Motivational Dynamics in Encounters



Motivation is a complex and, surprisingly, not a well-understood dynamic in the social sciences. I see motivation as the energy that drives individuals to behave in certain ways; and while a great deal of motivation among humans is idiosyncratic and tied to each person’s biography, there are certain universal motives that drive the formation and operation of encounters. I see these motivations as need-states in the sense that individuals have a relatively small set of persistent needs that they seek to meet in virtually all encounters, especially focused encounters. These universal need-states may be supplemented by a host of additional needs that are unique to individuals or particular situations, but of most importance to theorizing about the dynamics of encounters is the recognition that there certain need-states are always present. If individuals can meet these needs, they will experience a range of positive emotions, whereas if these needs cannot be realized, they feel negative emotions that will lead them to leave the encounter or sanction those who are perceived to have thwarted efforts to meet these universal needs.


Negative Emotion Positive Emotion Status Belief Situational Ecology Identity Verification 


  1. Turner, R. H. 2002. “Roles.” In J. H. Turner, Ed. Handbook of Sociological Theory New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  2. Turner, J. H. 2007a. Human Emotions: A Sociological Theory. Oxford: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  3. James, W. 1890. The Principles of Psychology. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  4. Cooley, C. H. 1902. Human Nature and the Social Order. New York: Scribners.Google Scholar
  5. Mead, G. H. 1934. Mind, Self and Society. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Scheff, T. J. 1988. “Shame and Conformity: The Deference-Emotion System.” American Sociological Review 53:395–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Scheff, T. J. 1997. Emotions, The Social Bond, and Human Reality. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. McCall, G. J. and J. L. Simmons. 1978. Identities and Interactions. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  9. Burke, P. and J. E. Stets. 2009. Identity Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Turner, J. H. 1988. A Theory of Social Interaction. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Tajfel, H. and J. C. Turner. 1979. “An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflcit.” In The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, W. G. Austin and S. Worchel, Eds. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  12. Hogg, M. A. 2006. “Social Identity Theory.” In Contemporary Social Psychological Theories, P. J. Burke, Ed. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. 111–36.Google Scholar
  13. Turner, R. H. 1962. “Role Taking: Process Versus Conformity.” In Human Behavior and Social Processes, A. Rose, Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, pp. 20–40.Google Scholar
  14. Stryker, S. 1980. Symbolic Interactionism: A Social Structural Version. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin Cummings.Google Scholar
  15. Homans, G. C. 1961/1971. Social Behavior: Its Elementary Forms. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  16. Blau, P. M. 1964. Exchange and Power in Social Life. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  17. Hechter, M. 1987. Principles of Group Solidarity. Berkeley, CA: California University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Molm, L. 1997. Coercive Power in Social Exchange. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Collins, R. 1993. “Emotional Energy as the Common Denominator of Rational Action.” Rationality and Society 5:203–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Bronson, S. F. and F. b. M. de Waal. 2003. “Fair resusal by Capuchin Monkeys.” Nature 88:128–44Google Scholar
  21. Fiske, A. 1991. Structures of Social Life: Four elementary Forms of Human Relations. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  22. Cosmides, L. 1989. “The Logic of Social Exchange: Has Natural Selection Shaped How Humans Reason.” Cognition 31:187–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Turner, J. H. 2007b. “Justice and Emotions.” Social Justice Research 20:312–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Turner, J. H. 2010b. “The Stratification of Emotions: Some Preliminary Generalizations.” Sociological Inquiry 80:165–75.Google Scholar
  25. Jasso, G. 1993. “Choice and Emotion in Comparison Theory” Rationality and Society 5:231–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jasso, G. 2001. “Comparison Theory.” In Handbook of Sociological Theory, J. H. Turner, Ed. New York: Kluwer/Plenum.Google Scholar
  27. Jasso, G. 2006. “Distributive Justice Theory.” In Handbook of the Sociology of Emotions, J. E. Stets and J. H. Turner, Eds. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  28. Markovsky, B. 1985. “Toward a Multilevel Distributive Justice Theory.” American Sociological Review 50:822–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Markovsky, B. 1988. “Injustice and Arousal.” Social Justice Research 2:223–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Thibaut, J. W. and H. H. Kelley. 1959. The Social Psychology of Groups. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. Maryanski, A. and J. H. Turner. 1992. The Social Cage: Human Nature and The Evolution of Society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Turner, J. H. and A. Maryanski. 2005. Incest: Origins of the Taboo. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press.Google Scholar
  33. Turner, J. H. 2008. “Emotions and Social Structure: Toward a General Theory.” In Emotions and Social Structure, D. Robinson and J. Clay-Warner, eds. New York: Elsevier, pp. 319–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Turner, J. H. 2000a. On the Origins of Human Emotions: A Sociological Inquiry Into the Evolution of Human Affect. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Collins, R. 2004. Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Habermas, J. 1970. “Toward a Theory of Communicative Competence.” Inquiry 13:360–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Giddens, A. 1984. The Constitution of Society. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  38. Schutz, A. [1932] 1967. The Phenomenology of the Social World. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Garfinkel, H. 1967. Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  40. Lawler, E. J. and J. Yoon. 1993. “Power and the Emergence of Commitment Behavior in Negotiated Exchange.” American Sociological Review 58:465–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lawler, E. J. and J. Yoon. 1998. “Network Structure and Emotion in Exchange Relations.” American Sociological Review 63:871–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lawler, E. J., S. R. Thye, and J. Yoon. 2009. “Social Commitments in a Depersonalized World.” New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Blau, P. M. 1977. Inequality and Heterogeneity: A Primitive Theory of Social Structure. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  44. Blau, P. M. 1994. Structural Context of Opportunities. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  45. Collins, R. 2008. Violence: A Micro-Sociological Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Turner, J. H. 2003. Human Institutions: A Theory of Societal Evolution. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  47. Coleman, J. 1990. Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.Google Scholar
  48. Turner, J. H. 2002. Face-to-Face: Toward a Theory of Interpersonal Behavior. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer New York 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of California at RiversideRiversideUSA

Personalised recommendations