Motivation and emotion/Textbook/Motivation/Unconscious motivation
Overview[edit | edit source]
This chapter will discuss the theories, concepts, and ideas behind unconscious motivation. Firstly it gives a short description of human motivation after which it will then consider the idea behind unconscious motivation. The second part of this chapter will briefly outline the history behind the unconscious motivation concept, after which it will then examine Freud’s psychodynamic perspective, including his theory on dreams and dream analysis. From there this chapter will discuss post Freudian Evolution and consider Carl Jung's theories of the unconscious. The final section of this chapter focuses on additional theories in motivation and unconsciousness
Hidden and unknown desires (What is Unconscious motivation)[edit | edit source]
Motivation is the desire to achieve a goal, it can be defined as the process which initiates, guides, and maintains goal adjusted behaviour (Ouellette, 1998). Motivation is not just be self- proclaimed goals but also included specific needs such as eating, drinking, and sleep (Ouellette, 1998). According to Ouellette, (1998) there are four basic principles of motivation.
To understand unconscious motivations we must first consider the workings of the unconscious mind. Some researchers today would characterize the brain as a computer, programmed by something that isn't connected to itself, but rather a part of its self, refered to as the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is not physical, therefore, it can not been seen nor measured scientifically (Archard, 1984). The questions than is, are humans ruled by this non physical unconscious mind? According to Archard, (1984) they are not. He considered that human behaviour is simply stimulus response mechanisms. Therefore, the mind is a mechanism and individuals can be programmed (Archard, 1984). According to Bargh, Gollwitzer, Lee- Chai, Barndollar, & Trotschel, (2001) individuals are motivated to make choices based only on their conscious thoughts. According to, Archard, (1984) & Freud, (1961/2004) a large amount of human behaviour is stimulated by unconscious motives (e.g. Sigmund Freud believed that the majority of all human behaviour is a result of their desires, impulses, and memories that had been repressed into an unconscious state). According to Maslow, the average person is more often unconscious than conscious. He believed unconscious motives take central roles in determining the way in which people behave (Archard, 1984).
It is very difficult to defined unconscious motivation but in essence it is that of which we are unaware. It is the unconscious desires, instincts, and needs of humans. Some researchers believe that our unconscious motivaties only get acted on when we are stressed and anxious (Archard, 1984; Freud, 1961/2004; Reason, 2000;). While other researchers believe we have total control over them (Weston, 1999).
The history behind the unconscious motivation concept[edit | edit source]
The German philosopher Ernst Platner introduced the term ‘unconscious’ around the 18th century, however the significance of what we now call unconscious processes were recognized by many earlier influential thinkers such as Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Paracelcus, Dante, and St Thomas Aquinas (Archard, 1984: Jacobs, 2003). It may well be that the first written reference to the likelihood of unconscious psychological processes were made by the Greek philosopher Plotinus in the third century AD, who remarked that “the absence of a conscious perception is proof of the absence of mental activity” (Koestler, 1964, p. 148).
The notion of an unconscious has been the source of much controversy for more than a century. Two main opposing views, have taken on various developments over the years and challenged each other down till today. During much of the later half of the 19th century, in clear contradiction to the exploratory position taken by the above philosophers (in favour of an unconscious mind), William James, mocked the notion of an unconscious, marshalling many arguments against it (Freud,1961/2004). The second view was Freud's theory of unconscious motivation. Not long after the turn of the century, behaviourism took the position not only against an unconscious, but also against consciousness (Weston, 1999). During this time Freud’s psychoanalytical prospective remained an advocate and defender of the unconscious mind.
Closer to our time, the debate is studied at a more empirical level, with the introduction of subliminal methods (Weston, 1999). However, many cognitive psychologists have drawn the line against accepting a dynamic unconscious, involving, affecting, and motivation humans (Bargh & Trotschel, 2001; Weston, 1999). In modern day cognitive psychology, researchers have endeavoured to strip the notion of the unconscious from its Freudian traditions. Today cognitive researcher use alternative terms such as, "implicit" and "explicit" to explain the inner and outer workings of human behaviour (Weston, 1999). Cognitive research methods of unconscious processes are based on fewer theoretical assumptions and are more empirically driven, they also emphasize the extent to which cognitive processes occur outside of awareness (Weston, 1999).
Sigmund Freud's theories of the unconscious[edit | edit source]
Freud's theory of the unconscious is immensely complex. The information that follows is a severely condensed account of his work. It focuses on those parts of his theory that are related to the unconscious mind and unconscious motivations, purely for the benefit of these chapters.
For more information on Freud's theories of the unconscious please click this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm7XGiFhKeE
Freud and dream analysis[edit | edit source]
The notion of a unconscious mind was essential to Sigmund Freud's theories and assisted him in finding meaning within dreams. For Freud, the fact that people dream at all was taken as an example of the activity in the unconscious mind (Freud, 1961/2004). Noting the content of dreams gave Freud clues about how processes in the unconscious mind operated, as well as methods to uncover the repressed information from within it (Freud, 1961/2004; Eder, 2009). He believed that dreams were wish fulfilling, meaning that in our dreams we act out unconscious desires (Eder, 2009). Freud’s dream analysis emphasized two levels of dream content. First the manifest content which is the description of the dream as recalled by the dreamer (Eder, 2009). For example if you dreamed about coming to school naked, the manifest content is your nudity, the school, the other people around you, and so on. The second was the latent content, which is the unconscious meaning of the manifest (literal) content (Eder, 2009). Freud considered that even during sleep, our egos protected us from the material in our unconscious minds by presenting our repressed desires in the forms of symbols. Therefore, coming to school naked would represent a symbol for some kind of repressesd matter (Eder, 2009).
Is there empirical validity for Freud’s dynamic unconscious[edit | edit source]
Research has examined subliminal perception in an attempt to provide evidence of a dynamic unconscious. Subliminal perception is thought to occur when a person receives stimuli without being consciously aware of it (Henk, Ruud, & Hans, 2008). Researchers use subliminal stimuli in a bid to show its affects on participants' behaviour, thus demonstrating the existence of unconscious motivational effects on behaviour. Henk & Hans, (2008) showed that participants expended more effort on a hand grip test when they had been subliminally primed than when they had not. They believed this demonstrate that mental processes in preparing and motivating behaviour happen outside a person's awareness (Henk & Hans, 2008).
Erdelyi, (1984) used subliminal words to measure participants' anxiety levels. When participants were given emotionally threatening words their anxiety levels intensified. However, when participants were shown non threatening words, anxiety levels stayed neutral. Erdelyi, (1984) suggests this may validate the notion that subliminal stimuli influence unconscious behaviour. (Erdelyi, 1984). To Reason, (2000) the unconscious is more about automatic mental processes rather than a dynamic unconscious.
Evidence of dream content
Current research by Solms, (2000) on the neuropsychology of dreaming, demonstrates that may be an activation of desires and emotional mechanisms in the brain that initiate dreaming. He found that the manifest content of dreams were projected onto perceptual areas in the brain. He believed this to be evidence for Freud’s dream theory (Solms, 2000).
Post- Freudian Evolution of the Psychodynamic Approach[edit | edit source]
It has been very well documented that during Freud’s life time, several important figures in psychoanalysis who had been Freud’s students or close colleagues, were involved in disputes and consequently left his association for psychoanalysis. The most well know of these figures was Carl Jung, who was regarded as Freud’s chosen director to take over leadership of the psychoanalytic movement (Mitchell & Black 1995). The principles for their disagreements were centred on the nature of motivation (Mitchell & Black 1995).
Other well-known analysts who broke off from Freud included Ferenczi, Reich, Rank, and the popular Adler (Mitchell & Black 1995). These disagreements represented basic problems within the theoretical aspects of the psychodynamic approach. Three underlying questions were debated by Freud and his colleagues; what happens in the early years of life to produce later problems, what should therapist do to make psychoanalytic therapy better, and lastly how do unconscious processes and mechanisms operate (Mitchell & Black 1995). While Freud was still alive he dominated psychoanalysis, and those that disagreed with him were forced to set up separate institutes. After Freud’s death, it became possible to reopen the debate and many new concepts, theories, and approaches were reconsidered. These included:
More Theories on Motivation and the Unconscious Mind[edit | edit source]
Maslow believed that needs were important for human survival and therefore he developed the notorious Hierarchy of Needs. This hierarchy consisted of five basic needs.
References[edit | edit source]
Archard, D. (1984). Consciousness and the unconscious. Lasalle III: Open Court, 56- 278.
Bargh, J. A., Gollwitzer, P., Lee- Chai, A., Barndollar, K., & Trotschel, R. (2001). The automated will: Non-conscious activation and pursuits of behavioural goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 1014- 1027.
Eder, M. D. (2009). Dream Psychology: Psychoanalysis for beginners By Sigmund Freud. Digireads.com Publishing 12- 92.
Erdelyi, M. H. (1984). Psychoanalysis: Freud’s Cognitive Psychology. New York: Freeman, 26-32.
Francher, R. E. (1973). Psychoanalytic psychology: The development of Freud's thought. New York: WWW Norton, 33-231.
Freud, S (1961/2004). The interpretation of dreams. Reprint by Kessinger Publishing, 113-435.
Henk, A., Ruud, C., & Hans, M. (2008). Preparing and motivating behaviour outside of awareness. Journal of Unconscious Motivation, 319, 5870-1639. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/319/5870/1639??sa_campaign=Email%2Fsubcol%2F--%2F
Jacobs, M. (2003) Sigmund Freud. London:Sage Publications Ptd, 24-168.
Koestler, A. (1964). The act of creation. London: Pan Books, 147-148.
Maslow, A. H. (1986). Toward a psychology of being. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.
Mitchell, S. A., & Black M. J. (1995). Freud and beyond: a history of modern psychoanalytic thought. USA: Basic Books.
Ouellette, J. A. (1998). Habit and intention in everyday life: The multiple processes by which past behaviour predicts future behaviour. Psychological Bulletin, 457-481.
Reason, J. (2000). The Freudian slip revisited. The psychologist, 13, 610-611. Retrieved from: http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=13&editionID=51&ArticleID=157
Roesch, S. C. and Amirkham, J. H. (1997) Boundary conditions for self-serving attributions: Another look at the sports pages. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27, 245-261
Silverman, L. H. (1976) Psychoanalytic theory: The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. American Psychologist,31, 621-637.
Solms, M. (2000) Freudian dream theory today. The Psychologist, 13, 618-619. Retrieved From:http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=13&editionID=51&ArticleID=160
Sommerhoff, G. (1990). Life, the brain, and unconsciousness: New perceptions through targeted systems analysis. Elsevire Science Publishers, 9-189.
Weston, D. (1999). The scientific status of the unconscious processes: Is Freud dead. Journal of American Psychology, 47, 1061-1106. Retrieved http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10650551
Zajonc, R. B. (1965). Social facilitation. Science, 149, 269-274. Retrieved From: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/pdf_extract/149/3681/269