Incentive Theory

Incentive theory explains that behavior is motivated by an organism's desire for reinforcements and rewards and that this desire is what governs behavior. Incentives in the environment determine organisms' behavior.

This is a Behaviorist theory in that it places emphasis on the importance of the environment in influencing behavior. An organism is more likely to continue a behavior if the consequences are positive. An organism is less likely to continue a behavior if the consequences are negative. Motivation is powered by external forces in the environment. Reinforcements like food and money make it more likely that an organism will continue behaviors that lead to these rewards in the future.

If a mouse in a lab setting pushes a button and receives food it will continue to push the button in hopes that it will receive food again. If the mouse receives a shock when it pushes a button it will be less likely to continue pushing the button because it led to a negative outcome.

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