Social Techniques

Literature in the area of acquired motivation suggests that some motives may be acquired by a process that is more like instrumental learning. E. C. Tolman has given us an account that is fairly representative. Figure 1 summarizes his view, which holds that, in infancy, the individual has only a set of biological drives. Inevitably these drives are subjected to frustration, and new techniques are developed to satisfy them. Whatever techniques lead to relief from frustration are learned, and they become characteristic of the individual's repertory of responses to the world. As Tolman's drive-conversion diagram (Figure 1) also suggests, these first primitive adjustments achieved by the individual are not adequate to deal with all situations. They too are frustrated, with the result that new learning occurs and the individual's reactions to the world are modified further.

It should be noted that, so far in this account, nothing has been said about motives. Yet a glance at Figure 1 will reveal that several of the social techniques are ones that we often describe in motivational terms. Aggression, hostility, social approval, loyalty, identification, and self-punishment are all terms that probably occur more often in psychological literature in the context of motive than in that of habit. This suggests that there must be some sense in which habits are, or can become, motives. Gordon Allport once suggested in an article that such is the case, and he offered the concept of functional autonomy, whereby well-established habits become ends in themselves—that is, motives. It should be noted, however, that functional autonomy does not explain such effects; it only describes them.

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