I have heard the true saying that without motivation, there will be no action on anything which needs to be done. I can't remember where I heard it but I have wondered about what help there can be to remove motivational barriers.

I know of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and then I came across Szondi's Drive Diagnostic Test which made me wonder. What other theories and methods are out there?


There are many different possible obstacles to motivation:

  • Physical issues,
  • Emotional Issues,
  • Environmental Issues,
  • Relationship Issues,
  • Personality Issues,
  • Historical Experience,
  • Financial Issues, and
  • Practical Issues;

and they all need to be borne in mind. We could look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, however, studies in motivation started long before he came up with this.

The link you provided gives a lot of what you are asking about.

Sigmund Freud, as far back as 1927 said that a drive theory was what was lacking most in psychoanalysis. He rejected systematics in psychology as a form of paranoia, and spoke of the drives towards life and death; and sexual/ego drives (Mélon, 1996).

Yet, from 1927 to 1935, Hungarian psychiatrist and psychologist, Leopold Szondi aimed at working towards a systematic drive theory and he developed a “Drive Diagnostic Test” (Mélon, 1996). On top of that, there were studies conducted by William McDougal in 1932 where it was suggested that a range of animal behaviours could be associated with some form of drive, developing Instinct Theories of Motivation whereby all activities, thoughts, and desires can be drawn from being caused by nature – our biological make-up (Psychology Notes HQ, 2012).

Then attempts were made by Clifford Morgan in 1943 to establish the classifications of Primary Drives (basic needs of the individual) and Secondary Drives (learned or social drives).

Later, in 1961, David McClelland stressed the importance of social needs and specifically the need for achievement, affiliation and power (Mind Tools Ltd., n.d.), whilst in 1967, Grossman proposed the categories of Homeostatic drives (internal drives of the physical body to seek and maintain a balance within its internal environment like hunger, thirst and body temperature), and Non-homeostatic drives (situations external to the body like sexual activity, and other physical or emotional arousal).

I believe Grossman’s categories are categories of Morgan’s Primary Drives, where McClelland’s points refer to Morgan’s Secondary Drives.


Mélon, J., 1996. Notes on the History of the Szondi Movement. [Online]
Available at: http://www.szondiforum.org/t419.htm

Mind Tools Ltd., n.d. McClelland's Human Motivation Theory. [Online]
Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/human-motivation-theory.htm

Psychology Notes HQ, 2012. Instinct Theory of Motivation. [Online]
Available at: http://www.psychologynoteshq.com/instincttheoryofmotivation/

  • $\begingroup$ "The link you provided gives a lot of what you are asking about." - oops oh yes $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Feb 10 '17 at 17:11

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