What motivates us?

Over the last 24 hours I have been considering many things. As I have done this, one underlying factor keeps coming up and that is what motivates us. This question was raised in a conversation that I had with another person on Friday. I have since been thinking about it in relation to research. What motivates the research you undertake? What lens do you then bring as a result of the motivation that you hold and what impact does this then have on the research that you do?

These are interesting questions to consider when heading into research, but also interesting questions to consider when reading research. Not to mention what motivates during the process of research.

Someone once mentioned in relation to doing one’s dissertation that it’s a journey like marriage, so you need to be totally committed through all aspects of the journey. This comment alone leads me to consider the motivation one initially enters research with. What attracts us to the topic we are considering in the first place, at what point do we buy in at a level that creates a single minded focus point in our lives that nothing else is as important. Does this attachment to the research one does also come with the cost of becoming blinkered, which could result in overlooking data obtained through the research process. Could being blinkered though such commitment bring about close mindedness or forgetting to consider diversity as part of the process.

As a middle aged (lol, did I just use that term – eek, is 43 middle aged?), Australian female what motivates me with regard to research, the research that I read and the work that I do? Being honest, the things that naturally interest me motivate me with regard to topic area, so education is high on the list. My view of education has been developed through my experience, so all those moments feed into my motivation. Further to this, I have recently participated in a class at Ohio University that looked at philosophy and technology. From this course I am now more aware that I have a greater tendency to be interested in activity, knowledge and volition (with a stronger emphasis on volition), more than the tool itself and this impacts on my view of technology and research regarding it. This leaves me to wonder at times if these experiences, although valuable in their own right, create balance. After all I am looking at things through my lens, not anyone else’s. What could I be missing? My only suggestion to create balance is to read broadly, engage in conversations with others who have a different lens and to think critically. But what is at stake?

So what is at stake? When we allow personal motivation to become more important than seeking out understanding and possibly some answers, what suffers?

At this point I think I have learnt that one needs to be detached enough to be able to let go. To stand back and remove emotion to enable the phenomena being researched to be reported on in a manner that is not impacted by motivation that can lead to a narrow view. Being in a position to realise this requires reflexivity. Taking time to consider ones lens of the world is part of this and can be quite challenging and confronting, as you might discover that you are neglecting aspects that really should not be neglected.

So what is the true cost of being aware of ones motivations? What is the cost of being aware of the lens that one views the world? It is an incredible cost as it requires being vulnerable, but it brings enrichment.

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