Motivation is the force behind behavior and provides an explanation for why people do things. Motivation influences what people do—meaning their choice of actions, as well as how they act; the intensity, persistence, and quality of their actions. Motivational theories help to explain people's achievements as well as their failure to achieve. They provide a way of understanding accomplishments and success, especially in the face of challenge and adversity. They also help to explain unexpected outcomes such as the lackluster performance of talented individuals or the triumph of an underdog who exceeds all expectations.

Motivation is especially prized in learning situations, whether the instruction takes place in a fourth grade classroom or on a soccer field. Without putting forth effort and actively engaging in the ...

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