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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What is Motivation: Part 1

Psychologists define motivation as the direction, intensity and persistence of effort. When you are motivated to work, you will pour your effort into work (i.e., direction) with great intensity and persistence. This definition of motivation is a good one because it describes behaviors that can be observed. So, there is nothing airy fairy nor subjective about it. Researchers love such definitions because they can be easily measured. It can be clearly seen that someone is putting effort into a task (i.e., direction). Intensity can be measured from speed of work. Persistence can be measured by time on task.

Nice!

However, if this is the definition of motivation, there are some implications. Consider the situation where a man holds a gun to your head and asks you  to open the safe in your house, of which the combination you have been scatterbrained enough to forget. You would certainly direct your effort to trying to open the safe as fast as you can (intensity) and be quite persistent at trying even though you cannot for the life of you remember the safe combination... as long as the gun is held to your head and the man holding it is counting down.

You are motivated.

Next, consider the situation where I wake up at 6am on a Sunday morning before the sun is up in order to spray home-made oil emulsion on the leaves of my plants like so - http://petunialee.blogspot.sg/2009/02/cooking-oil-dishwash-water-lethal-spray.html. This has to be done well before dawn because if sunlight even softly brushes against the leaves before the emulsion has quite dried, the leaves will get Leaf Burn... and your plant will look like yesterday's stirfry in a pot. So I hurry. So there I am, spraying away, humming to myself and once in a while breaking into song melodious enough to lift my spirits but with a screeching quality that floats into my neighbours' windows. Once in a while, I stop singing to intensely and carefully spray around delicate buds and half opened flowers. Next, I begin to mix soil... dig... plant seeds. I am so focused I barely notice beads of sweat on my brow. Before I know it, the sun is high in the sky and it is already 11am. All that effort had direction, intensity and persistence.

I am motivated.

You don't need to be a researcher to realize that there is a clear difference between the 2 types of motivation. The keys to both types of motivation are in the emotions. Watch this space for "What is Motivation: Part 2".

8 comments:

Malar said...

I agree with you 100%! Waiting for Part 2!
At the same time, could you quote me the cost of book + delivery to Malaysia?

petunialee said...

Malaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar - You are soooooooooooooooooooo sweet! The postage for the book is SGD$7.50 for normal mail and SGD$10/= for registered.

Oh... I hope that is ok with you.

Malar said...

How about the book cost? Roughly when will I receive?
p/s: can't wait to read actually! hahhahahaaa..

Malar said...

Ok...I already read through your 'book' icon. SGD(25+7.50)=SGD32.5
How shall I make payment to you?

petunialee said...

Malar - You can pay through Paypal? Everything has been automated. I will get your mailing address and everything.

petunialee said...

Malar - Just click on the Add to Cart buttons and follow the Paypal instructions?

Malar said...

ok! thanks! ;)

petunialee said...

Malar - You're welcome!