Why the drive theory is among the most interesting topics

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Whythe drive theory is among the most interesting topics

Drivetheory is one of the most interesting topics covered in the course.This is a theory of arousal that attempts to analyze, define, andclassify various psychological drives (Melon 1). Drive in thiscontext refers to the excitatory state that is produced throughhomeostatic interruption or disturbance, which is an instinctual needwith the power to drive human behavior. Drive theory is based on thenotion that human beings as well as other living things are born withsome psychological needs and failure to satisfy those needs leads toa negative state. The drive operates like a thermostat, which meansthat it works on feedback control scheme. Needs results in internalstimuli, which in turn prods an individual to take an action in orderto reduce the stimuli through the satisfaction of those needs. Thispaper will discuss points of the topic of the drive theory and areflection of the main ideas learned from the topic.

Themain points of the topic

Thereare three major points that make up the topic of the drive theory.First, the theory is closely associated with human arousal wherearousal is positively correlated with a positive performance. Thisimplies that high levels of arousal, especially in a competition arelikely to strengthen the dominant response, thus increasing thequality of task performance (Chambers 68). Consequently, human beingsare more likely to consider the dominant responses as habitual.

Secondly,the perspective of psychoanalysis is closely related with the drivetheory. Although Freud’s view of the drive theory failed torecognize systemic in psychology, his drive theory had clear objects(including instincts, motivations, or drives) (Melon 1). Based onFreud’s perspective, drives can be classified in dichotomies, suchas drives towards ego or sexual and life and death. However, thisperspective raised criticisms from scholars who believed that thedrive system should give a systematic view of the entire range ofdrive activities (Graham 1).

Third,the relationship between anxiety and learning can be used to assessthe validity of the drive theory. Scores on the anxiety scale can beused to deduce the drive level (Chambers 68). In this case, anxietyis equated to needs because it is an aversive stimulus. An increasein the level of drive (anxiety in this case) would be expected toincrease the rate of learning while reducing the number of errors.However, an increase in drive for complex tasks would be expected toreduce individual’s performance. This is because high anxiety whenhandling complex tasks increases the strength of several incorrecttendencies, thus disrupting the right response tendency.

Thedrive theory suffers from three major criticisms. First, opponents ofthe drive theory suggest that the drive concept is only useful indescribing or explaining certain behavior, but it cannot be used toexplain the true cause of those behaviors (Melon 1). Secondly, thetheory fails to give a valid explanation for certain occurrences,such as mistakes done by highly experienced and skilled performers inpressurized situations. For example, the theory cannot explain whyexperienced footballers miss penalties. This reduces the correctnessof the assumption that drive and performance are positivelycorrelated, especially when a task is performed under pressure.Third, the drive theory fails to make a clear difference betweenvarious types of arousal, including the cognitive and somatic arousal(Melon 1). In spite of these criticisms, the drive theory remainsrelevant in the field of psychology.


Ihave learned three things from the topic of the theory of drives.First, it is evident that drive or human need energizes behavior.This means that people are forced to behave the way they do by theneeds that they intend to meet. This has been demonstrated in thetopic by the fact that behavior cannot be instigated in absence ofneeds. The second lesson is that habit and drive relatemultiplicatively. The manipulation of either of these variables(habit and drive) demonstrates their interactive impact onperformance. Therefore, the interaction between habit and drive ispositively associated with performance. Third, Drive or desire is apooled source of energy. This is demonstrated by the fact that twoneeds that are varied in a simultaneous way activates a similarresponse. This means that drive can be caused by different needs thathave the capacity to produce the same response.

Therelationship between anxiety and learning is one of the mostinteresting aspects of the topic of drive theory. Anxiety energizesdifferent responses for simple and complex tasks, which is a commonexperience among students. In the case of simple tasks, the correctresponse dominates in an individual’s hierarchy of responses. Forexample, the word day acts as the dominant response to a stimulus ofthe word night (Chambers 68). This is because a feeling of anxietyduring the process of learning increases the chances for stimulationof a correct response compared to an incorrect response. In addition,students have lesser chances of making errors during the learningprocess.


Chambers,H. Drive theory. PsychologyArousal.September 4. 2011. Web. July 26 2014.

Graham,S. and Weiner, B. Theoriesand principles of motivation.Arlington, AV: National Science Foundation, 2000. Print.

Melon,J. Noteson the history of the Szondi movement.Hungary: University of Budapest, 2014. Web.