Within activity theory, a motive represents a cultural-historically mediated point of activity that the participants may not be aware off. The motive is in correspondence to the object of activity. Human motives do not anymore directly represent basic human needs. This is because reproduction of human life takes place within extremely complex social formations according to division of labor. Already during pre-historic times, the actual object of activity (making noises within bushes) was not directly linked with catching the prey (Leont’yev 1978). In psychology, motives are used more narrowly to refer to individual dispositions to focus on pursuing certain kinds of activities or objects.


Leont'yev, A. N. (1978). Activity, consciousness, and personality. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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