Allport”s Motivation, Functional Autonomy and Study of the Individual

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5 November 2021

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VI. Motivation

To Allport, an sufficient theory of motivation must consider the notion that motives change as folks mature and also that people are motivated by current drives and desires. Allport believed that most individuals are motivated by current drives quite than by past occasions and are aware of what they’re doing and have some understanding of why they are doing it.

A. Reactive and Proactive Theories of Motivation

Adult behavior is each reactive and proactive, and an adequate concept of motivation must have the power to explain each.

An sufficient theory of persona, Allport contended ,should allow for proactive habits. It should view individuals as consciously performing on their setting in a fashion that it permits progress towards psychological health. A complete principle should not only include a proof of reactive theories, but must also those proactive theories that stress change and development. In different words, Allport argued for a psychology that, on one hand, research behavioral patterns and common legal guidelines (the subject material of conventional psychology) and on the opposite hand, progress and individuality.

Allport insisted that a helpful theory of persona rests on the belief that people not solely react to their setting but in addition form their setting and cause it to react to them. He criticized psychoanalysis and animal-based studying theories as being reactive because they saw folks as being motivated by wants to scale back rigidity and to react to their environment. Personality is a growing system, permitting new elements to continually enter into and alter the particular person.

B. Functional Autonomy

Allport’s most distinctive and controversial idea is his theory of useful autonomy, it is Allport’s clarification for the myriad human motives that seemingly usually are not accounted for by hedonistic or drive discount rules, which holds that some (but not all) human motives are functionally unbiased from the original motive responsible for a particular habits.

Motives that aren’t functionally autonomous embrace these which might be answerable for reflex actions, primary drives, and pathological behaviors. If a motive is functionally autonomous, it is the rationalization for conduct, and one need not to look past it for hidden or main causes. Functional autonomy represents a concept of changing somewhat than unchanging motives and is the capstone of Allport’s idea on motivation.

1. Perseverative Functional Autonomy

Allport acknowledged two levels of useful autonomy. Perseverative functional autonomy is the tendency of certain primary behaviors to proceed within the absence of reinforcement. Allport borrowed the word “perseveration” which is the tendency of an impression to go away an influence on subsequent experiences. Perseverative functional autonomy is present in animals as properly as people and is based on easy neurological ideas. Addictive behaviors are examples of perseverative functional autonomy.

2. Propriate Functional Autonomy

The other stage is propriate practical autonomy; it is the master system of motivation that confers unity on character, which refers to self-sustaining motives that are related to the proprium. Examples of propriate functionally autonomous behaviors embrace pursuing interests that one holds dear and necessary.

3. Criterion for Functional Autonomy Present motives are functionally autonomous to the extent that they search new targets. That is, functionally autonomous behaviors will continue even after the motivation behind those behaviors change.

4. Processes

That Are Not Functionally Autonomous Allport listed eight processes that are not functionally autonomous: (1) Biological drives, (eating, respiration and sleeping)
(2) Motives directly linked to the reduction of primary drives, (3) Reflexes actions (eye blink)
(4) Constitutional gear (physique, intelligence, and temperament) (5) Habits within the strategy of being fashioned,  (6) Patterns of habits that require major reinforcement, (7) Sublimations which are linked to unpleasant childhood experiences, and (8) Certain neurotic or pathological signs. Allport instructed a criterion for differentiating between a functionally autonomous compulsion and one that is not. For example, compulsions that can be eradicated via remedy or conduct modification aren’t functionally autonomous, whereas these which might be extraordinarily immune to therapy are self- sustaining and thus functionally autonomous.

C. Conscious and Unconscious Motivation
Although Allport emphasized aware motivation more than some other persona theorist, he did not completely overlook the attainable influence of unconscious motives. Pathological behaviors are sometimes motivated by unconscious drives, but wholesome people are ordinarily consciously in control of their habits.

VIII. The Study of the Individual

Because psychology has traditionally dealt with general legal guidelines and characteristics that folks have in widespread, Allport strongly felt that psychology ought to develop and use research methods that study the individual rather than groups. To stability the predominant normative or group method, he advised that psychologists make use of methods that study the motivational and stylistic behaviors of 1 particular person.

A. Morphogenic Science

Allport distinguished between two scientific approaches; Traditional psychology relies on nomothetic science, which seeks common laws from a study of groups of individuals, and idiographic which refers to that which is peculiar to the one case or research patterns of traits inside the single case, however Allport used morphogenic procedures because the term “idiographic” was so usually misused, misunderstood and misspelled. Morphogenic procedures refer to patterned properties of the whole organism and allows for intraperson comparisons Allport accepted self-reports, corresponding to diaries, at face worth.

B. The Diaries of Marion Taylor

During the late 1930’s, Allport and his spouse became acquainted with personal paperwork, together with diaries, of a girl they known as Marion Taylor. Although the Allports analyzed a lot of this information, they by no means revealed an
account of Marion Taylor’s story. Their work with Marion Taylor probably helped them arrange and publish a second case- the story of Jenny Gove Masterson, another pseudonym.

C. Letters from Jenny

A short time later, the Allports analyzed and printed a collection of letters they had received from an older girls named Jenny. These letters represent Allport’s best-known instance of morphogenic science in that they reveal one person’s sample of habits. Two of Allport’s college students, Alfred Baldwin and Jeffrey Paige, used a personal construction evaluation and factor evaluation, respectively, whereas Allport used a commonsense strategy to discern Jenny’s personality structure as revealed by her letters. All three approaches yielded comparable results, suggesting that morphogenic studies could additionally be reliable.

IX. Related Research

Allport believed that a deep spiritual commitment was a mark of a mature person, however he additionally saw that many regular churchgoers didn’t have a mature non secular orientation and have been capable of deep racial and social prejudice. In other phrases, he noticed a curvilinear relationship between church attendance and prejudice.

A. The Religious Orientation Scale

This insight led Allport to develop and use the Religious Orientation Scale to assess each an intrinsic orientation and an extrinsic orientation towards faith. Allport and Ross (1967) found that people with an extrinsic orientation towards religion tend to be quite prejudiced, whereas those with an intrinsic orientation are typically low on racial and social prejudice. A evaluation of later studies (Trimble, 1997) discovered that prejudice is positively associated to an extrinsic religious orientation however unrelated to an intrinsic religious orientation.

INTRINSIC RELIGIOUS ORIENTATION – refers to motivation arising from goals set forth by the religious custom itself, and is assumed to have an “otherly,” nonmundane, even self- denying quality: faith is regarded as a grasp motive whereas different wants, strong as they could be, are considered of less ultimate significance. EXTRINSIC RELIGIOUS ORIENTATION – refers to a flagrantly utilitarian motivation underlying non secular behaviors: the person endorses non secular beliefs and attitudes or engages in non secular acts only to the extent that they may assist in achieving mundane targets corresponding to feeling comforted and protected or acquiring social status and approval.

B. Religious Orientation and Psychological Health Research by Ralph Hood (1970) and others (Hansen, Vandenberg, & Patterson, 1995; Kosek, 1999; Maltby, 1999) has found that people who rating high on the Intrinsic scale of the ROS are inclined to have total better personal functioning than those who rating excessive on the Extrinsic scale. In common, these studies have found that some highly spiritual people have sturdy psychological health, whereas others undergo from quite so much of psychological problems. The principal distinction between the 2 teams is certainly one of intrinsic or extrinsic spiritual orientation; that’s, individuals with an intrinsic orientation tend to be psychologically wholesome, however these with an extrinsic orientation endure from poor psychological well being.

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"Allport”s Motivation, Functional Autonomy and Study of the Individual" StudyScroll, Nov 5, 2021.

"Allport”s Motivation, Functional Autonomy and Study of the Individual" StudyScroll, 5-Nov-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 4-Dec-2023]

StudyScroll. (2021). Allport”s Motivation, Functional Autonomy and Study of the Individual. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4-Dec-2023]

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