Homeostasis is defined by Webster as the maintenance of relatively stable internal physiological conditions (as body temperature or the pH of blood) in higher animals under fluctuating environmental conditions. In psychological parlance, homeostasis is the process of preserving an individual’s steady and secure mental and emotional state under different psychological pressures.Homeostasis also refers to a balance or equilibrium that results in the relaxation of an individual. Simply put, it is a state wherein all of an organism’s needs are met. If, for example, a person has woken up from a nap, has gone to the bathroom, and has eaten a meal, he reaches a certain point where he is relaxed and is in a state where he does not feel the urge to fulfill other basic needs.However, if a person wakes up at 5am, works out, and has not eaten any food, he would probably feel the need to fulfill certain physical needs, such as that of food. Due to the necessity to fulfill one’s physiological needs, the person acts upon this need in a bid to achieve homeostasis once again.
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Assumptions of The Drive-Reduction Theory of MotivationThe Drive-Reduction Theory talks about an organism’s reaction in an event where his physical needs are challenged and unstable. Because of the disturbance in the organism’s level of homeostasis, there is a development of a drive to fulfill that specific need to bring the individual out of its discomfort.
The two operative terms that are hereby emphasized are ‘drive’ and ‘reduction.’ According to Hull, ‘drive’ refers to “a state of tension or arousal caused by biological or physiological needs.” These needs may range from primary drives such as hunger, thirst and the need for warmth, to secondary drives such as social approval and money. Regardless of the type of drive, all drives are assumed to bring about an undesirable condition that necessitates reduction.
When someone is hungry, he feels a certain discomfort accompanied by a growing need to fulfill his hunger. This is where the “drive-reduction” comes in. When an individual is put in a state of physical discomfort, whether it is hunger, thirst or the need for shelter, the individual feels the drive to reduce the discomfort that he is currently experiencing. This particular reaction is innate in human because of our instinct to survive.Moreover, as time passes, the drive is often intensified because the level of discomfort similarly intensifies. In order to reduce the discomfort (such as hunger) that the person is currently feeling, he may go to the store, buy food, cook and then eat. After the individual’s needs are fulfilled, he then reaches homeostasis once again and the drive to fulfill his needs is reduced.
Habits and BehaviorHull and Spence believed that the notion of drive-reduction is a main contributor to learning and behavior. As the cycle continues and repeats itself, we learn to adjust to the discomfort that we feel. In order to reduce the level of discomfort we experience, we perform an action (behavior) that will allow us to gain a reward, which in this case, is the reduction of its discomfort.If a dog is given food every single time he does a particular trick such as jumping, he develops a habit that can affect the way it gets food. When the dog realizes and learns that jumping is followed by food, there is a big possibility that when it feels hungry, it will perform the jumping trick as a way to ask for food.An incentive or reward plays a huge role when creating a habit or behavior. Studies show that the quicker a reward is given to an individual after it performs an action, the more effective the level of conditioning becomes. In order for someone to develop an effective habit, the elements involved in the whole process must be clear.
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When a dog is given food immediately after performing the jumping trick, there is a greater probability that the dog will directly relate the trick to the food. When the food is given an hour, five minutes, or even one minute after the dog performs the trick, there is less chance that it will associate the food with the trick. However, if the reward is instantly given after an action is performed, and is repeatedly done in a consistent manner, this will result in the development of a habit or behavior.While well-received in the 1940s and 1950s, the Drive-Reduction Theory to explain motivation in psychology is not quite as popular in current times. For example, It receives critiques against generalizability and its inability to account for behaviors that do not reduce drives but are engaged in by individuals nonetheless.
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