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Motivation: A Valuation Systems Perspective

Part of the Nebraska Symposium on Motivation book series (NSM,volume 66)


Why do people do what they do? The field of motivation offers many different answers to this question, and in this chapter, we integrate a number of these answers by offering a novel perspective that views motivational processes as emerging from distributed yet highly interactive valuation systems that guide behavior. Each valuation system consists of hierarchical perception loops that use ascending feedback control to match mental models to the world and hierarchical action loops that use descending feedback control to match means to ends. Motivational force and direction emerge from distributed valuation system dynamics on three broad levels of complexity. On the first inherent motivation level, predictability and competence motives emerge from aggregated gap reduction imperatives of the perception and action loops. On the second intentional motivation level, committed goals and feedback control of goal pursuit emerge from synchronized valuation systems. On the third identity motivation level, goals about goals, or identity, and pursuits of pursuits, or self-regulation, emerge from synchronized intentional motivation. Each level of emergent motivation can produce affective feelings that modulate valuation systems and facilitate learning. The valuation systems perspective integrates key insights about motivation and demonstrates how complex motivational phenomena can emerge from basic perception and action processes.


  • Motivational processes
  • Valuation systems
  • Mental models
  • Perception loops
  • Action loops
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Intentional motivation
  • Identity motivation
  • Self-regulation
  • Learning

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-27473-3_6
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Correspondence to James J. Gross .

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© 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

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Uusberg, A., Suri, G., Dweck, C., Gross, J.J. (2019). Motivation: A Valuation Systems Perspective. In: Neta, M., Haas, I. (eds) Emotion in the Mind and Body. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, vol 66. Springer, Cham.

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