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Biological and Sociocultural Motivators That Regulate Behavior – Motivation (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, MD
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    00:02 Now, what is another way to look at motivating behavior? Well, we’ve come up with something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and this is a very fancy looking pyramid here and it’s layered.

    00:15 And at the bottom are what we would call your basic needs and at the very top are kind of dream top needs that aren’t really needs, they’re things that you would like to do if possible, so kind of walk through this.

    00:29 So the bottom one is something simple like low-level needs, breathing, food, water, shelter, clothing, sleep, all the things we basically need to survive.

    00:37 So as humans, our number one driver, the thing that motivates us is to achieve these basic physiological needs.

    00:43 Think about it, if you’re hungry, tired, and extremely thirsty, are you really going to be productive at doing anything? No.

    00:51 So we need to take care of those basic needs.

    00:54 The next are things like safety and security.

    00:56 You want to have your health.

    00:57 You would like to have a job.

    00:58 Maybe you would like to have property, your home, family, social stability.

    01:03 These are all great.

    01:04 The third is having friends, family, being intimate, having a sense of connection.

    01:09 These are all great.

    01:10 So those top three are where the bulk I would say of the population is at, they’ve achieved all these things and you’re considered to be actually pretty, pretty lucky.

    01:19 Now, if you can escalate that one level and bolster things like self-esteem by being confident, achieving, getting a degree, going to medical school, having a great job, others respect you saying, “What a smart guy he is.

    01:30 He’s published all these papers,” or “He’s so successful in life,” and it makes you feel unique and you want to be unique and this continues to bolster your self-esteem.

    01:40 This is sort of a great place that you want to be and you’re thinking you would love to be a little bit later in your life.

    01:46 Now, we would be lucky if we get to that point.

    01:49 Not a lot of people get to get there, but you hope.

    01:52 That’s for most people your goal.

    01:54 So the next step is the ultimate goal and that is self-actualization.

    02:00 And so here were saying morality, creativity, spontaneity, acceptance, experience, purpose, meaning, and inner potential.

    02:07 So all fancy ways of saying that you’ve become so self-cognizant and so aware of yourself that all those things that are lower in the hierarchy of needs have been achieved, are no longer of paramount interest to you and you can now focus on the bigger picture, the bigger things.

    02:27 So is it really important to have tons of food and tons of expensive clothes and overly successful or is it more important to find a higher purpose? So examples I can give you are, say, you know, the Mother Teresas of the world or the Gandhis.

    02:40 They didn’t need to have all the beautiful things in life because they had already achieved that point and said, “I’m here to help people.

    02:46 I’m here to help my people. I’m here to make a change.” So that is something that most of us will never achieve, but again, that’s probably the ultimate goal.

    02:55 You would be lucky of most of us if we achieve that self-esteem portion of the hierarchy of needs.

    03:04 Okay, now, let’s take a look at some of the biological factors that are going to regulate motivation.

    03:09 So these are things that are going to push us to achieve that homeostasis.

    03:14 So for physiological processes, our bodies have that ideal set point to achieve homeostasis.

    03:19 We’ve mentioned that already.

    03:20 But our bodies have mechanisms to detect these deviations from that ideal set points.

    03:25 And now we’re getting into biologically speaking there are structures in the brain, receptors in the brain, systems in the brain who are designed to look at how much have you deviated from that physiological homeostatic balance, that set point, and this motivates us to modify our behavior.

    03:43 So our friend who’s on this teeter-totter, when he shifts away from what he should be in terms of, say, hunger or sleep or thirst, our body will say, “Hey, go get a drink,” or “Go take a nap,” or “Go get some food,” and they get you back to where you want to be.

    03:55 So biologically speaking we’re going to talk about a couple of structures that are of relevance to us.

    03:59 So let’s start with body temp.

    04:01 So the hypothalamus is the primary control center for mediating your body temp.

    04:05 And it’s funny because it’s a very, very small structure and our ideal set range of where we want to be is very, very small and we have a very narrow window.

    04:13 So it doesn’t take much for us to actually experience overheating or to become freezing from our set point.

    04:22 There’s looking at fluid levels, so how much water is in your body.

    04:26 And we are basically walking water balloons and we don’t have a lot of wiggle room in terms of our osmotic balance and that shapes our blood concentration, it shapes so many different things.

    04:39 And so as soon as we’re off a little bit with water, the fluid levels change, the amount we urinate or don’t urinate or want to consume liquids changes very, very quickly.

    04:49 Hunger, this helps control the amount of energy we have in our body and this another thing that is actually controlled by portions of the hypothalamus, and this another thing that is actually controlled by portions of the hypothalamus, the ventral, medial, and the lateral hypothalamus, and they cause the release of different factors.

    05:03 So for example, ghrelin is released, which is a hormone, and it causes you to feel hungry, and then there’s leptin, which is also released in response to starting to get full and you feel that sense of satiety or feeling full.

    05:18 When we look at, say, body temp we’re looking at vasoconstriction, this is when your blood vessels actually constrict.

    05:24 The analogy I’d like to use is if you think of a water hose or a straw and you squeeze it, that would be vasoconstriction, and as a result, you limit and decrease the amount of blood flow and therefore, you’re trying to conserve energy and maintain and retain heat versus vasodilation and that’s going from, say, a small garden hose to a fire hose and now we have a nice big opening, we have a lot of blood flow and that allows there to be a good exchange of energy.

    05:52 In this case, we’re overheating, so you want to cool off and that allows you to dissipate some of that heat.

    05:57 And you also have some of the behavioral responses to being overheated.

    06:00 So when you’re really, really hot, what do you do? You rip off all your clothes, you walk around in your underwear saying, “I’m so hot right now,” versus vasoconstriction because you’re really, really cold and you start shivering and that motion of shivering actually increases heat.

    06:13 You might want to go for a now nice fur coat, anything to warm you up.

    06:18 So these are some examples of different drives and biologically how they’re mediated.

    06:24 The last one is sex drive and this is mediated by different sex hormones including estrogen and testosterone, and varying levels of this will initiate wax and wane your levels of sexual drive.

    06:34 So when you hit puberty, levels of these two sex hormones increase very, very rapidly, very, very quickly, which is why you go from 12 years old playing your toy trucks, and when you’re 13, all you can think about is girls and how you can get one to kiss you.

    06:50 So a lot of that is dictated by the hormones.

    06:53 Now, another thing that can actually regulate motivation is something that might not automatically come to the top of your head and that’s sociocultural factors.

    07:02 So what we’re referring to here is what does society say or what does your culture say? And some of those things may drive your motivation.

    07:10 So first example, North America, I would say for lots of the world, being slim is in, right? So we have this cultural set point of this should be your ideal body shape, body weight, right? So, you know, if you look at the States, the US, Canada, even most of Europe, it’s being lean and mean and being in great shape, and so that kind of pushes people to say, “Well, that’s where I should be.” And so that motivates you to perhaps change your behaviors in order to achieve that body weight, right? So I got to go to the gym, I need to do this, I need to do that.

    07:47 It also might change your taste preferences, right? So normally, we have things like wanting to have fatty foods.

    07:55 We all love our burgers, we love our shakes, we love our McDonald’s, right? And so part of the reason that that’s there is because of the taste and the things that it stimulates and the way that it makes you feel.

    08:06 In our culture, in our society kind of has furthered that mentality of fast and yummy and tasty, and as a result, that now motivates us to eat.

    08:15 Now, that can be counterintuitive to some of the sociocultural drivers around body shape and body weight, and that will also then have to balance itself out.

    08:24 The last point is exercise.

    08:27 So, say, wanting to look good is important, then, it’s important to have to exercise.

    08:32 Society has really embraced the idea of physical health and that you know you should be exercising.

    08:38 They’ve made it a part of our culture, and so, again, this might motivate you because you see it on TV, you see your friends doing it.

    08:45 Socioculturally, you’re now kind of being, I don’t want to say pushed, but you’re being urged or motivated to do some of these things.

    08:52 So you can see now all the different things that we’ve talked about, biologically speaking, socioculturally speaking that have impacted your motivation, which will then go on to influence your behavior.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Biological and Sociocultural Motivators That Regulate Behavior – Motivation (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, MD is from the course Individual Influences on Behavior.


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Abraham Maslow
    2. Carl Jung
    3. Leon Festinger
    4. Henry Harlow
    5. Charles Darwin
    1. Need for recognition
    2. Need for warmth
    3. Maintaining blood pressure
    4. Maintaining fluid levels
    5. Maintaining glucose levels
    1. Safety and Security
    2. Self actualization
    3. Self esteem
    4. Physiological needs
    5. Love and Belonging

    Author of lecture Biological and Sociocultural Motivators That Regulate Behavior – Motivation (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, MD

    Tarry Ahuja, MD


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