Cognitive Theories Of Motivation

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Cognitive theories were developed as psychological views of behavior around the middle of the twentieth century. According to this view, people do not respond only to external events or to physical conditions like thirst or hunger; they also respond to their perceptions of these events. In contrast to the behavioral view, as Woolfolk (1987), mentions that “the cognitive view emphasizes intrinsic (internal) sources of motivation, such as curiosity, interest in the task for its own sake, the satisfaction of learning, and a sense of accomplishment.” (p. 315)
Pintrich & Schunk (1996), assert that these cognitive theories examine “the underlying mental processes involved in motivation and how these are affected by personal and environmental factors.”
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Woolfolk (1987) emphasizes that this idea is similar to Piaget‘s notion of equilibration, which she defines as the active search for mental balance. Equilibration is based on the need to assimilate new information and make it fit. In cognitive theories, people are seen as active and curious, searching for information to solve personally relevant problems, ignoring even hunger or enduring discomfort to focus on self-selected goals. People work hard because they enjoy the work and because they want to understand. Pintrich & Schunk (1996) say that these cognitive theories are homeostatic since there is a need “to make behaviors consistent” (p. 50). As Woolfolk (1987) claims that attribution theories are cognitive theories “concerning how we explain behavior and outcomes, especially successes and failures” (p. 316). These theories describe how the individual‘s explanations, justifications, and excuses influence motivation.
Bernard Weiner is one of the important educational psychologists responsible for relating attribution theory to school learning (as mentioned by Woolfolk, 1987). According to Weiner, most of the causes to which students attribute their successes or failures can be characterized along three different dimensions: as internal or external (inside or outside the person), as stable
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According to this theory, life represents an ongoing process of personal growth or achieving wholeness. This process was labeled the actualizing tendency which Rogers believed was innate and influenced by the environment. This theory explains that our experiences and interpretations of them foster or hinder our attempts at growth. Besides, there is a need for positive regard described as feelings of respect, warmth, or sympathy. There are two kinds of positive regard: unconditioned and conditioned. If a person receives unconditioned positive regard, like the recognition or love of their parents, they can strive towards growth. On the contrary, if a person‘s positive regard is excessively conditioned, this person becomes defensive and cannot grow. Pintrich & Schunk (1996) see several drawbacks in this theory, such as being too general and with constructs that are difficult to
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