IT the fear of not having that knowledge







IT Theory and Theorist Research
Paper: Drive-Reduction Theory

Philip Boler

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The University of West Florida



Motivation is often a term used to get
people to understand that a task or goal that may seem impossible or difficult
to obtain can be reachable through self-drive. So, what is motivation?
Motivation can be defined as a stimulus or influence that drives a person to
act accordingly to achieve a goal. Motivation is the force that inspires people
to do things that ultimately results in a self-desire. While some call it
motivation, the terms used theoretically can be drive-reduction. The person
after a goal must be driven to obtain knowledge on a subject to reduce the fear
of not having that knowledge to advance. The drive-reduction theory explores
how people use motivation to dwindle the fear of not having knowledge and/or
skill to increase their standard of productivity (Macmillan & Aiken, 1954).
This research will dive into the concepts of drive-reduction theory and how it
is applied in instructional technologies.


The Drive-Reduction Theory focuses on how
motivation is driven from biological needs. Before focusing on the theory,
itself, understanding the definition of the defining words in the theory’s
title should be examined. Drive, in relation to this theory, can be defined as
the stimulus into an activity that dictates course and/or direction. Drive is
typically the reaction to a need. When a person lacks food, this creates a
drive of hunger. This leads to the second word of the theory; reduction.
Reduction is the act of diminishing a specific state or condition. Once a
person is driven to find food due to hunger, the hunger is reduced once the
food is devoured by that person. The Drive-Reduction Theory in instructional
technology studies the behaviors behind the human stimulus that effect their
immediate response to obtaining knowledge (Berlyne, 1960).

Origins of Theory

Clark L Hull developed the drive-reduction
theory while working at Yale University. He strongly believed that human
tendency to a stable equilibrium between mental, physical, spiritual and
emotional elements was enough motivation to obtain knowledge in areas that directly
affected these areas (Leornard, 2002). This balance is known as homeostasis. Hull
argued that is the state of homeostasis is challenged or driven to a state of
uncertainty, the human will motivate themselves to fulfil that void by seeking
the knowledge to fulfill their need. The reduction of these drives through
appropriate behavior is thought to be the immediate reaction of the human to
reach a state of homeostasis. Hull’s theory was highly recognizable in the
1940s and 1950s but was later exploited that many loop holes left many
questions unanswered about the theory.

Drive-Reduction Theory and Learning

The Drive-Reduction theory is one of many
motivational theories that was used to assist with the understanding of a
person’s physiological and biological needs (Atkinson, Hilgard & Smith, 1975).
Hull explained in his theory that drive would place an individual in a state of
need where motivation is needed. Furthermore, Hull explained how an individual
in a state of need will do what is needing to reduce that need. Instructional
technologist often refers to this theory to remind themselves not to ignore
natural and environmental factors of an individual that motivates them to
obtain knowledge required.

Drive-Reduction theory focused on primary
and secondary drives. Primary drive are your typical native biological needs
such as hunger and desires for love and/or sex. In short, primary drives are
your needs for survival. Secondary drives, on the other hand, are social or
personal factors that directly link to the primary drives. For example, hunger
is a primary drive and money is a secondary drive because money is needed to
purchase food to reduce the hunger.  Hull
believed these drives are the underline behaviors to everything learned. Additionally,
he hypothesized that when an individual experience more drives, that individual
creates a more rapid learning experience than those of with a single drive.

Drive, however, must be reduced to bring
the individual back to a state of homeostasis. This is where reduction comes in
to play. The individual’s drive bring focus to an action that will reduce the
drive to create stability. Regarding education, drive triggers a cue in the
individual. This cue is also known as stimulus. The cue is the recognition that
something must be learned to reduce the drive. Once the individual acknowledges
the cue, the individual respond by engaging in an activity that will reduce the
drive to a state of stability (Campbell & Kraeling, 1953). That state of
stability must reinforce the idea that the drive has now reduced. If the drive
is not reduced after the response, the individual is cued about the drive’s
state and cycle through this process until stability is restored.

Drive-Reduction theory also emphasizes
that through engaging in a drive and learning the process of reduction to
dwindle or eliminate the drive, habits are formed. These habits play a role in
the type of behavioral responses in which an individual engages. When the
individual engages in a state of drive, the individual natural relapse to
knowledge gained while reducing that drive, creating a habit that reduces the
drive (Zimbardo, 1988). The more the individual engage in a behavior to ignite
the drive, the individual is more likely to engage a similar behavior that
reduce the drive and continue to reduce that drive in the future (Graham &
Weiner, 1996).

Critiques of Drive-Reduction Theory

Hull’s Drive-Reduction theory did a decent
job at discovery and analyzing top-level motivational behaviors. Graham and
Wiener states, “It is understood that most drive theories are unlearned,
biological drives, which progressively develop a bigger set of appropriate
drives through learning (Graham & Weiner, 1996).” However, many
psychologists challenged drive theory by exploring a deeper understanding of
human and animal behaviors. Many psychologists agreed that primary drives will
create a need of reduction to re-establish homeostasis, however, the theory
really did not assess secondary drives accurately. Additionally, he did not assess
behaviors that provided pleasure. For instance, a student in the United States
must learn to speak English to adapt well with society. That’s understood.
However, that same student may learn to speak German simply because they enjoy the
language. Learning German is not a drive of necessity but is merely a want.


In conclusion, people are motivated to
carry out some actions to reduce the internal tension caused by unmet needs. An
example of application of this theory is that when you drink a glass of water
to reduce the internal state of thirst. Another example is if we were hot, we
would seek for a shade, this seeking for shade and drinking glass of water is
an example of drive reducing behavior. The problem however, faced with this
theory is that the drives are not always, purely motivated by physiological
needs. For example, a person may smell freshly baked bread and want to eat it
although he has already done his breakfast little time ago. In this case the
drive ‘hunger’ is not motivating him to do this action but he is just eating
the bread because he is attracted to the smell and he knows that a freshly
baked bread tastes very good. (Lepper, 1995)



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