What determines a person's inclination to engage in one activity

Human behavior appears as an endless sequence of activities that may be described in terms of the goals toward which they are directed. A theory of motivation should answer these kinds of question: What determines a person's inclination to engage in one activity rather than another? How long does a person persist in pursuing one goal before switching to an activity that is directed toward another goal? What proportion of the available time does a person spend in a given activity? How often does a person resume an activity after having engaged in various other ones? Cognitive theories of motivation have focused on the first and, to a lesser extent, the second of these questions. 1 The dynamic theory of motivation views all of the questions as interrelate and proposes answers that differ in some respects from propositions derived from cognitive theories.

Despite the differences between the cognitive and the dynamic theories, the two approaches are not incompatible. It may be a matter of historical coincidence rather than logical necessity that cognitive theories have been episodic in disregarding the temporal aspects of behavior. long ago suggested that a theory of the cognitive determinants of motivation should eventually merge into a dynamic theory of motivation describing temporal changes in motivation over extended periods of time. In this concluding chapter, some steps are taken toward integration of cognitive and dynamic approaches. To do this, the basic postulates of The Dynamics of Action are summarized, and so also are the assumptions of one of the most comprehensive cognitive models of motivation currently available. Differences between the two approaches are discussed in terms of differences in theoretical propositions and differences in their metatheoretical status. Further, an attempt is made to integrate the approaches by coordinating parameters of The Dynamics of Action with assumed cognitive antecedents.

Several advantages of such an integration should become apparent. The cognitive theory may gain from the integration because it may become better equipped to deal with the temporal aspects of human behavior, expressed in the final two questions above. Some new cognitive mediators are suggested, ones not yet incorporated in cognitive models of motivation. Finally, cognitive theory may resolve some paradoxes regarding seemingly inconsistent behavior when it is integrated with the dynamic theory.

For the dynamic theory, a coordination of its parameters with cognitive antecedents is indispensible. Although some coordinating definitions are included in the original presentation of The Dynamics of Action, most dynamic parameters still need to be related in some way to cognitive antecedents. The applicability of the dynamic theory to specific behavioral phenomena increases when the cognitive antecedents of dynamic parameters are spelled out more completely. Before going into the details of the attempted integration, we discuss some differences regarding their metatheoretical status.

No comments: