Motivation/Emotion Sample Paper
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Motivation/Emotion Sample Paper

Grade: A. My comments appear in brackets [ ].

This Internet version does not conform to APA Style although the original did. (I don't know the html codes). The headings (including Reference) should be centered. Also, the paragraphs and the citation should be indented and the paper would be double-spaced.

Smoking According Hullian Drive Theory

by Lisa R. Etienne

September 25, 1997

"Hull suggested that physiological deficits, or needs, instigate the organism to undertake behaviors that result in the offset of those needs (Weiner, 1992, p.64)." In other words, Hull felt that organisms only acted if they were in a state of need or not in homeostasis. Action was thought to bring about homeostasis. Furthermore, Hull felt that need gave organisms the energy to behave in a manner to bring about homeostasis. However, Hull stated that drives are nonspecific. Drives supply the energy necessary for behavior. Drive does not supply the reaction or behavior. Hull believed that habit and association supplied the reaction or behavior. Analyzing the continuation of smoking according to Hull is simple and can be backed with empirical evidence. The problem lies with explaining the onset of smoking.

People who smoke and have smoked for a period of time are addicted to the nicotine. Nicotine levels in the blood determine a need for a cigarette. In other words, there is a physiological need which supplies the energy for action. The action that returns us to homeostasis, as we have learned, is smoking at least one cigarette. [very good--clean]

One might ask how Hull would explain why some people chain smoke and others smoke very little. According to physiological need, most people should smoke about the same (relevant [relative] to body size) [excellent qualification] or at least only when nicotine blood levels decrease enough to make one uncomfortable. The concept of habit hierarchy can be used to explain this phenomena. Because drive is un[non]specific, organisms will often display the most salient action when faced with a need. With heavy smokers, everything in daily living corresponds with smoking. If the phone rings, I pick up my cigarettes and the phone. If I am hungry, I light a cigarette and forage in the kitchen. I always have a cigarette lit while I am cooking. The most salient habit [***] I have is smoking. This is not the case with light smokers. The light smokers have associated other actions with needs. So, to quit smoking one must learn to read their physiological needs better [move another behavior up in the habit hierarchy]. Nicotine withdrawal ends in 48 hours but the habits remain long after. For example, if I could associate eating and not smoking with hunger, that would weaken smoking on my habit hierarchy. The weaker smoking is on my habit hierarchy the easier it will be to quit. [very good]

[nice elaborations] How would Hull explain why people begin smoking? Obviously, if one has never smoked, they are not addicted to nicotine and therefore have no tissue need for nicotine. Hull would simply state that drives are non-specific. This means that any drive could energize someone to smoke. Take for example, the young woman who wants to lose five pounds. She may take up smoking. I have heard this explanation many times. On the other hand, the person that quits smoking usually gains five to twenty-five pounds. So, Hull would say that these people are switching their actions to match different physiological needs. [Excellent] In other words, the young woman who is trying to lose weight is smoking when hungry and the ex-smoker is eating when nicotine levels drop.

Hullian theory fits well with smoking, hunger, thirst, and sex drive because these are physiological needs. However, I cannot seem to make Hullian drive theory fit my motivation to attend school. I already have one degree and a good job so it cannot be said that I need education to obtain material goods such as food or drink. Furthermore, school puts me in a state of physiological need due to the fact that I am too busy to eat, drink, or have sex. [Excellent critique] I feel as if I am in a constant state of need but here I sit writing this paper even though I am hungry, thirsty, and craving a cigarette (I will not detail my sex life because it is too depressing). [Hull might argue that attending school (school behavior) is high in your hierarchy so you study when stressed.] [Very nice job. Focused, thoughtful, explored implications.]


Weiner, B. (1992). Human Motivation:Metaphors, Theories and Research, Newbury Park, Ca: Sage Press.

Variation on Above Paper

Grade: C or D.

This Internet version does not conform to APA Style. (I do not know the html codes). The headings (including Reference) should be centered. Also, the paragraphs and the citation should be indented and the paper would be double-spaced. I've marked some comments but did not try to mark everything.

Smoking According Hullian Drive Theory

by me based on Lisa Etienne's paper

October 8, 1997

"Hull suggested that physiological deficits, or needs, instigate the organism to undertake behaviors that result in the offset of those needs (Weiner, 1992, p.64)." Everybody has needs and everybody behaves. One behavior that is really interesting to me is to [too] much smoking. I've [I have] smoked for half of my life and it's disgusting. I wish I could stop but I have to in order to do my school work. [no discussion of the concept or drawing explicit relation between example and concept.]

The nicatin [sp] is the problem. If I could smoke without the nicatin that would be great. I would be in a state of homeostasis [clarify, may be a misinterpretation]. I smoke around my friends and they smoke to [too]. This is meeting a social need [where did this come from? how does it relate to Hull?? Sounds like something that relates to another theory, perhaps a half-remembered concept from class discussion]

Some of my friends smoke a lot and some don't smoke much at all. This is do[?] to habit heirarchy. [Habit hierarchy is a concept. It cannot cause anything] This is when some behaviors happen more than other behaviors. [inaccuracy]. Going to the kitchen. [sentence fragment] Drive gets attached to everything. It is nonspecific. I have a nonspecific need to smoke. I will smoke in the kitchen or in the bathroom or outside or after class. It [what?] is powerful. You can't quit. [switched from I to you, making global statements.]

I've tried to quit but I gain weight. It is because food is in my habit hierarchy [a habit hierarchy is behaviors-- eating would be the proper term; furthermore this is a statement, not an explanation.] Eating is easy to do when I'm not smoking so I do it. And then I gain lots of weight. [getting redundant and merely descriptive. no connection to theory is made.]

I disagree with Hull because he is so complex. [why is being complex a problem?] He uses a simple math formula which you can compute but I don't like to do math. [First two sentences contradict each other. Personal preferences need to be supported with other data. Simply disliking something is not a compelling reason for rejection.] And what about cognitive dissonance. I don't like smoking but I do it anyway. Go figure. [A desperate effort to lengthen the paper by bringing in some extraneous concept. Ends with a colloquial phrase that actually has no meaning.]


Weiner, Benjamin, Human Motivation:Metaphors, Theories and Research, Newbury Park, California: Sage Press,1992. [incorrect format]

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