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A Theory of Human Motivation

11. The situation or the field in which the organism reacts must be taken into
account but the field alone can rarely serve as an exclusive explanation for
behavior. Furthermore the field itself must be interpreted in terms of the organism.
Field theory cannot be a substitute for motivation theory.
12. Not only the integration of the organism must be taken into account, but also the
possibility of isolated, specific, partial or segmental reactions. It has since become
necessary to add to these another affirmation.
13. Motivation theory is not synonymous with behavior theory. The motivations are
only one class of determinants of behavior. While behavior is almost always
motivated, it is also almost always biologically, culturally and situationally
determined as well.
The present paper is an attempt to formulate a positive theory of motivation which will
these theoretical demands and at the same time conform to the known facts, clinical and
observational as well as experimental. It derives most directly, however, from clinical
experience. This theory is, I think, in the functionalist tradition of James and Dewey, and
fused with the holism of Wertheimer (19), Goldstein (6), and Gestalt Psychology, and
with the
dynamicism of Freud (4) and Adler (1). This fusion or synthesis may arbitrarily be called
'general-dynamic' theory.
It is far easier to perceive and to criticize the aspects in motivation theory than to remedy
Mostly this is because of the very serious lack of sound data in this area. I conceive this
lack of
sound facts to be due primarily to the absence of a valid theory of motivation. The
theory then must be considered to be a suggested program or framework for future
and must stand or fall, not so much on facts available or evidence presented, as upon
researches to be done, researches suggested perhaps, by the questions raised in this
The 'physiological' needs. -- The needs that are usually taken as the starting point for
motivation theory are the so-called physiological drives. Two recent lines of research
make it
necessary to revise our customary notions about these needs, first, the development of
concept of homeostasis, and second, the finding that appetites (preferential choices
foods) are a fairly efficient indication of actual needs or lacks in the body.
Homeostasis refers to the body's automatic efforts to maintain a constant, normal state
of the
blood stream. Cannon (2) has described this process for (1) the water content of the
blood, (2)
salt content, (3) sugar content, (4) protein content, (5) fat content, (6) calcium content,
oxygen content, (8) constant hydrogen-ion level (acid-base balance) and (9) constant
temperature of the blood. Obviously this list can be extended to include other minerals,