Critical Thinking Questions

How might someone espousing an arousal theory of motivation explain visiting an amusement park?


The idea of optimal levels of arousal is similar to a drive theory of motivation. Presumably, we all seek to maintain some intermediate level of arousal. If we are underaroused, we are bored. If we are overaroused, we experience stress. The rides at an amusement park would provide higher arousal (however, we would hope that these rides don’t actually pose significant threats to personal safety that would lead to a state of panic) to push us toward our own optimal level of arousal. Individuals at the park would choose different rides based on their specific arousal thresholds; for example, one person might find a simple water ride optimally arousing and an extreme roller coaster overarousing, while others would find the extreme roller coaster optimally arousing.

Schools often use concrete rewards to increase adaptive behaviors. How might this be a disadvantage for students intrinsically motivated to learn? What are educational implications of the potential for concrete rewards to diminish intrinsic motivation for a given task?


We would expect to see a shift from learning for the sake of learning to learning to earn some reward. This would undermine the foundation upon which traditional institutions of higher education are built. For a student motivated by extrinsic rewards, dependence on those may pose issues later in life (post-school) when there are not typically extrinsic rewards for learning.