Motivation’s second fundamental question is, Why does behaviour vary in its intensity? Other ways of asking this same question would be to ask, Why is desire strong and resilient at one time yet weak and fragile at another time? and Why does the same person choose to do different things at different times? Behaviour varies in its intensity, and its intensity varies both within the individual and among different individuals.
One day a student shows enthusiasm and strives for excellence; yet the next day, the same student is listless, does only the minimal amount of work, and avoids being challenged academically. Why the same person shows strong and persistent motivation at one time yet weak and unenthusiastic motivation at another time needs to be explained.
Why is one person a sensation seeker, who continually seeks out strong sources of stimulation such as riding a motorcycle, whereas another person is a sensation avoider, who finds such strong stimulation more of an irritant than a source of excitement? In a contest, why do some people strive diligently to win, whereas others care little about winning and strive more to make friends? Some people seem so easy to anger, whereas others rarely get upset.
Why does the worker perform so well on Monday but not so well on Tuesday? Why do children say they are not hungry in the morning, yet the same children complain of urgent hunger in the afternoon? So the second essential problem in a motivational analysis of behaviour is to understand why a person’s behaviour varies in its intensity from one moment to the next, from one day to the next, and from one year to the next.
The idea that motivation can vary within the individual means that a person can be actively engaged at one time, yet that same person can be passive and listless at another time.

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