Biological Motivation (Fuller – 1962)

Fuller (1962) presented a biological perspective on motivation that enumerated biological needs and their psychological consequences, integrative needs, and innate and acquired drives. Under biological needs he included oxygen, water, food, and the need for eliminating waste. One interesting thing the biological perspective offers in regards to the need for food is a departure from the traditional view of the hunger drive as an all-or-nothing sort of an affair:

There is not one need for food, but numerous requirements for specific substances. Nutritionalists have found that the essential nutrients for human beings (and needs are similar for other animals) are about a dozen amino acids (found in proteins), a carbohydrate (sugar or starch), certain forms of fat, a dozen more vitamins, and about the same number of inorganic salts. Quantitatively, the daily requirements for each type of nutrient vary from a millionth of an ounce up to a pound or so. (Fuller, 1962, p. 14)

Under integrative needs Fuller listed avoidance of trauma, sleep, the need for sex, the need for nurturing, and needs for exploration and manipulation. Of these needs, Fuller called out exploration and manipulation as being particularly important sources of motivation for man and primates:

Since [exploration] is a cerebral rather than an endocrine drive, one would expect it to be well developed in man according to the principle that man’s central nervous system is more autonomous than that of the lower vertebrates. Furthermore, the reduction in the intensity of deprivation states associated with the metabolic drives results, in the case of civilized man, in relatively more influence of nonmetabolic drives and appetites. We conclude that exploratory drive could be an important source of human motivation.

Closely related to exploration is the manipulation of objects. Harlow and his colleagues have demonstrated that monkeys improve their performance in solving mechanical puzzles (opening hooks, unlocking hasps, etc.) when their learning is motivated by no reward other than the privilege of taking the device apart. Similar mechanical puzzles have a strong fascination for humans of all ages. (Fuller, 1962, p. 39)

Under innate and acquired drives he listed the emotions of fear, rage, and pleasure. Fuller explained his rather short list of innate and acquired drives by saying,

One can approach the subject of acquired drives with two distinct attitudes. Mankind obviously is impelled by many motives, often by several at a time. Men seek fame, power, love, social groups, money, canceled postage stamps, scientific principles. We might multiply the number of drives indefinitely to cover all types of activities. On the other hand, we might try to categorize these diverse behaviors under a few major drives. The extreme of the second attitude would be to consider even the most complex behavior as motivated directly by basic biological needs. In this paper we shall adopt an intermediate position: that there are a limited number of acquired drives which play an active part in human motivation. These are the conditions of the organism we call emotions. (Fuller, 1962, p. 45)

He further stated that the list of emotions selected to be included in his model were selected based on “the basis of the kind of behavior which will reduce their intensity” (Fuller, 1962, p. 46). Fear, “can be defined as the drive state which is reduced by avoiding a specific stimulus. Or, if avoidance is not possible, the fear drive produces a response of inactivation and concealment” (p. 47). Anger “is reduced by aggressive behavior directed toward objects or individuals” (p. 47). Pleasure is reduced “by approaching, contacting, and otherwise seeking stimulation through many sensory pathways” (p. 47). “Getting pleasure out of something produces a drive to manipulate, taste, explore, listen to, or look at the eliciting stimulus, and when this is done the capacity of the stimulus to around pleasure is temporarily lost” (p. 61).  Fuller actually distinguished between two types of pleasure and referred to that just described as pleasure 1. In contrast, pleasure 2, he said, “involves a decreased excitability and….is a state of relationship which follows a heavy meal, the relief of sexual tension, or rest after vigorous activity” (p. 62).

Although “both rat and child learn very well when they are frightened” (p. 63), fear may not be a good source of motivation for learning since “what they learn is inappropriate to the situation as viewed by the teacher. The habits of avoidance established under these strong drives are not easily changed, and are often incompatible with multiplication or with form discrimination” (p. 63).

Fuller also described motivation in a social context. Although “we speak of such motivations as envy, jealousy, love, pride, respect, and patriotism”(Fuller, 1962, p. 64) Fuller attributed social behavior to both “acquired drives based upon the preemptive needs of the organism and expressive drives based upon innate reinforcing properties of stimulation” (p. 65). This is illustrated in his explanation for the human motivation to seek companionship:

Motivation to seek companionship may be based upon two main kinds of learning. First, a person may discover that his biological needs and his appetitive goals can be secured with less effort if he cooperates with other people. Secondly, he may be fearful, and find that fear is reduced by the presence of other people or of specific persons. (Fuller, 1962, p. 68)

Acknowledging that the motivations behind the everyday behavior of women and men are much more complex than those that can be studied in a laboratory setting, and in answer to the question by D. K. Adams, “What…are the tissue needs that supply the energy for our efforts toward assertion, aggression, mink coats, and status?” (a cited in Fuller, 1962, p. 98), Fuller concluded that although there is a difference between rats and men—i.e., “that the humoral agents (hormones, blood constituents) are much less important as regulators of human behavior than they are in lower animals” (p. 100)— men cannot escape their subjection to those regulators entirely:

There is universal recognition of the importance of humoral and visceral factors in the metabolic processes of men, but they don’t seem to go far enough in explaining the differences in motivation between men and rats. Rats and men both learn to go to food, but rats don’t seek mink coats or write scientific treatises. Neither do men when they are confined in a concentration camp on a subminimal diet. The primary drives can still preempt the center of the motivational stage under extreme conditions. (Fuller, 1962, p. 100)

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