Six Stages of Motivation: An interrelated cycle? #psychology #selfhelp

Six Stages Motivation

Do you find it interesting how we can settle down to read a book and then our brain fires into action and starts delving deeper until we find ourselves engulfed by those topical words (Motivation)? I had this feeling from reading a rather short book about making psychology simple to understand. The book is called: Psychology Made Simple – All you need to know to get started. The book is authored by Dr Nicky Hayes published 2011 in London by Hodder Education. It was not the whole book that got me thinking but one very small chapter. This chapter is headlined: Motivation (Hayes, 2011. p.40). What I found interesting is this one very small chapter got me thinking about the whole process of motivation and believe me, I have read many books and journals on the subject of motivating one’s self. Yet this simple introductory chapter on the topic of Motivation got me thinking. Full credit to Dr Nicky Hayes for her ability to capture my attention in such few words.

Psychology Made Simple - Dr Nicky Hayes
Dr Nicky Hayes

So from this chapter I am going to establish what Motivation is, then consider the notion that Motivation is merely an interrelated cycle, a motivation loop if you will that has six basic stages. Each stage relies on each other for the motivational loop to have a positive outcome.

What is Motivation?

According to Dr Nicky Hayes, author of Psychology Made Simple (Ch 6, 2011), motivation is somewhat multi-level and complex. Most of the time, motivation does not solely rely upon one motive but several. Many topics with psychological bearing are discussed within this chapter (6) and through Dr Nicky Hayes’ approach in understanding motivation; these bearings become interrelated.

Dr Nicky Hayes construes that physiological needs, established behaviours, beliefs, personal constructs, social representations and perceptions are all individual influences that develop this concept. This approach could be interpreted as; motivation equals a sequence of events, an infinite loop that takes place as individuals progress and diverse (Figure 1).

Theory of Motivational Loops

Motivational Loop - Shaun Ellerton
Motivational Loop

The process of a motivational loop is the act of continually doing something over and over until the desired condition is met, dealing with each and every stage as you progress through the cycle. In life we are thrown back into our developmental stages to test, help us develop and evolve into a well-versed human being.

The first stage of this theory would consist of our physiological needs, such as hunger and thirst (homeostasis). Would we be able to function correctly and move on to stage two if our bodies are allowed to fall outside the levels of what is considered the ‘norm’?

The second stage involves understanding our established behaviours which consist of our natural habits, hard to break, but not impossible using such theories as Neurological Associations, Tony Robbins (1996).

The third stage would be achieved in our ability to form a higher efficacy, to believe in our own effective actions, our capabilities and skills; having the ability to measure our own competence.

Stage four deals with our personal constructs, the idea that each individual is unique and interprets the same events differently from those around them. Our past experiences can dictate how we feel about something and what form of action we take if any, dependent on whether or not we have developed a learned helplessness, the ability to take no action even when we understand that action is required to stimulate positive well-being.

Social Representation takes us into stage five, the idea that ‘self’ is derived from the respect of others around us, while trying to avoid looking foolish in the presence of others. The theory that basic social motive, Harrė (1979) insists that we are to be taken seriously within our chosen social groups. The need to feel a sense of belonging could be construed as the ultimate ‘feel good factor’.

The final stage looks at how we perceive others and how we think others perceive us. Being socially accepted within an environment allows us to form a sense of social identification, the idea of them and us, stereotyping, noticing the differences between people. Perception allows us to form the skills of competing with others, realising that we are all individuals and have different levels of abilities.

My final thoughts from this chapter…

Is this a loop, a cycle that we participate in over and over again? The answer in my opinion would be yes. If we neglect our physical motives and deal with the next stage of the loop, we will eventually have to return to stage one and satisfy that need. We are not able to function at our optimum level of expectation without the required levels of proteins, vitamins and minerals.

Our established behaviours could easily affect how others in our society perceive us, which could result in a negative response creating a defence mechanism (developing schemas) for similar future experiences. Sigmund Freud, a psychoanalyst in the 19th Century theorised the defence mechanism, which can be either conditional or unconditional, a way for our minds to protect us from future threats. If we do not return to the physical stage and deal with that habit, the rest of the stages will be affected including our self-efficacy and how much acceptance we receive through our social representations.

Each stage of the motivational loop affects the other, and by not dealing with one stage has repercussions on the next. All the stages in this loop are interrelated, bringing me to the conclusion that if we focus our attention on the physical, behavioural and cognitive motives along with the idea of the ‘self’, the output of those actions would achieve a positive response. If we gain a positive response from either ourselves or society around us, this invokes more positive action, increasing our confidence, promotes healthy motivation which in turn, promotes positive achievements allowing us to return to stage one and achieve a higher, more stimulating output. I find it amazing how we can learn so much about a topic like this from such a small chapter in a rather small book aimed at introductory to psychology students, or those whom have developed a general interest in the topic of psychology. It could almost serve as a ‘Back Pocket Guide‘ to psychology.

Additional Reading:

Bandura, A. (1989) Social Cognitive Theory. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Harrė, H. (1979) Social Being: A Theory of Social Psychology II. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hayes, N. (2011) Psychology Made Simple – all you need to get started. London: Hodder Education.

Robbins, A. (1996) Personal Power 2 [CD] USA: Creation. TRPRD0009.

Mcleod, S., 2007. Simply Psychology [WWW Document]. Simply Psychology. URL (accessed 7.17.19).


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