There are many internal structures, systems and processes that determine what does or doesn't motivate people into action - both individually and collectively:
Needs - are the pre-programmed drivers that evolution has given us at the basic level for food, shelter and safety, then at higher levels [the needs hierarchy] e.g. social needs, self esteem needs, "self realisation" needs.
A stimulated need leads to the inner tension that drives us into action.
There are a number of theories and models that attempt to define motivation.
Beliefs - 'assumed truths' on which our understanding of the world is anchored. Beliefs are instrumental in creating our actions and experience of life. Once a belief is formed, we will tend to persevere with that belief and defend it.
Values - are those things that we think are important, and therefore focus on and spend time on. Values organise our beliefs.
Values generate the emotion that drives us into action. At the group level values are the social rules that we live by that enable groups to function.
Emotions - are the fundamental internal systems that kick us into action via emotional arousal - often towards a goal.
Our emotions thus cause us to want and not want, and when we have what we wanted, we then have emotions about owning it.
Extrinsic Motivation - is when we are driven by external situational factors such as money.
Extrinsic motivation drives us to do things for tangible rewards or pressures, rather than for the fun of it e.g. loyalty cards, discounts, air miles, bonuses and commissions.
Intrinsic Motivation - is when we are driven by internal factors to do things just for the fun of it [e.g.hobbies], or for ultruistic reasons because I believe it is a good or right thing to do.
Goals - A goal can be described as an intended outcome that requires action that satisfies needs.
Motivating gaps - These are technically described as "Cognitive Dissonance" and arise where the gap between two conflicting thoughts lead us to seek ways of reducing this.
An example of this is when we think about what we want and about what we actually have and we feel a discomfort or a tension.
Gaps are also the driver for disagreement between people. Where our internal drivers are different from others, then we will disagree with them and this gives rise to what we may call "disagreement gaps".
Other gaps can arise over values and beliefs and goals gap.