Getting a Grip on Homeostasis

The inner tension of an unfulfilled biological need is a drive, and reducing the various drives is, in Clark Hull’s thought, the main motivation for all human actions. An uncredited author explains:

As soon as there’s an unmet need within the body, a person starts behaving in a manner that allows them to address this need, reduce the drive and achieve a state of balance.

When a drive is reduced, the person can return to a state of homeostasis, also known as equilibrium or balance. Behaviorist founding parent Clark Hull earned a ton of respect. Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, later scholars and practitioners felt free to pick away at his theories, which should be seen as a good sign, and one of the hallmarks of thriving academia.

Regarding flaws in Hull’s theory of motivation, the same writer mentioned these bones of contention:

1. The primary drawback of the drive theory is that it doesn’t explain why a human being behaves in a particular manner without being prompted by an internal unmet need. For instance, a person may indulge in a three-course meal even when they’re not feeling hungry.

2. Sometimes human beings participate in risky activities such as adventure sports that actually increase internal tension instead of reducing it.

Childhood Obesity News has discussed the propensity of humans to invent and manufacture drives, some of them quite harmful. Then, there are secondary drives, and that is another ball of wax, or can of worms, or spanner in the works:

3. Hull’s drive reduction theory doesn’t explain why secondary drives act as reinforcers for a particular behavior even when they do nothing to reduce biological needs.

Explanation continues:

In terms of the drive reduction theory, the reduction of the drive functions as a reinforcement of the behavior that helped the person to satisfy their unfulfilled need. Such reinforcement increases the likelihood of the person behaving in the same manner in the future to address that particular drive.

Parents will recognize this dynamic. If whining for a treat is successful, a child is likely to adopt whining as a frequent behavior. Strangely, this also sounds a lot like a state of physical addiction — when the body feels an unmet need for heroin, for example. If stealing from a relative’s wallet has yielded results before, chances are the addict will check the wallet again next time.

Here is another related matter. Society has discovered a variety of drugs since the days when heroin was the biggest problem, but one of the most-repeated details about that affliction was that after a certain point, an addict doesn’t even expect to get high anymore. They’re just attempting to feel normal. At that stage, what they seek is merely a state of balance, equilibrium, or homeostasis.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Drive Theory Of Motivation: Meaning And Examples,”, 11/24/21
Image by Ricardo Liberato/CC BY-SA 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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