Underpinnings of higher level motivational orientations

Skatova, Anna A. (2011) Underpinnings of higher level motivational orientations. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis explored underpinnings of the higher level motivational orientations, generic to various types of human choice, such as pro-social, intrinsic, achievement motivation and free-riding. Two different choice situations were examined: a choice of degree was utilized as a model of a real life choice and an experimental economic game (e.g. a public goods game) was used to study choices in a controlled laboratory environment. Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST, Gray & McNaughton, 2000) was employed as a theoretical framework of biological motivational traits to examine their links to higher level motivational orientations. RST proposes that individual differences in a vast range of behaviours are linked to individual propensities to approach or avoid in rewarding or punishing contexts. Thus, an individual differences framework was applied to study underpinnings of higher level motivational orientations through their links to the basic motivational traits of behavioural approach and inhibition.

The results demonstrated that similar motivations (e.g. pro-social or strategic achievement tendencies) affected individual choices in both situations. In addition, these motivations were linked in a coherent fashion to the biological motivational traits of approach and avoidance. Specifically, individual differences in both intrinsic and strategic achievement motivation were associated with the trait behavioural approach. Pro-social and free-riding motivations were linked to the behavioural inhibition. Furthermore, individual choices in two different situations were mutually consistent.

This research agenda reinforces the notion that individual choices on different levels (with a long-term influence, e.g. a choice of degree, or with a short-term influence, e.g. making a charitable donation) in part depend on dispositional traits (e.g. behavioural approach and inhibition). Incorporating the knowledge of basic motivational and affective decision-making mechanisms into the models of individual differences in motivation could considerably improve predictions about individual choices in real life. The findings contribute to the understanding of basic mechanisms underlying individual motivation. Links are established herein of the basic motivational traits to the higher level motivational orientations. These can serve as a starting point to develop further hypotheses about the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of higher level motivational orientations and individual choices in real life.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Ferguson, Eamonn
Clarke, David
Keywords: higher level motivational orientations, choice, motivation, Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 12059
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2011 09:47
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2017 12:51
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12059

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