Metamotivation as a motivational style, relevant to people’s learning
Володина А. С. Metamotivation as a motivational style, relevant to people’s learning // Молодой ученый. 2010. №4. С. 257-259.
От отношения человека к учебному процессу зависит как успех его обучения в школе, университете, так и дальнейшая карьера. Исследователи выделяют несколько стилей мотивации к обучению и «мотивационный континуум», включающий в себя амотивационную направленность, внешнюю и внутреннюю мотивации.
В статье рассматриваются основные существующие на сегодняшний день стили мотивации к учёбе и рассматривается другой, менее часто встречающийся в литературе стиль – метамотивация (впервые упомянутая Маслоу), напрямую связанная с метазнанием.
Three types of motivational style which are relevant to people’s learning are: learned helplessness, self worth motivation and mastery oriented motivation .
The notion of learned helplessness came from research with animals during the 1960s. Seligman and Maier (1967) found that when control over their environment was taken away, dogs lapsed into a state of helplessness, were unresponsive and lacked any motivation to respond. School children who see failure as an inevitable and feel no sense of personal power over their ability were also termed “learned helpless” by Diener and Dweck (1978). This style of motivation is said to be independent of ability, so that children may be perfectly able in a subject but their own perception of their ability and their view of ability as fixed, negatively impacts on their performance. This can lead to a cycle of failure followed by avoidance of future challenges and more failure, so that a self concept of “I am no good at X” is created and perpetuated . It is the same as a self-fulfilling prophecy, that is, a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. Children exhibiting this motivational style are also likely to give up easily, especially when they hit an obstacle or “get stuck” on a part of the task. In addition to this having a negative impact on academic performance, the feelings of adequacy associated with this motivational style are likely to impact on self concept and self esteem, and thereby transfer to other areas of life.
Covington (1984)  described another motivational style as self worth motivation. Self-worth (or self-esteem) concerns individual’s affects, emotions, or feelings about themselves or evaluations of themselves. Covington’s model is based on current theories of student motivation. According to this theory, in certain situations students stand to gain by not trying by deliberately withholding effort, thereby protecting their self-worth. Self-worth protection is a defensive technique which students adopt to refrain themselves from situations reflecting their low ability. When poor performance increases the plausibility of reflecting low ability, a situation of high evaluative threat is created. In such situations, these students perform poorly. On the other side, where a mitigating excuse allows poor performance to be attributed to a factor, unrelated to ability, a situation of low evaluative threat is generated. In the short-term withdrawing effort spares the individual from conclusions of inability and diminished self-worth. On the other hand, in the longer term the effects of self-worth protection are evident in perpetual resort to avoidance strategies in situations that involve threat to self-worth, compounding suspicions of personal incompetence to such degree that, eventually, conclusions of low ability are inescapable. Covington observes that the defensive and self-defeating tactics of failure-avoidance progressively cut students off from classroom rewards. Ultimately, self-worth protective students have no recourse but to attribute failure to low ability. The end result is internalization of failure, diminished expectations for success and low achievement. Self-worth protective students focus on less challenging tasks or courses and even less demanding careers. Self-worth protection prevents children from pursuing tasks that they are capable of mastering and from realizing their potential.
The third motivational style is mastery oriented. Mastery motivation  was originally conceived of as simply the amount of task-directed behavior that infants displayed when engaged with toys that post challenging problems, a definition highlighting primarily persistence. Wenar conducted observations in the home setting and scaled the length of time, degree of involvement, and level of complexity of toddlers’ self-initiated transactions with their physical environments. Children exhibiting this style are likely to focus on task oriented strategies and effort. They understand that ability is not fixed, that learning involves failure and mistakes and consequently they are more likely to think about how they have solved a task.
Motivation is no more a fixed trait than ability. It is a complex and dynamic mixture of internal and external influences. Self determination theories such as those by Deci and Ryan (2003) focus on self reflection and the extent to which we choose to act in certain ways. These motivational orientations are seen as part of continuum of self awareness and responsibility.
Some researchers  speak about the continuum of motivation styles, related to learning. At the end of this continuum are amotivational orientations. People who display this type of motivation see little connection between their own actions and the outcomes of their performance on a task. They tend to be turned off by a subject because they cannot see it relevance for themselves and their world view. There may be some legitimacy in this stance but more often it is a result of some negative association between self and task that has been created and is kept in creation by a lack of positive associations and feelings of lack of power.
The second orientation on the continuum is termed extrinsic motivation and is determined by the extent to which the focus is on the outcome of the performance, whether it is in terms of academic success, utility or social approval.
The third orientation is intrinsic motivation, where people place the emphasis on self knowledge factors such as wanting to study a subject because of personal interest, curiosity or in a sense of self development. The focus here may be on the feelings of excitement or self worth that the learning provides rather than on any extrinsic reward. Displaying this type of motivation is clearly linked to feelings of autonomy and empowerment. If learning is being driven by feelings of desire to learn or enjoyment of the process of learning, then there must be some sense of reflection on oneself; and knowledge about oneself as a learner.
Another, usually less known t public, orientation is metamotivation, described by Maslow , who had also proposed thirteen theses related to the biologically based metaneeds and had suggested that the theory of metamotivation can be subjected to scientific investigation and verification.
Metamotivation is motivation by the needs for psychological or spiritual growth i.e. the spiritual needs or “metaneeds” (from the Greek word “meta” meaning “of a higher order”). The metaneeds are the “growth needs” or the value-life. They are the same intellectual, moral and ethical needs taught by religions and philosophies. They represent an intrinsic part of the human personality or “human nature”. Metaneeds are related to the values of truth, goodness, perfection, justice, simplicity, love, compassion and so on. The metaneeds are the growth needs of natural values of moral consciousness or “conscience”.
Maslow in his work concludes that transcendent, religious, esthetic, and philosophical facets of life are as real as intrinsic to human nature as any biological needs. With metamotivation human obligations of love, truth, justice and beauty become its pleasures. What is “good” for the individual is also good for the society. Motivation by the basic psychological needs (love and affection as communication of security necessary for growth) are obviously instinctive to human nature and are therefore included in the rubric of “subjective biology”. Since metamotivation is an intrinsic part of human nature, then the techniques of so-called subjective biology (contemplation or meditation) apply to human education.
The metamotivation by the metaneeds produces a perception of reality at the highest level of consciousness – the transpersonal level of ego-transcendance. At the transpersonal level of personality development, the individual’s perception of reality is free of the distorting effects of fear, envy and malice. This is the “ultimate reality” which is described in terms of the ultimate values of being – the “Being-Values” which satisfy the human longing for certainty – “true”, “good”, “just”, “beautiful” and so on.
Metamotivation is inhibited when social forces in the environment are focused on physiological or basic psychological needs. Deprivation of the basic psychological needs (parental love and affection and so on) leads to psychological illness. The prepotent more urgent basic psychological needs can be called “deficiency needs” and motivation by the deficiency needs is “deficiency motivation”. As a result of deficit motivation, the individual lacks the self-respect, self-discipline, sense of belongingness and sense of purpose which are the basis for motivation by the metaneeds for spiritual growth. Deprivation of the metaneeds leads to “metapathologies” of value-starvation, psychological incapacitation, social incompetence and dehumanization.
Metamotivation as the human capacity for experiential richness is “teachable”: it can be enhanced in a social environment which recognizes the social nature of human nature. The individual’s capacity for metamotivation can be fostered through the education of spiritual needs or metaneeds. A social environment which respects the biologically based metaneeds fosters mature growth. It’s possible to design an educational program based on the respect for metaneeds and the cultivation of metamotivation.
Metamotivation is connected with metacognition (- is a process of reflecting on our own thinking and keeping track of how our thinking is getting us closer to or further away from our goal (Flavell, 1979)). Hamel and colleagues (2003) in their analysis describe four components of metacognition and metamotivation in a matrix. Under metacognition they place “In-Depth Perception” – this emphasizes details and refers to the ability to go beyond the surface to find and explore deeper aspects of self and of life. This element requires concentrated attention, knowledge of personal resources and the willingness to take different perspectives and to engage in contemplation of reality. In Depth-Perception is located at an individual level and is related to self knowledge and knowledge of self in the world. Their second category of metacognition, “Holistic Perception”, is based on detachment and relates to viewing self and life from a detached standpoint, one that is not encumbered by attachment, fears or beliefs. The two components categorized under metamotivation follow a similar pattern of focus on either the individual level or the global level. The first category “Presence of Being” is an inner search of “knowing how to be rather than only how to do and to get something”. The second category, “Beyond Ego-Orientation”, refers to a focus on others rather than self, a sense of belonging to something outside of self and an appreciation of the connectedness of everything. The authors state that to be transpersonal all four factors must co-exist in an active, interdependent relationship. The development of research in this area of spiritual growth and the understanding of metacognition as necessary for that growth indicates a broad and profound direction for future research on metamotivation and metacognition.
1. Covington, M.V. (1984). The motive of self worth. In R.E. Ames, & C. Ames (Eds.), Research on Motivation in Education (Vol. 1: Student Motivation, pp. 78-113). London: Academic.
2. Hamel, S., Leclerc, G., & Lefrancois, R. (2003). A psychological outlook on the concept of transcendent actualization. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 13 (1), 3-15.
3. Larkin, S. (2010). Metacognition in young children. New York: Routledge.
4. MacTurk, R.H., Morgan, G.A (1995). Mastery motivation: origins, conceptualizations, and applications.
5. Maslow, A. A Theory of Metamotivation: The Biological Rooting of the Value-Life in Walsch, Beyond Ego: Transpersonal Dimensions of Human Nature.
6. Sinha, S.P., Gupta, S. (2006). State Self Esteem and Causal Attribution in Reattribution Training among Self Worth Protective Students. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 32, 145-151.