Motivation and Emotion

The literature on the various acquired drives and drugs provides a particularly straightforward way of making a methodological point. Although common speech and some psychological theories make a distinction between motives and emotions, it is clear that these terms refer to different aspects of the same process. Motivation refers to the power of an acquired drive to promote certain kinds of behavior, chiefly those of reaching certain goals—relief from fear, being near a parent, achieving certain social goals, or avoid ing withdrawal symptoms. Emotion refers to the subjective experiences associated with the arousal of these states.

These points are all very nicely integrated in R. L. Solomon's opponent-process theory of emotion. The essential ideas in this theory are the following: (1) the conditions that arouse a motivational/emotional state (State A) also call out a more sluggishly acting opposed state (State B); (2) State B is a "slave" state, which occurs as an inevitable accompaniment of State A; (3) termination of the original emotional circumstances leaves State B as the individual's dominating emotional state; and (4) State B, but not State A, increases with use and decreases with disuse.

Solomon and others have applied this opponent-process theory to many different motivational/emotional reactions. The application provides a rich account of the details of such behavior and a means of understanding the changes in such reactions after many arousals of the emotion. In opiate addiction, for instance, at first the effect of the drug (State A) is a feeling of euphoria, a "rush"; when the drug wears off, its aftereffect (State B) is craving. With continued usage and the strengthening of State B, the effect of the drug is less intense and is often described as a feeling of contentment. Its aftereffect is now much more intense—an excruciatingly painful set of withdrawal symptoms. Similar accounts are put forward for other emotional experiences.

Greg A. Kimble See also: Functional Autonomy; Specific Hungers

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