Difference Between Motive and Intention

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: July 03, 2023


Difference Between Motive and Intention

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Motives and intentions are only two of the many underlying components that create a complicated tapestry that is human behaviour. Motive and intention are two interrelated ideas that have a significant impact on how we think, act, and, ultimately, live. Although these phrases are sometimes used interchangeably, they have different meanings and are essential to understand how people behave. In this piece, we explore motivation and intention in wha ole, including their definitions, attributes, and complex influences on our choice and our psychology and influenced by individual circumstances as well as societal standards and cultural influences. Since motives are frequently implicit and difficult to discern, understanding them necessitates a detailed examination of one’s underlying wants, feelings, and ideals. 

Motive vs Intention

The fundamental cause or driving force behind someone’s actions or behaviour is known as their motive. It stands for the innate wants, requirements, and objectives that drive people to take particular behaviours.

Motives can take many different forms and include basic human desires like altruism, accomplishment, belongingness, and power. These motivations may be deeply ingrained in our psychology and influenced by individual circumstances as well as society standards and cultural influences. Since motives are frequently implicit and difficult to discern, understanding them necessitates a detailed examination of one’s underlying wants, feelings, and ideals.

On the other hand, a conscious purpose or plan that directs a person’s behaviour is referred to as intention. Motives, beliefs, values, and extrinsic conditions are frequently combined to generate intentions. They provide our behaviour with direction and emphasis by serving as a link between our inner motivations and our outside behaviours. Intentions can be short-term or long-term, ranging from routine decisions to ones that have a lasting impact. 

Our behaviour is greatly influenced by our intents and motives, which operate as strong motivators. While intentions provide people with the direction to reach their goals, motives operate as the invisible power that drives them in that direction. People can deliberately steer their behaviour towards desired results by lining up their intents and motives.

Difference Between Motive And Intention In Tabular Form

Basis of ComparisonMotiveIntention
DefinitionThe reason or underlying purpose that drives a person to act.The mental state or purpose behind a specific action
MeaningWhy a person actsWhat a person will accomplish
ProofDifficult to proveCan be proved based on circumstances

What is the Motive?

The key to understanding human psychology and unlocking the complexity of our actions is to understand reasons. In this piece, we examine the meaning of motive and its complex function in determining how we live. 

A person’s motives can be described as the inner driving force or psychological drive that compels them to act in a particular way. It is the result of a confluence of cognitive and unconscious wants, aspirations, and desires. Individuals’ motives can differ significantly from one another and are influenced by a variety of elements, including personality traits, values, life events, cultural norms, and societal influences. They can include more lofty goals as well as more fundamental physiological requirements like hunger and thirst. Extrinsic motivations are those influenced by rewards and other external forces, as opposed to intrinsic motivations, which come from inside. 

The Role of Motive

  1. Behaviour Guidance
  2. Goal Setting and Achievement
  3. Emotion regulation
  4. Making Decisions
  5. Personal Development

Types of Motives

  • Primary needs are necessary basic human needs that must be met. They are physiological motives that do not require learning. Individuals expect basic and primary motives such as hunger, thirst, cold, pain, and so on. Physiological motives are biological. They are critical to the life of the organism.
  • When main objectives and necessities are no longer a problem to supply or satisfy, secondary motives are considered. In today's developed societies, there are more needs. They are not physiological motivations but rather learned motivations. Individuals engage in action to obtain personal goals such as power, achievement, affiliation, position, or prestige, among others.
  • Physiological motives are biological motives. These motivations are necessary for the organism's survival. When there is an imbalance in the body, such motivations are aroused.
  • The physiological incentives outlined above apply to both animals and humans, but the social motives are unique to humans. These are known as social motives because they are learned in social groups through interaction with family and community.
  • In addition to the above-mentioned physiological and social incentives, several other factors are related to both of the previously mentioned motives. These are extremely personalised and highly individualised motivations.

It's important to note that motives can often overlap and interact with one another, and individuals may prioritize different motives at different times depending on their circumstances and personal characteristics.

Many different types of motives might be connected to criminal activity. Typical types include: 

Financial Motive

Financial motives include the desire to increase one’s wealth or alleviate financial hardship. Theft, fraud, embezzlement, and robbery are just a few examples of crimes with financial undertones. 

Retaliation/Revenge Motive

Seeking vengeance or taking offence at perceived wrongdoings or grievances is the root of revenge motives. Crimes motivated by retaliation might be violent, vandalistic, or harassing. 

Power/Control Motive

Needing to dominate, control, or exercise influence over others is considered a power or control motive. Abuse, harassment, and manipulation are examples of crimes with power-related motivations. 

Emotional Motive

Emotions like envy, rage, fear, or hatred can all be used as motivations. Domestic violence, hate crimes, and crimes of passion are all examples of crimes motivated by emotion. 

Ideological Motive

Strong convictions, political or religious ideas, or extreme viewpoints are all examples of ideological motivations. Terrorism, hate crimes, or political violence are examples of crimes motivated by ideologies. 

Excitement/Thrill Motive

Some people just commit crimes for the thrill or excitement. These offences frequently include risk-taking actions like arson, vandalism, or specific types of assault. 

It’s essential to remember that criminal behaviour might have complicated and varied motivations. Numerous times, there may be several motives at play, and unique circumstances can affect an offender’s intentions. Knowing the driving force behind a crime can help law enforcement with their investigations, support the legal system, and aid in the criminal justice system’s efforts at prevention and rehabilitation. 

What is Intention?  

In the pursuit of personal development and fulfilment, intention acts as a powerful force that pushes us in the direction of our goals. It acts as the motivation behind our deeds, guiding our lives’ course and affecting the environment in which we live. Intentions have a tremendous amount of power and frequently act as the starting point for change, success, and the fulfilment of our greatest goals.

The purposeful and conscious mental state in which someone intends to produce a particular consequence or result is known as intention. 

Setting clear goals and coordinating our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours to achieve them is a proactive process.  

The Power of Intention

 Since intention acts as a link between our thoughts and deeds, it is a potent agent of both individual and societal change. We may unleash our creative potential and link ourselves to manifest our aspirations. The strength of intention is in its capacity to concentrate our attention, efforts, and energy towards a certain goal, increasing the likelihood of success. 

Setting and Clarifying Intentions: To fully utilise the power of intention, clear and explicit intentions must be set. Ambiguous or hazy objectives could not be clear enough to properly direct our activities. By precisely stating our intentions, we awaken the subconscious mind, which then works tirelessly to synchronise our thoughts, feelings, and actions with the outcomes we seek. We may maintain our attention and ensure that we stay on course by frequently reviewing and reiterating our intentions. 

Intention and the Law of Attraction: The Law of Attraction is a theory that holds that we attract into our lives what we give our attention to. Intention and this theory go hand in hand. This idea holds that when we have clear aims and picture ourselves succeeding, we send out strong signals to the cosmos that attract the tools, opportunities, and people we need to make our intentions a reality. When the intention is joined with empowering thoughts and deeds, it can generate a strong magnetic force that shapes our reality. 

The Intention in Action

 Intentions by themselves are insufficient; they must be followed with deliberate action. By making steady progress towards our objectives, we show our dedication, commitment and strengthen the effectiveness of our intentions. Our self-assurance, drive, and resiliency are all boosted when Intention and action are in sync, enabling us to move forward despite setbacks. We give our activities meaning, purpose, and significance by giving them intention. 

The Ripple Effect

The ripple effect states that our actions have an impact that is felt far from our local area of control. When we make good decisions and follow through on them, we emit strong energy that can motivate and encourage other people. Our intentions can have a cascading impact that affects individuals in our immediate vicinity and raises consciousness generally. We have the power to change not just our personal lives but also society at large by utilising the power of intention collectively. 

We unlock our full potential by making clear intentions, coordinating our thoughts and activities, and infusing our endeavours with purpose. Intention acts as a beacon, pointing us in the direction of our objectives and enabling us to realise our aspirations. 

Intention in Law

In law, the term “intention” refers to the person’s thought process or state of mind at the time they carry out a specific act or behaviour. It is a crucial idea in many areas of law, including tort, contract, and criminal law. 

  • Depending on the jurisdiction and the individual offence, multiple categories of intention, such as “intentional,” “knowing,” “reckless,” or “negligent,” are frequently recognised in criminal law. Intentional acts are those undertaken with a conscious wish or purpose to attain a certain end. A significant and unreasonable risk is recklessly disregarded, whereas negligence is the failure to take reasonable precautions. 
  • To ascertain if a legitimate and enforceable agreement between parties exists, it is essential to consider intention in contract law. In general, for an agreement to be enforceable, both parties must have understood that it would establish a legal relationship and bind them to its terms.
  • In tort law, the purpose is important when determining liability for intentional torts, which are crimes done with the intent to hurt or injure another person or their property. In contrast to torts based on carelessness, deliberate torts call for evidence that the defendant intentionally committed the alleged wrong. 

Main Differences Between Motive and Intention in Points 

  • The definition of “intention” in the context of criminal law is “the deliberate cause and no effort to act in a manner not permitted by law.” In contrast, the Implicit cause that prompts a person to do or not do something is referred to as the motive. 
  • The use of certain methods and the circumstances leading up to criminal conduct can be used to determine a person’s intention. Motivation, on the other hand, is what pushes a person to take a certain action or stop from taking a certain action. 
  • The motive is a covert or implicit objective, whereas the intention is the crime’s clearly stated goal. 


With the help of the powerful force of intention, we can shape reality and build the life we want. We unlock our full potential by making clear intentions, coordinating our thoughts and activities, and infusing our endeavours with purpose.  

Human behaviour includes both motive and intention, which together shape our choices and behaviours. Intention stands in contrast to motive as the conscious decisions we make to satisfy our deepest wants and desires. We get important insights into the complexity of human behaviour and the forces that propel us ahead by unravelling the complex link between purpose and intention.


  • Intent vs Motive: What’s the Difference? – Wilson Criminal Defence
  • Wikipedia- what is motive?


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"Difference Between Motive and Intention." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 09 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-motive-and-intention>.

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