Robert S. Woodworth

American psychologist & scholar

Robert Sessions Woodworth (October 17, 1869 – July 4, 1962) was an American psychologist and the creator of the personality test which bears his name.

As a general proposition, we may say that the drive that carries forward any activity, when it is running freely and effectively, is inherent in that activity. It is only when an activity is running by its own drive that it can run thus freely and effectively; for as long as it is being driven by some extrinsic motive, it is subject to the distraction of that motive.
One who has thoroughly prepared for a public performance of some sort, may break down in the performance because of inability to get away from the desire to do his best in the presence of all these spectators, this self-consciousness making impossible a direct application of his energies to the work in hand.

Quotes

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Dynamic Psychology (1918)

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  • Often voluntary effort is needed in order to get a task started, to overcome repugnance, inertia, and distracting influences. The extraneous motive brings the horse to the water, but real drinking does not occur except from thirst, that is to say, from a desire for the particular results obtained by the activity in progress.
    • p. 70
  • As a general proposition, we may say that the drive that carries forward any activity, when it is running freely and effectively, is inherent in that activity. It is only when an activity is running by its own drive that it can run thus freely and effectively; for as long as it is being driven by some extrinsic motive, it is subject to the distraction of that motive.
    • p. 70
  • We all know this type of behavior, where the interest of the performer is in himself and not in the work. One who has thoroughly prepared for a public performance of some sort, may break down in the performance because of inability to get away from the desire to do his best in the presence of all these spectators, this self-consciousness making impossible a direct application of his energies to the work in hand.
    • p. 71
  • The motive that originally induced him to go in for this event may very well have been a desire to distinguish himself; but this motive has to drop out of sight or else by its distraction spoil the performance. It is not true, then, that the motive that initiates a given activity furnishes the motive force for the whole activity; it simply leads the performer up to the act, but the motive force for the act itself must be inherent.
    • p. 71
  • Unless you get up an interest in a system of activities you can accomplish nothing in it. Extraneous motives may bring you to the door of a system of activities, but, once inside, you must drop everything extraneous.
    • p. 71
  • McDougall's principle, therefore, "that the original impulse or conation supplies the motive power to all the activities that are but means to the attainment of the desired end," would make a very bad guide in education or in any attempt to control and influence the behavior of men. It would lead the teacher to introduce extraneous motives at every turn and leave out of account the interest which might be generated in the subject matter. It would lead the manager of a business to conclude, since the employes are certainly there for the prime purpose of earning money, that it would be hopeless to generate in them any loyalty and enthusiasm for the concern or any interest in the technique of its processes.
    • p. 72
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