Needs and Incentives as Sources of Goals

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


To clarify what researchers may have in mind when referring to needs (motives), incentives, and goals, let us start with a historical overview of how these terms have been used in research on motivation. Based on learning theory advanced by early animal psychologists (Hull, 1943, 1952; Spence, 1956), the strength of the tendency to make a response, and thus an organism’s motivation to show this response, was considered to be a function of an organism’s skills (or habit strength), its needs, and the incentive value of the outcome. For example, how quickly an animal runs toward a box containing food was said to depend on its habit strength, its hunger (need), and the quality and quantity of food. However, with the advance of the cognitive revolution in psychology, these determinants of motivation as well as the concept of motivation itself have become ever more elaborated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGoal-Directed Behavior
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9781135254193
ISBN (Print)9781848728738
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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