In simple words the elements of motivation are:

(a) Need

(b) Drive

(c) Incentives


(d) Motives

The needs are of different kinds:

For our physiological well being food, drink and sleep are really essentially. Our body cannot survive without these things. So while there is want of food, the man becomes victims of hunger. Apart from this, there are also psychological and social motives. For e.g.., it is very difficult to remain in the society without love and praise. So needs may be physiological and psychological. Need is the first step in the motivation. Need gives rise to drive condition?

To put in the words psychologists:


The feeling of lack of something is called the need. Every individual has basic needs and in order to gratify, he activates. The basic physiological needs are those of food, water, sleep and sex, etc. and the mental or social needs include fame, affection, security, adequacy, social approval, etc. Maslow has presented a clear hierarchy of needs.

According to him, if the basic physiological needs are well met, the individual is able to meet the higher level needs more efficiently. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is as given below:

The mental tension that arises, due to the need is the drive:

When there is need for food, the state of hunger crops up. Hunger and thirst give rise to a stage of tension, restlessness, and some award feelings. Thus mental balance gets upset. The hungry man feels the pang of hunger and restlessly searches for food the thirsty man feels the pang of thirst and searches for water. The sexually deprived person searches after the satisfaction of his sex desires.


The person of the lower status remains in an unpleasant mental tension and tries to establish himself in a better, higher status. Thus the act of impelling the organism to activity is the chief factor of drive. Like needs drive also can be physiological and psychological.

Psychological drives are acquired but physiological drives stronger are really in born. Physiological drives like hunger, thirst and sex are more stronger than the psychological drive. Man cannot overlook physiological drives.

The words of another psychologist:

Drive originates from needs and is in fact the psychological consequence of a need. The drive set in motion the compensatory activities whenever the internal physiochemical balance is threatened by unfavourable temperature, lack of food, water, excess of waste products, toxins’ etc.



Incentive is an object or response of others that can fulfill the need and decrease the tension due to drive condition. Food in case of hunger, water in case of thirst and member of the opposite sex in case of sex drive are said to be incentive which satisfy their respective physiological need.

When incentive is achieved, the severity of drive gets decreased, the mental tension withers away and balance of body and mind is restored. According to Hilgard, in general, an appropriate incentive is one that reduces the intensity of a drive.

Relation between Need Drive and Incentive:


Need and drive are the internal stages of the organism whereas intensives exit in the external world. Drive is created thanks to need. Because of the drive condition, tension is felt. To avoid this tension, the organism is put to action. By virtue of this action, the intensive isobtained.

As soon as the incentive is obtained, the need no longer remains and the drive and the tension are decreased. Like this, any activity that is caused due to some need ends only when the need is fulfilled by the achievement of incentive. Thus need, drive and incentive are factors involved in the process of motivation. This process starts with the achievement of the incentive. This is called need-drive-incentive formula.

For example:

Suppose there is lack of water in the body. So there is need for water. Due to want of water in the body, there is also want of water in the blood. Hence, there is lack of salivation inside the mouth. Because of this mouth and vocal card become dry. Due to the need of water, there occurs this physiological disequilibrium. This physiological disequilibrium has the influence on the mind too.


As a result the individual experiences the state of drive within him. He feels thirsty and does some activity to quench the thirst. By dint of his action he gets water. Here water serves as an incentive by which physiological disequilibrium disappears and the thirst is quenched. In this way search for water is a motivated activity where there is the feeling of thirst and the purpose to get water. Likewise in other motives like hunger, sex and sleep, etc. need drive and incentive are also present being inter-related with each other.

Human motives are complex and unlimited. Need gives birth to motive. Hence, there are many internal activities that occur due to the motive. Some motives are inborn and some are acquire through experiences.

These inborn motives are called the innate motives and the second kind is called the acquired motive. Hunger, thirst, sex, sleep and she desire to eliminate stool and urine, the tendency to save oneself from danger are included in the innate motives.