Directory Image
This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Motivation and Cognitive Control

Author: Janet Peter
by Janet Peter
Posted: Mar 11, 2019
cognitive processes

Motivation normally directs as well as defines behavior of human means in a particular direction. The majority of the psychologists normally believe that the human beings are normally purposeful by nature. In this case, the position held is that people establish goals for themselves and consequently initiate the course of action that they believe are going to aid them in realizing the set goals. The behaviors that are goal directed are normally evident in as an early as when a child is two months old. For instance in the school going children as well as adolescents some of their goals as the desire to finish reading the dinosaur book are normally short term as well as transitory (Aarts, van Holstein, & Cools, 2011). On the other occasions, others may desire to be paleontologists that apt to be long term as well as considerably enduring. Motivation has the tendency of determining the exact goals in the direction to which the learners strive. In this context, it I normally impact the choices that the learners are going to make, for example whether they want to enroll in a studio or physics art. Additionally they could be faced with the dilemmas of either spending the evening playing video games with friends rather than completing a challenging assignment (Dweck, 2012).

Additionally motivation has the role of increasing the persistence as well as efforts that the human being normally dedicates to a task. Motivation has always been known to increase the amount of energy as well as effort that learners commit to their activities directly related to their goals as well as needs. It assists in the determination of whether they are pursuing a task enthusiastically as well as wholeheartedly on one occasion while they are lackadaisically and apathetically on another task (Murty, Labar, & Adcock, 2012). Additionally, learners who are motivated are in a better position to continue with a task till they are through even if they face interruptions occasionally or else frustrated in the course of their undertakings. Motivation plays the role of increasing an individual’s duration in a task, which is normally a vital attribute impacting their completion of the task as well as their achievement.

Motivation can affect the cognitive processes and in the case of students, it affects how they are going to be processing their information mentally. The attribute that support this assertion is that learners who are motivated are going to be able to be more attentive, which is a critical attribute in embedding information in our memories. Additionally, motivated learners are also going to make an attempt towards comprehending as well as elaborate on the material, being able to learn it meaningfully. It will be a contrast to them just going through the learning motions in a superficial as well as rote manner. In most cases, motivation assists in the establishment of the outcomes that are reinforcing as well as punishing (Aarts, Custers, & Veltkamp, 2008). The more the students motivated for the attainment of academic success, the prouder they are going to be relating to A and consequently more upset relating to element B and even C. The more the students crave for acceptance as well as respect from their peers, the more meaningful they will consider the approval of the in-group and the consequent perception of pain due to ridicule by the classmates. In the example of a teenage boy having no interest in athletics, failing to make the school football team is not a big issue to him. On the other hand, to a teenage boy whose life is all about football, making or else failing to make the school’s football team could be an outcome of monumental significance (Murty, Labar, & Adcock, 2012).

Cognition and motivation are the most common models of distinct processes with motivation being some form of direct and initiating as well as a pushing and pulling mechanism behavior. Cognition, on the other hand, is the manipulation of the memory representations normally coded. Motivation, as well as cognition, has managed to evolve and develop together making them become more strongly integrated for the coordination of their co-evolution and co-development (Aarts, van Holstein, & Cools, 2011). Lives that are well loved require an efficient balance between the short term as well as the long-term benefits between a convenience choice and an expenditure of effort. Additionally the balance should be set between taking control as well as letting go. On the occasion individuals retain high objective in their minds, they can desist from leisure excesses favoring the personal development. In this, it is evident that people should be flexible in terms of adapting their control.

The principal issues that cognitive psychologists have for a long time been studying related the ability of the humans to focusing on the relevant information and ignoring the distraction from the irrelevant information. The process has thus led to the development of the cognitive control function from which a mechanism of dedicated cognition established for the orchestration of the goal-oriented behavior. One of the most relevant issues in cognitive control is the ability to adapt the cognitive system to the demands of the situation. Applying the motivation difficulty law, people in almost all occasions try harder the moment the demand for the task demand for the hard work (Berridge, 2012). The position has thus motivated studies in support of the claim indicating the fact that the demands of a task normally lead to mobilization of efforts to undertake the task. Additionally, the argument follows those aversive situations irrespective of their motivating element that triggers them aid in the motivation to engage in cognitive efforts. In this case, the negative motivations could directly improve the intentional focus, making the better development of the cognitive processes. Additionally the direct motivations also modulate the emotions triggered by the demand as a result indirectly regulating the cognitive processes (Berridge, 2012).

In the context of motivation leading to the improvement in performance, motivation plays a major factor regarding the improvement of the performance of the domain in question. The elements of energy and persistence, behavior that is goal-directed, persistence, the impact of consequences and cognitive processing, motivation leads to their improvement. In this case, the students who on most occasions are motivated to learn as well as excel in their classroom activities, they normally tend to be best achievers in the same context. On the other hand, the learners who are normally least motivated to memorize the academic subject matter have a high risk in terms of dropping out of school before they can graduate (Dweck, 2012).

In terms of the cognitive processes, it is clear that the intrinsic motivations are normally more significant than the extrinsic motivations. It follows that not all the motivations normally produce identical outcomes about the human cognitive processes as well as performance. For instance in the case of two students whereby James does not like writing but is taking the class to be able to earn A grade is going to help him get a scholarship to the state university. In this case, she is in desperate need to go to the state university. In the second case, Evelyn has likes writing for as long as she can remember (Singh, Barto, & Sorg, 2010). The class is going to help her attain the scholarship to the state university and additionally she is going to become a better writer. According to her the class is significant in terms of her future aspiration of becoming a journalist.

James exhibits extrinsic motivation in those external factors that are not related the tasks he is undertaking are motivating him. Students who possess extrinsic motivation could desire money, good grades as well as recognition that will be possible to achieve by undertaking the particular activities. In this case, their motivation regarding the performance of the task is just as a means to an end and not as being an end themselves. On the other hand, Evelyn is motivated intrinsically as the motivating factors are within herself as well as inherent in the tasks she is undertaking. The intrinsic motivations are normally significant in the development of the cognitive processes when people engage in those tasks enabling them attain one or more psychological needs (Berridge, 2012).

People are most probably going to indicate beneficial motivation outcomes in terms if the energy, effort and persistence on the occasion they are intrinsically motivated to undertake the activities. Individuals who intrinsically motivated resolve the tasks they have been assigned willingly and in the case of students, eager to learn classroom materials. The resultant effect is that they will be able to process the information in an effective manner since their desire motivates their cognitive processes. The students will additionally be motivated to utilize their cognitive processes as they are willing to engage in the meaningful learning, thus their greater possibility of them achieving better outcomes at high levels (Aarts, van Holstein, & Cools, 2011). On the other occasion, some students possessing high intrinsic motivation levels are very focused in an activity with their interest making them lose track of time, ignoring the other tasks. The students who are extrinsically motivated, on the other hand, could be prodded, processing information only superficially and on most occasions have their interest in the undertaking of just the easy tasks. Additionally they only have the desire to satisfy the minimum class requirements, thus only developing their cognitive abilities partially (Singh, Barto, & Sorg, 2010).

The other demerit of the intrinsic motivation in terms of developing the cognitive processes is the fact that it normally declines with time and in the case of students as they progress with their school years. With the good grade, the students are going to receive promotions, graduate, as well as receiving college admissions, with the additional realization that they are not the best when compared to their peers. Additionally they begin imagining of how they will increase their cognitive abilities thinking of how they will strive for the long term goals (Dweck, 2012). The resultant outcome is that they begin to assess their school subjects in the context of their significance in the attainment of the objectives instead of the intrinsic appeals. The overall outcome is that they are going to get bored and impatient in time with the extremely structured, repetitive as well as boring situations they are in contact with at the schools.

On the other occasion, people are normally motivated by both intrinsic and extrinsic attributes simultaneously in their development of the cognitive processes. For instance, a student could realize that even though he enjoys his writing, he is aware of the fact that a good grade is going to guarantee a state scholarship. Additionally the good grade coupled with other external benefits for the high achievement could confirm that the student is improving in his cognitive processes. Thus, in this case, the intrinsic, as well as extrinsic motivations in the development of cognitive processes, do not act in opposition but as complementing each other (Aarts, van Holstein, & Cools, 2011). One some occasions the extrinsic motivations as a mode of reinforcement in the development of the cognitive process abilities could be the only attribute getting the individuals to succeed in the achievement. On the other hand, it is the intrinsic motivations that in the end sustain the individuals in the long run. They are going to ensure the individuals make sense and apply the content they are studying. As a result, they are going to increase the odds that they are going to continue reading and learning about learning.


On the occasions that the individuals’ behaviors are self-determined they are psychologically healthier along with tending to be intrinsically motivated. Conversely, they create a specific link between intrinsic motivation as well as self-determination, saying that intrinsic motivation is possible when people freely choose their actions; that is, they are self-determined. The schools could apply the tenets emphasized under the premises of cognitive behavior via ensuring that their students are aware of the benefit that will come if they work hard. Additionally education institutions could rely their knowledge of the various motivating issues to ensure that they modify the student’s behavior to the acceptable systems (Murty, Labar, & Adcock, 2012). Additionally with more individuals learning the matter of self-regulation about their cognitive abilities, the law enforcement agencies will have less work chasing individuals to make them conform. The society, in general, will be a productive place due to the self-regulation thus people have more time to undertake development guided agendas.


The position can criticize for emphasizing exceedingly on rational cognitive processes leading to motivation and behavior. Such criticisms are likely to be particularly regarding when these models considered from a developmental perspective. Conversely, the excellent body of research demonstrating the relations of expectancy along with values to varied kinds of performance as well as choice supports the progressive viability of the models. Children’s reaction to failure finds that some preschool children reacted negatively to failure (Singh, Barto, & Sorg, 2010). In the course of the preschool years, the children probably fail to have a clearly defined idea of what potential is. Thus, these earlier adverse reactions to failure could not imply that children doubt their potential, as their views of aptitude still are forming. The connection between the reactions and level of ability beliefs develop early in the school years. Consequently with the children reacting negatively to the failures early on could be more likely to be pessimistic about their abilities later.


The individuals who can benefit from the idea of motivation and cognitive control are mainly the adolescents. The fact that they mainly associated with a heightened mortality rates as a result of their negative outcomes from risky behaviors makes them stand the best chance of benefiting from the intervention. Theories in the field of adolescent risk taking argue that the immature cognitive controls, as well as the raised reward reactivity, motivate their risk taking. The capability to manipulate behavior as well as generate goal oriented responses is normally visible in the early development stages whereby infants demonstrate occasions of inhibitory control (Aarts, van Holstein, & Cools, 2011). The ability to be able to exert cognitive control and in a consistent manner is very significant in adolescence. The adolescence is normally associated with normative increments in the sensation and novelty seeking. The tendencies are argued to possess adaptive benefits since they could motivate the youth to discover novel environments along with engaging in new social relationships.

These tendencies and relationships result in the acquisition of experiences as well as skills that prove critical in adulthood. Conversely, the drives could also result in some risky behaviors such as experimentation with drugs and unprotected sex leading to some aversive outcomes such as addictions and unwanted pregnancies. The increased mortality, as well as morbidity rates during the adolescence, is mainly due to the consequences of risks that could have avoided (Aarts, Custers, & Veltkamp, 2008). The rise in risk-taking is as a result of the decision-making mainly the choices made when the person is in a state of heightened emotions as well as the salient incentives. The decision-making on the other hand entails of the basic elements in which processing of incentives as well as the inhibitory controls is very significant.

Incarcerated delinquents are the other individuals who could benefit from the idea of motivation and cognitive control in terms of managing their delinquent acts and making them abide by the laws. Through the process of taking them though their deviant acts as showing them the harm they are suffering, they are going to be tempted to behave in an acceptable manner. The fact that most of the delinquent acts are as a result of peer influences makes it possible that by helping the delinquents rationalize their behavior they will abide by the law. Thus through the introduction of an effective reward benefits system, the deviant behavior of the youth can be modified through improvement in their cognitive control.

The knowledge of the issues could utilize in the counseling of individuals with conduct behavioral difficulties. With a trained counselor making sure that the individuals in question appraised the harm they are suffering due to their poor decision-making, as well as the benefits that they enjoy, would direct their conformity (Dweck, 2012). These individuals have the best chance of modifying their behaviors’ and attitudes if they are made aware of the danger they are creating as well as the benefits they could realize with the change in their behaviors.


Even though motivation studies have been an active focus within psychology for decades, there has evidently also been a recent innovation of interest. The renewal is due, to the mounting body of stimulating new findings happening across an assortment of areas. These include the dissociations between target directed against habitual motivational management, ego depletion, unconscious priming of goal pursuit. Additionally it includes interrelated influences on the commitment of cognitive effort, adolescent oversensitivity to enticement motivation and age-related positivity prejudice. Similarly, emerging insights into the systems of motivation have been provoked by novel evidence that motivation manipulates cognition in sections where it previously had been considered irrelevant, for instance, information from the long-term memory. As discussed above, furthermore as is detailed these findings are having a significant effect on and are being influenced by, present cognitive neuroscience research.


Aarts, E., van Holstein, M., & Cools, R. (2011). Striatal dopamine and the interface between motivation and cognition. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 163.

Aarts, H., Custers, R., & Veltkamp, M. (2008). Goal priming and the affective–motivational route to nonconscious goal pursuit. Social Cognition, 26, 555–577.

Berridge, K. C. (2012). From prediction error to incentive salience: Mesolimbic computation of reward motivation. European Journal of Neuroscience, 35, 1124–1143

Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential. London, UK: Constable & Robinson Limited.

Murty, V. P., Labar, K. S., & Adcock, R. A. (2012). Threat of punishment motivates memory encoding via amygdala, not midbrain, interactions with the medial temporal lobe. Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 8969–8976.

Singh, S., Lewis, R. L., Barto, A. G., & Sorg, J. (2010). Intrinsically motivated reinforcement learning: An evolutionary perspective. IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, 2, 70–82

Carolyn Morgan is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in paper college 24/7. If you need a similar paper you can place your order from custom nursing papers.

About the Author

"Janet Peter is the Managing Director of a globally competitive essay writing company.

Rate this Article
Leave a Comment
Author Thumbnail
I Agree:
Author: Janet Peter
Premium Member

Janet Peter

Member since: Dec 11, 2017
Published articles: 353

Related Articles