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Motivation 101 - The Basics
Although I have not followed an official study in sports psychology, I have a Bachelors degree as a social worker, a Masters in communications & training and worked as a freelance outdoor instructor/management trainer for 2 years.
According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary the definition of motivation is:
Main Entry: mo.ti.va.tion
1 a : the act or process of motivating b : the condition of being motivated
2 : a motivating force, stimulus, or influence : INCENTIVE, DRIVE
- mo.ti.va.tion.al /-shn&l, -sh&-n&l/ adjective
- mo.ti.va.tion.al.ly adverb
The word motivation is derived from the Latin term motivus which means "a moving cause".
In psychology motivation refers to the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of behavior. Although there are several theories's regarding motivation (Maslow, Herzberg and Alderfer for example) they can be summed up with the following definitions:
. Internal state or condition that activates behavior and gives it direction.
. Desire or want that energizes and directs goal-oriented behavior.
. Influence of needs and desires on the intensity and direction of behavior.
. The arousal, direction, and persistence of behavior.
The source of motivation can be categorized as either extrinsic (outside the person) or intrinsic (internal to the person)
Extrinsic motivation, for example when someone is compelled to do something or act a certain way because of factors external to him or her like money, good grades or promotions (tangible reward) or public commendations, being a part of a group or becoming a role model (intangible reward).
Intrinsic motivation can be divided into three forms: One is based on pleasure and enjoyment; secondly a person can be motivated because they think the task/goal is important and third is when one feels that the task/goal is morally significant or an obligation. (Obligation refers to motivation based on what an individual thinks ought to be done).
So, let's take a look at the intrinsic motivators. We can distinguish between personal and interpersonal motivation.
. Challenge: To set personal meaningful goals.
. Curiosity: If there is an optimum discrepancy between the present knowledge and skill and what these could be.
. Control: We want to be in control what happens to us.
. Fantasy: We use mental images of who we want to become to stimulate/motivate ourselves and our behavior.
. Competition: Competition motivates behavior because people can enhance
their own self-esteem when they are able to make comparisons of their own performance to that of others.
. Cooperation: Deriving satisfaction from working toward group.
. Recognition: When we enjoy having our efforts and accomplishments
recognized and appreciated by others. (In order to obtain recognition, the
activity must be visible to others).
So whether you have a bet with your boy/girlfriend to loose 20 Lbs before the end of the year, (here the bet is the motivator, an personal intrinsic challenge to loose weight, an extrinsic motivation with a tangible reward), you just saw the latest fitness or body building model in a magazine (personal intrinsic challenge and fantasy) you work out with a friend to get in shape so you can wear your swim trunks or bikini in the summer (interpersonal intrinsic competition to get into shape faster then your friend and interpersonal recognition to show off your hard work at the beach/pool) Everyone is motivated in a different way with a different combination of motivators.
One word of warning and advise, (and if you didn't have the heart to read through the whole article, please do me a favor and only read what's next)
Don't let the extrinsic motivators be your driving force. Extrinsic motivators may lead to merely short-range activity while actually reducing long-range interest in a topic. Therefore, it is essential that extrinsic motivators be backed up by intrinsic motivators or that the extrinsic motivation becomes internalized. If this does not happen, the result is likely to be a reduction in the very behavior we want to promote.
In other words; don't want to loose weight for the sole reason that your boyfriend/girlfriend thinks you are fat, don't visit a gym because your friend works out there and don't keep on lifting weight because your personal trainer says so even though your body tells you otherwise. Find out what motivated you from within and tap into that power!
Below you will find a summery on a study by "DM Pedersen" on Intrinsic-extrinsic factors in sport motivation:
Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602
[i]Participants were 83 students (36 men and 47 women).
10 intrinsic-extrinsic factors involved in sport motivation were obtained.
The factors were generated from items obtained from the participants rather than items from the experimenter. This was done to avoid the possible influence of preconceptions on the part of the experimenter regarding what the final dimensions may be.
Obtained motivational factors were:
. Social Reinforcement.
. Fringe Benefits.
. Fame and Fortune.
. External Forces.
. Proving Oneself.
. Social Benefits.
. Mental Enrichment.
. Expression of Self.
. Sense of Accomplishment and,
Each factor was referred to an intrinsic-extrinsic dimension to describe its relative position on that dimension. The order of the factors as listed indicates increasing intrinsic motivation. i.e., the first four factors were rated in the extrinsic range, whereas the remaining six were rated to be in the intrinsic range.
Next, the participants rated the extent to which each of the various factors was involved in their decision to participate in sport activities. The pattern of use of the motivational factors was the same for both sexes except that men indicated greater use of the Fringe Benefits factor.
Overall, the more intrinsic a sport motivation factor was rated, the more likely it was to be rated as a factor in actual sport participation.
And that, concludes the basics. I'll be working on a follow-up article regarding goals, setting them, keeping them tangible etc. Bear with me though, seeing it took me a month to get to sit down and write this one I honestly don't know when I have the time for the next.