The terms drive theory
and drive reduction theory
refer to a diverse set of motivation
Motivation is the driving force by which humans achieve their goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article refers to human motivation...
al theories in psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...
. Drive theory is based on the principle that organisms are born with certain physiological needs and that a negative state of tension is created when these needs are not satisfied. When a need is satisfied, drive is reduced and the organism returns to a state of homeostasis
Homeostasis is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition of properties like temperature or pH...
and relaxation. According to the theory, drive tends to increase over time and operates on a feedback control system, much like a thermostat.
In Freudian psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...
, drive theory refers to the theory of drives, motivations, or instincts, that have clear objects. Examples include what Freud called Eros and Thanatos, the drives toward Life and Death, respectively.
Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents
Civilization and Its Discontents is a book by Sigmund Freud. Written in 1929, and first published in German in 1930 as Das Unbehagen in der Kultur , it is considered one of Freud's most important and widely read works....
was published in Germany in 1930 when the rise of fascism in that country was well under way, and the warnings of a second European war were leading to opposing calls for rearmament and pacifism. Against this background, Freud wrote "In face of the destructive forces unleashed, now it may be expected that the other of the two 'heavenly forces,' eternal Eros, will put forth his strength so as to maintain himself alongside of his equally immortal adversary.".
According to such theorists as Clark Hull and Kenneth Spence
Kenneth Wartenbe Spence was a prominent American psychologist. His most prominent work was discovering Spence's Theory of Stimulus Control.Collaborateur of Clark Hull, he was a professor at McGill University in Montreal....
, drive reduction is a major cause of learning and behaviour. Primary drives are innate drives (e.g. thirst, hunger, and sex), whereas secondary drives are learned by conditioning (e.g. money).
There are several problems that leave the validity of drive theory open for debate. The first problem is that it does not explain how secondary reinforcers reduce drive. For example, money does not itself satisfy any biological or psychological need, but it reduces drive on a regular basis by a pay check. Secondly, drive reduction theory has trouble explaining why humans and other animals voluntarily increase tension by exploring their environments, even when they are not hungry or thirsty.
Early Attachment Theory
In early attachment theory, behavioural drive reduction was proposed as an explanation of the mechanisms behind early attachment in infants. Behavioural drive reduction theory suggests that infants are born with innate drives, such as hunger and thirst, which only the caregiver, usually the mother, can reduce. Through a process of classical conditioning
Classical conditioning is a form of conditioning that was first demonstrated by Ivan Pavlov...
, the infant learns to associate the mother with the satisfaction of reduced drive and is thus able form a key attachment bond. However, this theory is challenged by the work done by Harlow, particularly the experiments involving the maternal separation of rhesus monkeys, which indicate that comfort possesses greater motivational value than hunger.
In social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all...
, drive theory was used by Robert Zajonc
Robert Bolesław Zajonc was a Polish-born American social psychologist who is known for his decades of work on a wide range of social and cognitive processes.-Mere Exposure Effect:...
in 1965 as an explanation of the phenomenon of social facilitation
Social facilitation is the tendency for people to do better on simple tasks when in the presence of other people. This implies that whenever people are being watched by others, they will do well on things that they are already good at doing...
. The audience effect
The audience effect is the impact that a passive audience has on a subject performing a task. It was first formally noted in various psychology studies in the early 20th century...
notes that in some cases the presence of a passive audience will facilitate the better performance of a task, while in other cases the presence of an audience will inhibit the performance of a task. Zajonc's drive theory suggests that the variable determining direction of performance is whether the task is composed of a correct dominant response (that is, the task is perceived as being subjectively easy to the individual) or an incorrect dominant response (perceived as being subjectively difficult).
In the presence of a passive audience, an individual is in a heightened state of arousal
Arousal is a physiological and psychological state of being awake or reactive to stimuli. It involves the activation of the reticular activating system in the brain stem, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a condition of...
. Increased arousal, or stress
, causes the individual to enact behaviours that form dominant responses, since an individual's dominant response is the most likely response, given the skills which are available. If the dominant response is correct, then social presence enhances performance of the task. However, if the dominant response is incorrect, social presence produces an impaired performance.
Such behaviour was first noticed by Triplett (1898) while observing the cyclists who were racing together versus cyclists who were racing alone. It was found that the mere presence of other cyclists produced greater performance. A similar effect was observed by Chen (1937) in ants
Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than...
building colonies. However, it was not until Zajonc investigated this behaviour in the 1960s that any empirical explanation for the audience effect was pursued.
Zajonc's drive theory is based on an experiment involving the investigation of the effect of social facilitation in cockroaches
Cockroaches are insects of the order Blattaria or Blattodea, of which about 30 species out of 4,500 total are associated with human habitations...
. Zajonc devised a study in which individual cockroaches were released into a tube, at the end of which there was a light. In the presence of other cockroaches as spectators, cockroaches were observed to achieve a significantly faster time in reaching the light than those in the control, no-spectator group. However, when cockroaches in the same conditions were given a maze to negotiate, performance was impaired in the spectator condition, demonstrating that incorrect dominant responses in the presence of an audience impair performance.
Cottrell's Evaluation Apprehension model later refined this theory to include yet another variable in the mechanisms of social facilitation. He suggested that the correctness of dominant responses only plays a role in social facilitation when there is an expectation of social reward or punishment based on performance. His study differs in design from Zajonc's as he introduced a separate condition in which participants were given tasks to perform in the presence of an audience that was blindfolded, and thus unable to evaluate the participant's performance. It was found that no social facilitation effect occurred, and hence the anticipation of performance evaluation must play a role in social facilitation. Evaluation apprehension, however, is only key in human social facilitation and not observed in animals.
- Clark Hull's theories on motivation
- Yerkes-Dodson law
The Yerkes–Dodson law is a claimed empirical relationship between arousal and performance, originally developed by psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson in 1908. The "law" asserts that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When...
of performance and arousal
- Incentive theory
Incentive theory may refer to*Organizational_studies#Theories_and_models - a concept of human resources or management theory.*Motivation#Incentive_theory - a motivational theory...