Life is a process of learning. As a baby we were a clean slate and it is the process of learning that have made us what we are today. By learning I do not just mean what we have been directly taught by our parents and teachers, but also what we have taken in from our environment indirectly. Human beings are different from animals in not just their learning ability but also in the functioning of mental faculties such as the ability to act under motivation and that action becoming a means of satisfaction, of joy in life. Action is not a mere instinctive process for human beings as it is for animals.
As an example we can take the case of a mother who is doing up the house for her three year old daughter’s birthday party. An exhausting process, no doubt, since she has taken it upon herself to do all the decorations and cook all the courses without using any help, but is she really exhausted? If a lady was employed and paid to do the same job she would perhaps get more exhausted with the same physical exertion. The mother at the end of the day is
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The motivation, of course. To a mother, any effort towards her child’s birthday party will cause much less exhaustion because of the motivation involved. In another example we can look at two people playing a tennis match. After similar physical exhaustion, one emerges a winner and the other a loser. The winner will have more energy left than the loser. The winning itself acts as motivating factor, increasing the players self esteem. A third example is a child who is always praised in his work while another child is constantly ridiculed and criticized.
The former grows up with a high self esteem, is more confident and has improved happiness, while the latter lacks the qualities. Motivation, once more, is the root cause. References • General Principles of Motivation – Matthew Weller, Los Angeles Business Journal. • Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching, Effective Learning, Madison:Brown and Benchmark. ? Question #2 I was working as a project manager on a software development project. This was my first project as a manager. There was a delivery scheduled to the client on a particular day and I was on a conference call with my client the previous day.
The client was praising my team’s work and I felt very happy. The client then requested if I could make the delivery that very day, a day earlier to the scheduled date. The first step I tool was to delineate the problem. I looked at the problem from a distance and objectively approach it to come up with the best decision. I had to make a quick decision on what to do. A delivery would be premature, but not delivering will affect client satisfaction. I carefully weighed the pros and cons of each decision and decided that I should not be affected by patterns and tendencies in my mind while taking the decision.
I recognized patterns in my mind that had been operational in similar problems. For one, I often did not think through a situation and took rash decisions. Also, the excitement at doing a job often affected my calmness and the quality of work suffered. Finally, I also realized I got easily affected by praise or criticism. I decided to keep my calmness and collectedness intact in any situation. Instead of acting in a rash manner, I decided to think through in detail before taking a decision. I decided to involve others, gather more knowledge on how others may have tackled similar situations and discuss the problem before taking a decision.
I also decided was to identify the root causes behind the event and work for a long term advantage rather than come to a temporary solution. The motivation to get recognized in my work and excel was the main factor that triggered my balanced approach to the problem and thereby helped me reach a solution that would benefit all. References • On the Process of Creativity in Puzzles, Inventions, and Designs – Omer Akin, Department of Architecture, and Cem Akin, John P. Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management. • The Routledge Companion to Creativity, By Tudor Rickards, Mark A. Runco, Susan Moger
? Question #3 Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are different methods of learning. The purpose of both these methods is to make a human being or an animal act in a specific manner. Classical conditioning is used to create an association between new stimuli to produce a response that will naturally not be triggered by those stimuli. This is more associated with animals though experiments have been made to prove its effectiveness on humans. But this learning process is based to train automatic responses of animals and humans, to make them respond to otherwise neutral stimuli.
Operant conditioning has more to do with motivating an individual with the use of incentives and punishments. An incentive is used as a means to motivate an individual to act in a certain desirable way or a punishment is used as a threat to discourage an individual from acting in a certain undesirable way. Classical conditioning is based on voluntary behavior where as operant conditioning is based on involuntary behavior. Operant conditioning depends on reinforcement, where the frequency of a particular behavior is dependent on an incentive provided.
Positive reinforcement is when the reinforcement increases the frequency of something good happening whereas a negative reinforcement is when it results in diminishing the frequency of something undesirable happening. For both classical and operant conditioning, if the stimuli or reinforcement is stopped after some time, it may lead to extinction which means that the desired behavior is no longer generated. Operant conditioning however does not play a major role in the behavior of non human animals but it plays a major role in the learning of human beings.
This is because the human mind responds to motivation. References • An Animal Trainer’s Introduction To Operant and Classical Conditioning , Stacy Braslau-Schneck, • Determinants of Animal Behaviour – Jo-Anne Cartwright ? Question #4 There are various examples in each of our lives where classical and operant conditioning can be applied. In the first example let us look at a child who does not go to sleep before 11 in the night but his mother wants him to sleep by 8 pm. So for the first few days the mother puts on slow instrumentals just before 11 pm when the boy is feeling sleepy.
As the child gets used to the music as a part of his sleeping ritual, the mother gradually starts playing the music at an earlier hour, 10 pm and then starts playing at 8 pm. When the music starts the child now starts feeling sleepy. This is a case of classical conditioning. Another example can be an older child who refuses to keep her room clean. She is told by her mother that on the day when she does not clean her room she will not be allowed to play with her friends in the evening. This acts as a negative reinforcement to make her start cleaning her room.
This is an example of operant conditioning. In both the cases once the desired result has been obtained, I think the process can be improved by changing the reinforcement or the stimulus slowly, so that the child behaves in the desired way but does not get programmed to just one particular stimulus or reinforcement. So once the child is sleeping at 8 pm, soft music can be replaced by storytelling session etc. This will prevent or reduce the risk of extinction. Also, it must be kept in mind that human beings are essentially thinking beings and can be reasoned with.
It is important that the child is slowly made to understand why the behavior is desirable and what benefits would come out of it. So if the child cleans her room, it will make her independent, her friends will admire her room when they drop in and that it is more hygienic and she can find all her things easily, etc. Once the intelligence functions and she understands that it is good for her, she will keep her room clean regardless of the reinforcement. References • Classical Conditioning & Operant Conditioning, by Janyees • USING CLASSICAL VS OPERANT CONDITIONING, http://www. utexas. edu