Applying Psychological Theories: To Increase Motivation and
Utilize Memory Techniques
Dr Petra Buergelt
PSY140 Introduction to Psychology A
Memory techniques, also known as mnemonics, are methods for recalling or remembering information. They were developed to improve memory and therefore ultimately to improve learning. Although these techniques have been proved to be helpful through research, not everyone finds the motivation to make use of them. This essay accounts 3 psychological theories and one perspective: Operant Conditioning, Social Learning and Humanistic Perspective. First of all, people need to realize what motivation is before they can understand the theories that encourage it to do certain things. The purpose of this essay is to discuss what motivation is and to highlight the key concepts of the mentioned theories that one can use to motivate themselves to apply the memory techniques. The essay also debates between the theories and concludes which one of the 3 works best to inspire someone to do something, specifically memory techniques.
Applying Psychological Theories: To Increase Motivation and
Utilize Memory Techniques
Motivation is an internal process that makes a person move towards a goal (SparkNotes Editors, 2005).A person needs to be motivated enough to be able to do something he or she is supposed to. Psychologists around the world have worked on many theories and concepts that revolve around motivation. Psychologists also came up with various memory techniques that help people remember things better. Not everyone is keen enough to use them and also there are people who do not find the required amount of inspiration to apply them. That is where the theories and concepts to increase motivation come in handy. The theories to be discussed are Operant Conditioning, Social learning and Humanistic perspective.
Edward Thorndike once conducted an experiment through which he came up with a law of learning known as the law of effect: an animal’s tendency to reproduce a behaviour depending on the behaviour’s effect on the environment (Burton, Westen, & Kowalski, 2014).Based on Thorndike’s law, B. F. Skinner, who used to experiment on how environment influences behaviour, named it operant conditioning. Skinner, also considered being the father of operant conditioning, brought up a new term known as Reinforcement (Mcleod, 2007).
Operant Conditioning deals with deliberate activities that have an effect on the surrounding environment. There are two types of environmental consequences that result into operant conditioning: Reinforcement and Punishment.Reinforcement is any event that reinforces or increases the probability of the behaviour it follows. Punishment is the presentation of an opposing event that causes a reduction in the behaviour it follows. The possibility of a reward always tends to increase a behaviour. Using reinforcement, which is rewarding yourself after doing something you are required to, it is possible to increase motivation. Also, when you are not able to finish the required tasks that you initially planned to complete in a short period of time, punishment can be made use of in order to diminish that behaviour. You can set your favourite hobbies like reading novels or having your favourite food as rewards at a fixed-interval schedule to increase the probability of utilizing the specific activity, in this case, memory techniques. Fixed-interval schedule is where the first response is rewarded only after a specified amount of time has elapsed causing high amounts of responding near the end of the interval (Cherry, 2016). It is important to time the reinforcements sensibly because different strategies produce different outcomes. Rewarding a behaviour, such as an improvement in learning, each time it occurs will rapidly result in frequent performances. According to studies, to avoid the negative emotional impact of failing to obtaina reward, people are more likely to exert more effort when rewards aredivided into multiple categories than when they are not. Fear ofmissing out can be a powerful motivating force(Wiltermuth, & Gino, 2013).
Canadian psychologist, Albert Bandura, proposed a theory of learning and development to be known as the Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 2007). Bandura specified that most human behaviour is learned through observation and modelling: by observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviours are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action(Go¨rg, 2016).
There are three types of social learning: Observational learning, Modelling and Vicarious conditioning. Observational learning is learning by observing the behaviour of others, whereas modelling is using observational learning to reproduce behaviour exhibited by a model (Burton, Westen, & Kowalski, 2014). A person, suppose a teacher or a friend, who proved to be successful in using the memory techniques can be set as a model. The steps he followed while working on the memory techniques can be thoroughly observed and then followed upon to receive effective results. Comparing your progress with the person you are observing tends to influence your behaviour and motivates you to go further (Go¨rg, 2016). In vicarious conditioning, a person learns the consequences of an action by observing its consequences for someone else (Burton, Westen, & Kowalski, 2014). A person not using the memory techniques can be observed and compared to people who are using the techniques. There must be noticeable differences in the consequences and that should be taken as a lesson whether to follow the person who is using the techniques or the person who is not.
The Humanistic Perspective characterizes apositive view of human experience. It assumes that people are naturally good and will always choose adaptive, goal-directed and self-actualising behaviours (Burton, Westen, & Kowalski, 2014).In humanistic perspective, a person is driven by a need to accomplish all that he is capable of.
Using the memory techniques and getting the best out of it can be set as a goal. Self-actualisation is where people are motivated to reach their full potential. Moreover, with humanistic perspective, people are always after the best outcomes. Humanistic psychologists take the view that all people have a tendency towards growth and the fulfillment of their potential(Sammons, n.d.). If memory techniques have proved to improve memory and learning, people would definitely want to take them in consideration and try their best to utilize them.Setting concrete goals and providing meaningful rewards contingent upon the achievement of those goals can also increase individual motivation(Wiltermuth, & Gino, 2013).
Motivation is an important tool to go ahead and get anything done. Without motivation, people find it difficult to accomplish tasks. Looking closely at the 3 discussed theories in this essay, a picture is painted on the steps to motivate oneself. In conclusion, operant conditioning has been proved to be the most effective as there are constant rewards that enhance behaviour. Although humanistic perspective is all about motivation, critics argue that the concepts are too vague as it is difficult to objectify real experiences. Still it is a strong point as the perspective is all about being responsible and taking actions. On the other hand, social learning has both advantages and disadvantages. The person you take as your model can not have consistency in his/her actions for which you consider following him/her for. It creates a gap and causes delay in performances. The theories can only be applied through effort and require determination.
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Wiltermuth, S., & Gino, F. (2013). 'I'll have one of each': How separating rewards into (meaningless) categories increases motivation. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, Vol 104(1), 1-13.