Motivation and emotion/Book/2015/Motivational control theory of cognitive fatigue

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Motivational control theory of cognitive fatigue:
What is the role of motivational control in managing cognitive fatigue?

Overview[edit | edit source]

This chapter focuses on the challenge of balancing motivation and fatigue|cognitive fatigue. The common assertion that reduced motivation is a direct consequence of depleted cognitive capacity has been tested against the literature. Likewise, the observation that motivational control has been used to influence cognitive output has been investigated. Comprehension of the relationship between motivational control theory and cognitive fatigue has been distinguished as a relationship between two concepts. The following problem statement[where?] and book chapter has addressed each concept separately and concurrently where appropriate to do so. Strengths and weaknesses within the literature have been explored to test the efficacy of motivational control. Theoretical perspectives within the literature have been extracted to integrate theory with research, for optimal benefit of the reader. The theme of this book chapter has been to provide relevant psychological methods and strategies for coping with every day reality. Thus, this book will also make suggestions, and provide activities and resources to supplement the information provided within this chapter.

Fatigue Self-Test

The Mental Fatigue Scale (MFS) has been pioneered by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden[factual?]. It has been suggested that a score higher than 19 is suggestive of mental stress and cognitive fatigue. Give it a go! Mental Fatigue Scale. Background (Johansson & Rönnbäck, 2014).

Scenario One

It has been observed that contemporary society has demanded individuals pay attention to an ever-increasing array of distractions, noises and tasks. The relentless nature of this communication has arrived in the form of mobile communication, increased connectivity to the internet and the 24 hour news cycle.

Observation has demonstrated there is little choice. The mobile phone has become as much a part of everyday life as a pair of reading glasses, and as important as currency used pay day-to-day bills. If an individual has not answered their e-mails, they are presumed to be in trouble or considered unprofessional. Should someone choose not to subscribe to Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin, they might as well have never existed in the first place.
Critically, there is constant, unrelenting bombardment of our conscious and unconscious thoughts and senses.

This relentless assault has taken a staggering toll on the mental well-being of society. The inescapable conclusion however is that one must have embraced all these aspects of contemporary society to effectively engage with friends, family and peers. However all these challenges have growingly increased impairment of daily cognitive function. Individuals are constantly over-stimulated and are being offered decreasing respite to recharge cognitive capacity.

Scenario Two

As the aforementioned conundrum has highlighted, many facets of the daily experience are influenced by events seemingly outside personal control. However, the benefit of constant interconnectivity and accessibility has been praised as liberating and reportedly enabled individuals to prioritise higher-order objectives. It has been said that removal of boring, administrative tasks has provided the individual with a greater opportunity to engage in more rewarding activities. These laborious but necessary tasks, such as filling in one's own calendar, walking down the street to post an envelope, or a visit to the library for a book may have been time consuming, but have also been noted as self-fulfilling, reflective and sustaining. They were also events that could be controlled. However the interconnected contemporary society of the present has gifted us with the ability to focus on other activities and objectives. Noted advantages are more time for greater personal and corporate productivity. Additional benefits have included a greater perceived opportunity for recreation, demonstrated simply whereby one can receive mail digitally rather than having to collect it from a post office. However this freedom has also been readily criticised. It has been hypothesised that a lack of control has the ability to demotivate individuals. Furthermore, a lack of control has significantly disenfranchised individuals and professionals from being able to motivate themselves following a personal or professional setback. A perceived lack of control has befallen many individuals who suffer from reliance on technology to facilitate everyday life. It has been argued that without possessing control, many individuals have suffered from a reduced motivation to succeed, to achieve goals, or possess the energy to create them.

Problem Statement

It has been theorised that motivational control theory can help to explain cognitive fatigue. This means motivational control and cognitive capacity share a direct relationship, whereby changes in one are felt by the other. The problem, as explained below, has become a question of how individuals can balance motivation and cognitive fatigue. Scenario one above has highlighted that a constant noise has developed within contemporary society (Gunzelmann & Gluck, 2009).. This has been demonstrated by Baron's (2010) study into mobile phone usage for the American University in Washington DC (Baron, 2010 as cited in Vasudev, Kaur, Kumar, & Chaturvedi, 2012). The authors demonstrated that students were not alert to the potential harm that constant connectivity could cause to healthy cognitive function. Furthermore, scenario two has detailed the association between management of motivation and one's perceived control. Control has been demonstrated as an efficacious response in the formula of Operant Conditioning, whereby an individual's response can be altered to gain the most out of a potentially harmful situation (Landau, Whitson, & Kay, 2015). Therefore, this book chapter addresses an issue that is global, relevant and challenging in nature. The chapter addresses this problem through analysis of varying types of psychological theory to provide as many strategies for the reader as possible.

The Basic Theories[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Cognitive Fatigue[edit | edit source]

Understanding Cognitive Fatigue The embedded video has provided a relevant summary of why it is important to understand the impact and cause of cognitive fatigue. Can you identify with any of the problems highlighted? Why Does Thinking Hard Make You Tired? (D News)

What is Cognitive Fatigue?
Cognitive fatigue has been most accurately described as an observed deficiency in thinking capacity. Cognitive fatigue has received a different name and meaning depending on what era of history is being discussed. The concept has also been utilised to describe victims of cortical and sub-cortical brain injury. Cognitive fatigue has been described as mental fatigue, has been used to describe decision-making deficiencies in industrial miners and has pinpointed the clouded judgement of society's brainiest (Ackerman & Kanfer, 2009; Sandry, Genova, Dobryakova, DeLuca, & Wylie, G. (2014).

Theoretical Perspective and Literature Analysis of Cognitive Fatigue

The brain has the ability to use more than 20% of the body's glucose energy stores, yet only has a body weight representative of 2%. It has been said the constant consumption of glucose, water and protein by the brain during overexertion provides the pain, diziness[spelling?] and faintness associated with severe bouts of cognitive fatigue. One aim of MCT has been to theorise why individuals suffer lapses in individual [what?] output and capacity. Whether this is due to brain function or the relationship shared with motivation has remained unclear (Riemer & Viswanathan, 2013). MCT has differed from alternative analyses of motivation by being observed as a fundamental behavioural perspective. This takes into account the lived everyday experience (Botvinick, Braver, Barch, Carter, & Cohen, 2001). MCT has extracted the conflict between task completion and conservation of cognitive capacity for completion of other tasks [explain?][Rewrite to improve clarity](Mele, 2014). This trap may be something one has fallen into in the work place. Investment of time in the wrong task is detrimental, however spending too long trying to decide isn’t any better. This is where addressing cognitive fatigue has become important. Cognitive fatigue has become prevalent from the impact of prolonged exertion on memory, judgement and reasoning (Ackerman & Kanfer, 2009). The nature of cognitive fatigue has been observed to be objective and subjective (Hornsby, Werfel, Camarata, & Bess, 2014). In other words, cognitive impairment has been made visible through fMRI scan, as well as observed in specific measures such as the Mental Fatigue Scale (MFS). Activity in the occipital lobe and the frontal lobe of the brain has been most commonly observed in the cognitive fatigue phenomenon (Tanaka, Ishii, & Watanabe, 2015).

Motivational Control Theory[edit | edit source]

Understanding Motivators as a Key to Control The embedded video has provided a relevant summary of why it is important to understand the impact and capacity of one type of motivational control. Can you identify with any of the types of motivator that you identify with? McCelland Motivation Theory (REED Learning)]

What is Motivational Control Theory?
Motivational control theory (MCT) has been concerned with the study of physiological and cognitive determinants of goal-orientation (Dickinson & Balleine, 1994). MCT has found that neuroanatomical, neurobiological and functional elements have impacted on the formation of motives. The anatomy and biology of motivation has said to be observed in the design and transfer of cells and hormones on cortical and sub-cortical levels (Hockey & Robert, 2011). This observation has been made when the prefrontal cortex and amygdala have acted together as the motivated thinking hub of the brain (Mars, 2011). One such chemical involved in motivational disregulation is the body's natural feel-good drug dopamine. It has been observed that incorrect levels of dopamine have attached to cells that are responsive to motivation. Moreover, the body responds to abnormal levels of dopamine in the bloodstream and the wrong motivation is adopted by the individual[explain?][for example?].

Motivational control has also been examined on a fundamental basis of human behaviour. In other words, this means acts such as hunger and thirst have been accredited with being influenced by motivational control[explain?][Provide more detail] (Mele, 2014; Dickinson & Balleine, 1994).

Theoretical Perspective and Literature Analysis of Motivational Control Theory

The concept of motivation has been described as a fundamental human behaviour (Gagne & Deci, 2005). It has been argued that motivation is categorised by the processes of energy, goal-orientation and persistence (Reeve, 2013; Harmon-Jones & Gable, 2015). Motivation has been accredited with playing a pivotal role in both routine cognitive function and critical thought processes (Kalivas & Volkow, 2005). It has also been suggested an attributional relationship exists between motivation and everyday emotion, demonstrated in figure 1 (Pessoa, 2008). Evidence for this relationship has been demonstrated in the interaction between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. The amygdala, which has been labelled the brain’s domain for emotion, has acted as part of a thinking hub with the lateral prefrontal cortex to react to changes in both emotion and motivation (Lang, 2010). This relationship has been highlighted by the theory of motivational control (MCT) (Jones, Siegle, & Mandell, 2015). MCT has observed links between fluctuations in motivation, emotion and the perceived efforts to control these experiences.

Control theory flow diagram

Furthermore, Hyland (1988) has noted the importance of MCT as a framework to compare multiple theories of motivation. These have included Atkinson’s theory, goal-setting theory, Weiner’s attributional theory and Deci and Ryan’s theory of intrinsic motivation.

Atkinson’s Theory (1953)

Jack Atkinson proposed the theory of achievement motivation. Atkinson diverged from the biological and behavioural determinants that have dominated motivation theories and moved towards motivation based on cognitive and social dynamics. Emotional and cognitive stimuli fit in well with MCT. In a scenario where an action has appeared to be out of one’s control, they may react with an emotion such as anger to control the scenario. Demonstrated in educational settings, Atkinson’s theory provided researchers with an integral insight into the relationship between cognitive function and motivation. It can be said Atkinson's theory helped place into perspective the impact of expectation and incentive in social psychology. This was done through observation of student expectation and reward for good work. Moreover, the relationship between cognitive function and motivation was observed in the motive to achieve and the motive to avoid failure, in scenarios where performance was measured or evaluated in the presence of peers. The conflict between success and failure has driven the contemporary study of Atkinson’s theory in the resultant-orientated tendency model. The tendency to undertake a certain activity given an individual’s perceived tendency to succeed or fail has developed what has been referred to as the motive, expectancy and incentive formula. This formula has firstly measured the the tendency to succeed (Ts). (Ts) is defined by; the need or motive for success (Ms), multiplied by the probability of that success will be the outcome of a particular activity (Ps), multiplied by the incentive of a specific activity (Is). The formula is expressed below:

Ts = Ms x Ps x Is
The tendency model for success has been matched by Atkinson's tendency model to avoid failure. Critically, it has been considered that the drive to succeed may be interchangeable with a motive to avoid failure. Critically, it is important to assume that individuals want to set out for success and aren't trying for failure. The more important assumption is that the difficulty of the task has decreased to illicit a greater fear of failure. In other words, that the individual is embarrassed to fail given the easiness of the task. The tendency to avoid failure (Tf) has been observed to share a parallel relationship with the motive to avoid failure (MAF) multiplied by the expectancy of failure (Pf) and the incentive to fail (If). The formula is expressed below:

Tf = MAF x Pf x If

The aforementioned tendency models have created the resultant-orientated tendency (TA). Which has been expressed as:

TA = Ts +Tf

Critically, this theoretical perspective has highlighted the importance of MCT. Biological and behavioural perspectives of motivation have yet been unable to attend to the perspectives of human experience in such a manner that is relatable. Possessing the ability to map out individual events and experiences has changed the way personal experiences are viewed. Atkinson's theory has demonstrated that there is both a positive and negative frame of mind for many individuals who are seeking motivation. Being aware of these aspects makes understanding motivational challenges much simpler. When the reward is seen to be greater than the failure, people haven't necessarily used their motivation to win or succeed. The route which has the potential to save embarrassment has now become pivotal in understanding whether someone 'lacks motivation'. This has the ability to empower individuals to address their own cognitive well-being. The video entitled 'McCelland's Motivation Theory' [where?] is the work of a contemporary of Atkinson. The video has made brilliant use of control when achievement is the aim. The obvious flaw which has been observed is that not all people have responded to achievement or incentive. This may be due to cognitive fatigue, or other external issues.

Self-Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000)

Self-determination theory (SDT) has maintained three psychological aspects.

  • Competence
  • Autonomy
  • Psychological relatedness.

SDT has placed heavy emphasis on the belief that human nature is consistently positive (Gropel & Kehr, 2014). The perspective of self-determination is that all rewards and motivations have originated from within the self. Furthermore that these internal beliefs are inherently good and positive in nature. SDT has suggested three major themes in examination of motivational behaviour"

  • Firstly, that behaviour is self-motivated.
  • Secondly, that behaviour is determined by the self (as the individual is aware of what is best for them).
  • Thirdly, that there is a constant comparison between intrinsic and extrinsic motives.

These behaviours have provided an interesting insight into the view of motivation by self-determined individuals. Motivation is often seen as a greedy or win/lose scenario where the best situation is only guaranteed for the victor. Self-determination challenges the selfishness of extrinsic motivation, where it is seen the only aim is to be rewarded (Mele, 2014).

Motivation has been commented on as a means to an end (Schultheiss, Kordik, Kullman, Rawolle, & Rosch, 2009). Self-determination theory challenges contemporary ideas of motivation. Furthermore, [missing something?] has the ability to influence cognitive fatigue through being inherently good and positively self-motivating. Three basic psychological needs are met by SDT:

  • Competence is the desire to seek out and control or achieve mastery of a chosen task.This has opened the door for self-determined motivators to challenge cognitive fatigue through self-empowered drive and opportunity.
  • Relatedness has promoted the idea that self-determined individuals should have a desire to share in the universal motivation to belong and connect with others.
  • Autonomy suggests the desire to be in control of one’s own life and master it without over-burdening the mind or becoming separated from others.

Attached to self-determination theory is cognitive evaluation theory (CET). This perspective has suggested that environmental factors are pivotal in explaining internal thoughts, emotions and motivations (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Whether someone has subscribed to the unique perspective of positive psychology, or not, cognitive evaluation theory has identified that the environment can dictate motivation and cognitive capacity. Theories which have an inward focus are aimed at empowering the individual from the self, outwards (Ryan & Deci, 2000). These perspectives have inherently addressed the challenge of preventing cognitive burnout and offer a strategy for re-establishing the balance between cognitive overload while remaining a part of an interconnected society.

Figure 2
Venn-diagram which has demonstrated the unique capacity of motivational control theory to accommodate all perspectives of motivation

Weiner's Attributional Theory

Bernard Weiner developed a theoretical framework known as attribution theory that has become very popular in contemporary social psychology. An attribution is an inference made about the causes of behaviour and events (Moore, 2000). Three aspects have summarised the work of Weiner’s behavioural analysis:

  • Behaviour has to be perceived and observed
  • Behaviour must be intentional
  • Behaviour is attributed to external or internal causes.

It can be said that Weiner’s theory has focused on individual achievement and results (Weiner, 2012). The individual was seen to be in a constant battle to maintain a positive self-image. This categorisation fits in well with the relationship shared between motivational control theory and cognitive fatigue. As the individual has identified cognitive fatigue as the enemy, but only understand how to attribute events and observations to it, 'My job must be too much' or 'My university degree is too difficult'. Critically, the aim of Weiner’s motivation theory has the potential to increase fatigue through an obsession about self-identity. This has been facilitated through emphasis being placed upon the factors of ability, effort, and luck and task difficulty (Roesch, Weiner, & Vaughn, 2002).

Furthermore, motivational control theory has been reflected in the three attributions of Weiner’s causal dimensions (Gagne, Deci, 2005). These have included

  • Locus of control – which was defined by internal challenges against external objectives
  • Degree of controllability – variables an individual has the perceived power to manipulate (for example individual skill level)
  • Assessment of stability – do causes and challenges change over time?

Despite the aforementioned criticism of Weiner’s potential addition to cognitive fatigue, there is also identified benefits. These have been highlighted as the fact that attribution theory offers a stark opposite when events are going positively. When it occurred, Weiner focused on the success of the individual being internally attributed - 'It was all me'. When a rival had succeeded, Weiner would tend to attribute this externally, to a phenomenon such as luck. Failure would be treated by one blaming external factors such as the race track or basketball (Weiner, 2012).

Weiner had made other important observations about attribution that were not necessarily paired with motivation. These included mood, chance, bias, help, illness and fatigue. The relationship between motivational control and cognitive fatigue was inherently investigated by Weiner through his focus on the relationship between external forces and events, compared with internal motivations. Critically, Weiner noted fluctuations in observation of attribution given his own and other people’s state of mind (Martin & Briggs, 1986).

The take home message from the aforementioned theories has been one of observation. Atkinson, Ryan & Deci, and Weiner all identified the relationship between controlling cognitive thought through active motivation.

Cognitive Challenge!

This is a brain game used to test cognitive ability. Individuals who have identified cognitive fatigue through the Mental Fatigue Scale have performed poorly in initial attempts. However persistence and operant principles have enabled many people who become motivated to get a better score. Compare it to your performance before and after work - see if you can notice the changes (Riemer & Viswanathan, 2013).

Related Theoretical Frameworks[edit | edit source]

Related Theories

Motivational psychology has become a vast field with many competing theoretical views. Capacity for understanding individuals with disability, learning difficulty and everyday problems has increased dramatically. Due to the manipulation of the motivation and control factors in MCT, there is the capacity for robust investigation into many related theories. These theories have included sympathetic and parasympathetic responses to cognitive fatigue, cortical and sub-cortical responses to cognitive fatigue and motivation, personality traits as well as positive and negative affect. A snapshot of relevant theories has been provided below that have come up in research for this book chapter:

Locus of Control Theory The locus of control theory may be the most well known. The locus of control has suggested that individuals with internal locus are more likely to assume that they are responsible for their own success. Individuals with an external locus of control are more likely to focus on luck as the determinant of their future. Higher order core self-evaluation (CSE) has lead to high correlation in predicting a high locus of control. The relevance has been drawn with controlling cognitive fatigue through an inherent belief that individuals have always controlled what happens to them (Johnson, Rosen, Chang, & Lin, 2015). Having perceived control over the environment and their own feelings has enabled individuals with a high internal locus of control to utilise proactive behaviour to address negative states of mind.

Approach and Avoidance Motivational Control Approach and avoidance attitudes towards motivation have derived from theoretical perspectives of appetitive and avoidant behaviour (Gunzelmann & Gluck, 2009). These theories have led to the development of the BIS and BAS scales which have accurately measured subjective opinion in an empirical fashion. These measures have been used in assessment of individuals at risk of cognitive fatigue.

A predetermined knowledge of whether one is better equipped to approach or avoid a situation has helped individuals maintain healthy cognitive capacity (Couch, Sandfoss, 2009). Couch and Sandfoss replicated these findings during analysis of individuals who had recently lost long term romantic partners.

Self-Determination and Self-Actualisation Self-actualisation has demonstrated great efficacy in counselling scenarios as a strategy for satisfaction of basic and higher level personal needs (Moors, de Houwer, Hermans & Eelen, 2005). In combat of cognitive fatigue, self-actualisation techniques have been used to great efficacy in priming of individuals to respond in a positive or negative manner to stimulus (Crone & Belke, 2012). Burnout in telemarketers has been reduced through priming techniques of self-actualisation, leading to more autonomous decision making (Castanheira & Chambel, 2010).

Trait Theory and Habitual Behaviour Trait theory has capitalised on the relationship some individuals have with controlling motivation. Conscientious and Open people have demonstrated well-rounded efficacy in acting in their own best interests while supporting others. This has been achieved through accurate prediction of behaviour based on personality type (Virmozelova & Dimitrova, 2013; Liu & Wang, 2014) Habitual behaviour has been observed to demonstrate in a broader sense that similar personality types have the same ability to direct motivational emphasis in the most effective direction (Schultheiss, Kordik, Kullman, Rawolle, & Rosch, 2009).

The Power of Creativity Divergent thinking has been highlighted as one of the most important aspects of creativity. The theory of divergent thinking hasn’t played a direct role in managing cognitive fatigue, but has demonstrated efficacy as a preventative measure. Inherent in the motivational management debate has been the possible suppression of cognitive flexibility. Divergent thinking has provided the capacity for other ways of managing motivation should control not work as effectively (Campion & Levita, 2014). Researchers Campion and Levita, as well as Soroa, Balluerka, Hommel, and Aritzeta (2015) have noticed the space available for entrepreneurs and teachers to create unique work environments that only provide rules about how creative you have to be to remain.

Literature Review[edit | edit source]

Focus has recently centred on the significance of the relationship between varied levels of direct and indirect control on motivational output (Gropel & Kehr, 2014; Baay, de Ridder, Eccles, van der Lippe, & van Aken, 2014). Research has looked to benefit workplace and educational understanding of motivates employees and pupils. Li, Wei, Ren and Di (2015) have suggested the locus of control theory has moderated the extent of individual workplace motivation. This has suggested that people only see themselves as their motivator, and if no one else will do it then why should they?

The power of self-determination over self-reported motivation of employees and students has also been highlighted in research by Paschke, Walter, Steimke, Ludwig, Gaschler, Schubert, and Stelzel (2015). These observations have seemed to reflect the ever-increasing self-centred focus of society. Crowell, Kelley, and Schmeichel (2014) have conversely argued that trait theory and habitual behaviours have reduced future capacity of individuals to implement un-related, self-control strategies (Hockey & Robert, 2011). Ultimately, individuals have disarmed themselves from cognitive capacity to act, or think outside the box.

Findings that have suggested that absence of control measures have decreased the efficacy of motivation output have also been explored (Greenaway, Storrs, Phillipp, Louis, Hornsey, & Vohs, 2015; Riemer & Viswanathan, 2013). Greenway and colleagues highlighted the reported cost and inefficiency of overseeing control measures in large corporate environments. The theory of motivated avoidance (BIS) and motivated approach (BAS) has also been analysed (Robinson & Bresin, 2015). Corporations and individuals bereft of ideas would have found no solace in the findings of Robinson and Bresin. The reported increase in passive-aggressive tendencies and inability to deal with conflict has become a big feature of the contemporary personality[factual?]. Ultimately the literature has been examined to reveal whether contemporary theories of motivation have explained or have alluded to the relationship between motivational control and cognitive fatigue. Although there seems to be supporting evidence for and against the efficacy of control measures, they seem to be lacking in the professional landscape.

The aforementioned lack of control has gone hand in hand with a reported rise in prevalence of locus of control theorists. These individuals have developed either an internal or external schema for how the world operates (Johnson, Rosen, Chang, & Lin, 2015). Internally focused individuals believe only they control their past, present and future, where as externally focused individuals believe that everything that happens to them occurs through luck (Johnson, Rosen, Chang, & Lin, 2015). Focus has now firmly shifted on to the belief of the individual to control personal experiences, desires and outcomes (Gropel & Kehr, 2014). Critically there has been insufficient scope for combination of this theory with empirical evidence. Empirical observation of someone who believes they control their own destiny is impossible should they not want it to occur.

The focus on the achievement of goals has meant that an individual may have perceived the completion of a target or goal without actually doing so (Martel, & Nigg, 2006). Especially if they have fallen under the impression that they are too self-determined or oblivious to real-world changes. Subjectivity and ill-informed self-help resources have played further havoc with contemporary motivational psychology (Schaub et al., 2015). The significance of self-determination in humanistic counselling has been well documented (Li, Wei, Ren, & Di 2015). However these results have been conducted in a professional environment with expert guidance and observation. Ultimately without objectivity, true capacity for change has been incorrectly measured (Crowell, Kelley, & Schmeichel, 2014). Self-determination may very well have been engineered to increase motivation but there has been a lack of accountability in self-reported evidence (Liu & Wang, 2014). All of the above authors have demonstrated the important role of self-determination and frame of mind. What has remained elusive is the capacity for others to be certain of a self-reported experience.

The validity of any self-reported improvements have continued to lack the same merit as objective output (Paschke et al., 2015). It has also been suggested that motivational control has decreased efficacy to bounce back from a setback (Crowell, Kelley, & Schmeichel, 2014). Critically, this has highlighted that reducing stimulus may have presented as a negative reward rather than a negative punishment. This is explained in the instance of Mattick's prison research (1959) whereby prisoners demonstrated socially acceptable behaviours and produced more labour when stringent rules were in place.

MCT has relied heavily on the perspective of reduction in immediate stimuli for increased output of the targeted behaviour (Greenway et al., 2015). It has been argued, however, that an increased control has fostered a decreased ability in the participant to complete work, exemplified by overbearing rules preventing from creative thinking to take place. Critically, this has highlighted the notion that perhaps flexibility and cognitive intuition have been impacted by efforts to control motivation (Selarta, Nordstrom, Kuvaas, & Takemura, 2008). Furthermore, in an effort to make tasks more simpler, creative license may have been removed from the individual. Questions have been raised as to the true efficacy of monitoring motivation, especially when in this scenario a more significant observation may have been made from testing creativity (Mikhailova, 2015). Not only has achievement driven through self-determination been hard to measure, it has also presented ethical challenges[explain?][for example?].

The internal processes of motivation have been strongly linked with approach and avoidance motivation (Riemer & Viswanathan, 2013). Critically this concept has examined push and pull factors that have exacerbated and minimised levels of motivation. Unlike similar efforts of motivation assessment, behavioural inhibition and activation theories have demonstrated an empirically responsible balance between subjectivity and objectivity. Avoidance and approach research has aimed at an understanding the individual through unique assessment, and demonstrated unforseen test reliability (Milyavskaya, Inzlicht, Hope, & Koestner, 2015). Despite the positive outlook there has been an inefficient fixation on assumption of reward as a fourth process of motivation (Landau, Whitson, & Kay, 2015). Research has failed to recognise control parameters that have replicated the structures of the office or classroom. In other words, controls have never fully been removed. Plainly, approach and avoidance motivation has tried to replicate environments where the reward has been inherent in the success of satisfactory work.

Motivation has presented a difficult challenge to behavioural psychologists. Observation of motivation has almost become dependent on subjective and objective designs for collation of meaningful data. It has made logical sense that observation of the workplace or classroom was by default the most relevant method. When observational measurement was beginning half way through the 1950's, these natural environments were already made. However the reward in these environments is never fully taken away. Being successful at work still has it's perks, likewise with studying diligently at school. A research opportunity has presented with the evaluation of extrinsic determinants of motivation. Simply this has translated into examination of the limbic system and cortex to track what outside variables have made the greatest impact on motivation. This has provided the opportunity to gain a greater empirical insight into the method of motivation within the brain. Information gathered has greater efficacy when applied with subjective perspective of the participant. This research method has presented challenges in cost and time consumption. Ethical considerations have also presented as hurdles in assessing individuals with advanced medical equipment such as FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machines.

Case Study and Survey[edit | edit source]

Table 2
University Student Responses to Motivational Habits
"Do you believe your thoughts motivate your choices, or do you act on instinct?" 30 replies received.
Figure 3
Participant response to motivational behaviour
  • Thirty replies from 35 approaches were received from undergraduate students aged 18 – 42.
  • Participants were made aware that their input was utilised for the purpose of understanding motivation of students.
  • Students were also informed that they had the right to pull out from the survey.
  • The questioner was interested in their comments made about daily tasks.
  • Three participants pulled out due to the survey being too detailed close to exam time.
  • Confidentiality of participants was maintained by allocation of participant 'numbers' seen in Table 2 below.
  • Feedback was given from two participants, outlining “that a four or five item questionnaire over five minutes would have been a better way to conduct this study rather than a quick interview on the concourse”.

What Have You Learned?[edit | edit source]

Test what you have learnt below in the quiz!

1 Motivation is considered an energy. True or False?


2 Which of the following was NOT included in the Mental Fatigue Scale at the beginning of this chapter?

Do you feel like you lack initiative?
Do you experience memory problems?
Do you struggle to lose weight?
Are you sensitive to light?

3 Is cognitive fatigue more strenuous than physical exercise?


4 The brain weighs ____% of the body but uses ____% of the energy (Energy in the form of Glucose)?


5 Which of the following is considered a healthy score for the Mental Fatigue Scale?


Conclusion[edit | edit source]

A neurological explanation has been provided as to why a chemical imbalance of dopamine has played a role in motivational dilution. Cognitive and environmental influences have been explored to ascertain a fundamental understanding of how motivation has been lost. However it has been noted that extensive research has been executed to understand the secondary impact of motivation, with little insight as to why the primary breakdown occurs. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that there are many facets of cognitive fatigue. These many aspects have been related to over-stimulation of cortical and non-cortical processes in the brain, physical exertion, poor dietary maintenance and critically a poorly managed and disruptive day-to-day-life. There are multiple shortcomings in many of the theories examined. For instance, the brain has utilised one of the highest rates of known glucose consumption in the body, roughly 20% - yet remains at this stable level even when cognitive capacity has been seemingly lacking.

Overall, the literature is extremely recent and relevant however there is still large opportunity for improvement on the hard science of motivation. Empirical measurement of motivational has posed difficult as previously explained, whereby intrinsic and experiential episodes are intangible and immeasurable. There has also been a distinct lack in peer-reviewed literature to address advertised remedies for cognitive fatigue.

Finally, the take home message from this research has been twofold. One, that motivation is a delicate and finite resource. Some people have enjoyed controlling it by adapting their lived experience to targeting or achieving a goal or reward. Many have experienced motivation due to fear of embarrassment in front of their peers. Others have suffered due to the inhibition of internal process (like not feeling brave enough to do act or change career). Whereas some unlucky individuals have experienced prevention of achieving basic set tasks and the trouble even setting goals in the first place because of physiological imbalances they know nothing about.

Two, that every individual's cognitive capacity is extremely overburdened, under-appreciated and misunderstood. Multiple theories that exist for coping with mental strain such as meditation or CBT do not address the aforementioned underlying habits of long nights at the office, or unhealthy attachments to smartphones or social media applications that have become quintessential elements of the everyday. It has been demonstrated as an inescapable factor in everyday existence that neither the individual or the environment will change. Perhaps the mobile phone and the internet should become less integral to daily life in order to regain a sense of independence and self-reliance and rebalance the power back on the side of being motivated, rather than fatigued.

See also[edit | edit source]

Directed attention fatigue
Biopsychological theory of personality - BIS & BAS
fatigue|Cognitive fatigue

References[edit | edit source]

Ackerman, P. L., & Kanfer, R. (2009). Test length and cognitive fatigue: An empirical examination of effects on performance and test-taker reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15, 163- 181. doi: 10.1037/a0015719

Baay, P. E., de Ridder D. D., Eccles, J. S., van der Lippe, T., & van Aken, M. G. (2014) Self-control trumps work motivation in predicting job search behaviour. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 85, 443- 451. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2014.09.006

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External links[edit | edit source]

Redesign my brain with Todd Sampson: ABC Television Series
Further exercises to test cognitive burnout
BIS and BAS scales for appetitive motivation and avoidance motivation
Being creative with Todd Sampson