Emotion and Motivation
Edited by Brian Parkinson and Andrew M. Colman
1995, London and New York: Longman. Pp. xvi + 107. ISBN 0-582-27808-2. [Polish edition: Parkinson, B. & Colman, A. M. (Eds). (1999). Emocje i motywacja (I. Sowa, Trans.). Poznan: Zysk i S-ka Wydawnictwo. Pp. 140. ISBN 83-7150-696-1]
Notes on editors and contributors
Series editor's preface
Brian Parkinson University of Leicester, England
2 Hunger and Appetite
John E. Blundell and Andrew J. Hill University of Leeds, England
3 Social Motivation
Russell G. Geen University of Missouri, USA
4 Sexual Motivation and Behaviour
John Bancroft MRC Reproductive Biology Unit, Scotland
5 Stress and Coping
Robert J. Gatchel University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, USA
Brian Parkinson and Andrew M. Colman
Among the many possible ways of classifying human
mental functions, one of the most widely accepted (e.g., Hilgard, 1980) defines
three separate areas of cognition (thinking), affect (feeling),
and conation (willing). Emotion is one of the most important and
thoroughly explored forms of affect, and motivation is essentially just a new
name for conation, therefore this volume might be seen, from one angle at least,
as spanning almost two thirds of psychology. According to a simpler
classification, the two basic operations of the mind relate to knowledge
and desire, and emotion and motivation both belong mainly in the latter
category. In many ways, this two-way classification reflects more accurately how
contemporary psychology draws its boundaries, with cognition on one side and
whatever cognition excludes, including emotion and motivation, on the other,
almost by default.
What do emotion and motivation have in common? Both load high on intensity or energy rather than direction or information in the terms of Duffy's (1962) interpretation of the knowledge-desire dichotomy. Intuitively, both seem characterized by heat and pressure (cf. Kövecses, 1990) in contrast the apparent coldness of cognition. Both move us in some way, as implied by the common Latin root of both words (movere, to move). But these metaphors do not get us very far with a scientific understanding of the phenomena in question; more important are the underlying processes.
Emotion and motivation both depend on the relationship between the organism and its environment. In the case of emotion, the emphasis is on the evaluative aspect of this relationship: how the situation makes the person feel; in the case of motivation, it is how the individual acts with respect to the situation that is of interest (Kuhl, 1986). There are obvious links between emotion and motivation, because situational evaluations largely determine action priorities: liking implies affinity or attraction and disliking repulsion. In other words, emotions are often precursors of motivational phenomena; they signal our inclinations to act in particular ways towards specified portions of the environment (e.g., Oatley, 1992).
Correspondingly, if our efforts lead us to attain an intended goal we tend to evaluate this outcome positively, and if our actions are thwarted the resulting emotion tends to be negative (cf. Carver & Scheier, 1990). Emotions may thus serve partly as rewards or punishments for motivated behaviour. Much of human activity may in fact be driven by affect-regulatory goals of one form or another: we often do things because we anticipate that they will make us feel better in some way (e.g., Thayer, Newman, & McClain, 1994). Furthermore, having performed an action that results in pleasant affective consequences, we are more likely to behave similarly in the future, according to simple principles of reinforcement. But hedonism of this kind cannot account for all varieties of motivational phenomena, because it is apparent that we also strive towards more abstract ends such as mastery or understanding. Although some theorists believe that the pleasure principle is indirectly at work even in these cases, satisfaction is sometimes deferred almost indefinitely.
Motivation encompasses a range of interlocking processes, including biologically defined urges and desires, acquired affinities and aversions, and the implementation of conscious intentions. A complete explanation of any motivational phenomenon always includes reference to an interaction of both internal and external factors, and to instinct as well as learning, although obviously different factors may be relatively more important in different cases.
This book covers a variety of motivational phenomena including many that relate specifically to emotion and emotion-regulation. In each case, the contributions of both biological and social variables and the interrelation of environmental and personal factors is considered. Although the diversity of processes associated with motivation and emotion is too great to permit any simple overarching explanatory framework, enough representative examples are included here to provide a general picture of these phenomena.
Brian Parkinson's chapter 1 gives a general background to the psychology of emotion. The concept is introduced by cataloguing examples of emotions (love, anger, fear, and so on), by exploring the internal constitution of emotional reactions, and finally by contrasting emotion with cognition. Emotion is conceived as a syndrome of more or less integrated components usually including the following four factors: cognitive appraisals, bodily reactions, action tendencies, and expressive movements.
The component closest to the core of the emotional syndrome is appraisal -- the process whereby the personal significance of the current encounter with the environment is interpreted and evaluated (e.g., Smith & Lazarus, 1993). Appraisal largely determines the quality and intensity of experienced emotion and carries direct implications for motivation. For example, if you appraise a situation as one in which something untoward has occurred as a consequence of someone else's action or neglect, and if this outcome is of sufficient importance to you, then the immediate result is likely to be the emotion of anger. Being angry usually involves a felt urge to hit out at the perpetrator either literally or metaphorically, which may be expressed by baring the teeth and adopting a forward-leaning posture. This state of action readiness (Frijda, 1986) may also be manifested in preparatory physiological adjustments designed mainly to mobilize metabolic energy; thus appraisal of personal concerns leads inexorably to motivational tendencies.
To the extent that appraisal is a cognitive process, the account just offered suggests that emotions are closely related to cognitions. However, from an intuitive point of view and in terms of the trichotomy of mental operations mentioned above, these two faculties are quite separate. This paradox arises because, although the experiences of feeling and thinking are obviously distinct, the psychological processes underlying them are continually interacting, in much the same way as emotional and motivational mechanisms are often hard to untangle in ongoing encounters.
Chapter 2 by Blundell and Hill deals with hunger, the feeling associated with a desire for food, and appetite, the basic motivation underlying eating. Although eating is essential for biological survival, this chapter shows how even here complex interactions between organismic and environmental variables control the relevant responses. For example, although humans are apparently equipped with physiological mechanisms that automatically regulate food intake so that it matches ongoing energy requirements, during dieting deliberate intentional control of eating may to some extent overrule these lower homeostatic processes. Furthermore, eating depends on the amount and variety of food easily available in the environment.
The relationship between hunger and eating is a particular instance of the general relationship between affect and behaviour. Hunger provides signals that inform the person that eating is necessary, much as emotional states signal the need for relevant action. The extent of these signals depends not only on direct registration of the need for food but also on cultural conventions about the frequency and timing of eating episodes and on external stimuli that activate relevant sensations.
Of course, eating may be motivated by factors other than hunger. For example, many people claim that food serves a comfort function and helps to alleviate unpleasant emotions. At other times eating or not eating may be motivated by apparently non-emotional factors, as illustrated by the phenomena of competitive binges and religious fasting ceremonies. A range of cultural practices have developed around food consumption which take the phenomenon beyond the realm of simple sustenance goals. Clearly, the motivations underlying even a basic biological behaviour like eating do not depend simply on self-correcting pre-wired processes.
The topic of chapter 3 by Russell G. Geen is social motivation, which relates to the various processes whereby the presence of other people affects performance on achievement-related tasks. Research suggests that people's performance when under the scrutiny of others tends to be improved in the case of easy tasks (social facilitation) but impaired in the case of difficult tasks (social inhibition). Geen considers a range of possible explanations for these effects, most of which depend on the basic idea that audiences tend to activate a motivational state that has different effects on different kinds of activity. For example, observation by other people may make us anxious about the impression we are likely to create should we visibly fail (evaluation apprehension). Our consequent emotional condition may make us distracted, increase our motivation to succeed, evoke higher achievement standards, enhance self-awareness, and so on, and any of these factors might improve or hinder our performance.
In general, the mere presence of other people tends to increase the potential emotional costs of failure and to enhance the emotional benefits of success. In an interpersonal situation, we are subject to the rewards and punishments deriving directly from performance outcomes and we must also be prepared to take the consequences of the audience's reactions to our success or failure. Similarly, if others are performing the same task, they may do better or worse than us, making our own performance seem relatively better or worse by comparison. Thus, both actual and anticipated emotion may play a part in the unfolding of the social motivational drama.
In chapter 4, John Bancroft discusses the motives and mechanisms underlying sexual behaviour. As in the case of eating, the appetite for sex depends on social and emotional considerations in addition to basic physiological processes. For example, we may engage in sexual activity to reduce anxiety, to assert our masculinity or femininity, or simply for monetary payment, as well as for reasons of physical pleasure or because we are somehow biologically programmed to reproduce. Correspondingly, sexual feelings have obvious neurochemical underpinnings but are also crucially dependent on individual cognitive interpretations and culturally derived understandings about acceptable modes of interaction. In adult humans, sexual contact often occurs within more or less stable relationships, and rules of engagement are explicitly or implicitly negotiated between participants against a backdrop of societal conventions.
Emotion is implicated in the sexual process in a number of ways. Having sex may be a means of expressing feelings towards a partner as well as a way of deriving emotional satisfaction. Also, it is generally believed that certain emotional states such as depression lessen the sexual drive, while other affective conditions such as amusement may facilitate sexual response.
In the final chapter of the book, Robert J. Gatchel provides an overview of theory and research on stress and coping. Stress is usually viewed as a psychobiological phenomenon whereby an appraisal that situational demands exceed available resources triggers a generalized physiological alarm response, which may itself cause damage to the organism if it persists. Thus, psychologically unpleasant situations are thought to activate systems that are biologically designed to withstand acute physical threats. Of course, the feelings of pressure or strain that we often report when overworked do not necessarily imply this kind of direct physiological involvement and may not in themselves threaten our health. However, the emotions associated with stressful episodes may lead us to neglect our well-being by eating badly or drinking too much, for example.
Gatchel's chapter discusses the variety of situational factors that lead to stress, ranging from everyday hassles, through major life events, to more cataclysmic outcomes affecting large groups of people simultaneously. Clearly, the nature of the stressor is likely to determine the degree and quality of its impact. Correspondingly, different stressors tend to evoke different types of responses. For example, coping processes are believed to vary according to whether the situation is perceived as controllable or uncontrollable. When it is controllable, direct action designed specifically to correct the stressful aspects of the situation (problem-focused coping) is more appropriate, whereas when it is uncontrollable, people may be able only to work on their affective reactions to what has happened and try to make themselves feel better about it (emotion-focused coping). The emotion-focused coping process is a good example of a motivational phenomenon that is specifically directed at affect regulation and is usually determined by relatively high-level psychological processes based on intentionality and deliberation.
The main emphasis of most current accounts of stress phenomena is on how reappraisal and individual coping (sometimes supplemented by social support) can ameliorate the negative effects of environmental demands. However, it should be remembered that some forms of situational constraint cannot simply be wished away or easily dealt with by personal action. Many people in contemporary society lack psychological room for manoeuvre and are caught within institutional traps from which there is no obvious escape route.
We hope that the brief tour of emotion and motivation provided in this book directs readers to many of the important landmarks of research in this area. Of course, there is also ground that we have not been able to cover (see Weiner, 1992, for a more extensive account of motivation; Parkinson, 1995, or Plutchik, 1994, for a more detailed analysis of emotion; and the suggestions for further reading at the end of each of the chapters for more information on the specific topics covered). No general model of motivational effects is offered here, whether based on cybernetic principles (e.g., Carver & Scheier, 1990) or on hierarchies of needs (e.g., Maslow, 1962). Furthermore, there is little emphasis in this book on the motivations underlying actions that unfold in the long term as part of life plans shaped by developing high-level values or self-actualization goals. These omissions arise mainly because much of the relevant scientific work remains to be done. It is therefore to be hoped that future psychological research will develop some of the ideas presented here to incorporate a broader range of topics and push towards a more integrated analysis of the field.
The contents of this book leads us to reject the simplistic three-way division of psychology sketched out above. Any comprehensive account of motivational or emotional processes implies complex interactions between a range of factors, many of which are likely to involve cognition at some level. Part of the importance of the subject area of motivation and emotion, however, is that the phenomena in question remind us that a psychology based solely on information-processing concepts will always fail to tell the whole story.
Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1990). Origins and functions of positive and negative affect: A control-process view. Psychological Review, 97, 19-35.
Duffy, E. (1962). Activation and behavior. New York: Wiley.
Frijda, N. H. (1986). The emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hilgard, E. R. (1980). The trilogy of mind: Cognition, affection, and conation. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 16, 107-117.
Kövecses, Z. (1990). Emotion concepts. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Kuhl, J. (1986). Motivation and information processing: A new look at decision making, dynamic change, and action control. In R. M. Sorrentino & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cognition: Foundations of social behavior (pp. 404-434). Chichester: Wiley.
Maslow, A. H. (1962). Toward a psychology of being. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.
Oatley, K. (1992). Best laid schemes: The psychology of emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Parkinson, B. (1995). Ideas and realities of emotion. London: Routledge.
Plutchik, R. (1994). The psychology and biology of emotion. New York: HarperCollins.
Smith, C. A., & Lazarus, R. S. (1993). Appraisal components, core relational themes, and the emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 7, 233-269.
Thayer, R. E., Newman, J. R., & McClain, T. M. (1994). Self-regulation of mood: Strategies for changing a bad mood, raising energy, and reducing tension. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 910-925.
Weiner, B. (1992). Human motivation: Metaphors, theories, and research. New York: Sage.
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