Motivational capacity: what are the factors involved?

One can see more and more frequently how the current fast pace of life interferes in the personal development and the academic follow-up that some schoolchildren (and also applicable to some adults) are able to accomplish today.

This functioning acquired over the last two decades based on immediacy seems to influence two very relevant aspects which condition the process of emotional maturation of children: the ability to tolerate frustration and the level of motivation to achieve goals proposals.

The two phenomena have a mutual influence, that is, the weak ability to accept that sometimes certain events unfold in a different way from previous expectations, leads to negative effects on the ability to get excited and to interest. Try to achieve such a goal again or come up with a new one, and vice versa. In this article we will focus on seeing what they are factors involved in motivational capacity.

    The diversion of new technologies and their effect on motivation

    As we have seen, a high level of demotivation implies a perception of a low ability to achieve a goal or overcome a difficulty, which increases the level of frustration that the person feels.

    On the other hand, it should be noted that both aspects inherently involve the personal competence of strive to achieve something and maintain that effort for the longer term.

    Therefore, an accelerated operation, where you have to systematically deal with so many simultaneous stimuli (do your homework while having a snack and consult your cell phone to ask what exercises to do for the math class, at the same time as the television is on. heard in the background, for example) does not facilitate the ability to devote more time and more exclusive time to a specific goal or task to be accomplished effectively.

    Studies corroborate that the mismatch of the two skills can lead to low self-esteem, the appearance of an insecure personal style or even lead to academic failure.

    For all this, as educators, it seems necessary to clarify a number of keys and measures that could be effective to reverse or at least limit the detrimental effect that this era of digital and technological revolution has on motivation and tolerance for frustration. today’s child and youth population.


    The motivation phenomenon can be defined as the set of factors that cause a person to act in a certain way and with a specific effort.

    It is the main motor that allows to acquire new learning and it is characterized by its clear internal nature, being the fruit of the combination between cognitive (thoughts) and affective (emotions and feelings) aspects, although it is the result of the interaction between the individual and the experiences he receives from the environment.

    According to the approaches of Maslow in his theory of necessity (1943), motivation is understood as a need that pushes the individual to act on a behavioral level. This author proposes a hierarchy of needs, starting from the base or survival (physiological) to reach those of personal growth (self-realization). Based on these postulates, the author stated that the lower needs must first be met and progress to the higher needs.

    Some might argue that motivation for academic learning and knowledge in general, for example, would occupy an advanced place in the pyramid, as it could not be conceptualized as a physiological, safety, social or social need. Perhaps this idea explains why the motivational capacity of knowledge does not occupy a priority place among some young people, especially when these learnings are perceived as abstract, of little functional logic or lack of practical application by students.

    Variables involved in motivational capacity

    As stated above, motivation is driven by different factors that can influence how it develops in each individual. First, we need to differentiate two key concepts:

    Intrinsic motivation (MI) is defined by the set of goals that the person proposes due to a positive self-perception of competence and internal self-determination (for example, “I will strive in training because I am passionate about basketball and it feels good to see my progress “).

    Extrinsic motivation (ME) is more related to getting external rewards (eg, “if I pass the school year my parents will reward me with the latest cell phone model”) or avoiding punishment.

    Deci was one of the first authors to make this differentiation, arguing that the first type of motivation is one that has more power or weight in achieving personal goals, as it is characterized by a deeper approach to the concept. motivation.

    Thus, it was possible to demonstrate the existence of a strong correlation in people with MI compared to that they focus their attention on the process rather than the result, Who understand errors as natural phenomena and not as failures and who show preferences for tasks that pose a challenge rather than those that are more affordable and less demanding.

    Motivational dimensions

    On the other hand, according to the contribution of the attributive theory of Weimer (1971) and later reformulated by Seligman (1984), three motivational dimensions will be determining in the way in which the person shapes the perception of his individual goals.

    The locus of control it is the first, and it is understood by the type of cause to which the individual attributes a certain action or situation. It can be internal (“I passed because I studied a lot”) or external (“I passed because the exam was easy”). The influence of the realistic locus of internal control on the degree of individual intrinsic motivation seems clear.

    Second, we have stability, Defined as the ability to modify which causes the fact. It can be stable (or immutable, “you can’t do math”) or unstable (or changeable, “although I find it difficult, I know it is possible to do math”). In this second aspect, a fact perceived as modifiable seems more correlated with the level of MI.

    finally the degree of control in fact, Which can be classified as uncontrollable (“no matter how much I study, I will not pass the exam”) or controllable (“if I study more, I may pass the exam”). If the person has a high degree of de facto control, the level of internal motivation is more likely to be increased as well.

    From this is extracted the relevance of transmitting values ​​and educational styles aimed at encouraging greater intrinsic motivation, as well as the habit of making an attribution of one’s own behavior, both successful and erroneous, which tends towards a place of balanced control. between the internal and external dimensions, a certain unstable character of the facts and a degree of realistic control of this behavior.

    On the other hand, when the person tends to make an extreme assessment of their failuresBy attributing them to totally internal, stable and permanent causes, the onset of a learned state of helplessness is precipitated. This phenomenon is defined as a perception of weak competition, demotivation and hopelessness that distances the individual from the scope of the proposed goals, as it internalizes that situations and results are given regardless of their behavior.

      Practical guidelines for encouraging the ability to motivate

      From what has been said so far, a number of practices that can be useful to educators, both in the school and family context, In order to promote the acquisition of a set of personal resources that promote the internalization of a satisfactory individual motivational capacity within the group of children and young people.

      A democratic, dialogic and empathetic educational style

      allows understand the difficulties and peculiarities of the child, Where you are able to assess the effort invested in each defined goal, no matter how small it becomes.

      On the contrary, authoritarian profiles, demanding and focused only on the result, will generate a state of pressure, insecurity and a low level of self-esteem and the perception of competence in oneself.

      The goals set must be short-term, achievable and realistic

      For that you need carefully consider the starting point of the topic, In order not to present overly ambitious objectives that encourage the emergence of frustrated previous expectations.

      Active participation of the subject in the evaluation of progress

      is some kind of fundamental positive reinforcement which will provide the person with a continuing dose of individual reward and satisfaction. Thus, it becomes very advantageous to regularly monitor the progress made (daily, weekly, monthly).

      The content that represents the objective set

      As stated above, it must be perceived as useful, practical and even attractive to the individual.

      It seems that the level of motivation decreases in the face of abstract or very theoretical methodologies that do not sufficiently involve the recipient in their learning process. This element is essential, as it also promotes a higher rate of attention and concentration on the proposed task.

      Establishing limits on the use of technological devices

      Its removal during work sessions to avoid constant interruptions, is important because this will greatly facilitate the level of attention to the task in question.

      The close link between attentional capacity, personal performance and the motivational aspect has already been indicated above. Therefore, at a higher level of focus, a higher perception of positive performance and ultimately higher MI rates.

      To conclude

      As can be seen in the text, the lifestyle maintained today has a significant impact on the perception that an individual develops of their ability to achieve their personal goals (Academics or professionals), especially in the case of children and adolescents, who are in full maturation and individual growth.

      From the point of view of educational agents, it seems essential to support young people in the fight against the many inertias that this digital and technological era of immediacy entails in the development of certain psychological skills, such as motivation and tolerance to frustration. These social inertias prevent focusing on non-quantitative and non-competitive aspects or objectives that involve a longer-term effort.

      So, focus more on awareness and more actively and carefully assess the implication made during the process rather than the result, promote a more sequential and not simultaneous and accelerated way of life, cooperate and have a more generous vision and instead of focusing exclusively on individualistic interests, and accepting that achieving an outcome different from the expectations generated does not imply failure but an opportunity for learning, can ultimately boost the level of personal motivation to address issues. goals themselves.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Alonso Tapia, J. (1991): Motivation and Learning in the Classroom. How to teach thought. Santillana. Madrid.
      • Marchesi, A., Coll, J. and Palacios, J. (2002): Psychological development and education. Publishing Alliance, Madrid.

      Leave a Comment