“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.”
― Zig Ziglar
For many students, including me, in pursuit of higher education decisions must be made that will alter the course of our lives, one such question for me was whether or not I should go the thesis or project route. A vast majority of you, my classmates, may have already made a decision, or are still have time to make that decision, but I’m just at that point where I must choose.
Many would understand the dilemma I’m in and would understand that the quote by Ziglar above is just not a quote, it’s a reality. The type of motivation I will be describing is not the ones I had while doing my undergraduate or the ones that drives someone to succeed at their job, (take a look at the following YouTube video that provides a brief synopsis about a study on what motivates motivation individuals) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc, the motivation I’ll be talking about was brought to my attention in our last class.
We were asked “What makes you angry?” Our answers were not for a class discussion, and for us to decide whether this thing that angers us is enough to cause us to want to make a change. I can say, and thanks to Scott, that this was probably the first time I’ve looked at motivation from this angle.
Royale Scuderi described six types of motivation in her article that are all so common to us, especially motivation for achievement and Murphy and Alexander notes that the area with the greatest proliferation of categories and subcategories is research on goals and goal orientations. Dan Ariely (TED) made reference to this form of motivation as well and the misconception of people being motivated by financial gains only.
Coincidentally, I was asked a similar question by Darlene Laurence a few weeks ago, “are students motivated by anything else that to get their degree?” Darleen argued that she believes not all students were motivated by grades and the degree, at that time I disagreed with her based on the numerous personal experiences I had with potential students, my view was that there are probably no student at MSVU taking a degree just for the sake of taking a degree, but have come to realize there are many other factors that could motivate someone for being in school besides “the degree”.
Freud is associated with the idea that human beings have many unconscious motivations that cause them to make important decisions because of these unconscious forces. This unconscious motivation was aroused and as such, motivated me to take action. I believe the motivation was unconscious because I’m now able to reflect on the effects of these unconscious thoughts.
Comparing others position
I realize that it is very difficult to defined unconscious motivation; it is also equally difficult to describe something that you’re unaware of. It is the unconscious desires, instincts, and needs of humans. Some researchers believe that our unconscious motivates only get acted on when we are stressed and anxious (Archard, 1984; Freud, 1961/2004; Reason, 2000). While other researchers believe we have total control over them (Weston, 1999).
According to, Archard & Freud a large amount of human behaviour is stimulated by unconscious motives (e.g. Freud believed that the majority of all human behaviour is a result of their desires, impulses, and memories that had been repressed into an unconscious state). According to Maslow, the average person is more often unconscious than conscious. He believed unconscious motives take central roles in determining the way in which people behave (Archard, 1984).
The idea that human beings are rational and human behaviour is guided by reason is an old one. However, recent research has significantly undermined the idea of homo economicus or of perfect rationality in favour of a more bounded rationality. The field of behavioural economics is particularly concerned with the limits of rationality in economic agents.
What angers me?
Freud believed that different styles of thinking were associated with different levels of consciousness; Freud’s theory was support by research done by Henk, Ruud, & Hans and others.
As I alluded to earlier, and in reference to Royale Scuderi’s six types of motivations for achievement, one would believe that all motivation is triggered by a reward, Freud idea of consciousness presents the idea of intentionality.
I work in an organization that, I believe, unconsciously discriminates against segments of its clientele in many ways, but believes it is providing the best service that caters to the needs of all. Just using one example, I’ve attended numerous workshops on “Diversity Issues” that was sponsored by the university, only to find its being facilitated by someone from the dominant group who really just touch on the surface of the issues that affects minorities.
The idea of what angers me then ask the question “so what are you going to do about it?” for almost a year I’ve been unconsciously doing something about this situation. Some of my ideas have become conscious ones that have yielded great rewards, while others still lingers somewhere in my unconscious mind.
Scott asked us to think of that one thing that makes us angry and fix it, let that issue be a thesis topic; finding out what really makes you angry might have you explore your unconscious mind but in the end it will be worthwhile.
In conclusion, I would like to point your attention to Paulo Freire’s work. Freier stated that poverty and hunger severely affected his ability to learn. This influenced his decision to dedicate his life to improving the lives of the poor: “I didn’t understand anything because of my hunger. I wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t lack of interest. My social condition didn’t allow me to have an education. Experience showed me once again the relationship between social class and knowledge” (Freire as quoted in Stevens, 2002).
- Freud, S (1961/2004). The interpretation of dreams. Reprint by Kessinger Publishing, 113-435.
- Reason, J. (2000). The Freudian slip revisited. The psychologist, 13, 610-611. Retrieved from: http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=13&editionID=51&ArticleID=157
- Archard, D. (1984). Consciousness and the unconscious. Lasalle III: Open Court, 56- 278.
- Murphy, P. K., & Alexander, P. A. (2000). A motivated exploration of motivation terminology. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 3–53.
- Stevens, C. (2002). “Critical Pedagogy on the Web”. Retrieved March 13, 2014