The Opponent Processes in Acquired Motivation

  • Richard L. Solomon


Mammals come equipped with a variety of species-specific motivation systems. With amazingly little experience, they appropriately eat food, drink liquids, become fearful in the presence of predators, or copulate with conspecifics. The stimuli that control such behaviors are decidedly different from species to species, but these differences are relatively independent of the widely differing life histories of the individual con-specifics. The controlling stimuli, as Epstein (Chapter 7, this volume) has so lucidly pointed out, may function as releasers of fixed action patterns or as elicitors of reflexes or as arousers of affect. If they are arousers of affect, they have a motivational function; they induce affective states that energize large arrays of behavior and create the conditions for what the psychologist calls reinforcement. If they merely elicit fixed action patterns or reflexes without affect, they have no motivational significance: They do not create persisting affective states, and they sometimes will have no capacity to reinforce behaviors. Epstein has described examples of motivating and nonmotivating stimuli that can control innately organized behaviors.


Affective Reaction Shock Termination Morphine Tolerance Opponent Process Hedonic Tone 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1982

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  • Richard L. Solomon

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