Social Motivation - 11 Motivation, Emotion, and Personality - STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High

5 Steps to a 5: AP Psychology - McGraw Hill 2021

Social Motivation
11 Motivation, Emotion, and Personality
STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High


According to David McClelland, the achievement motive is a desire to meet some internalized standard of excellence. McClelland used responses to the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) to measure achievement motivation. He suggested that people with a high need for achievement choose moderately challenging tasks to satisfy their need. They avoid easy goals that offer no sense of satisfaction and avoid impossible goals that offer no hope of success. People low in need for achievement select very easy or impossible goals so that they do not have to take any responsibility for failure. College students high in this need attribute success to their own ability, and attribute failure to a lack of effort. Some people fear success because success can invite envy or criticism that strains social relationships or even rejection.


The affiliation motive is the need to be with others. In general, people isolated for a long time become anxious. The affiliation motive is aroused when people feel threatened, anxious, or celebratory. According to evolutionary psychologists, social bonds provided our ancestors with both survival and reproductive benefits offering group members opportunities for food, shelter, safety, reproduction, and care of the young. Affiliation behavior involves an interaction of biological and social factors.

Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Motivation

When you do something because you enjoy it or want to test your ability or gain skill, your motivation is usually intrinsic. Curiosity and a desire for knowledge stem from intrinsic needs. Intrinsic motivation is a desire to perform an activity for its own sake rather than an external reward. Extrinsic motivation is a desire to perform an activity to obtain a reward from outside the individual, such as money and other material goods we have learned to enjoy, such as applause or attention. Society is largely extrinsically motivated by rewards such as money. People who are intrinsically motivated by inner desires for creativity, fulfillment, and inner satisfaction tend to be psychologically healthier and happier. When people are given a reward for doing something for which they are intrinsically motivated, their intrinsic motivation often diminishes, resulting in the overjustification effect in which promising a reward for doing something they already like to do results in them seeing the reward as the motivation for performing the task.

Social Conflict Situations

Conflict involves being torn in different directions by opposing motives that block you from attaining a goal, leaving you feeling frustrated and stressed. The least stressful are approach—approach conflicts, which are situations involving two positive options, only one of which you can have. For example, you are accepted to both Harvard and Yale and must decide which to attend. Avoidance—avoidance conflicts are situations involving two negative options, one of which you must choose. Some expressions, such as “Between a rock and a hard place,” or, “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” and, “Between the devil and the deep blue sea,” exemplify this conflict. Approach—avoidance conflicts are situations involving whether or not to choose an option that has both a positive and negative consequence or consequences. Ordering a rich dessert ruins your diet but satisfies your chocolate cravings. The most complex form of conflict is the multiple approach—avoidance conflict, which involves several alternative courses of action that have both positive and negative aspects. For example, if you take the bus to the movies, you’ll get there in time to get a good seat and see the coming attractions, but you won’t have enough money to buy popcorn. If your parents drive you, you’ll have to help make dinner and wash the dishes. If you walk there, you may be late and get a bad seat, but you’ll have enough money to buy popcorn and you won’t have to help with dinner and the dishes.