Biological and Physiological Aspects of Motivation

PSYC-2004-1,Motivation and Emotionweek 2 discussion

Week 2: Biological and Physiological Aspects of Motivation


Have you ever heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? What motivates you to fill your cereal bowl or drive to the drive-through window? Perhaps, when you wake up, your growling stomach sends you to the cupboard. Or is it the scent of bacon wafting through the air when you stroll past your neighbor’s open window? You may be motivated by the texture of the whipped cream cheese displayed beside the bagels at a nearby store. In some circumstances, you might stop at the doughnut counter because you are stressed about your work presentation.

Perhaps you don’t eat breakfast. Maybe you drink a cup of coffee and skip it altogether. What motivates you to do so? This week you will explore motivation as it relates to hunger and eating behaviors. In addition, you will examine another topic that often is considered when studying biological and physiological aspects of motivation: addiction.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this week, you should be able to:

Apply factors related to the motivation to eat and to stop eating
Apply theories of addiction
Identify and apply definitions and concepts related to addiction, hunger, and eating
Please proceed to the Learning Resources.

Learning Resources

Please read and view (where applicable) the following Learning Resources before you complete this week’s assignments.


Course Text: Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental
Chapter 4, “Addictions and Addictive Behaviors” (pp. 84?104)
Chapter 5, “Homeostasis: Temperature, Thirst, Hunger, and Eating” (pp. 122?138)
With these Learning Resources in mind, please proceed to the Discussion.

Discussion – Week 2COLLAPSE

Hunger and Eating

Every time you eat, you are motivated to take that first bite. There are several possible motivations for eating, and they include physiological hunger sensations, food characteristics, palatability, food preferences, and stress. First, you may experience a physiological sensation associated with hunger. If you do not eat for several hours, you may feel weak or dizzy, and your stomach may growl. Even if only a little time has passed since your last meal, you may experience some of those same hunger sensations from smelling or tasting a delicious food. You may not be hungry at first, but the delectable scent causes this type of hunger sensation, called a cephalic response. You are then motivated to eat because food will make you feel better.

Alternatively, hunger may be influenced by characteristics of the food itself. For example, when a food is pleasurable to eat, or palatable, you are motivated to eat it. You may be motivated to eat foods that you enjoy based on preferences you were born with or preferences that you link to a positive experience or feeling. A food preference based on a connection to an experience or feeling is called a conditioned food preference. For instance, if your favorite grandmother always served corn pudding, that food reminds you of your grandmother, and thus you develop a preference for it. While some motivations are positive, some are not. There are times when people eat when they feel stress or boredom even if they are not experiencing a hunger sensation.

Once you experience a motivation to eat, you continue to eat your meal. But when do you stop? Just as there are several possible motivations to start eating, there are a variety of motivations that cause you to stop eating. These motivations include satiety from fullness, quantity, sensory-specific satiety, and individual differences in boundaries. First, you may simply stop eating because you experience a physiological feeling of fullness. You may be guided by quantity and eat more if the portion of food on your plate is large rather than if it is small. You also may be influenced by your senses and continue to eat even after your hunger is satisfied if what you are eating has a pleasing texture or appearance. In this case, you experience sensory-specific satiety. Another factor, individual differences in boundaries, affects the amount of food you eat. These differences may limit you or set boundaries for how much you eat. For example, people who are dieting resist the urge to eat and restrain themselves from eating even when they have hunger sensations. They also may stop before they are full because they have set boundaries on their food intake. This concept is called the boundary model.

To prepare for this Discussion:

Review Chapter 5 (pp. 122?138) in your textbook, Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental. Pay particular attention to the following sections: “Hunger Sensations,” “Food Characteristics and Eating,” and “Person Characteristics of Eating.”
Think about one meal that you ate either earlier today or yesterday.
Consider what (e.g., hunger sensations, cephalic responses, palatability, food preferences, stress-induced eating) motivated you to eat that meal.
Reflect on what motivated you to stop eating the meal (e.g., satiety from fullness, sensory-specific satiety, quantity, and the boundary model).

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