Differentiate between stimulus motives with primary drives and explain the functioning of stimulus motives

Stimulus motives are unlearned motives that are not based on internal needs and drives. Stimulus motives are sustained by external factors and often are influenced by the individual’s personality and his/her goal; moreover, it drives the individual to know more about his/her being and existence (Pintrich,& Schunk, 2002). Stimulus motives are different from primary drives since the basis for the motivation is found on the stimulus, a need to discover and to know, rather than a need to satisfy physiological states like hunger and thirst. Primary drives are innate motives which are shared by all human beings and according to Maslow (Pintrich,& Schunk, 2002) are the first needs that should be satisfied so that the person could progress into the satisfaction of higher order needs. Stimulus motives on the other hand exists within the individual at varying states and is activated upon the presentation of the stimulus, when a child playing in the sand is presented with a frog, the frog becomes the stimulus and wanting to know what a frog is, would be the stimulus motive.

The function of stimulus motives is to lead the individual to learn, this would entail curiosity, exploration, manipulation and contact with the stimulus. Stimulus motives serves an important function in the learning process of the individual, it is from which the individual seeks to understand his/her external environment. It also leads to arousal which determines their reaction and behavior to the stimulus.


Pintrich, P. & Schunk, D. (2002). Motivation in Education: Theory, Research and Applications 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.