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Arousal theory of motivation

This article is about people, but there are many crossovers to animals too.

Here are the key points quoted directly from the article.

"One of the key assumptions of the arousal theory is that we are motivated to pursue actions that help us maintain an ideal balance. Similar to Goldilocks, we are motivated when arousal levels are not "too high," not "too low"... but when they are just right.

When we become overly aroused, we seek soothing activities that help calm and relax us. If we become under-aroused, we search for more invigorating activities that will stimulate and energize us. It's all about striking the right balance, but that balance is unique to each individual.

Three Types of Arousal

...All three are important, but individuals may require more or less of each type to feel motivated, depending on the situation.

  1. Mental arousal: A state of mental alertness, and the desire to explore and learn new things. Arousal levels are stimulated by something that captures your interest, evokes curiosity, and presents new intellectual challenges...

  2. Emotional arousal: A state of feeling a strong emotional charge toward something, be it passion, excitement, fear, joy, sadness, or other emotional states...

  3. Physical arousal: A state of heightened physiological arousal in the body, making you feel ready to engage in physical activity...

Factors That Influence Arousal Levels

Your optimal arousal level may be specified by your genetic makeup, but environmental factors can also play a role in how you are feeling at any given moment.

A few examples of factors that influence arousal:

  • Workload

  • Lighting, temperature, noise level, distractions

  • Complexity of the task

  • Familiarity and skill level with the task

  • Degree of risk involved

  • Quality and quantity of sleep

  • Perceived stress

  • Mental health

  • Overall health

  • Current mood

  • Personality traits (introversion/extroversion)"


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