In 1959 Robert W. White wrote a classic article for Psychological Review titled, “Motivation Reconsidered: The Concept of Competence.” In it, White proposed a new concept: effectance motivation. Effectance was described as a “tendency to explore and influence the environment.” White suggested that the “master reinforcer” for humans is personal competence. He defined competence as “the ability to interact effectively with the environment.”
White pointed out several ways competence motives were different from Hullian motives. Unlike biological motives such as hunger and thirst, competence motives are never really satisfied. They serve to enhance the abilities of the organism, rather than to regulate a biological process. They are not based on a state of biological deprivation. Rather, they help an organism improve itself.
Competence motivation is visible in children. Toddlers try to act powerful and capable, big and grown up, almost as soon as they understand the concepts. Children of all ages try to exercise control over some domain of objects (whether it is a doll house, a collection of cars, or something else). Healthy, normal children commonly wish buy anabolic steroids online to be regarded as knowledgeable and capable beyond their years. In general, people who have a special talent love to exercise it. People like a subject or a game that “plays to their strengths” because it makes them feel competent.