Our eagerness to eat is not only pushed by our body state – our body chemistry and hypothalamic activity – but also pulled by external stimuli. Like Pavlov’s dogs, people learn to salivate in anticipation of appealing foods. As those who are involved in preparing, displaying, selling, or advertising food know, few of us are immune to food cues.
For a vast majority of people, sex feels good. We are biologically organized to feel this way. It would seem reasonable to assume that there might be a biological drive or need for sex. But, unlike food or water, sex is not necessary to keep an individual alive; it is needed only to maintain the species. For this reason, a drive to engage in sexual activity may not be as obvious in an individual as is the drive to satisfy hunger or thirst.
Sex hormones help our bodies develop and function as either male or female. In nonhuman animals, hormones also help to stimulate sexual activity, but n humans, they influence sexual behavior more loosely. External stimuli can trigger sexual arousal in both men and women, although women may be less likely to notice their psychological responses. In combination with the internal hormonal push and the external pull of sexual stimuli, imagined stimuli (fantasies) help trigger sexual arousal.
Perhaps we can agree that the knowledge provided by sex research is preferable to ignorance, yet also agree that researchers’ hidden values should be stated openly, enabling us to debate them and to reflect upon our own values. One can know every available fact about sex, but fail to understand the human significance of sexual intimacy.
Surely, one significance of sexual intimacy is its expression of our deeply social nature. Sex is a social as well as a biological act. Men and women can have orgasms with just as much pleasurable physical sensation when alone. Yet most people find greater satisfaction in embracing their loved one. This yearning for closeness is part of the whole sexual experience as well as one of the main social motives.
Achievement The idea that biological needs drive us to satisfy those needs provides only a partial explanation of what energizes and directs our behavior. These also are motives that, unlike hunger and sex, do not seem to satisfy any biological need. Millionaires may be motivated to make ever more money, movie stars to become ever more famous, politicians to achieve ever more power. Such motives seem not to diminish when they are fed. The more we achieve, the more we may need to achieve. Scientists believe that this need is learned as the result of experience.
In most cases, parents and teachers who encourage and affirm independent achievement rather than overly controlling the children with rewards and threats, make these children achievement-oriented. Intrinsic motivation, that is the desire to be effective and to perform a behavior for its own sake, has been found to be superior to extrinsic motivation – a desire to perform a behavior due to promised rewards or threats of punishment – in creating and maintaining behavior. Rewards that are used not to control people but to boost their sense of competence or to inform them of improvement may increase intrinsic motivation.
Questions for discussion:
1) What is homeostasis?
2) What makes us act? How does this chain look like?
3) What regulates our weight and in what ways?
4) Do external stimuli take part in arousing our desire to eat?
5) What is the difference between sex hormones in nonhuman animals and in humans?
6) What triggers sexual arousal?
7) What is the difference between hunger, sex and achievement motivations?
8) What is intrinsic/ extrinsic motivation?
Achievement Motivation: A desire for significant accomplishment: for mastery of things, people, or ideas; for attaining a high standard.
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