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Positive motivation, is it better than negative motivation?

It is a fact that a person cannot succeed if he is not motivated. People are willing to engage in various activities based on the rewards that they are likely to acquire in the process. This is an element of positive motivation. However, there is an alternative view of positive motivation. This alternative view is called negative motivation. This arises when a person is motivated to engage in an activity because of the punishments that may emanate if he does not. Take an example of motivation in education. Students work hard because they fear to fail an examination. I want to understand which is the more effective of the two types of motivation. Is it progressive motivation or negative? Anybody with some motivation tips can give me an answer to my question.             

Naomi Doyle

in Self Improvement

1 answer

1 answer

Ross Pratt on February 15, 2018

It is not common for people to struggle with motivation. This is because it is what drives a person to success, whether it is positive motivation or negative, people normally work hard to achieve a particular goal. For instance, a student will need the motivation to work hard in school. Motivation in education can either be positive or negative. For instance, achievement motivation in the education set up occurs when a child works hard in school so that he may attain certain grades that can enable him to attend a prestigious higher learning institution. Nonetheless, educational motivation is negative, if a student works hard in school to avoid failing.                

Therefore, the end results of these two types of education are the passing of the exam. Thus, it is possible to assert that the two types of motivation are equal because they both lead to the success of a child. This is if you are looking at them, based on the end product.  Nonetheless, motivation that is positive normally leads to the reinforcement of a particular behavior. A person will always work hard for purposes of avoiding the behavior, knowing that there is a reward. However, when the reward is not there, the behavior will be reinforced, and the person will know that it is always good to act in such a manner. On the other hand, negative motivation thrives on the fear of punishment, and it does not reinforce positive behavior. Thus, a person will not understand why he should behave in a good way if the punitive measures are not there. For instance, a child will not understand the value of working hard in school, if he will not fail his exams, despite being lazy.

Nonetheless, one of the best motivation tips is to come up with a motivation plan or strategy that will help in reinforcing a good behavior of a student. This will always ensure that such a student behaves in a good way, even when the incentives to the behavior are not existent. Note that people should not always behave in a positive manner, just for purposes of getting rewards. They should behave in such manner because it is ethical, acceptable and the results will be fulfilling.

Furthermore, some good tips on motivation are always centered on the methods used to achieve an objective. If the method is wrong, then it is unethical. For example, negative motivation instills fear in an individual, and he is acting out of such fear when engaging in behaviors that will lead to his success. Ethically, it is unacceptable to control the behavior of an individual through fear.   

Leigh Manna year ago

I fully agree with the arguments in the above texts regarding how positive motivation compares with negative motivation. One of the greatest hindrances when it comes to succeeding in education or building a career/business is having the motivation to keep fighting when things get tougher. Most of the times, I have seen that students’ motivation in education is commonly determined by who they are as well as their priorities. Those who are self-motivated, do things better than those who are motivated by fear or anxiety.

Well, when we keep working on something out of our own initiatives, it becomes easy for us to realize our goals.


Emily Alexander2 years ago

I liked the answer that is provided about the importance of positive education. It is an obvious fact that students are always motivated to work hard in school for fear of failing. This is an aspect of negative motivation. However, achievement motivation always ensures that a student works hard in school, based on the rewards he is expecting in future. For instance, a student will work hard in high school, with the belief that he will get a learning opportunity at Harvard University. This is a prestigious university and is responsible for enrolling bright students, who have high scores from their secondary education. On this note, I commend the detailed answer for providing insight on the importance of positive motivation. As an individual, I have been motivated through negative motivation. However, I was acting out of the fear of failure, and its consequences. I was not interested in reinforcing the behavior in my life since there were no incentives. What I mean is that negative motivation emerges out of fear, and this is psychologically unacceptable.      

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