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Human Motivation. Chapter 13 The Need for Control and Competence. Competence. Being able to successfully deal with threats Being able to successfully interact with the environment Being able to set goals Being able to see oneself as capable of going where no other person has gone before

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human motivation

Human Motivation

Chapter 13

The Need for Control and Competence

  • Being able to successfully deal with threats
  • Being able to successfully interact with the environment
  • Being able to set goals
  • Being able to see oneself as capable of going where no other person has gone before

Human needs that pertain to development of competence:

  • Need to control
  • Need to achieve
  • Need to become competent


the need for predictability and control
The Need for Predictability and Control
  • Need to control fundamental human need; essential for survival; linked to need for predictability
  • Personal control provides the cognitive basis for experiencing optimism and hope; linked to health
  • Control is critical variable in psychological health and well-being; people with greater perceived control tend to live longer.
  • Without control, people lose ability to cope effectively; lack of control implicated in stress, depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and eating disorders; low perceive control might suppress immune function.
the need for predictability and control4
The Biological Component:

Genetics account for about 30% variance associated with personal control and with how responsible people felt for misfortunes in their lives.

There is a genetic basis for feelings of personal control.

Although, humans do reach higher/lower levels of either external/internal control as a result of learning and cognition

The Need for Predictability and Control
the need for predictability and control5
The Need for Predictability and Control

The Learned Component:

  • Distinction between internal/external personality types has roots in reinforcement theory.
  • Internal locus associated with perceiving control produces certain desired results.
  • External locus associated with perceiving the control does not produce results, results occur outside of personal control.
  • Attitudes about control issues are shaped by how our parents thought/acted, by how they trained us to think/act, and by how our cultures taught us to act.
the need for predictability and control6
The Need for Predictability and Control

The Cognitive Component:

  • Individuals react very differently to situations involving issues of control; some people realize that they can control some situations and not others.
  • High need to control might try to control the uncontrollable; lead to stress; low need to control may not attempt to control a situation that is actually controllable.
  • People who feel helpless fail to take control; this may lead to anxiety or depression.
  • An internal locus orientation is more likely to result in depression, while an external orientation could be a defense against depression.
linking control and competence
Linking Control and Competence
  • Believing that we have control is an essential component of developing competence.
  • People will not be motivated to develop competence unless they believe that their behavior will effect some desired outcome.
  • Competence: a condition or quality of effectiveness, ability, sufficiency, or success.
competence and achievement motivation
Competence and Achievement Motivation
  • Need to achieve: desire to overcome obstacles, to exercise power, to strive to do something difficult as well as and as quickly as possible.
  • Pleasure of achievement comes in developing and exercising skills; provides motivation for achievement.
  • People select/work towards goals because they have an underlying need to achieve and a need to avoid failure.
  • Competence arises from the early behaviors motivated by curiosity and exploratory needs.
  • Efficacy: Individual comes to understand or know that he or she is able to affect the environment; these feelings can act as a reward.
competence and achievement motivation9
Competence and Achievement Motivation

The Biological Component:

  • Development of competence has its roots in the dynamic interplay of two basic biological systems (BAS/BIS)
  • BIS activated by the unknown dangers associated with new environment; will subside in the absence of threats/danger.
  • BIS is more active in some children (timid or anxious child); competence is significantly reduced.
  • Developed competence is linked to the development of executive areas of the brain
competence and achievement motivation10
Competence and Achievement Motivation

The Learned Component:

  • Children learn from their observation of adults that one way to get what they want from life is to gain knowledge and develop skills.
  • Modeling and imitation are process by which individuals secure what they want from life.
  • Motivation is provided by money, social approval, etc.

Four Parenting Styles that Facilitate Achievement:

  • Involvement, structure, nurturing autonomy, and taking a process-vs-person focus.
competence and achievement motivation11
Competence and Achievement Motivation

The Cognitive Component:

  • Beliefs have a profound influence on the development of competence and success.
  • Entity theory: intelligence is fixed; goals selected to indicate intelligence and goals avoided that provide evidence for lack of intelligence.
  • Incremental theory: intelligence is changeable; goals selected to increase competence and maximize learning.
  • How persistent we are is linked to our beliefs about whether we can learn and develop.
goal orientation
Goal Orientation
  • Mastery goal orientation: focus on gaining competence
    • Master approach goal: focus on development of competence and task mastery.
    • Mastery avoidance goal: focus on avoidance of the possibility of negative judgment of competence.
  • Performance goal orientation: focus on demonstration of competence to avoid unfavorable judgments.
    • Performance goal approach: focus on attainment of favorable judgments and competence.
    • Performance avoidance approach: focus on avoidance of unfavorable judgments of competence.
self regulation of competence development
Self-Regulation of Competence Development
  • Developing competence has to do with learning how to self-regulate the learning process
  • Set difficult but attainable goals.
  • Identify task strategies.
  • Make us of imagery.
  • Carefully manage time.
  • Structure the environment.

Self-Regulatory Processes:

Seek help when needed.

Learn to self-monitor.

Learn to self-evaluate.

Learn to create positive outcomes.

basic elements of self regulation
Basic Elements of Self-Regulation
  • Self-observation (self-monitoring): monitoring behavior in order to become aware and change it.
  • Self-evaluation (self-judgment): decide if what we are doing is congruent with what we want or our personal standards.
  • Self-reaction (self-incentive): self-judgments are often accompanied by affective reactions, which can lead us to higher goals or to abandon a goal.
theories and principles of goal setting
Theories and Principles of Goal Setting
  • Without goals, we have no direction and no impetus to achieve.
  • Goals arouse effort, give rise to persistence, provide directions, and motivate strategy development.
  • Proximal goals: relate to immediate future.
  • Distal goals: aspirations; long-term goals; sustain motivation; keep us on course.
  • We should set difficult, but attainable goals.
  • If a goal is not sufficiently difficult, it will fail to motivate. If a goal is perceived an unattainable, we will not put forth effort.
theories and principles of goal setting16
Theories and Principles of Goal Setting
  • People do not like to be viewed as lacking competence; some people set easy goals for themselves.
  • Feedback is essential if motivation is to be maintained at a high level; determines how well we are doing.
  • Self-set goals tend to produce greater motivation than assigned goals- we are in better position to create optimal goal and we tend to be more committed to decisions we made ourselves.
  • Individuals told to do their best do no better than those with no goals.
self efficacy and goal setting
Self-Efficacy and Goal Setting


  • the conviction that one can successfully execute the behavior;
  • stable across time but not stable across situations;
  • will be affected by outcome expectations.

Goal setting:

  • Individual assesses whether the distal goal will provide some desired reward or satisfaction (outcome expectation); if outcome expectations are high enough, the individual will assess whether he/she can mobilize the necessary resources.
imagination in the pursuit of goals
Imagination in the Pursuit of Goals
  • Positive fantasies (imagining how you might think or feel when you achieve your goal) are not effective motivators.
  • Mental stimulation: the representation of some event or series of events; creating images.
    • Effective by addressing self-regulation (coping of emotions) and coping (ability to plan/solve problems)
    • Works when it is used to simulate process of achieving goal.