Motivation: What Drives Your Behavior

Motivation: What Drives Your Behavior


Many people wonder why people act the way they do, why they display certain behaviors, and what motivates them to do so. Most behaviors are fueled by motivation. Some motives to act are biological, while others have personal and social roots. We are motivated to seek food, water, shelter, safety, and sex; however, the behavior is also influenced by others’ approval, acceptance, the need to achieve status or wealth, to seek pleasure and to avoid risks and pain.

As you can see, there are many types of motivation and different reasons as to why these motivations influence specific behaviors. Here are a few motivations that drive certain behaviors throughout your life that you may not have thought of before.

Theories of Motivation

There have been many theories of motivation, and the ones mentioned in this article are by no means exhaustive.  One major theory is the Drive Theory of Motivation.  This theory suggests that we are driven to reduce the inner tension of unmet needs caused by emotional stress or pain, or to increase pleasure.

This sort of motivation causes us to take action to move towards our goals or rewards, or away from pain danger or risk.  Desperation or fear play a part here.

Whether we reach our goals, or the rewards depends on a match of the difficulty of reaching the goal and our inner capacity and personality type, for example persistent, or the skills which we have.


Desiring approval from others is a huge motivation for people. Humans naturally want to be desired, wanted, and linked. To feel accepted by others, people change their outward behaviors depending on the people they are surrounded by. If upbeat, positive people surround you, you are more likely to be optimistic and positive, and feel accepted.  If more pessimistic people surround you, you are likely to be more negative and pessimistic, and perhaps to feel unacceptable to them.


Curiosity is a common motivation for certain behaviors. The hunger for knowledge is found in many people, and with this desire to know more, various behaviors may appear. The feeling of wonder is intriguing to people; thus, people search for new experiences and engage in conversations that they have not had before.

Curiosity is a component of developing a mindful attitude and connecting with the present moment. Curious people usually know a lot about themselves, others, why things happen the way they happen. Curiosity has people paying attention to the small details and making links between several seemingly unrelated events.


The drive for independence is thought to be motivated by the desire for self-reliance. When someone has the drive to be independent and self-reliant, they like to do things by themselves, without the approval from someone else. Many people look for independence in their lives, and the motivation to be self-reliant is increasing. The more people dislike being told what to do or being controlled by someone else, the more that motivation to be “free” grows in them.

Many people now are buying or renting houses and apartments alone; they are striving to move up in the ranks at work and go out to parties or gatherings alone. We see many more circumstances where young people are moving away from reliance and becoming more independent.


Order is based on the desire for organization, routine, and cleanliness. There are very few people that you will talk to that do not want order and routine in their lives. Humans naturally want law and order in their everyday lives and routines to allow them to function properly and have their day run smoothly. When these routines are interrupted, they try their hardest to get the routine back on track to restore order.

There are good reasons for humans to live in a clean environment. Not only to prevent sickness or deter pests but because people are more positive and productive when they live in a clean environment.

When people live in dirty areas, they feel discouraged from doing anything, have little motivation, and can experience periods of depression. Thus, there is great motivation to ensure that things run smoothly for family and everyday life.

Motivation can be triggered by a variety of negative and positive factors.  Order, routine, and cleanliness are among those factors that can begin and maintain positive behaviors and habits.


If the incentive is considered worthwhile, then motivation may increase.  For example, the incentive of a pay rise for better performance at work or the desire to get high marks in an exam for the honor and glory that may go with that.


There may be motivation for us to keep our arousal levels within reasonable limits so that we do not overwhelm ourselves.  On the other hand, we want a certain amount of excitement in our lives for them to be interesting – it’s a question of being motivated to keep a balance.


Some people are not motivated by money or fame or status, but just to be of service and to help others.  They are driven or motivated by their values, or what is most important to them in life. If you find you lack motivation perhaps there is a mismatch between your goals and your values.  In other words you are out of alignment with your values, and this affects our emotional state.

Find your highest values and live your life from these, success and happiness will follow from holding fast to these. This maybe the best sort of motivation 😊


© Kathleen Crawford 2020  and