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  • Motivation
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  • oss01521
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    Education Standards

    Motivation - Course Map and Recommended Resources


    How to Use This Guide

    This guide provides information and resources on introducing the field of psychology as a science in an Introduction to Psychology course.  All resources are Open Access and can be downloaded or added to a Course Management System (LMS) via the hyperlinks.


    This section covers the topic of motivation.  We will define motivation and explore the 4 major theories:  Evolutionary, Drive Reduction, Optimum Arousal, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  In addition, we will distinguish intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Finally, we will discuss our motivation for hunger and sex.

    Learning Objectives

    1. Define Motivation

      1. Evolutionary approach

      2. Drive reduction theory

      3. Optimum arousal theory

      4. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

    2. Discuss motivation for hunger and sex

    3. Distinguish intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation

    Cross Cutting Themes



    1. Discuss the implications of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as it relates to educational and work settings.

    2. Discuss the situational factors that influence eating.

    3. Create a healthy lifestyle plan to avoid obesity.

    4. Discuss how each theory of motivation might be applied to selecting a career.

    5. Discuss what biological, psychological, environmental, and cultural factors influence one’s eating.

    Variations in Human Functioning

    1. Discuss the various motives that students have for attending college.
    2. Discuss gender differences in healthy and unhealthy eating.
    3. Discuss gender differences in sexual behavior.

    Cultural and Social Diversity

    1. Discuss the cultural influences on taste preferences.
    2. Discuss the cultural influences on gender identity.
    3. Discuss the cultural influences on eating disorders.
    4. Discuss the various motives that students have for attending college.
    5. Discuss gender differences in healthy and unhealthy eating.
    6. Discuss gender differences in sexual behavior.

    Recommended Resources

    Motivation – OpenStax

    This is the opening section of the Emotion and Motivation chapter in OpenStax.  It defines what psychologists mean by motivation, discusses the main theories of motivation, and makes the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  

    Hunger and Eating – OpenStax

    This is the middle section of the Emotion and Motivation chapter in OpenStax.  It discusses the physiological mechanisms behind eating, metabolism, body weight, obesity, and eating disorders.

    Two Fundamental Human Motivations: Eating and Mating

    This is one component of Chapter 10 on Motivation and Emotion published through the University of Minnesota.  It discusses the sexual response style as well as sexual orientation.

    Supplemental Resources

    What Motivates Us: Sex

    This is a lecture that is part of the Introduction to Psychology Open Yale Courses. Professor Paul Bloom discusses sex and gender differences.  In particular, he focuses on differences we experience in terms of attractiveness, what we are looking for in a mate, and sexual orientation.

    The Power of Motivation (Video)

    This is CrashCourse #17 by Hank Green titled The Power of Motivation.  It discusses the 4 Major Theories of Motivation: Evolutionary Perspective,  Drive-Reduction, Optimal Arousal, and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In addition, he discusses how sex, hunger, and the need to belong motivate us.

    Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Video)

    This is an RSA Animate video by  Dan Pink that discusses what motivates us at home and work.   

    Class Activities

    Two Exercises for Teaching About Motivation

    The attached link provides 2 activities designed to bring to life the concept of motivation.  The first one introduces students to the concept while the second helps students to apply the information while assuming the role of manager.