The factor that direct and energize the behavior of humans and other organisms is called motivation.
OR
The process that initiates, guides and maintains goal oriented behavior is called motivation.
OR
Motivation is a desire, instinct, drive or need that speeds up our behavior towards some goal.

Motivation has three states i.e. the driving, behavior and goal state. Body needs such as hunger, thirst or sleep gives birth to Driving state. The driving state initiates a behavior e.g. looking for food, water to fulfill the need and the goal state defines the aim due to which we are motivated to perform a certain task. Motivation causes us to act whether it s getting a glass of water or to read to gain knowledge.

THEORIES OF MOTIVATION:

Motivation is a complex process which is explained by various psychologists through distinct theories. Main theories of motivation are;
i.    Instinct theory
ii.    Drive Reduction theory
iii.    Arousal theory
iv.    Incentive theory
v.    Cognitive theory
vi.    Maslow Hierarchy of Needs/ Humanistic theory

i.    Instinct Theory of Motivation:

According to this theory, people show certain behavior because they are evolutionary programmed to show that particular behavior. Instincts are the inborn characteristics of human behavior which are determined biologically. These instincts motivate them and provide them energy to perform activities e.g. some people show exploratory behavior because of their instinct to explore, seasonal migrations, hunger, heat, barbarianism etc.

Criticism on instinct theory of motivation:

It is criticized for various reasons. First one is that psychologists throughout the world do not agree on a fixed number of primary instincts i.e. William Mcdougal suggests 18 whereas Bernard suggests 5759 primary instincts. It is also criticized when people show different behavior under same instincts. Most of the human behavior cannot be considered as result of instincts because most of the behavior of humans is learned.

ii.    Drive Reduction theory:

This theory was presented in 1968 by woodworth. According to this theory, when the basic biological need of living organism is lacking, drive comes into operation to fulfill the body requirements. In simple words, we can say that drive is an arousal that motivates organism to show a particular behavior or carry out certain activity e.g. one might be motivated to drink a glass of water in order to reduce thirst or one might be motivated to eat food because of the hunger drive.
Drive can be primary or secondary. Primary drives are related to biological needs such as hunger, thirst, sleep, sex etc and are only satisfied after fulfilling the required requirement. Secondary drives are those which are psychological or social in nature brought about by experience. This can occur in academic or professional competence.
Hull, a psychologist, also stated that an organism is motivated to maintain it. This is known as Hull’s drive theory. It is also known as push theory as it motivates/pushes a person to fulfill a requirement.

Criticism on Drive theory of Motivation:

This theory provides no answers to situations which increase the excitement such as riding a roller coaster and activities which involve risks e.g. saving people stuck in fire building. This theory also fails to describe situations like people eating when are not really hungry. Psychologists also suggest that all our behavior is not motivated by drives only but the goals also play an important role in motivating us to perform a certain activity. E.g. working hard to get good grades in order to get admission in best colleges and universities, or doing two jobs at a time to earn more money in order to fulfill one’s dreams.

iii.    Arousal theory of Motivation

This theory suggests that if we want our body to work properly, we need a certain level of arousal for it.  These arousals help in maintaining and meeting our body needs. If the motivation level is very high, it might result in irritating behavior. Similarly if the motivation level is low, it would result in making one’s performance worse e.g. performance of a person suffering from depression.

iv.    Incentive theory:

Incentive theory is opposite to drive reduction and arousal theory. According to this theory, we are motivated because of an external stimulus that changes our behavior for achieving our goal e.g. a person goes to work every day because of the money he/she gets at the end of each day or because of the salary after a month. Similarly, ordering a dessert after a heavy lunch or dinner is not because of our hunger but because of the changed taste or just because it looks good in the menu.

Criticism on Incentive theory of motivation:

This theory is criticized by many psychologists as they think that it fails to explain situation in which an individual works despite the fact that there is no or very less incentive for showing that behavior e.g. working hard but paid very less, doing a job which is not of your aptitude.
It also fails to explain situations in which instead of incentive, a threat or danger is involved e.g. saving people stuck in a house on fire.

v.    Cognitive theory:

This theory gives more importance to cognitive processes like thoughts, feelings, expectations, evaluation and understanding. Roter’s theory suggests that there are two cognitive processes that affect an individual’s motivational level i.e. expectancy and value of the goal.
The expectation or hope that our behavior will help us in attaining our goal is called expectancy and understanding the value of that goal is the value. E.g. a student knows very well that if he works hard, he will get good grades at O-level, which will help him in getting admission at the top colleges and universities.

vi.    Maslow Hierarchy of Needs/ Humanistic theory:

Psychologist Abraham Maslow presented his theory of motivation in 1943. His theory falls in the category of humanistic approach and is also known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He presented this hierarchy of needs in a form of pyramid. According to him, people are motivated to fulfill their basic needs before moving on to other needs. At the bottom of the pyramid, lie the basic physical needs while at the top lies the complicated needs. At the bottom of the pyramid lies the basic physical needs, at the second level are the security needs, third level consists of Social needs after which at the forth level lie esteem needs and at the top of the pyramid are the self actualizing needs.

Though these needs are divided into five levels but if observed closely, we can divide them into two types i.e. D or Deficiency needs and the growth needs. Those needs which occur from lack of something are called D-needs. The lowest four levels in the pyramid fall in this category whereas the highest level i.e. the self actualizing needs fall in the category of growth needs.

  • Physiological Needs:

Needs without which one cannot survive e.g. food, water, sleep, sex etc. are called basic physiological needs Without fulfilling these needs one cannot even think of the next level needs. The Pathology associated with this level is over-eating, anorexia etc.

  • Security Needs:

After fulfilling the physiological needs, next level for which an individual is motivated to achieve are the safety and security needs. Looking for a good job, business, shelter, friendly neighborhoods, medical facilities fall in this category. Pathology associated with this level is fear and phobias.

  • Social Needs:

Social needs include the needs for relationships, be it in the form of friendship, husband-wife, romantic relationships or other relations in professional life. Though these needs are necessary but they are not as important as physiological or security needs. The pathology associated at this stage is antisocial personality.

  • Esteem Needs:

Esteem needs are those which include needs for accomplishment, status in society, achievements etc. The pathology associated at this stage is depression.

  • Self-Actualization Needs:

Self actualization refers to an individual needs to develop his/her potentialities to achieve his goals. There is not a specific example of self actualization as for some it may mean achievement in literary or scientific field, for some it may be in politics, and for some living life happily without any social bounds can also be termed as self actualization.
Self actualizing needs occur at the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy. Self actualizing people do not care of what people say about them. They only think of developing their inner personality e.g. sufis and saints can be thought of as self actualized people.