjected regulation is extrinsic motivation involving actions driven by internal pressures such as guilt or shame.

  3. Identified regulation is extrinsic motivation involving actions driven by reasons deemed important by the individual.

  4. Integrated regulation is the most self-determined extrinsic motivation involving actions consistent with one's identity. A person's motivation is in line with his values.

When you know that there's a task to be done but haven't acted upon it, that indicates identified motivation.

In identified motivation, the person sees the need to act, but the desire hasn't entirely materialized, so he doesn't do anything about it yet. This motivation gradually builds up over time.

Introjected motivation mostly reflects the negative side of motivation; internal pressures become the motivation for a person to act.

Situation-Specific Motivation

A college student taking an exam, pexels.com | StudySmarter A college student taking an exam, pexels.com

Situational motivation refers to the motivation at the present moment while performing an activity. This motivation presents itself based on the situation. Situation-specific motivations can change depending on the task's characteristics and other factors.

A student's situation-specific motivation, for example, is demonstrated in learning how to solve a math equation. His motivation can be influenced by the problem's difficulty, his teacher, or his feelings about that particular situation.

Another example is test-taking motivation, which falls under situation-specific motivation because a student, for example, is subjected to a particular situation, and this kind of motivation is defined as the desire to persist and work hard on a set of test items. Situation-specific factors that influence motivation and, in turn, affect test performance might include interest in the subject itself and the perceived value of the test.

Specific Intrinsic Motivation

In the long run, intrinsic motivation proves to be more effective in attaining goals. You find enjoyment and deeper meaning in your activities when you have intrinsic motivation. This kind of motivation is rooted in inner satisfaction regardless of the outcome.

There are three types of intrinsic motivation (Vallerand et al. 1989, 1992, 1993):

  1. Intrinsic motivation to know is motivation through the enjoyment of gaining knowledge and skills.

  2. Intrinsic motivation to accomplish things is motivation through feelings of fulfillment from achievements.

  3. Intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation is motivation through sensory stimulation experienced during an activity.

Types: Theory of Motivation

There are two types of motivation theories: content and process theories.

The content theories of motivation emphasize our needs as central to our motivation. Motivation ceases when the need has already been satisfied.

Most-well known content theory of motivation is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which consists of five levels: physiological needs, safety, love and belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. Basic needs (physiological and safety) must more or less be satisfied to move to the next level. In this theory, he suggested that all people are capable of reaching self-actualization. A problem arises when a person experiences adverse events (e.g., relationship problems), causing him to move back and forth to satisfy his fluctuating needs.

The process theories of motivation highlight the purpose and course of action we take that leads to behavior, including goal planning and the work we put in to achieve our goals.

Victor Vroom's Expectancy Theory of Motivation suggests that a person's motivation in an activity depends on his expectations of a valuable return for his hard effort and belief that he can complete the job.

Task-Specific Motivation Theory

There is no single theory that thoroughly explains what determines task motivation. There are a lot of conflicting ideas in the science of motivation. So, a unified model of task-specific motivation has been put forward to understand this phenomenon. Task-specific factors are assumed to interact, leading to overall task motivation.

Task-specific motivation refers to readiness for concrete actions such as preparing for a job interview or reviewing for board examinations. The expected value directly influences task motivation.

Expected value is the perceived value of an activity resulting from the interaction of four valences: affective, cognitive, positive, and negative.

Affective vs. Cognitive Valences

Affective valences are positive emotional responses (e.g., pleasure) in the anticipation and execution of an activity. In comparison, cognitive valences are the value assessment of the activity's projected outcomes. These two types of valences function as two distinct motivation regulators but still interact with one another in which they sometimes support or oppose one another, influencing task motivation.

Positive vs. Negative Valences

Approach motivation, arising from positive valences, is motivation from pleasant feelings to achieve one's goals. This motivation consists of activities that move toward the reward. On the other hand, avoidance motivation arises from negative valences. Avoidance motivation comprises actions intended to avoid aversive situations. This motivation also includes initiating thoughts and activities to prevent the intended action.

Other factors influencing task motivation are expected feasibility, autonomy, relatedness, and subjective norm.

  1. Expected feasibility is the belief in personal competence and situational factors (e.g., available external support) influencing motivation.

  2. Autonomy reflects how one perceives himself as the sole source of his decisions and the sense of freedom in planning his course of action.

  3. Relatedness is the sense of belonging or connection a person feels towards the people involved in the motivated action.

  4. Subjective norm is the tendency to conform to the standards of persons significant to the motivated action.

Specific Motivations - Key Takeaways

  • Specific motivations are short-term motivations based on a person's goals.

  • The four types of motivation are intrinsic (inner determination), extrinsic (outside rewards), introjected (internal pressures), and identified (gradual) motivation.

  • Situation-specific motivation refers to the motivation at a given moment or current motivational state in a particular activity at a specific time.

  • The two types of theories of motivation are content (focuses on the need) and process (focuses on the mechanism) theories.

  • Task-specific motivation is the willingness to take action in a particular activity influenced by the interaction of task-specific variables such as valences, expected feasibility, autonomy, relatedness and subjective norm.


References

  1. De Brabander, C. J., & Martens, R. L. (2018). Empirical exploration of a unified model of task-specific motivation. Psychology, 9(4), 540-560.
  2. De Brabander, C. J., & Martens, R. L. (2014). Towards a unified theory of task-specific motivation. Educational Research Review, 11, 27-44.
  3. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (Eds.). (2004). Handbook of self-determination research. University Rochester Press.
  4. Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., Blais, M. R., Brière, N. M., Senécal, C., & Vallières, É. F. (1993). On the assessment of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation in education: Evidence on the concurrent and construct validity of the Academic Motivation Scale. Educational and psychological measurement, 53(1), 159-172.
  5. Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., Blais, M. R., Briere, N. M., Senecal, C., & Vallieres, E. F. (1992). The Academic Motivation Scale: A measure of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation in education. Educational and psychological measurement, 52(4), 1003-1017.

Frequently Asked Questions about Specific Motivation

Specific motivations are usually short-term motivations based on expectations or goals set by the individual. External factors mainly affect specific motivation.

Situational motivation refers to the motivation at the present moment while performing an activity. This motivation presents itself based on the situation. Situation-specific motivations can change depending on the task's characteristics and other factors.

The four types of motivation are Intrinsic, extrinsic, introjected and identified motivation

Task-specific motivation refers to readiness for concrete actions such as preparing for a job interview or reviewing for board examinations. 

One way specific motivation works is through positive reinforcement. When a person's efforts are successful, coupled with positive feedback from significant people (e.g., family, friends, and teachers) in his life, he begins to internalize a standard of excellence he sets for himself, increasing his sense of competence. A high sense of competence encourages him to take on more challenging tasks and exert tremendous effort.


Specific motivations, such as the affiliation motive, work when people experience emotional triggers (e.g., fear, anxiety, and joy). The interplay of biological and social elements is at the heart of affiliation behavior, as evidenced by our ancestors' forming social attachments, which helped them in their ability to survive and reproduce. Social attachments offered our ancestors access to basic needs and other material resources. 

Final Specific Motivation Quiz

Question

Define sexual motivation. 

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Answer

The human desire to partake in sexual activities and the interest in sexual objects. 

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What term did Sigmund Freud use when referring to the sex drive? 

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Answer

Libido 

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Question

Define hormones. 

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Answer

Chemical messengers are created in the endocrine gland. 

These messengers move through our bloodstream and help regulate activities that involve behavioral and psychological processes. 

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Question

What are sex hormones? 

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Answer

Estrogen (female).

Testosterone (male). 

Chemical messengers that, firstly, create changes within the body during puberty and development, and second, help stimulate arousal and sexual behavior. 

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Define estrogen. 

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Sex hormones which are present in both males and females, but more so in females. These hormones help with female sex characteristics during puberty and development. 

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Define testosterone. 

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These sex hormones are present in both males and females, but more so in males. These hormones help with male sex characteristics during puberty and development, as well as impact the growth of male genitalia. 

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When does estrogen activate sexual desire in females? 

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Estrogen can activate sexual desire in females during puberty and ovulation (the peak of fertility for females). 

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When does testosterone activate sexual desires in males? 

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Testosterone can activate sexual desire in males during puberty.

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What is the 1st phase in the sexual response cycle made by Masters and Johnson? 

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Excitement 

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What is the 2nd phase in the sexual response cycle made by Masters and Johnson? 

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Plateau

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What is the 3rd phase in the sexual response cycle made by Masters and Johnson? 


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Orgasm

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What is the 4th phase in the sexual response cycle made by Masters and Johnson? 


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Resolution

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What is the "Kinsey Scale"? 

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A scale that showed that sexual orientation is a spectrum. Heterosexual and homosexual labels don't fit everyone perfectly. 

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Why is Dr. Alfred Kinsey's research important?  

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Kinsey’s research is important because it was created during a period where sex was not talked about and therefore taboos and stigmas were created. Kinsey’s research shows that sex is natural, and that gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things. 

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What did the 1st phase of Masters and Johnson's sexual response cycle exhibit? 

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Sexual arousal and the enlargement of genitalia (i.e. erect penis, erect nipples, and erect clitoris.) 

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What did the 2nd phase of Masters and Johnson's sexual response cycle exhibit?  

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It is exhibited by self-lubrication and the increase of heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration (breathing). 

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What did the 3rd phase of Masters and Johnson's sexual response cycle exhibit? 

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It is exhibited by muscle contractions, the peaking of heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and the release of bodily fluids. 

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What did the 4th phase of Masters and Johnson's sexual response cycle exhibit? 


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It is exhibited by the relaxation of muscle contractions, the softening of genitalia, and a decrease in the peaking of heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration (in other words, a return to normal body conditions).

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Hunger motivation is solely a biological and physiological process. True or False?

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False.

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Is hunger motivation internal or external?

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Both

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Describe the stomach contraction theory.

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 hunger comes from the biological process of stomach contractions that signal to the brain when we are hungry. 

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 Al Washburn tested his stomach contraction theory by inflating a balloon-type material in his stomach. True or False?


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True

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What are the causes of hunger motivation?

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internal and external theories of motivation

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Describe incentive theory of hunger

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the act of eating must be reinforced by some sort of external motivator

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Describe arousal theory of hunger

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motivation comes from the desire to reach a level of sensation

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Basic definition of hunger

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the desire or need to consume food

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APA defines motivation as 

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the force that gives direction and purpose to the behavior

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Some theories of motivation support hunger as a biological occurrence which would be an example of...



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Internal motivation

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Humans are motivated to eat through glucose receptors in the stomach. This is an example of...

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a biological internal motivation

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I at a large piece of carrot cake after a bad day to feel better. This is an example of what theory?

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arousal theory

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A child eats their vegetables to receive praise from their parent. What theory is this an example of?

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Incentive theory

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Hunger is based on external motivation only. True or False?

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False.

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I eat balanced meals to get in better shape. What theory is this an example of?

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Incentive theory

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______ _________ is how we are influenced or not influenced to perform well in front of other people.

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Social motivation

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What is a desire to be successful through our actions or when taking on difficult tasks.?

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Achievement motive

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What is a desire or longing to fit into a specific group?

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Affiliation motive

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Social motivation in Psychology is based on what two main motives?

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Affiliation and achievement motives

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A psychological test that gives people an opportunity to perceive pictures in a way that reveals their motivation and personality traits.

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Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).

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What has been studied by psychologists throughout time as it involves human interaction and connection?


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Affiliation motive

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The two types of social motivation are?

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Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

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 What is an internal desire or motive to complete a task?

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intrinsic motivation

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What is the overjustification effect?

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should not be confused with extrinsic motivation. The effect happens when someone who has intrinsic motivation ends up being rewarded for their efforts, making the reward the focus of their motivation, rather than their enjoyment.

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_______ _________ is when there is an external motive to complete a task.

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Extrinsic motivation

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______ in social motivation is a result of having motives that contradict each other and interfere with your ability to reach a goal.

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Conflict

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The four types of conflict in social motivation are

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the approach-approach conflict, the approach-avoidance conflict, the multiple approach-avoidance conflict, and the avoidance-avoidance conflict.


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Happens when someone is presented with two positive choices and must choose between the two.

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Approach-approach conflict

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What conflict happens when you are presented with two bad options that both have negative outcomes?

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Avoidance-avoidance conflict

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When someone is faced with choices that have both positive and negative consequences.

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Approach-avoidance conflict

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Who has testosterone in their system? 

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It's present in males and females, but males have more

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The term "sex hormones" is referring to both estrogen and testosterone. 

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True

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