The Math Behind Motivation

Hello, hello! It’s good to be back. I’ve been in hiding once more studying for my third midterm in the past few weeks, this time on human motivation. Don’t get too excited now, it’s not what I thought it would be. Who wouldn’t be interested in a course on motivation right? Well, it turns out it’s all about these crazy equations. No thanks.

So let’s talk about REAL motivation, minus the math, because truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of putting human behavior into a calculation. But because I just took this midterm (like 10 minutes ago) I’ll incorporate just a little of the theory. Atkinson’s theory is based on three factors: an innate human motivation, which is the personal drive that individuals have to succeed, along with two other factors: the probability of success and the consequent pride that comes along with it. Are you with me?

It actually makes sense if you think about it—the lower the probability that we’ll succeed, the greater the pride we will feel when we actually DO. To put it in perspective, imagine you’re playing tennis. You won’t feel much pride if you beat your little brother (because that was an easy task with a high probability) but you will feel an immense sense of pride if you beat Federer (which is a very low probability).

Interestingly enough, we often seek activities of intermediate difficulty. So if you’re not dreaming of winning an Oscar or winning the Nobel Peace Prize, it may actually be a good thing because it is a sign that you can set realistic goals that are within reach. Also, we are more motivated to accomplish these intermediate goals because they challenge us just enough. The same applies to sports—we love a game that’s tied or right on the edge; it’s a snooze when your team is clearly winning or has no hope of victory. Maybe there is just a little something to this math after all…

You don’t need an equation to set you straight for success. All you need is some motivation!

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

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The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

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