Psi man mascot

Chapter 9: Motivation and Emotion

Part One: Biological Motives

Part Two: Cognitive Motives

Part Three: Maslow's Motivational Psychology

Part Four: Emotions


Overview of Chapter 9: Motivation and Emotion

Motivation is the study of the activation, direction, intensity, and duration of behavior. That covers a broad territory!

Why do you make the decisions you make? Why do you devote time to some activities rather than others? That is the question of what activates and directs behavior, providing the push to move toward goals.

The dominant approach to motivation in the 1940s was the theory of Clark Hull. Hull's theory was rigid, self-consciously scientific, and formalized using the behavioral stimulus-response theories of his day.

Hull's theory was incredibly ambitious, presenting itself as an explanation for all behavior of all species. It ultimately failed at this. By the 1950s, Hull's theory was in decline.

Psychologists rushed to offer alternatives. The study of motivation entered its most fruitful period with a variety of proposals for different types and categories of motives.

In one respect, Hull's theory was a lot like Freud's theory. It was rejected as psychology entered a more modern era, but it was important as a historical force. It is worth studying to understand what came after it and why.

How does motivation relate to our ongoing theme of the creative brain? Motivation is about how creative powers are channeled and directed. This relates to all our accomplish­ments, great and small.

Motivation is about how we shape up and maintain our bodies. It is about reaching down deep during times of stress. It is about being there for a person who needs support, or working to further human welfare.

Motivation is also about the need for existential meaning. Motivational factors are relevant to all the creative energies and impulses that carry us through life.

How this chapter is organized

We start with biological motives, featuring an overview of Hull's theory emphasizing his use of the homeo­stasis concept. Then we relate this same concept to the topic of weight control and fat regulation.

After discussing hunger and thirst we move to acquired motives motivated by pursuing pleasure avoiding pain. This includes the phenomena of addiction (described by Solomon's opponent process theory). From this we move to a discussion of motivational conflicts and stress-induced behavior.

As Hull's theory declined in the 1950s, it was replaced by a concern for psychological or cognitive motives. These include the need to feel competent; to explore and gain knowledge, and to maintain a feeling of consistency and control in one's actions.

Cognitive motivations also lead us to strive for achievements, aesthetic satisfactions, and feelings of freedom. The concept of a need for freedom or "psychological reactance" leads us to a discussion of reverse psychology.

Next we take an extended look at the work of Abraham Maslow. Maslow attempted to deal with motives that might be called existential or spiritual motives. These are among the most complex, powerful, and compelling of human motives.

Motivation is intimately related to emotion. Events that inspire strong positive or negative emotions are events that motivate us.

In the last portion of the chapter we consider the classic theories of emotion and modern research on emotional expression. This includes recent research shedding a light on brain circuits and ways of thinking involved in positive and negative emotions.

Related Topics in Other Chapters

Instinct and similar biological imperatives are discussed as action patterns or motor programs in Chapter 8 (Animal Behavior and Cognition). Freud's ideas about unconscious motives are discussed in Chapter 11 and again in Chapter 13. The idea that stress should be studied under the heading of emotion is discussed in the section on Stress in Chapter 14 (Frontiers of Psychology).

Attribution and locus of control are described in Chapter 15 (Social Psychology) in the section on Social Cognition. The drive for friendship, sexual relationships, and love are discussed in Chapter 16 (Sex, Friendship, and Love).


Write to Dr. Dewey at psywww@gmail.com.


Don't see what you need? Psych Web has over 1,000 pages, so it may be elsewhere on the site. Do a site-specific Google search using the box below.