Define the Functional Autonomy of Motives and its types.

Functional autonomy of motives.

Allport believed that to understand the present of an individual, looking too much into his past is not required. In the concept of functional autonomy, that the motives for a certain behaviour of a person at present are independent of their origins. For example, a person might have wanted to become a doctor. Today, his
motive is different.

The person is now a businessman after he open a hospital. If we take another example, a person might have developed a taste for burger and as of today he has a taste for burger and that is what the person is now and that matters.

Functional autonomy provides the base for a theory of motivation. Adult motives thus are not related to past motives. The behaviour of an adult is independent of whatever reasons that might have initially caused him to involve in that behaviour.

According to Allport, functionally autonomous motives cause much of adult behaviour. For example, a young student first carried out a field study because it was required in college, because his parents wanted it, or because it comes easily. After he started working, he got absorbed in the topic. The student’s original motives is no more there in his present motive.

Types of Functional Autonomy.

According to Allport, there are two types of functional autonomy:

  1. Preservative functional autonomy.
  2. Propriate functional autonomy.

Preservative functional autonomy is the feedback mechanisms in the nervous system which are ruled by simple neurological principles. Over time these mechanisms become neurologically self-maintaining and keep the organism on track.

For example, eating and going to bed at the same time every day. These are repetitious activities. Propriate functional autonomy is an individual’s acquired interests, values, attitudes and intentions. This is the main system of motivation and imparts consistency to the individual for a congruent self image and a higher level of maturity and growth. People may not get the reward to continue their efforts. It thus stands for the individual’s striving for values and goals and his sense of responsibility.

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