C H A P T E R
The History of Motivation and Emotion
He that would know what shall be, must consider what hath been. —H. G. Bohn, 1855
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
—Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
■ As implied in the opening quote by Bohn, in order to understand motivation and emotion, we should consider what was known about them in the past. The following questions are guides for considering how psychology’s past paved the way for the study of motivation and emotion in the present:
1. What is hedonism, and how is it a source of motivation?
2. What are instincts, and how do they affect motivation?
3. How does Darwin’s concept of natural selection help explain what motivates people today?
4. How are internal and environmental sources of motivation described in the history of psychology?
5. How did philosophers and early psychologists describe emotion?
Brief History of Motivation In imagination, transport yourself back 100,000 years to the banks of the local river in your area. Your tribe spent most of the day traveling up and down the river’s banks hunting and fishing and gathering grubs, fruits, and other edibles. However, not everyone worked equally hard. Some individuals produced a lot of food for the tribe, while others produced none at all. You may have thought to yourself, “Some people in our tribe are not motivated” or “I wish everybody in our tribe were as motivated as me.” In other words, you invented the con- cept of motivation to account for these differences in behavior. The point of this imaginary scene is that humans have probably been thinking about their own and others’ motivation for a long time, certainly long before the beginning of psychology in 1879 (Boring, 1965).
The purpose of this section is to describe the ideas of philosophers and early psy- chologists regarding motivation. Their ideas include basic sources, hedonism, instincts, unconscious motivation, drives, psychological needs, and incentives.
Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, Third Edition, by Lambert Deckers. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.
22 P A R T O N E / Introduction and History
Aristotle’s Theory If to motivate is to induce or to cause a change in behavior, then the ancient philosopher Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) was probably one of the first to advocate a theory of motivation. Writing between 347 and 335 B.C., he describes four different types of causes: efficient, final, formal, and material (Peck, 1942). These four causes are still relevant for psychol- ogy (Killeen, 2001) and provide insight into the source’s motivation. Aristotle’s efficient causes refer to triggers of behavior. These are a person’s current motives and incentives. For example, the sight of your favorite dessert triggers eating it. His final causes refer to the aim or purpose of motivated behavior. It is the goal of the behavior. The aim of eating, for example, is to provide nourishment to the body. Formal causes refer to integrat- ing the concept of motivation into models, hypotheses, or theories of behavior. Continuing the eating example, Darwin’s theory of evolution maintains that humans evolved a prefer- ence for sweets during a time of scarcity. People were motivated to eat sweets since they provided a rich source of energy that was beneficial for survival. Finally, Aristotle’s concept of material causes refers to the material of which a thing is made. The brain can be consid- ered the material cause of motivated behavior. For instance, the material cause for eating dessert refers to the events occurring in the brain. In this case, the sight of dessert acti- vates the brain’s hypothalamus and contributes to the desire and the anticipated pleasure for sweets.
Hedonism Two bumper stickers from times past read: “If it feels good, do it” and “If it’s no fun, why do it?” Are these edicts accurate descriptions of human conduct? If so, are we merely pur- suers of pleasure and avoiders of pain? Some early philosophers and pioneer psychologists agree that we are. We can see from Table 2.1 that this view has a long history.
Ancient Sources. Nearly 2,400 years ago Greek philosophers were already discussing mo- tivation under a principle known as hedonism—the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Although today the term hedonism often refers to sensory pleasures derived from food, drink, and sex, for philosophers the term meant striving for the greater good. The phrase “the Pursuit of Happiness” from the Declaration of Independence probably means a striving for the greater good. It is doubtful that the signers of the Declaration meant for people to stop work- ing and party all the time. While it is true that sensory pleasure might be attained from spend- ing your tuition money to pay for nightly partying, a hedonically greater benefit would result if that money were used to pay for your tuition and subsequent education. One of the first pro- moters of hedonism was the famous Greek philosopher Socrates (470–399 B.C.), who claimed a person should follow a course of action for which pleasure exceeds pain (see Table 2.1). Further, Socrates claimed that the only reason a person would not do so is because he lacks complete knowledge of the pleasure or pain that can result. For Democritus (460–370 B.C.), it was both natural and good for people to follow this course (see Table 2.1), although he could not identify what was pleasurable or painful independent of a person’s behavior. Something was pleasurable if an individual strived for it, and something was painful if an individual avoided it. But what was pleasurable or painful could differ for each individual. No matter what these things were, pleasure was to be pursued and pain was to be avoided (Hyland, 1973).
Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, Third Edition, by Lambert Deckers. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.
TABLE 2.1 Quotes Illustrating the History of Hedonism as Motivation
SOCRATES (470–399 B.C.): “The right choice remains that in which the pleasures exceed the pains; this is the preferred course. The wrong choice remains that in which the pains outweigh the pleasures; this course is to be rejected” (Weiss, 1989, p. 518).
DEMOCRITUS (460–370 B.C.): “The good is the same for all men in the sense that it is good for them to pursue pleasure and avoid displeasure or pain” (Hyland, 1973, p. 291).
EPICURUS (341–271 B.C.): “We do not choose every pleasure either, but we sometimes pass over many pleasures in cases when their outcome for us is a greater quantity of discomfort” (Long & Sedley, 1987, p. 114).
THOMAS HOBBES (1640): “This motion, in which consisteth pleasure or pain, is a solicitation or provocation either to draw near the thing that pleaseth, or to retire from the thing that displeaseth” (Hobbes, 1640/1962, p. 31).
JOHN LOCKE (1690): “Good, the greater good, though apprehended and acknowledged to be so, does not determine the will, until our desire, raised proportionately to it, makes us uneasie in the want of it” (Locke, 1690, ¶ 35).
JEREMY BENTHAM (1789): “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. . . . The general tendency of an act is more or less pernicious according to the sum total of its consequences” (Bentham 1789/1970, pp. 11, 74).
HERBERT SPENCER (1899): “Those races of beings only can have survived in which . . . agreeable . . . feelings went along with activities conducive to the maintenance of life, while disagreeable . . . feelings went along with activities . . . destructive of life” (Spencer, 1899, p. 280).
EDWARD LEE THORNDIKE (1911): “The Law of Effect is that: Of several responses made to the same situation, those of which are accompanied . . . by satisfaction to the animal . . . will be more likely to recur; those which are accompanied . . . by discomfort to the animal . . . will be less likely to occur” (italic in original; Thorndike, 1911, p. 245).
SIGMUND FREUD (1920): “[The pleasure principle] does not abandon the intention of ultimately obtaining pleasure, but it nevertheless demands and carries into effect the postponement of satisfaction, the abandon- ment of a number of possibilities of gaining satisfaction and the temporary toleration of unpleasure as a step on the long indirect road to pleasure” (Freud, 1920, p. 10).
ROGER BROWN and RICHARD HERRNSTEIN (1975): “Barring the rare inborn movements, human behavior obeys the law of effect, and nothing else” (Brown & Herrnstein, 1975, p. 169).
One might get the impression that Socrates and Democritus meant that we should “eat, drink and be merry as if there is no tomorrow.” On the contrary, they felt that our pursuits should be followed in moderation, since this leads to greater pleasure in the long run. The idea of moderation was developed further over a century later by Epicurus (341–271 B.C.), who maintained that pleasure and pain average out. Thus, we might forgo certain intense pleasures if subsequent pain of greater magnitude is a result (see Table 2.1). For instance, an individual might drink alcohol in moderation, thereby avoiding the painful aftereffects of overindulgence. Similarly, moderation may require experiencing pain prior to pleasure. An individual may endure immediate pain because longer-lasting pleasure may be a consequence (Long & Sedley, 1987). To illustrate, a university student might forgo the immediate benefit of earning money at an unskilled job in hopes that spending her time earning a university
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Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, Third Edition, by Lambert Deckers. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.
24 P A R T O N E / Introduction and History
degree will provide more meaningful and fruitful employment later. Or a student may forgo a party Thursday night in order to study for Friday’s exam on the assumption that good exam performance will produce longer-lasting pleasure than a good party. The party, although providing immediate pleasure, may result in a hangover and poor exam performance the next day, thus compromising long-term gain.
Later Philosophers. Extra credit for doing additional coursework or a monetary fine for exceeding the speed limit are examples of incentives that motivate behavior. The roots of incentive motivation can be found in the writing of Thomas Hobbes in 1640 (see Table 2.1). Incentives are anticipated events that are approached if pleasurable and avoided if painful. Our ability to anticipate that an incentive will be pleasant or unpleasant depends on our remembrance of a similar incentive producing that feeling in the past. Thus, Hobbes (1640/1962) reasoned that a feeling of pleasure leads us to approach the situation re- sponsible for that feeling, while an unpleasant feeling leads us to avoid the situation that produces it.
Incentives are in the future, and their power to provoke approach or avoidance behav- ior depends on how delayed they are. For example, does a person want an unchallenging min- imum wage job immediately after high school graduation, or is she willing to wait for better-paying and challenging work after college? The often-cited conflict between a small immediate reward versus a large delayed reward is evident in the writings of John Locke in 1690 (see Table 2.1). He stated that a person may acknowledge that there may be a greater good or goal than those immediately available. These immediate rewards, however, appear to evoke a desire so strong that a person is unable to resist. Thus, in order for the delayed greater good to motivate behavior, it must evoke a desire stronger than the desire for imme- diate pleasure. Locke gives the example of an alcoholic who acknowledges that his health and estate are of greater value than drink. This same alcoholic, however, is unable to resist the lure of immediate drink and drinking companions (Locke, 1690).
The 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1789/1970) put it bluntly: we are the servants of pain and pleasure (see Table 2.1). Like Hobbes before him, Bentham saw the in- tertwining nature of the positive and negative consequences of our actions. The anticipated consequences, both pleasant and unpleasant, determine the likelihood of our behavior. Here we see the beginning of decision theory: Of the incentives available to us, which should we choose? To illustrate, in making a decision of whether to attend a university, a person weighs both the pleasant and unpleasant aspects of attending versus doing something else. The out- come of this weighing determines the person’s decision (Bentham, 1789/1970). Bentham used the phrase principle of utility to describe the idea that our actions are determined by whether they increase or decrease our happiness. An object has utility if it benefits us, in- ducing pleasure or happiness, but it also has utility if it prevents pain or unhappiness. Money, for example, has utility because it can buy goods and services, which provide an increase in pleasure and a decrease in pain.
Sigmund Freud. Listed in Time (March 29, 1999) as one of the 20 most influential minds of the 20th century (Gay, 1999), Sigmund Freud wrote on hedonism, instincts, and uncon- scious motivation. Although his theories have been criticized for their lack of scientific rigor, his ideas are still influential today in psychology, literature, and the arts. The theme put forth by Democritus and Epicurus—that of postponing immediate pleasure or enduring
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immediate discomfort for subsequent greater pleasure later—is repeated by Freud (1920), who postulated two principles relevant for increasing pleasure and decreasing pain (see Table 2.1). For Freud, pleasure was in contrast to unpleasure. In his pleasure principle, he referred to a person’s pursuit of pleasure, which is attained from a decrease in psychological tension especially when it follows from a sudden increase in tension. While pleasure results from reducing or keeping psychological tension as low as possible, unpleasure results when tension increases. Pleasure is also obtained from gratifying unconscious instinctual im- pulses or desires. According to Freud’s reality principle, circumstances may force the individual to postpone immediate pleasure or endure discomfort if the result is greater pleasure later.
Edward Lee Thorndike. Pain and pleasure motivate behavior when those feelings reach our awareness. Herbert Spencer (1881/1977) claimed that humans strive to bring feelings of pleasure into consciousness while also trying to drive out feelings of pain. In addition, he contended that pleasure supports behaviors that benefit life while pain prevents behaviors that destroy life. Is it possible to empirically demonstrate that pain and pleasure motivate behavior? In an early empirical demonstration, Thorndike (1898, 1911) rewarded a cat with food for es- caping from a box. Thorndike observed that over a series of attempts the cat’s escapes occurred faster and faster. In applying Spencer’s formulations, escape brought forth a feeling of pleasure into the cat’s consciousness and the behavior that brought it about was beneficial to the cat. Based on his research,Thorndike (1898, 1911) formulated an idea, similar to Spencer’s, which was the law of effect: the cat escaped because of the satisfaction that resulted from escaping, whereas remaining in the box was associated with less satisfaction or with dissatisfaction (see Table 2.1). In general, a satisfying effect strengthened behavior, and a dissatisfying effect weakened behavior. Thorndike, of course, was faced with the problem that the cat could not tell him whether escape and food provided pleasure. Thorndike assumed that an animal be- haves in order to attain a satisfying state and to remove a dissatisfying state. Can this assump- tion alone explain the cat’s behavior? Another way of explaining behavior began when John Watson (1913) introduced behaviorism. This school of psychology emphasized observable behavior and its consequences rather than the subjective experiences of pain and pleasure. Thus, whereasThorndike emphasized the pleasure or satisfaction derived from the cat’s escape, Watson would have emphasized the actual freedom as the source of motivation for the cat.
Law of Effect Today. Thorndike’s law of effect is widely accepted today but with an em- phasis on the observable consequences of behavior, which are referred to as reinforcers and punishers. This law avoids the subjective and unobservable nature of hedonism. Instead, reinforcers are defined as observable stimulus consequences that increase and maintain behavior. For example, a food pellet resulting from a lever press is a reinforcer, provided the pellet increases or maintains the rat’s lever pressing. A punisher is a stimulus consequence of behavior that reduces the frequency of the behavior. A loss of privileges for a child as a con- sequence of misbehavior is a punisher, provided that the misbehavior decreases. Today, many psychologists accept the view that human behavior is determined by the law of effect (Brown & Herrnstein, 1975; see Table 2.1). This law may sound similar to hedonism as proposed by the Greek philosophers some 2,400 years ago. However, hedonism emphasizes the subjective nature of motivation: pursue pleasure and avoid pain. The law of effect, however, emphasizes the objective nature of motivation: some stimuli increase behavior and other stimuli decrease it. There is no claim in the law of effect that the stimuli we approach provide some degree of
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pleasure or that those we avoid produce varying degrees of discomfort or pain if we fail to do so. The two principles emphasize different sources of motivation: internal and external.
Current Trends. Current research has expanded the study of hedonism to include the function of self-control. Already in 1690 Locke noted that the distinction between pleasure and pain is easy to make when they are compared, side by side, in the present. The distinction becomes obscure, however, when trying to compare present feelings with future feelings. For example, compare the pleasure of spending this evening with friends versus the pleasure from earning a high exam score next week because you chose to study instead. If these sources of pleasure occurred simultaneously, Locke would argue that a student would have no trouble making a decision as to which was the greater pleasure. However, the deci- sion becomes more difficult, according to Locke, because the pleasure from a high exam score is obscure due to its distance in the future. Over 300 years later psychologists are re- searching what characteristics, for example, determine a person’s choice between rewards that bring immediate smaller pleasure at the expense of larger delayed pleasures, such as the pleasure of friends tonight versus the pleasure of exam success next week.
Current research uses the term impulsiveness to describe individuals who display the tendency to choose smaller rewards while self-control (self-discipline) describes those who can choose larger but delayed rewards (Logue 1988, 1998). Research shows that greater self-control provides benefits, such as better academic achievement. For example, Duckworth and Seligman (2005) employed several measures of self-discipline, such as the Brief Self- Control Scale. This scale permits individuals to rate themselves on such abilities as being able to resist temptation, think through the alternatives of their actions, and work toward long-term goals. A higher score on the Scale means a person has a greater ability to exercise self-control. Duckworth and Seligman found that eighth graders with greater self-control earned higher GPAs regardless of their level of intelligence. Tangney and coresearchers (2004) also found that higher scores on the Brief Self-Control Scale were associated with higher grades for university students, a better degree of adjustment, less alcohol abuse, and better interpersonal relationships and skills.
Positive psychology is another new front in the study of hedonism. Recall that there are two aspects to hedonism: decrease unhappiness or pain and increase happiness or pleasure. Locke would argue that unhappiness has a greater motivational impact because when experienced an individual is motivated to reduce that feeling. Happiness, however, is a future promise based on a person’s current actions. As a result of the immediacy of unhappiness, psychologists have been mostly concerned with its reduction by treating, for example, depression, grief, anxiety, and distress. There had been little concern in going beyond the alleviation of unhappiness. However, 1999 marked the formal beginning of the disci- pline of positive psychology with the publication of a series of articles that addressed pos- itive experiences, positive personality, and the social context for positive feelings (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Positive psychology is the scientific investigation of possible factors that promote people, groups, and institutions to function at their best (Gable & Haidt, 2005). These factors may provide people with a prescription for what is good for them. For example, how should students spend their discretionary income, which is what remains after paying for tuition, books, and lodging? One piece of advice is that greater happiness ensues when money is spent on experiences, such as concerts, sporting events, and movies, rather than on material possessions, such as televisions and clothes (Van Boven, 2005).
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Original Population Evolved Population
The percentage of slow-running cheetahs in the population has been reduced to near zero because they were not fast enough to catch their prey.
Slow Running Speed
The percentage of medium-fast cheetahs has remained constant in the population because they were just fast enough to catch the slowest prey.
Medium Running Speed
The percentage of fast cheetahs has increased in the population because they were fast enough to catch more of the prey they pursued.
Fast Running Speed
FIGURE 2.1 Variation and Selection in Evolution. The percentage of slow-, medium-, and fast- running cheetahs changes over succeeding generations. Slow-running cheetahs decrease in the pop- ulation because they are not fast enough to catch even the slowest prey. Medium-fast cheetahs hold their own, since they can catch the slowest prey. Fast-running cheetahs increase in the population because they can catch a greater amount of the prey they pursue.
Evolution and Motivation Recall from Chapter 1 that evolutionary psychology attempts to understand current human behavior by relating it to our evolutionary past (Buss, 2005; Cosmides & Tooby, 2005). Evolutionary psychology assumes that humans are born with existing motives or are dis- posed to develop motives that prompt behaviors beneficial for survival. But how did these motives and dispositions originate? The answer to these questions come from one of the most influential theories ever devised to help us understand motivation.
Charles Darwin. Do hedonism and a sensitivity toward utility occur in all animals and humans? Is this universal? Would the bases for these psychological traits have evolved over millions of years? Charles Darwin, as one of the originators of a theory of evolution, introduced two concepts in his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859/1936) that may answer these questions. Variation means that different values of a par- ticular trait vary in frequency in the population. Selection means that certain trait values are selected for by the environment and aid survival (Endler, 1986). The evolution of the run- ning speed of cheetahs is an example (see Figure 2.1). Cheetahs vary in running speed: slow, medium, and fast. The ability of a cheetah to obtain food depends, in part, on how fast it runs. When all their prey are slow, all cheetahs are able to eat. Even the slowest cheetah is
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fast enough to run after the slowest prey. However, if all the slow prey are eaten, then only faster-running cheetahs will survive, since only they are going to be able to catch the remain- ing faster-running prey. Thus, the faster-running prey select for faster-running cheetahs and select against slower-running cheetahs. Consequently, faster-running cheetahs have a greater chance of survival than slower-running cheetahs, since the faster-running cheetahs are more likely to capture the prey they need for food. Darwin (1859/1936) also reasoned that phys- ical traits are inherited. Thus, the physical equipment for fast running, such as powerful muscles, strong heart, and lung capacity, is transmitted to succeeding generations.
Darwin also introduced the concept of population thinking, which refers to the idea that every individual in a population is different (Mayr, 2001). Thus, rather than emphasize the similarity among people, population thinking emphasizes that each individual is unique. An implication of population thinking is that any motivational element does not apply equally to all individuals much like the average size shoe does not fit everyone. In psychol- ogy, population thinking translates into the area of individual differences, such as psycho- logical needs (Chapter 8) and personality traits (Chapter 9). For example, people vary in their need to belong and thus each person expends different amounts of effort in order to affiliate with others. People also vary in personality traits. For instance, more extraverted individuals might expend additional effort to attend parties than less extraverted individuals would.
Herbert Spencer. As described earlier, Spencer stated that pleasurable behavior benefitted life while painful behavior did not. Spencer believed that this function of pain and pleasure re- sulted from evolution (see Table 2.1). Suppose there was variation in the amount of pleasure or discomfort produced by a particular behavior and that this behavior is important for the sur- vival of the organism. Pain and pleasure become selecting agents for those behaviors, much like fast-running prey selects for fast-running cheetahs. Pleasure selected behaviors that promoted survival value while pain selected behaviors that protected the organism from harm. For example, fear may have evolved as a motive to avoid dangerous animals.
Assume that a child’s level of fear increases the closer a dangerous-looking animal approaches. However, the extent to which fear develops varies. Children who become eas- ily afraid are more likely to avoid dangerous creatures and survive. Children who develop little fear may draw closer to these creatures, which might result in their harm. For another illustration, consider the fact that spoiled food produces a bitter taste, while nutritious food has a more pleasing taste. Young infants prefer a sweet taste over a bitter taste and are there- fore more likely to eat nutritious food and reject spoiled food (Steiner, 1977). If this ability and preference had not evolved, then infants would accept food indiscriminately, including that which produces potentially life-threatening diarrhea and dehydration.
Instincts. Hedonism can motivate a variety of behaviors. Other motivational sources, however, provide the impetus for only a limited class of behaviors. Instinct, for instance, is an internal stimulus that induces a specific pattern of behavior in a species. It is considered to be an inherited disposition that shows itself as behavior in the presence of a limited range of stimuli. Instincts are characteristic of an entire species, are influenced little (if at all) by learning, and have survival value for the organism (Fletcher, 1966). Although instincts are evoked by external stimuli, early psychologists considered them responsible for energizing or powering the muscles into a fixed pattern of behavior. One early proponent of human instincts was William James (1890/1950), who emphasized that the impulse to action was an important component of instinct. William McDougall (1908), another popularizer of the
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idea of instincts, also felt they were the principal instigators of human behavior and that without instinct humans would be incapable of any type of action. James (1890/1950) postulated 38 instincts, which ranged from sucking, crying, and smiling to play, jealousy, and love. An important characteristic of instincts for James was that “instincts are implanted for the sake of giving rise to habits” (p. 402). In order for a particular behavior pattern to become habitual, it is helpful if the behavior already occurs naturally. To illustrate, walking is the most efficient way for humans (without disabilities) to get around, and it is probably much easier for a child to learn to walk if it is instinctive to do so. Even before a child is able to walk on its own, a young infant will make reflexive walking movements (not under volun- tary control) when it is held upright with its feet touching the floor (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1989).
The idea of instincts as a source of motivation eventually lost popularity in psychol- ogy for several reasons (Fletcher, 1966). One was that the list of instincts became quite long. It could conceivably reach the point where every behavioral act would be the result of an instinct. The second reason was that some instincts appear contradictory, such as fear versus curiosity. Where does curiosity end and fear begin, for example, when entering an aban- doned house in a secluded woods? Finally, it was very difficult to determine if instincts were truly innate and occurred without the benefit of any experience or whether all behavior was the result of experience no matter how little. Perhaps walking by a child is not instinctive but is learned from example, by imitating the walking of the mother or father.
Current Trends. Some psychologists are trying to understand the instinctive nature of smiles and laughter in terms of their survival value. Laughter occurs in all humans and be- gins very early in a child’s life. These two characteristics suggest that laughter comes from our evolutionary past (Weisfeld, 1993). One survival benefit is that laughter aids children in mastering their social environment by responding to incongruities, such as word play and social, sexual, and aggressive topics. Laughter resulting from being tickled also provides benefits. Tickling promotes adult-child interaction, and laughter is a way for the child to re- ward the tickler. Another survival benefit is that the act of tickling, in turn, provides the child with practice for defending vulnerable body parts. As the child becomes older and these skills are developed, she becomes less ticklish. Finally, laughter is a social lubricant that helps maintain social interaction among individuals (Weisfeld, 1993).
Unconscious Motivation Another historical theme in the analysis of motivation is the role of awareness. A person may explain a raid on the refrigerator by saying, “I was hungry” or explain her choice of a particular movie by stating, “My favorite actor was in it.” In these examples, the person is aware of the motives for her behavior. Yet there are instances when the motives and incen- tives for some actions are tacit or are incorrectly stated (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977). Inacces- sibility to one’s motives characterizes unconscious motivation.
Freud’s Conscious-Unconscious Distinction. Sigmund Freud (1920/1943) described a very influential theory of unconscious motivation in his book A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. According to Freud, awareness results when motives have entered con- sciousness from either the preconscious or the unconscious. Using two rooms as a metaphor (see Figure 2.2), the preconscious part of a person’s mental apparatus is represented by the small room, which contains thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories. A person’s “consciousness as a spectator” (p. 261) resides in this small room and serves as the focusIS
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Contains: mental excitations, instinctual impulses, repressed thoughts
Contains: thoughts, feelings, sensations,
Eye of the conscious
FIGURE 2.2 Freud’s Concept of Motivation. Freud used two adjoining rooms separated by a doorway as a metaphor for his unconscious and preconscious motivation. Unconscious thoughts and impulses reside in the large room and try to enter the preconscious by slipping by the censor, who is standing guard between the two rooms. Thoughts and impulses in the smaller room of the preconscious compete for the attention of the conscious.
of awareness. The large room represents the unconscious “in which the various mental excitations are crowding upon one another, like individual beings” (p. 260). This part of the mental apparatus is unavailable to a person. It contains instinctual impulses, repressed thoughts, and other mental stimuli. For material to proceed from the large room (unconscious) to the small adjoining room (preconscious), it must pass through the doorway separating the two rooms. Here stands a door keeper or censor who determines what mental excitations are allowed entry into the room of the preconscious. If some mental events have gained entry, then they may yet be driven out if found to be unacceptable or anxiety provoking. Freud uses the term repression to refer to those mental excitations that have made it to the doorway and have been turned back by the door keeper. This makes them incapable of becoming conscious. Freud (1915b) conceived repression as a means of protecting us from the unpleasure that would result if we became aware of some of the impulses residing in our unconscious. The idea of unplea- sure means that the instinct might produce anxiety, embarrassment, or punishment from oth- ers. Under certain circumstances, however, these instinctual needs can reach awareness in jokes, dreams, slips of the tongue, and neuroses (Freud, 1920, 1920/1943). However, if men- tal events cross the threshold into the small room (preconscious), it does not mean that an in- dividual is automatically aware of them. A person only becomes aware of these mental excitations or thoughts if they attract “the eye of consciousness” (Freud, 1920/1943, p. 260).
Motivational Instincts and the Unconscious. Motivation for Freud was based on the satisfaction of unconscious instinctual impulses (Freud, 1915a). Originating in the body, instincts reach consciousness, where they exert pressure, which is really their demand for satisfaction. The aim or goal of every instinctual need is for the reduction of this pressure.
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The object of the instinct is the incentive that allows the instinct to meet its aim. The object can be external or can be a body part providing for the reduction of the instinctual need. The source of the instinct is the body part or perhaps a chemical change in the brain from which the instinct originates. However, we are only aware of the aim or goal of the instinct in our mind (Freud, 1915a). According to Freud (1924), there are three groups of instincts. Sexual or life instincts are those that operate to maintain and transfer life to successive generations. Death instincts, in contrast, manifest themselves as aggressive and destructive impulses. Sexual and death instincts mix and fuse together in living creatures but also compete for supremacy so that at times one instinct and then the other is dominant. A third type includes the ego or self-preservation instincts. Freud saw motivation as an increase and decrease of instinctual excitation invading our minds. An increase in excitation produces unpleasure (pain), and a decrease produces pleasure. The ultimate pleasure is to keep excitation as low as possible or at least keep it constant. Low excitation is the aim of the death instinct. Yet Freud (1920, 1924) recognized that people also experience pleasure from an increase in excitation, such as that occurring with heightened sexual tension and its sudden release. He theorized that there were instances when tension could be pleasurable and that the lowering of tension in some cases could be painful (Freud, 1924).
Satisfying Unconscious Impulses. Much of Freud’s writing is concerned with the satis- faction of instinctual needs that may be considered socially unacceptable or even personally unacceptable. An example of an unacceptable impulse is a “desire to see the organs pecu- liar to each sex exposed” (Freud, 1905, p. 98). Many of our sexual and aggressive instincts, for example, are repressed because awareness of them would produce anxiety or social pun- ishment. Thus, much of Freud’s theorizing concerned how these unacceptable instinctual needs are reduced and satisfied. In Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1905), Freud describes humor as one way of satisfying instinctual impulses. Consider his riddles: “What is a cannibal who has eaten his father and his mother?—An orphan.—And if he has eaten all his other relations as well?—The sole heir.—And where will a monster of that kind find sympathy?—In the dictionary under ‘S’” (p. 153). Laughing at these riddles results in a partial satisfaction of the death instinct, which is preferable to actually committing a mur- der. The death and sex instincts can be satisfied by laughing at jokes containing aggressive and sexual themes. Since such aggressive thoughts and acts can be anxiety provoking, they are subject to repression in order to prevent their awareness. However, through the joking process, these instinctual needs can get around repression to some degree and express them- selves, thus offering some satisfaction. A second source of pleasure in jokes lies in saving the energy that is expended in repression. Since the repressed impulse is manifested mo- mentarily in the joke, there is a corresponding savings in psychic energy. The energy used for repression is now no longer needed and can thus be expended in other ways, such as laughing at the joke (Freud, 1905).
Dreams are another way instinctual impulses are satisfied. During sleep there is a relaxation of censorship, and so it is easier for unconscious impulses to enter into conscious- ness. Even during sleep, however, according to Freud, the unconscious impulse undergoes some censorship whereby the impulse is disguised. The reason for the censorship is that it protects our sleep from being disturbed. If the dream were too real we would be awakened. The actual dream, as reported, is known as the manifest content, while the unconscious impulses the dream represents are known as the latent content. Sticks, umbrellas, knives,
and guns are manifestations of the penis, according to Freud. Ships, caves, jars, and boxes are manifestations of the vagina. “The act of mounting ladders, steep places, or stairs is indubitably symbolic of sexual intercourse. On closer reflection we shall notice that the rhythmic character of this climbing is the point in common between the two, and perhaps also the accompanying increase in excitation—the shortening of breath as the climber ascends” (Freud, 1920/1943, p. 141). Thus, dreams about sex, even when disguised, allow for the satisfaction of our sexual urges (Freud, 1915b, 1920/1943).
Current Trends. Unconscious motivation in Freud’s theory favors a push orientation. The aim of an instinct is to reduce the pressure that is felt much like the aim of hunger is to push a person to reduce feelings of hunger. However, because instincts reside in the uncon- scious, individuals are not aware of the source of these pushing effects. They are only aware of being pushed. Current research trends on unconscious motivation, however, have em- phasized a pull rather than push orientation. Goals are in the unconscious or below the level of awareness. When goals are activated into consciousness they are then acted on. For exam- ple, suppose during class your professor says “check to see that your cell phone is off.” You did not hear your professor because your were talking to your neighbor. Several minutes later, for no reason that you could discern, you check your cell phone. In this example, check cell phone reached consciousness in the form of a goal on which you acted. However, you were not aware of how it reached consciousness.
The previous example illustrates automaticity, or automatic processes which refer to external events controlling mental processes without a person being aware what events were responsible (Bargh & Barndollar, 1996; Bargh & Chartrand, 1999; Bargh & Williams, 2006). An automatic process refers to behavior that is carried out with little conscious control or awareness. For example, a person drives the same route to school or work with little conscious awareness, control, and effort—in effect, being on automatic pilot. According to these re- searchers, the perception of a person or situation can trigger a behavior-relevant intention.This intention, in turn, is linked to actual behavior. This whole chain occurs automatically, without the person being consciously aware of what triggered her intention and subsequent behavior.
Internal Sources of Motivation A wheel rolls because it has the feature of being round. A rock sinks and wood floats be- cause of the nature of their structure or composition. Could these objects respond to their environments any other way? Similarly, how animals and humans respond to their environ- ment may depend partly on their internal structure—that is, on such internal sources of push motivation as drives and needs.
Drive Concept . In his book Dynamic Psychology, Woodworth (1918) distinguishes be- tween mechanism and drive. Mechanism refers to how we do something, while drive refers to what induced us to do it. To help explain the relationship between the two, consider the mechanism that drives a bicycle. Your bicycle is leaning against a tree, not moving, for the obvious reason that no power has been applied to make it move. If you get on your bicycle and push on the pedals, then this drives the front sprocket, the chain, the rear sprocket, and finally the rear wheel. The bicycle moves. For Woodworth (1918), drive is the power you applied to the pedals, which sets a series of mechanisms in motion from movement of the front sprocket to movement of the rear wheel. In some instances a stimulus drives behavior as
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long as the stimulus is present and ceases when the stimulus is removed. Woodworth uses the knee jerk reflex as an example. A tap below the knee drives the sensory neuron, which drives the motor neuron and then the thigh muscles, causing the leg to jerk. The instant this is accomplished, the behavior ceases, since the stimulus is no longer present. In other in- stances, however, when the external stimulus ceases, the drive tendency is still present. Woodworth uses the example of a hunting dog trailing prey. The end point for the dog is finding the prey, and this drives the dog to follow the trail with its nose. If the trail is lost, the dog is driven to search for it so as to eventually achieve its goal. Thus, even though the stimulus of the scent is momentarily broken, the behavior does not cease, as it would with a reflex. Hunger and thirst drives that result from food and water deprivation persist until the goals of eating and drinking have been accomplished. Drive is the initial inducement of behavior and remains in effect in some part of the mechanism. That is, it remains in some part of our nervous system until behavior eventually results. Research on drive focused on drive as the deprivation of some incentive. Warden (1931), for example, used rats to deter- mine the relative strength of various drives, such as the maternal, thirst, hunger, sex, and exploratory drives. Figure 1.3 shows the effects of thirst drive on the speed by which rats begin to run toward a water incentive.
Psychological Needs. Psychological need was an early motivational concept similar to drive. Whereas drive was often viewed as the result of deprivation of some incentive, need was considered to be an inherent characteristic of humans. While different levels of drive could be experimentally manipulated within an animal, need was assumed to already exist in different amounts in individuals. Need intensity was thus measured via some scale, ques- tionnaire, or projective test (see Chapter 8). Georges Le Roy (1764/1974) claimed the existence of the need for food, clothing, shelter, love, external stimulation, and rest. The psy- chologist Henry Murray (1938) formalized the study of needs and concluded that they are a major source of human motivation. According to Murray, primary needs, or viscerogenic needs, are physiological in nature and are characterized by bodily satisfaction. These would include the need for air, water, food, sex, lactation, urination, rest and sleep, defecation, and physical stimulation and the need to avoid harm, noxious stimuli, heat, and cold. Secondary needs, or psychogenic needs, are concerned with mental or emotional satisfaction and depend on or are derived from primary needs. Murray considered that all needs are hypo- thetical processes referring “to an organic potentiality or readiness to respond in a certain way under given conditions” (p. 61). Once instigated, a need will persist as an electrical chemical process in the brain, which corresponds to a feeling of desire. Behaviors instigated by need cease when the goal of satisfying the specific need has been achieved. Needs can be evoked by an internal physiological process but also by environmental demands, which are either to be approached or avoided. To illustrate: a person’s need for affiliation is brought on by the presence of other people and causes him to seek out individuals to be with.
Murray (1938) postulated the existence of some 22 psychogenic needs. Table 2.2 defines six of his needs that are still of interest today along with sample statements from different scales he used to measure the level of each need.
Current Trends. Psychologists have not stopped with Murray’s psychological needs or motives. Instead additional motives are being formulated. In a review of motives formulated in the last decade of the 20th century, Pittman (1998) describes some newer ones that are of interest to psychologists. For example, the need for closure refers to a person’s preference
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TABLE 2.2 Six of Murray’s Needs and Sample Statements from Murray’s Psychological Insight Test
Instructions: Read each statement carefully and make up your mind whether it is more or less for you than it is for the average. Use the following rating scale:
Below average ��3, �2,�1 Above average ��1, �2, �3
Achievement To accomplish difficult tasks, surpass self and others Sample statement: “I am driven to ever greater efforts by an unslaked ambition.”
Affiliation To approach others, win their affection; to remain loyal to friends Sample statement: “I am in my element when I am with a group of people who enjoy life.”
Autonomy To be independent and free, to resist coercion Sample statement: “I am unable to do my best work when I am in a subservient position.”
Dominance To control your environment, to influence and direct others Sample statement: “I enjoy organizing or directing the activities of a group—team, club, or committee.”
Order To put things in order, to organize, to be neat and clean Sample statement: “I know what I want to say without having to fumble about for the right word.”
Understanding To ask questions, seek answers, to analyze events, to enjoy using theory, logic, reason Sample statement: “I enjoy reflection and speculation as much as anything.”
Source: Adapted from Explorations in Personality by H. A. Murray, 1938, New York: Oxford University Press.
for a nonambiguous conclusion. The motive to survive refers to the knowledge that one’s life will eventually end and that everything possible must be done to postpone death. How- ever, whenever a new psychological need is formulated, it must be evaluated carefully to determine if it aids our understanding of behavior. Otherwise, the list of psychological needs could become quite long, thereby decreasing their explanatory power. As a conse- quence, the idea of needs may decline in popularity and be abandoned, as did the focus on in- stincts early in the 20th century. Pittman (1998) proposes that various minor psychological needs or motives are derivable from a few basic ones.
A very basic psychological need is one that should be shared by all people. An example would be existential concerns about life’s most basic challenges (Koole et al., 2006). Existential concerns become paramount as a consequence of some tragic event, such as a death, illness, accident, natural disasters, or acts of war. They cause people to ask questions about why this happened, what it means, and make them change the course of their lives in profound ways. There are five major existential concerns that can moti- vate people in different ways. A concern about one’s own death promotes a desire to main- tain life. A concern with isolation emphasizes that we have a need to associate with others rather than be isolated and be unable to share meaningful experiences. Identity concerns deal with self-insight, a person’s role in the world, and the boundaries between the self and others. A concern with freedom questions the extent a person has free will and is respon- sible for his or her actions versus being controlled by external factors. A final concern involves the question of whether life has meaning or if it is a series of randomly occurring events that are without meaning (Koole et al., 2006). It may be possible that many psycho- logical needs are derivable from these five existential concerns. For example, a need for
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2 4 6 8 10 11 12 14 16 18 20 22
32 No food Food Food available Food removed
FIGURE 2.3 Incentive Change and Performance. When a food incentive becomes available on trial 11, there is a sudden decrease in the number of errors rats made in traversing a maze.
Source: From “Introduction and Removal of Reward, and Maze Performance in Rats” by E. C. Tolman and C. H. Honzik, 1930, University of California Publications in Psychology, 4, figure 4. Copyright 1930 The Regents of the University of California.
safety comes from a concern about death. Affiliation and belonging needs are derived from a concern about isolation. Concerns about freedom promote a need for autonomy.
External Sources of Motivation Even though a person may know how to do something, this does not mean she will. A person might say, “I know how to make my bed but why do it?” A reason for doing something is provided by incentives, which are external stimuli that attract or repel an individual (e.g., anticipated rewards or punishers). Tolman and Honzik (1930) provided one of the first demonstrations that the presence or absence of an incentive affects the motivation of be- havior. First, they had rats experience a maze for 10 trials with or without a food incentive in the goal box. Then, on the 11th trial, the incentive conditions remained the same for some rats, but for others the incentive conditions were switched.
Their results in Figure 2.3 show that the number of errors the rats made in traversing the maze depended on experience gained over trials and on the presence or absence of the food incentive or reward. The fewest number of errors per trial occurred for the continuous reward group (i.e., “food”), which benefitted from the food incentive on every trial. The most errors were made by the continuous nonreward group (i.e., “no food”), which never benefitted from the food incentive on any trial. The motivational benefits of the incentive are most apparent for the other two groups when a reward was suddenly introduced or re- moved. In Figure 2.3, when food became available on trial 11 for the nonreward-reward group (i.e., “food available”), there was a rapid drop in the number of errors. When food suddenly disappeared on trial 11 for the reward-nonreward group (i.e., “food removed”), there was a rapid increase in the number of errors. Thus, the number of errors changed as the incentive changed.
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External and Internal Sources Induce Behavior The motivation of behavior depends on both internal and external sources. Feelings of pleasure, instincts, drives, and psychological needs are internal sources of motivation, while positive and negative incentives are external sources. To induce behavior, however, both sources are necessary; either one alone will not do it. Two early psychologists from rather diverse fields were quite aware of this point. Carl Warden and the Columbia University group were animal psychologists who used rats to verify the necessity of combining internal and external sources for motivation. Kurt Lewin, however, was a Gestalt psychologist who relied on research in human motivation to illustrate this point.
Warden’s Incentive-Drive Link. Warden (1931) delineated the difference between inter- nal and external sources of motivation based on his work with rats. For Warden, motivation involved both internal or drive factors and external or incentive factors. Drive was an aroused action tendency that resulted from deprivation and led the animal to seek out the appropriate incentive. An incentive was an external object that also operates to arouse some internal physiological state or tendency on the part of the organism to approach or avoid it. Warden’s incentive-drive concept holds that drives and incentives match up, like hunger matches with food, thirst with water, and curiosity with novel stimuli. These incentive-drive matchups mean that drive is “a reaction tendency directed toward an incentive” (Warden, 1931, p. 15) and that both are necessary for motivating behavior.
Animal psychologists, using the Columbia Obstruction Box, determined how many times a rat would cross an electrified grid (obstruction) in order to reach the incentive of which the animal had been deprived. For example, following deprivation, how many electri- fied grid crossings will the rat make for food or water, a sex partner, or the opportunity to explore a complex maze? A greater number of grid crossings point to a stronger incentive- drive match. There were two major findings. First, as drive increases, so does the number of grid crossings. Second, as incentive delay increases, the number of grid crossings decreases. In one experiment, Warner (1928/1931) deprived rats of food from zero to eight days and then determined how many grid crossings they would make for a food incentive. The results in Figure 2.4a (for zero to four days of deprivation) show that as the hunger drive increased, the number of grid crossings increased and then leveled off. In an experiment on incentive delay, Hamilton (1929/1931) determined the number of grid crossings hungry rats made for food that was delayed zero to 180 seconds after reaching the other side. The results in Figure 2.4b show that as food incentive delay increased, the number of grid crossings decreased.
Lewin’s Field Theory. Lewin (1936, 1938) postulated psychological force as a way of accounting for internal and environmental sources of motivation. According to Lewin’s (1936) field theory, human action takes place within a person’s life space, which is the per- son’s current internal and external environment. The life space contains objects and possi- ble activities of which a person is aware and which attract or repel him. For instance, you may be aware of reading this book, that you are hungry, and that you have a date at a pizza restaurant later today. Forces or motivational factors within the life space cause a person to move from one object or activity to another. Objects or activities that have positive valence attract the individual; they are approached or wanted. Objects that have negative valence repel the individual; they are avoided or not wanted. Lewin (1938, p. 160) cites the Tolman and Honzik results (see Figure 2.3) as an example of the effects of incentive valence on
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Days of Food Deprivation
0 2 3 4
FIGURE 2.4a Drive and Performance. As the number of days of food deprivation increases, rats make more crossings of an electrified grid in order to obtain food.
Source: From “A Study of Hunger Behavior in the White Rat by Means of the Obstruction Method” in C. J. Warden, Ed., Animal Motivation (table 3), 1931, New York: Columbia University Press.
Delay of Incentive (seconds)
0 15 60 18030
FIGURE 2.4b Incentive Delay and Performance. As the length of the delay for a food incen- tive increases, the number of electrified grid crossings made by hungry rats decreases.
Source: From “The Effect of Delayed Incentive on the Hunger Drive in the White Rat” in C. J. Warden, Ed., Animal Motivation (table 6), 1931, New York: Columbia University Press.
performance. According to Lewin, humans are also forced from one activity or another de- pending on the valences of those activities. A scheduled exam forces you to keep reading, but as time for your pizza date draws near you will instead be heading for the restaurant. Psychological force depends on both the valence of the incentive and the psychological distance to the incentive. Psychological distance can refer to both time or physical space. Incentive delay illustrates psychological distance in terms of time. In Figure 2.4b, for in- stance, the psychological force of the food incentive to attract a rat decreases the more the
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incentive is delayed. The nearness of a toy to an infant illustrates psychological distance in terms of physical space. An infant may prefer a closer toy over one that is farther away, which to Lewin meant that the preferred toy had a shorter psychological distance (Lewin, 1933). Thus, the more “interesting” your date and the tastier the pizza, the stronger the forces that attract you to this outing. The farther away in time your date is, however, the weaker the force that attracts you to it.
Tension is the term Lewin (1936) used to label a deficit in the person’s internal envi- ronment. Tension can result from an unfulfilled intention, a physiological need, or a psy- chological need. For example, being deprived of food or not knowing the course material well enough to pass an exam puts a student in a state of tension. The result of tension is to instill valence on relevant environmental objects. Tension from hunger increases the posi- tive valence of pizza, and tension from being unprepared increases the negative valence of an exam. When the desired object or incentive is attained, then tension dissipates and the valence of the incentive approaches zero. Combining internal and environmental factors of motivation in Lewin’s (1938) system results in the following formula:
Psychological force = Valence of goal properties; tension in person
Psychological distance between person and goal
(Lewin does not claim this formula is always correct but it is a good approximation to help in remembering the relationship among force, valence, tension, and psychological distance.) Although it is not clear whether valence and tension should be added or multiplied together, what is important is that force or inducement to action depends on both incentive valence or goal activity and tension. Force, however, decreases with psychological distance. Usually, the closer in time an individual is to attaining the incentive, the shorter the psycholog- ical distance. To illustrate the formula: how hard a student is forced to study for an exam depends on how important it is for the student to do well (valence), how unprepared he is at the moment (tension), and how many days away the exam is scheduled (psychological distance).
Current Trends. The results in Figure 2.4 and Lewin’s formula bring out two major aspects of incentive motivation: value and delay. In the case of food, its incentive value in- creases with deprivation (Figure 2.4a) and with amount. However, the value of any incen- tive decreases with delay—that is, how far in the future the incentive becomes available (Figure 2.4b). Incentive delay relates to the future orientation of motivation. People are mo- tivated by the anticipated consequences of what their behavior will bring them either im- mediately or after some delay. Today the effects of delay on incentive value are organized by temporal motivation theory (Steel & König, 2006). In this theory as well as in Lewin’s, incentive value increases with amount and decreases with delay. An added feature of tem- poral motivation theory, however, is that the effects of delay depend upon individual differ- ences. For some individuals incentive value declines steeply with delay while for others it declines slowly. Consider the choice between eating one cookie now versus choosing two cookies for tomorrow. How much the value of two cookies declined when delayed one day determines whether its value is below or above the value of one cookie now. For some in- dividuals the decline is rapid and the two-cookie value falls below the single-cookie value now. These individuals choose to eat one cookie now. For others, the decline is slower and
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the two-cookie value remains above the single-cookie value now. They select the choice of two cookies tomorrow. One type of difference among individuals is how substance abusers differ from non-abusers in the rate at which the value of a non-drug reward declines as it fades into the future. In general, the value of an incentive, such as money, declines faster for substance abusers than for non-abusers (Green & Myerson, 2004; Johnson et al., 2007). Thus, drug abusers are more likely to choose a smaller amount of money available imme- diately while non-abusers are more likely to choose a larger delayed amount. At present, temporal motivation theory is also used to explain procrastination (Steel, 2007). What should a student do this evening: study in anticipation of earning a high exam score tomorrow or procrastinate and watch a movie? According to temporal motivation theory, the interplay between the changes in the value of grades and movies with time explains the student’s choice (see Chapter 10).
Section Recap This section described ways that philosophers and early psychologists explained motiva- tion. First, Aristotle’s four causes are analogous to four sources of motivation: efficient, final, formal, and material.
Ancient philosophers thought hedonism might be an explanation. Hedonism refers to the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain as averaged over the long run. According to Hobbes (1640/1962) and the concept of incentive motivation, positive incentives are ap- proached because they produce pleasant feelings, while negative incentives are avoided be- cause they produce unpleasant feelings. Bentham’s (1789/1970) principle of utility describes behavior as being governed solely by the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain. The util- ity of an object either increases happiness or decreases unhappiness or pain. Freud proposed his pleasure principle, which refers to a person’s pursuit of pleasure. This pursuit was guided by his reality principle, which means that pleasure may have to be postponed until a later, more opportune time. Thorndike (1898) used a cat’s escape from a box to provide an empirical demonstration of hedonism. From his work he formulated his law of effect: be- havior followed by satisfaction is stamped in while behavior followed by dissatisfaction is stamped out. Currently, the law of effect emphasizes the role of observable reinforcers to increase behavior and observable punishers to decrease behavior.
Darwin (1859/1936) was one of the originators of the theory of evolution, which ac- counted for the change in frequency of some physical trait. From variation among traits, the environment selected or favored some traits because they specifically aided in the organ- ism’s survival. Population thinking emphasizes that each individual is unique, which trans- lates into individual differences in psychological needs and personality traits.
According to Spencer (1899), preferring pleasure to pain may be an attribute of liv- ing creatures that has aided their survival. Instinct is an inherited predisposition that has sur- vival value for the animal. It is like an internal stimulus that induces a specific pattern of behavior in a species. Freud relied on instinctual impulses residing in the unconscious to account for motivation. According to Freud, the conscious refers to awareness of thoughts and impulses that are residing in the preconscious, which contains thoughts, feelings, and memories. The unconscious is the part of one’s mental apparatus that is unavailable to the individual and contains instinctual impulses, repressed thoughts, and other mental excita- tions. Anxiety- and shame-provoking impulses and thoughts are prevented from reaching the preconscious or awareness through a process known as repression.
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Currently, automaticity resembles unconscious motivation in that a person is unaware of the origin of a thought, such as the origin of a goal or the associated goal-achievement behavior.
Other internal sources of motivation involve drives and primary and secondary needs. Drive is the internal stimulus that motivates action and remains in effect even after the in- stigating stimulus has been removed. Primary needs have a physiological basis and include the needs for air, food, water, and sex. Secondary needs are derived from primary needs and relate to psychological satisfaction of physiological desires but also to psychological mo- tives, such as achievement and affiliation.
Existential concern is a very basic psychological need that centers around question- ing the meaning and implications of one’s life. Incentives are external stimuli that attract or repel (i.e., anticipated rewards or punishers). Incentive-drive is an important construct link- ing environmental and internal sources of motivation. According to this concept, incentives and drives coordinate so that the appropriate incentive satisfies the corresponding drive, like putting on a sweater alleviates feeling cold. Lewin’s concept of psychological force ties ex- ternal and internal sources of motivation together. Force becomes stronger based on the in- centive valence and tension within the person but weakens as the distance of the incentive increases.
Brief History of Emotion The word emotion has undergone a change in meaning regarding its reference to movement. Initially, it meant movement of a physical phenomenon. For instance, in 1692 Locke wrote of how exercise stirs the emotion of a person’s blood or pulse (see the Oxford English Dictionary). By the 1800s emotion was used in reference to movement of events that were not visible but were inferred (Gillis, 1988).
The purpose of this section is to describe the views of philosophers and early psy- chologists on various aspects of emotion.
Emotion as Subjective Feeling As a state of mind, the subjective “feel” of emotion has been separated from feelings pro- duced by other bodily processes. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 B.C.), mixtures of pain and pleasure could arise solely from the body (such as itches and tickles) or from the body and soul (such as hunger and thirst). Emotions, however, were mixtures arising only in the soul (Fortenbaugh, 1975). For the philosopher Descartes (1649/1968), emotions were feelings but not like those resulting from environmental stimuli (such as smell, sound, or vision) or from internal stimuli (such as hunger or thirst). He also excluded feelings regarding thoughts or intentions. One of the first American psychologists to write eloquently about emotion was William James (1892), who referred to emotions’ subjective part as “mind stuff ” (p. 378). In fact for James, the mind stuff of emotions was our aware- ness of accompanying bodily symptoms. If those were somehow removed from awareness, then the only content remaining would be a cold, neutral state of intellectual perception. For example, what would grief “feel” like if tears, sobs, and “pangs in the heart” were removed? For James there would be no feeling but only a cold cognition about some terrible circum- stance. As part of subjective feeling, Woodworth (1921) added the conscious awareness of the behavioral impulse that accompanies emotion. In his The Laws of Feeling, F. Paulhan
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(1887/1930) claimed that an emotion floods consciousness, thereby directing a person’s attention specifically to the experience.
Basic Emotions The idea that there is a basic set of emotions from which all other emotions can be derived was discussed as early as 300 B.C. Greek philosophers such as Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) and Epicurus (341–271 B.C.) mentioned the basic emotions of joy, fear, envy, love, anger, and hatred, with additional emotions being combinations of these more central ones (Fortenbaugh, 1975; Long & Sedley, 1987). Much later, the 17th-century philosopher René Descartes (1649/1968) devised a similar list of six basic or primitive emotions: wonder, love, hatred, desire, joy, and sadness. In addition, he maintained that the emotion of hope stems from the desire that cer- tain events will happen. Fear, by contrast, is the desire that certain events will not happen. Descartes also provided a possible answer as to why there are more negative than positive emotions. According to Descartes, it is more important to escape and avoid things that may destroy us than to acquire things that are beneficial but not necessary for existence. Indeed, negative emotions are signals of things that are harmful. For example, when afraid it may be wise to run away and increase the likelihood of surviving. Negative emotions can prompt ben- eficial action. For instance, anger may force people to stand up for their rights rather than be- ing taken advantage of. Happiness and joy may be beneficial as well, but they are often not as important for our immediate survival. James (1892), however, disputed the value of trying to categorize emotions. He felt that it was more important to explain why events could produce physiological arousal in the individual and a variety of resulting emotions.
There was also early awareness that certain events and their cognitive interpretation trig- gered emotional experiences. Aristotle reasoned that the thought of imminent danger caused fear, that being unjustly insulted resulted in anger, and that the thought of disgrace brought about shame (Fortenbaugh, 1975). An example of cognitive interpretation is Aristotle’s superiority theory of humor, which was also endorsed by Hobbes (1640/1962). According to this theory, laughter and amusement arise when a person perceives a prominence in him- or herself in comparison to the inferiority of other individuals (Fortenbaugh, 1975).
Emotion as Motive for Action and Thought The impression that emotions serve as motives to push individuals into action is apparent in the writings of early Greek philosophers. Zeno (350–258 B.C.) and Chrysippus (280–206 B.C.) described emotion as providing irrational and excessive impulses (Long & Sedley, 1987). These impulses provide a push for people to act irrationally and without reason or judg- ments, such as when a person acts in anger and regrets it later. This idea that emotions push was continued by Descartes (1649/1968) who wrote “the principal effect of all the passions [emotions] is that they incite and dispose the mind to will the things to which they prepare the body.” As Descartes illustrated, fear wills a person to flee and courage wills a person to fight. This observation by Descartes serves to tie emotions to motivation—that is, emotions are an internal source of motivation that push humans into action toward a specific aim. In one of the first psychology textbooks, Stout (1903) remarks that “the typical varieties of emotion are each connected with certain characteristic directions of conation—trends of activity” (p. 190). Later, Woodworth (1921) repeated this theme, stating that emotion is an impulse toward a specific action or certain result and not just a preparation for action in
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general. Fear is the impulse to flee from danger, while anger is the impulse to strike an of- fending person. Currently, the term action readiness refers to the tendency of an emotion to serve as motive for an action specific to the emotion being experienced (Arnold, 1960; Frijda, 1986, 2007). However, Margaret Washburn (1928), the first woman to receive a PhD in psychology (Scarborough, 1990), challenged this view with her concept of motor ex- plosion. This refers to nonadaptive muscular responses that occur during intense emotion. For example, “jumping for joy” is a motor explosion that seems to have no purpose. Fur- thermore, although emotion can aid thinking, it can also cause mental panic, such as hav- ing “the effect of making our brain whirl” (Washburn, 1928).
Emotion also directs thought. In The Groundwork of Psychology, Stout (1903) posed the consideration that emotion directs our thinking, an idea currently receiving attention from psychologists (Clore, 1994; Frijda, 1994, 2007; Niedenthal & Kitayama, 1994). According to Stout, each emotion revives a certain class of ideas that are congruent with that emotion (see Table 2.3). Thus, depression directs an individual’s mind to the dark side of things, while a cheerful disposition brings forth thoughts of success and progress. When angry, one’s mental meanderings encourage ideas of injury, neglect, or persecution, while fear activates thoughts of danger and insecurity.
Accompaniments of Emotion The early view of emotion was that of a movement of events along physiological channels and facial expressions. It is as if emotions moved a person physiologically and facially, ac- cording to philosophers and early psychologists.
Physiological Arousal. “A broken heart” is an often-used metaphor for disappointment and sadness in popular songs. The heart as the seat of emotion has had a long history. Ac- cording to Aristotle (384–322 B.C.), blood boiling around the heart causes a person to turn red with anger. “The quaking of the heart causes the whole body to quake, following the heart’s motion and from this comes stammering and hesitation in speech,” wrote Luis Vives in Of the Soul and Life (1538/1974). Descartes (1649/1968) also considered bodily mani- festations of emotion to involve changes in the heart and blood flow. The nature of the link between subjective emotions and patterns of physiological arousal began in the writings of Francis Bacon (1627/1974). For him, certain emotions produced their manifestations by arousing the body. Some examples from Descartes and Bacon of subjective emotions and accompanying physiological reactions are given in Table 2.4. For Descartes the subjective
TABLE 2.3 Stout’s View of the Class of Ideas Revived by Emotions
Emotion Idea Revived by Emotion
Joy “success and gratification” Grief “loss and defeat” Fear “danger” Anger “insult and injuries” Jealousy “encroachment of others on . . . our own peculiar possessions”
Source: Adapted from Stout, 1903.
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TABLE 2.4 Ideas on the Physiological Accompaniments of Emotion of Bacon and Descartes
Emotion Physiological Accompaniment
Fear Paleness, trembling, hair erection, startle, screeching Grief Sighing, sobbing, groans, tears, distorted face, grinding of teeth Joy Vigor of eyes, singing, leaping, dancing, at times tears Anger Paleness, blushing, trembling, foaming at mouth Lust Flagrancy in eyes, priapism Love Pulse is fuller and stronger, heat in breast Hate Pulse is feebler and quicker; cold alternates with heat in breast Sadness Pulse is feeble and slow; feel constriction around heart
experience provided the body with useful information on how to act, with physiological arousal being the basis for that action. The physiologist Walter Cannon (1929/1953) later elaborated the view that arousal energizes emotional behavior (e.g., fear energizes running, and anger energizes fighting). For William James (1890/1950) bodily arousal was the source of information for the subjective experience. He maintained that an exciting event produced reflexive bodily changes. An individual’s perception of these changes in con- sciousness is the emotion. Also writing about emotion in the same vein as James was Francis Sumner, who was the first African American in the United States to earn a PhD in psychology (Guthrie, 1998). Sumner (1924) surmised that consciousness registered an ag- gregate of bodily changes in order to generate an emotion. However, a person is unable to state the specific origin of these bodily changes even though they provide for a distinction among different emotions, such as love, fear, and anger. Furthermore, sometimes bodily changes are the same, such as tears of joy or of sorrow. Hence, other bodily information must be available in order for a person to feel these separate emotions.
Facial Expression. It is difficult to conceive of emotional experiences without accom- panying facial expressions. Both Bacon (1627/1974) and Descartes (1649/1968) viewed changes in facial expressions as outward signs of emotion. The social importance of these expressions was elaborated at about the same time by Marin Cureau de La Chambre (1663/1974). He felt that facial expressions of emotions were more likely to occur in the presence of others because of their effects. He reasoned that women and children are quicker to cry in order to make known their need for help when in the presence of others than when alone. Similarly, laughter is more likely to occur in a social setting and is a so- cial instrument that acts to make our feelings known. In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1873), Darwin wrote that the expression of emotion was mostly innate, although some expressions require practice on the part of the individual before they are fully developed. Darwin felt that expression serves to communicate our emotions and “reveal the thoughts and intentions of others more truly than do words” (p. 366). A current debate regarding the relationship between emotion and facial expression is described in Chapter 14. One view is that facial expressions are like indicator dials reflecting our inter- nal subjective emotions (Buck, 1984). Another view is that facial expressions serve more
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as signals to others to satisfy social motives (Fridlund, 1991a, 1992). For example, a sad face means “help me,” while an angry face means “don’t mess with me.”
Current Trends. According to William James (1884/1948), an emotion is synonymous with the subjective awareness of bodily actions. Also, each shade of emotion would have a unique bodily reverberation or its own profile of physiological responses. James’s theory led to a long history of research trying to demonstrate the parallel between emotional feel- ings, on the one hand, and specific activity of the nervous system, on the other. In an early experiment along these lines, Ax (1953) frightened and angered his participants while simultaneously recording heart rate, respiration, face and hand temperature, and electro- dermal (skin conductance) responses. The results were promising for James’s theory. Ax discovered different physiological profiles for anger and fear. Nevertheless, in spite of this early promise, 50 years and many experiments later, psychologists have concluded that discrete emotions “cannot be fully differentiated by visceral activity alone” (Cacioppo et al., 2000, p. 184). Yet the search continues for the parallel between subjective emotional feel- ings and bodily responses.
The search, however, has shifted from the body to the brain. A current research strat- egy is that with the aid of brain imaging technology, attempts are made to identify brain maps that correspond to emotional feelings. The brain map of an emotion would corre- spond to areas in which there is greater activity, such as oxygen and glucose use. Brain im- aging technology is starting to uncover sites that are relevant for processing emotion stimuli that lead to different emotional feelings and accompanying behavior (Barrett & Wager, 2006; Damasio, 2003; Murphy et al., 2003; Phan et al., 2002, 2004; Wager et al., 2003). Perhaps eventually, neuroscientists will discover that each emotional experience will have a unique brain map as James had imagined would be the case with physiological response profiles.
Section Recap Initially, emotion meant observable movement but later it came to mean the unobserved movement of feelings. Currently an emotion consists of the integration of affective feelings, physiological arousal, behavior, and facial expressions. Early philosophers and psycholo- gists formulated a list of basic emotions which, like today, involves more negative than pos- itive emotions. Each emotion was thought to have an accompanying physiological profile but also a set of accompanying thoughts. The appraisal of certain situations was linked to specific emotions. Aristotle and Hobbes, for example, felt that appraising ourselves as superior to others produced amusement and laughter. There are two early interpretations of physiological arousal: providing information for the subjective feel of emotion (according to James) and serving as a readiness for action (according to Cannon). In fact, for philoso- phers emotion provided an impulse to action or a motive for action. The term action readi- ness means that emotions yield tendencies to act in a manner distinctive of a particular emotion in order to fulfill the aim of the emotion. Facial expressions have been interpreted as a way of making our feelings or social intentions known to others. Finally, although each emotion does not have a specific physiological profile, researchers are looking for maps of activated neurons in the brain that would correspond to emotional feelings.
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A C T I V I T I E S
1. According to Socrates (470–399 B.C.), the right choice is one where pleasure exceeds pain. The reason for making the wrong choice is a lack of knowledge. Regret is an example of a wrong choice: pain exceeds pleasure. A person be- lieves initially that her actions will result in more pleasure than pain; when she discovers that pain exceeds pleasure, she experiences regret. Discuss with a fellow student any of your actions that resulted in regret.
a. Did regret occur because pleasure was less than expected, or because pain was greater than expected?
b. Based on your analysis, would you behave the same way again? Explain.
c. In order to “know” the pain and pleasure of one’s actions, is it necessary to feel those sensations?
d. Do you think some people have problems with the law because they do not know or foresee the consequences of their actions?
2. Does your unconscious play while you sleep? Try recording your dreams for several nights in a row. Train yourself to wake up after you have been dreaming for several minutes. Immediately after waking, record your dream on a tape recorder or on a notepad. After analyzing several dreams, do you think Freud was correct that your manifest dream is just a reworking of some latent dream message?