Conscious and Unconscious Processes in the Psychology of Motivation

  • Nathan Brody
Part of the Recent Research in Psychology book series (PSYCHOLOGY)


In their book, The Dynamics of Action, Atkinson and Birch (1970) distinguish among three possible relations between phenomenal or conscious states and motivational states. They indicate that phenomenal states may stand in an epiphenomenal relation of parallelism to motivational states. In this view phenomenal states are outside the chain of causal influence. Alternatively, phenomenal states may exert a causal influence on motivational states. Finally, Atkinson and Birch propose a variant of their second position which asserts that all motivational states are influenced by phenomenal states. In this chapter I want to present arguments for a somewhat different way of construing the relations between phenomenal states and motivational states. I shall argue that phenomenal states do in point of fact exert an influence on motivational states. However, motivational states are only weakly related to their phenomenal manifestations. Thus, the phenomenal representation of the state is not to be construed as an exhaustive representation. In addition, I shall argue that in many if not all instances the influence of conscious motivational states or conscious components of motivational states is parallel to the influence of unconscious motivational states. Although I shall argue for the existence of unconscious motivational influences, I do not wish to argue that the influence of unconscious motivational states is in any fundamental sense different from the influence of conscious motivational states or conscious components of motivational states.


Left Hemisphere Motivational State Verbal Report Prime Stimulus Left Visual Field 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan Brody
    • 1
  1. 1.Wesleyan UniversityUSA

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