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Motivation


Motivation has been defined as the reason for people's actions, desires, and needs. Motivation is also one's direction to behavior, or what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior. An individual is not motivated by another individual. Motivation comes from within the individual.
A person's behavior is driven by their motivation at that instant. One's primary motivation will of course vary by their current social and physical environment.


My daughter has a daughter (the she or her in this topic) who is nearing the age of 3 when I wrote this after a recent visit. Watching a human being who is definitely not mature yet could lead to a wrong initial concept but the interactions are still rather enlightening, to witness her different motivations and to see adult patterns as well. This perspective should apply to everyone.
She seems to get motivation along a rough scale ranging from solitary to selfish to interacting with others. As social beings having empathy much of what we do revolves around others.
The rough scale:
a) solitary: when at play by herself like coloring on paper or playing with magnets.
b) selfish: when demanding attention like when throwing a tantrum (she is only 3).
c) solitary but also socially interactive: when she is helpful to someone else, like picking up sticks to clear debris from the trees in the area, which is an activity which did not offer a direct benefit to her other than being helpful for her aunt. This behavior was sometimes done alone or later her uncle helped her.
d) interactive: when she will interact with other beings, which could be humans or animals.
This interaction involves some behavior by each side, as in a conversation. At her young age the language is not always clear from her but one can see her attempt to achieve this next step. This interactive context is common for adults.
e) not friendly: depending on the mood she might react negatively like doing what was she was just told is not allowed, or striking back when frustrated with a parental control situation.
f) other not friendly: Personal conflict. I am one of 6 children so I certainly know about this other not friendly. I just did not observe it here as she has no siblings and we were all family.
Sometimes a person can be motivated to be mean to another. One typical scenario is sibling jealousy or rivalry though she has no siblings.. This context is also common for adults like with personality conflicts or when there is no mutual respect between them. Since humans have a tendency for groups, this social environment easily leads to the us v them context where one's social group can take precedence over other groups or over those individuals not in one's group.
Unfortunately in life most people are in some way different than oneself. Whether a person remains in the friendly state with a variety of people depends on the shifting social environment and on how tolerant a personality is.

My sister has a very friendly male cat that she wants to interact with, though the cat less so. She likes to feed the cat who appreciates that,  She will even give it a hug and the cat stays so it must like getting the attention. This interaction is not like that with a person.

I know she is either friendly or not with other children who she interacts with others of her age like when with friends or at day care. Neither context was part of this observation but neither would affect the basic assumptions here.

She obviously enjoys time with her mom and dad. It is also obvious she enjoys time with my son and my older sister (who both enjoy that time with her also). The number of such acquaintances will grow over time.

Watching the cat is also interesting in comparison.
The cat is not a social being, like a human, so its motivations are different. It can be solitary like when grooming, or interactive like when wanting to sit on a person's lap for attention and the cat rewards the person with some purring, but I never see what I perceive as helpful behavior.
Her parents have a pet dog, which did not visit.
A dog is different than a cat, whose heritage is a Middle Eastern Cat, a hunting animal. Cats were domesticated when humans were in the agricultural phase so the cats could control the farm's pests. The dog's heritage is the Gray Wolf which is a pack animal so its interactions required within the pack are different than a solitary hunter, and each wolf must possess some social nature to be effective in the pack, which can bring down large mammals. Dogs were domesticated when humans were in the hunter-gatherer phase and the wolf was an apex predator (no other animal would prey on the wolf) suggesting the wolf provided some protection for the hunters from other predators like cougars or bears.
As mentioned in the topic about an animal soul, every animal on this planet is an individual but its behaviors are based on its own nature.

Each person is an individual sharing the same human traits like empathy but every person is unique, with their own basis for motivation. The same could be said about animals, including a cat or dog.

A person's motivation is typically driven by their social environment at that instant, leading to a perception the behavior pattern even over a short span of time is chaotic.

I grew up in a world view where the Bible is considered the basis for society.
The very suggestion that human behavior is or could be driven by God's master plan is absolutely preposterous to me. A person is driven by our human nature, though the general rules to follow for what is considered proper behavior are roughly defined by one's culture. These are rules but not directions or control because the person is part of that culture. A truly effective culture is one with its members working together toward common goals. If some members have their motivation based on satisfying rules declared by someone (either this person or another) interpreting ancient scriptures, not those defined by the culture, then an inconsistency in the group will probably exist.

Every person is driven by their human nature which almost always involves interacting with other people. As the motivations and behaviors for those involved are unpredictable, the current motivation might seem chaotic but after watching a 3 year old there is clearly a pattern that I believe present in adults. Also, as social beings, people often organize into social groups where the members can try to conform to the expectations of the group. The motivation for the group can be described by the reason they formed their group though the combination of individuals is not strictly predictable.

This is my interpretation of the source of motivation in people.

The base level is the focus of current attention, or the most important social context at that instant.
If this focus is maintained then the interaction remains stable. If the focus is interrupted, then the new focus must be identified. If the interruption affects an important social connection there could be some frustration or even hostility felt until the new focus is stable.
 This focus is influenced by many factors including where the individual is on the introvert - extrovert scale, which is a subconscious influence, certainly not a rule.
The introvert draws more energy from oneself while the extrovert draws on the social environment so the intensity of an interaction will also vary.

The observation that the Finnish tend to be introverts implies this is an individual's acquired attribute defined during the person's maturation process but affected by the local culture.
 Another base level influence is where the individual is on the conformance - tolerance scale, which is also a subconscious influence, certainly not a rule.
The tendency toward conformance will put the social context at a higher priority.

The observation that people around the world will have a similar distribution on this scale toward conformance even  though in same or different cultures implies this attribute is not acquired from one's culture but instead during the maturation process.

The combination of these levels sets the stage on the decision making process for what that person will do next, their motivation.

These levels are only suggested here and I suspect a sociologist will see this differently.

Studies with adults have shown that a person's initial reaction to a surprise will be mostly emotional but later, reason is more involved in the resolution (though sometimes fate is used instead). This observation alone implies some chaos as each person has their own focus and their own emotional state.
A child’s tantrum becomes an emotional outburst as an adult.
The uniqueness of each individual is certainly a consideration.

Other than the ten commandments (what not to do) The Bible does not offer an explicit guide for any individual and the direction for their motivation; instead their real motivation is truly based on our human nature.

Motivation is more complicated than this, but this just an initial perspective.

Created July 2018
Last update 8/05/2018

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