After reading this essay you will learn about the process of learning, motivation and perception.
Essay # 1. Needs and Drives:
The behaviour of the newborn child is due to internal needs or drives. The term “need” refers to a condition of “lack” or deficiency in the organism. There may be a lack of food or water or air or optimum temperature etc. These needs produce in the body a physiological “state” demanding “satisfaction.” Hunger, thirst, etc. are such states of the organism demanding satisfaction.
The states provide the incitement to action on the part of the organism. Another way of expressing the same situation and the consequences is by using the term “drive.” The food need in the organism precipitates the hunger drive. There is thus close association between the two concepts need and drive.
Some lack in the organism leads to an activity and this activity ceases when there is some “satisfaction,” when a new condition is produced in the organism by the intake of food, water, etc., that is, when there is “drive-reduction” or “need satisfaction.” Often these two terms are used as equivalents. But there is some difference between the two terms. For example, a person who has been without food for about ten or twelve hours, reports that feelings of hunger tend to come and go in spite of the fact that the lack of food (need) continued.
However, both the terms need and drive refer to bodily states that initiate tendencies to general activity. The states are frequently experienced as feelings of tension or restlessness. They are not learned. They are aroused when the condition of the organism departs considerably from a desirable or optimum condition.
The hunger drive develops when the organism is deprived of food for many hours; the resulting restlessness also emerges without any learning. In the new-born infant the hunger drive leads to general activity. But in the adult the energy state associated with hunger drive becomes associated with a goal (food) and leads to highly specific activity; this comes about through the learning process.
Essay # 2. Drives and the Learning Process:
Drives are thus the sources of energy. During infancy the mother’s efforts lead to drive-reduction. The tension and the restlessness increase the general activity; when there is feeding of the infant by the mother the drive tension is reduced. Drive reduction becomes associated with the mother and milk. Observations of this kind led to the formulation of the “tension-reduction theory of learning.”
According to this theory the individual learns those activities that are immediately followed by tension reduction. This view asserts that we learn to eat because eating is followed by reduction of the hunger drive. Because of the instrumental nature of such drive-reducing acts, this kind of learning has been called by Skinner (1953) “instrumental learning” or “instrumental conditioning.”
This is how through learning the general activity of the innate drive is linked with the goal; that is, the hunger drive is linked with the goal, milk, through learning. The activity is now centred around a goal. Thus, a goal may be defined as a state of affairs toward which learned behaviour is directed.
Essay # 3. Motivation as Goal-Orientation:
When the hunger drive is there, tension or restlessness exists and the infant exhibits general activity. After a period of learning the infant associates hunger with milk, because milk leads to drive reduction. As a result the infant seeks milk; there is a link between the drive and the specific goal. The infant has now acquired a motive through learning.
The infant for several weeks after birth exhibits behaviour that appears to be random; the infant behaviour is essentially unorganized. When the child is five years old there is a great change in behaviour. It has become modified so that what the child does at one moment is related to some behaviour of a moment later and in its turn that is related to the next behaviour and so on.
He may spend quite a long time manipulating the materials in an attempt to construct a toy. A few years later the same child will spend hours, either alone or with other persons, doing a number of things which contribute to the attainment of a goal.
In other words, his activities are all organized in order to reach a goal; thus with growth, the random general activities of the infant become organized into a series of specific activities which lead the child of six or eight to attain a goal and he cooperates with other children in his play activities. With further growth as an adult he cooperates with others in the world of work.
How has this drastic change in behaviour come about? It is important to comprehend this so that we can understand how we take our place in a society of interacting persons.
“Motivated behaviour” is the behaviour in which a person engages in as he strives to reach a goal. Motivated behaviour is goal-directed and goal-oriented behaviour. The behaviour continues till the goal is reached, or some other motivated behaviour intervenes. It is organized around a goal. Motive is a state of the organism in which the bodily energy is mobilized and directed to attain a goal.
Motivation implies a state of energy mobilization and a direction toward a goal. Thus, motive is a concept that joins together a state of energy mobilization and a goal. As seen above, energy and goal are linked by learning. In the drive the energy is not goal directed; the restlessness of the infant persists till there is a drive reduction. Gradually the child learns through instrumental learning to associate the drive with a goal. When this is learnt, there is motivated activity in the child.
However, Harlow (1953) reports that he has repeatedly observed that monkeys learn to solve mechanical puzzles even without a reward which reduces an organic drive state. Since he was unable to identify any internal drive in this activity he has used the term “curiosity-manipulation” to account for it.
Harlow says that this can be observed even in a child; when the child has had a meal, he may be led by his “curiosity” to go out and learn some things. Such a behaviour then is goal- directed but the behaviour is not initiated by a drive; in other words, the drive-reduction principle cannot be applied to learning situations of this kind.
Leuba (1955) put forth the hypothesis that we tend to learn those responses that produce an “optimum” level of stimulation (or tension). If a person is hungry, his drive state is very high and he tends to learn those responses which ‘reduce’ the hunger drive. But if a person has satisfied all his drives, the total level of stimulation is “below” the optimal level and he seeks to “raise” it by actively seeking contacts with the environment.
It is a familiar fact that human behaviour can be highly organized and directed toward goals in the areas of invention, creativity and group action. In other words, motives are acquired in these areas where drive-reduction principles are difficult to apply. So all motives cannot be explained on the basis of drive-reduction principles. Secondary motives arise as a result of experience, social pressures and aspirations of the emerging self.
Essay # 4. Variety of Human Motives:
The primary drives must be fulfilled if the organism has to survive. The familiar examples are hunger, thirst, pain, fatigue, etc. These primary drives are shared by man with the animals. However, among the human beings these drives lead to many different kinds of activities. Though hunger leads to food-getting behaviour, it may also instigate behaviour toward injuring others (aggressiveness) who obstruct, toward hoarding (acquisitiveness) or toward competing with others or toward cooperating with others.
Thus, there are no simple connections between human motives and the primary drives. This is because of the fact of learning. Human beings can acquire a number of motives. This is what gives human behaviour a considerable amount of flexibility. Though as far as primary drives are concerned there is hardly any difference between man and animals, it is the fact of acquisition of motives that makes human behaviour very complex.
Further, man has learned through interaction with his fellow human beings how to achieve goals through collective efforts. He acquires motives of being concerned with what happens to other human beings; he also learns to look at himself as others see him. In all this language helps very greatly.
Thus, human motives are quite distinctive in their number; they are based on the primary drives; but there are many possibilities of learning so that the links between human motives and the underlying primary drives in complex, organized, societies are difficult to trace.
Essay # 5. Social-Personal Motives:
Maslow (1943) proposed a theory of specific order of development of motives. The most primary and basic needs are the physiological needs like hunger, thirst, etc. When these are adequately satisfied the safety needs arise; for example, security and order. When these are satisfied the need for belongingness and love, the desire for affection and identification emerge; the child wants to be accepted by his parents, teachers, friends, etc.
With the satisfaction of these needs, the esteem needs arise; there is self-esteem from mastery and confidence in one’s worth, adequacy and abilities; there is also the need for social approval. Finally emerges the need for self-actualization through creative self-expression in personal and social achievements; it also involves the need to satisfy one’s curiosity and to understand one’s world and the society in which one lives.
Thus, Maslow has arranged the needs in a hierarchic order from the physiological needs at the base to the self-actualization need at the top. According to Maslow, an individual’s lower needs must be satisfied before the higher needs can operate.
However, it is obvious that a lower need does not have to be completely satisfied before the next higher need arises. For example, there is the physiological need, the sex need; it can be satisfied with self-esteem and social esteem only when a man or woman is more than twenty or twenty-five years, after the completion of education and when one is working to earn his livelihood.
Although the urge to sex activity is physiological and organic, its fulfilment is to a considerable degree socially and psychologically determined. In the Indian society, marriage of the young man or the young woman has to be arranged by the parents. All the relatives from various distances have to come and bless the young couple.
Thus, the cultural values and norms determine whom an individual marries and when the marriage takes place. Similarly the satisfaction of hunger need is also socially determined; what one eats, when he eats his food, and how he eats his food, are all socially determined. The physiological need of hunger can find its satisfaction only within the limits prescribed by the social norms.
Further, the safety need and love need emerge very early in life within the first three years but they persist, like the physiological needs, throughout life. However, it must be realized that when the physiological needs are not adequately satisfied, the esteem needs and the need for self-actualization cannot emerge. In fact this is one of the basic obstacles to social and national development in India.
The basic needs of hunger, thirst, clothing and housing have not been adequately satisfied for more than 75 per cent of the people. It is obviously futile to expect the Indian peasant and workman who does not possess adequate nutrition etc., to have self- esteem and become highly productive to improve the economic condition of the country. It is from this point of view that one should look at the hierarchic structure of motives.
Essay # 6. Deficit Motives and Growth Motives:
Another distinction drawn by Maslow (1970) is very useful. He looks upon the basic needs referred to above as deficiency needs. Whether it is hunger or affection or security or self-esteem, there is some deficiency. The individual strives to obtain food or affection, to have a sense of well-being. They are adaptive. The individual makes adjustments.
On the other hand, there are the growth needs. They are also inherent in human beings like the basic needs. Their aim, however, is not to make good a deficiency. Their aim rather is to grow up psychologically and socially. There is here an aim beyond mere survival. There are the cognitive needs, to know and understand.
They are there right from early childhood days. The child of three or four asks any number of questions about objects and events. Our experiences leave traces in the mind. Memories are stored up. But mere storage of information is of no use in our social or intellectual life. They have to be organised so that the past memories help us to understand the various problems which arise as one grows up.
The desire to know and understand is very useful, not for mere survival, but for the growth of the individual personality and the culture and civilization to which the individual belongs. The need for self-actualization belongs to this group of growth need. Also this need generates values like social justice, goodness beauty, order, unity and so on. They become very important motives in the development of the individual and society.
The ancient Indians spoke of four Purusharthas, the four ends of man, namely, dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Kama refers to pleasure and sex. Artha refers to wealth and power. Dharma refers to righteous dealings with other human beings. Moksha refers to self-realisation or self-actualization. It is obvious that kama and artha may be classed as deficit motives which help in survival. But dharma and moksha pertain to the development of the individual and the society.
The need for self-actualization may be so strong that even a person like Buddha long ago left his wife, child and the princely mansion and went in search of growth, peace and tranquility. Similarly in the 20th century, there is the case of Shri Aurobindo Ghosh and Shri Ramana Maharshi who abandoned everything in search of self-actualization. The two Ashrams established by them in Pondichery and Tiruvannamalai have been places of pilgrimage like Varanasi and Ramesvaram. People go there, not to worship the images but to breath the atmosphere.
Among the most powerful social motives are those for affiliation, independence, and achievement.
Essay # 7. Need for Cognitive Structure:
Before we conclude this section we may refer briefly to the need for cognition or cognitive structure. Cohen et al (1955) defined the need for cognition as a need to structure relevant situations in meaningful and integrated ways. The person needs to understand his world as he experiences it; he needs to make his world reasonable. Cohen and others devised two independent measures of cognitive need which yielded consistent results.
Two groups of subjects were differentiated on the basis of high or low need for cognition. They were presented with either an ambiguous or structured situation. It was found that the ambiguous situation produced more frustration than the structured one. It was also found that the frustration was greater among those with high need for cognition than among those with a low need.
The most ambitious attempt to formulate a cognitive theory of social psychology is that by Krech and Crutchfield (1948), who set up a series of propositions regarding motivation and perception. They asserted that the behaviour of an individual occurring at a given time can be understood only by the complex effects of motivational factors as well as of perceptions.
They postulated that instabilities in the psychological field produce ‘tensions’ whose effects on perception, cognition and action are such as to tend to change the field in the direction of a more stable structure; in other words, the feelings of restlessness persist until there is a cognitive reorganization and general restructuring of the field so that actions become goal-directed.
Frustration arises when the person cannot achieve the goal. These frustrations may result from physical or social forces or from personal factors. The person may respond to the frustration with adaptive behaviours such as intensification of effort to achieve the goal, reorganization of the perceptual field or substitution of a goal that is attainable; or his behaviour may be maladaptive so that there is aggression, regression, withdrawal, rationalization etc., which interfere with the healthy functioning of the individual.
As regards the cognitive side, they said that the perceptual and cognitive field is normally organized and meaningful. This is illustrated by the tendency of people to form integrated impressions of others, to jump to conclusions, and to resist changes in attitudes. When an individual becomes a member of a group his cognitive structure, his conception of the world, of the fellow human beings and the society, are all affected by the characteristics of the group.
As a result the person perception is determined by the group perception. Secondly, since these cognitive structures are strong, they are the least susceptible to disruptive influences; even contradictory evidence will not make him change his attitude and outlook towards the group and its members; by the same token, he will not easily change his attitude and outlook towards himself and his group.
However, with changing experiences the individual also tends to change his cognitive structure, his outlook, and attitudes, when the new experiences set up tensions in him. In order to reduce the tension he will make efforts to reorganize his cognitive structure; he may learn new ways of looking at the problem and develop new ways of problem solving. However, as noted above, it is also possible that a high level tension may lead to maladaptive reorganization and interfere with the healthy functioning of the individual.
Essay # 8. Perception:
By the time the infant is one year old he has developed considerable acquaintance with his world. Observing and identifying objects and happenings is an important part of his life. This is perception. It is a process of becoming aware of objects or events or characteristics by means of sensory operations; previous experiences influence present perceptions. Thus, perception is a highly complex process.
The newborn infant has eyes, ears and skin which are quite sensitive to the various stimuli; he has the necessary equipment to receive sensations of cold, of warmth, and of pain or pressure; warm milk when swallowed is satisfying to him; a well-filled stomach changes his behaviour from crying and restlessness to quietness and sleepiness.
In the midst of the confusion of stimuli, the ‘infant establishes contacts that bring gratification. It is possible that the stimuli arising from the areas of his mouth and stomach are the first to be differentiated somewhat. In addition, among the earliest of his satisfactions may be those he derives from the warm and soft contact with his mother.
All these various sensations affect the infant’s neurophysiological structure and eventually gives rise to meaningful awareness. Developmental studies show that the infant can recognize the mother’s face in the third or fourth month. It is the general experience that the infant perceives the difference between the familiar and unfamiliar faces by the end of six months.
However, person-awareness is not a sudden emergence in the infant’s development. It gradually emerges on the basis of the satisfactions of being fed, warmed, fondled, sung to. The infant’s discovery that there are enduring objects in his world is the beginning of perceptual order and stability. Through manipulation of various objects he becomes aware of objects. It is in this way he becomes aware of persons and objects.
He has “expectations” about objects and persons. An individual’s expectations control his attention and determine what he will notice and respond to. With further learning, that is, with modification of his responses on the basis of his experiences, his expectations become more expanded and refined.
It must, however, be borne in mind that the child is in no sense passive in his role as perceiver. He perceives his environment in terms of his needs and his learning. The perceiver is an active organizer. A person tends to identify a given situation or object in terms of what is familiar to him; in other words, perception depends not only on the pattern of the stimuli but also on the individual’s past experiences and his needs.