Arousal Theory of Motivation

According to the arousal theory of motivation, certain arousal levels, which in psychology refers to mental alertness, control motivation. There are specific acts that drive people to assist them in reaching their optimal degree of arousal, which varies for each individual. However, research indicates that most motivation generally occurs at moderate arousal levels.

The arousal theory of motivation is one theory of motivation. Let’s discuss this concept and how it might clarify the reasons for your behavior.

Arousal Theory Of Motivation

The Arousal Theory of motivation definition states that it’s a psychological theory. Arousal levels are regarded to be a significant component in determining motivational levels. This theory suggests that when arousal levels are low, people are driven to seek out stimulation, and when arousal levels are high, people get bored and unmotivated. Arousal is one of the essential components needed for attention and information processing. One of these variables viewed as most important is emotion because it plays a dominant role in our unique behaviors, such as do-or-die reactions, sexual activity, etc. The classification of each person as an extrovert or an introvert is also based on this level.

Additionally, arousal levels might vary from person to person. As a result, a person could go between extremes of energy and tiredness.

How Arousal Theory Works

Your desires or motivations cause drive (arousal). Additionally, the drive influences your behavior and motivates you to take specific steps toward realizing your objectives.

As a result, you enjoy reaching your objectives because your motivation is fading. You may experience physiological or psychological arousal if you can’t meet your demands.

Arousal Theory Of Motivation Examples

  • The Study of Hunger has notable mentions of the use of arousal theory. The sensation of hunger is one element that influences the desire to eat. Some people may feel more stimulated and driven to look for food when hungry.
  • Attending the party can be the right level of stimulus for other people. They might experience an increase in motivation and engagement through the conversations, loud music, and bright lighting environment. On the other hand, the same environment may be overwhelming and unpleasant for certain people.
  • A low degree of arousal may be typical for someone suffering from depression. However, they experience extreme stress due to their inability to solve the issue and accomplish their objectives.

Theories Of Arousal Theory

Optimal Arousal Theory and Clark Hull’s Drive-Reduction Theory are the two main extensions of Arousal Theory.

arousal theory of motivation

Optimal Arousal Theory

According to the optimal arousal theory of motivation, the right amount of arousal depends on the situation and the individual. However, theory suggests that we should be more motivated to work on tasks or participate in activities that confront us with difficulties that are appropriate for our skill levels, that are neither overly difficult for us nor extremely simple for us.

According to the optimal arousal hypothesis of motivation, we experience different arousal levels throughout our lives due to our experiences. When our arousal level is deficient and we are bored, we engage in activities that will increase it, such as going out with friends or playing video games. 

On the other hand, we frequently turn to relaxation activities like reading, getting a massage, or meditation when our level of arousal is too high, such as when we are anxious or upset.

Drive-Reduction Theory Of Motivation

Psychology has many approaches to explaining motivation. The drive reduction strategy is one of these motivational methods.

Behaviorist Clark Hull created the Drive-Reduction Theory to explain learning, motivation, and behavior. The basis of this theory lies in the idea of “homeostasis,” developed by collaborator and neo-behaviorist Kenneth Spence from ideas put forth by other notable theorists, including Pavlov, Watson, Darwin, and Thorndike.

Compared to the arousal theory of motivation, this theory places a greater emphasis on the physiological requirements that are inherent to the body. According to the drive-reduction theory of motivation, our inner demands drive us that we portray by performing specific types of activities.

How does the arousal theory differ from the drive-reduction theory? 

According to the arousal theory, motivation among some people can help them enhance their stimulation intensity rather than decrease it. On the other hand, the core element of the drive-reduction theory is that the desire to lessen one’s drives underlies all human activity. If you want to study contrasting views on different types of motivation, you can find them here.

Bottom Line

Striking a balance between periods of solid stimulation and times of relaxation and recovery will ultimately determine your motivation. You may create a series of experiences that, when carried out correctly, help you reach your maximum level of motivation and, as a result, your optimum level of mental awareness. The more motivated you are, the higher your performance will be.


What is arousal in psychology example?

If our arousal levels go too low, we could go out to a party with friends to get some stimulation. When overstimulated and our arousal levels rise, we may be compelled to choose a calming activity like taking a stroll or napping.

What are the three parts of the arousal theory?

Cognitive Arousal: Thinking and mental stimulation are two cognitive, or intellectual, arousal aspects. We are currently in a state of exploration, learning, and intriguing discovery.

Affective Arousal: When we are emotionally energized and passionate about something, we experience affective or emotional arousal. We might be feeling stimulated by any other emotion, or we might be furious, excited, afraid, or pleased.

Physical Arousal: Physical arousal occurs when our bodies are experiencing high stimulation values, typically with adrenaline coursing through our systems and muscles being active.

Who made the arousal theory of motivation?

The Yerkes-Dodson Law, which Robert Yerkes and John Dodson discovered, describes the connection between arousal level and task performance.

What does the arousal theory say?

According to the arousal theory of motivation, people seek motivation in taking certain acts to keep their physiological arousal at its ideal level.

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