What Motivates You? Understanding the Main Theories Behind Human Behavior

Understanding why humans behave the way they do has been a mystery for psychologists for generations. Over the years different theories have developed in attempt to understand behavior. These are known as the theories of motivation.

Instinct theory

This theory presents the possibility that humans are programmed for certain types of behavior, such as attachment or love. This theory does not really answer much, though, it largely just describes behaviors.

Motivation theory

This theory states that people do certain things to receive external rewards.

Drive theory

According to this idea, humans seek to balance out their internal tension, such as relieving the tension of thirst by having a drink.

Arousal theory

People do certain actions to maintain a certain level of arousal, such as reading a book when they get too excited, or exercising when arousal levels get too low.

Humanistic theory

People have cognitive reasons for their actions, such as working towards self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

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