Motivation Process in Humans

Psychoanalytic Theory

This theory was advanced by Sigmund Freud. It states that the human behavior is determined by the sexual and aggressive drives that result from irrational forces, instincts, and the subconscious (Sulloway, 1992).

Given these considerations, human behavior can be determined. Therefore, from the factors that determine the behavior of individuals, psychologists who believe in this theory always state that human behavior is not as a result of free will but as a result of various factors within an individual.

Effects of painful childhood memories for instance can be a major determinant of human behavior or psychological problems despite the fact that the subject might not be able to recall them.

According to this theory, the personality of an individual consists of three different elements; the id, the ego, and the superego (Berg, 2004). The id aspect of an individual is controlled by the factors such as libido, pain and emotions that arise within an individual. This explains why we always seek pleasure and avoid pain. The ego on the other hand works as a defense mechanism to balance the desires of the id and the superego hence bringing about a sense of reality and rationalization hence maintaining a healthy state of mind. The superego works to instill social behaviors such as morality.

The unconscious is critical as it can be used to explore the inner feelings of an individual especially through dreams. The manifest content of a dream can be used under hypnosis to expound on the inner feelings of an individual hence forming the basis of the neo-analytical theory.

Consequently, an individual has to meet all the needs of the different levels of sexual development to avoid being stuck in the process of progression.

Humanistic Theory

This theory was advanced to respond to the psychoanalytic theory that did not believe in free will. According to the humanistic theory, individuals focus on themselves. Therefore, despite the fact that environmental factors play a significant role in determining behavior, it is the subject who actually determines his/her own behavior. In the process, an individual acts to actualize his/her goals and objectives in life hence fulfilling his/her self-esteem (Ahmad, 2008).

This theory assumes goodness is an instinctive virtue in human beings and plays a significant role in enabling them to put free will into practice, to actualize their goals, and to achieve their full potential.

According to Carl Rogers, the self-esteem of an individual develops from the manner in which they view themselves. This concept is regarded to as the self concept (Turner, 2008). The self concept of an individual develops from two different perspectives. These are:

  1. Conditional positive regard.
  2. Unconditional positive regard.

Conditional positive regard is exhibited by individuals when given conditions are met. On the other hand, unconditional positive regard will is exhibited unconditionally without any conditions being met.

Maslow on the other hand believed that individuals have specific needs that they have to achieve in life. In his hierarchy of needs, he stated that

the needs of an individual change gradually from simple to complex. Thus, he placed basic needs at the lowest level of hierarchy and self actualization needs at the highest.

Therefore, individuals are motivated to achieve what they need to achieve their goals in life.


Ahmad, M. (2008). Comprehensive Dictionary of Education. Atlanta: Atlantic Publishers & Dist

Berg, H. (2004). Freud’s Theory and Its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies: An Introduction. London: Camden House.

Sulloway, J. (1992). Freud, Biologist of the Mind: Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend. New York: Harvard University Press.

Turner, A. (2008). Action Reflecting Learning: Solving Real Business Problems by Connecting Learning with Earning. New York: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

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