Psychotherapy and Neuroscience

Differentiating motivation

Satiation of certain social motivational drives and needs produces positive emotion; need frustration induces negative emotion. Henry Murray identified three of many motivational needs, one for affiliation and love (desiring a sense of belongingness, trust, and affection of another), another for dominance (desiring influence, the ability for persuasion, or command with confidence) and achievement (the goal for mastery of objects, human beings and ideas) (Murray, 1938). Abraham Maslow identified four (of many) motivations that with expression and satiation contribute toward personal self-esteem and quality of life. He noted that humans strive to belong and fulfill affection and love needs, to achieve, master, be competent, and experience a sense of capability and adequacy, to dominate and experience a sense of safety and control over ones environment, and to experience relative satisfaction with life (Maslow, 1954). Furthermore the inherent drive for dominance motivates one to exert influence, have an impact over another, or have perceived control over outcomes of a situation or another (McClelland, 1985). The inherent desire for achievement motivates one to perform and seek goals for success and to be responsible for seeking successful resolution over problem solving (Atkinson, 1964). The inherent desire for seeking a positive sense of well-being guides one to seek satiation of need and to adapt to less than optimal environments (Diener, Scollon & Lucas, 2003). Finally the desire for validation by others gives a person feedback as to how others perceive the self. Others’ perceptions help to shape and define how the person should perceive oneself, “a looking glass self” or a social sense of oneself derived from the perceptions of others (Cooley, 1964, p. 152; Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968). One can conclude there are many different secondary social motivations that seek positive fulfillment during social interactions due to their perceived rewarding qualities.

Implicit thought monitors satiation of social motivational needs. When social motivational needs are satisfied and match expectation for satisfaction (Stein & Liwag, 1997), the self-other schema, self-schemata, (Markus, 1977; Knapp, 1991) or appraisal of self during social interactions generated is positive. When social motivational needs are not satisfied, and result in mismatch to expectation, the unfulfilled need for affiliation fosters a sense of unlove, for dominance instills a sense of loss of control over outcomes, for achievement imparts a sense of failure, for validation fosters a sense of blame, and sense of well being instills a sense of pain. The appraisal of self in interaction that is generated to describe the mismatch is negative and is accompanied by negative emotion. Therefore the appraisal of self in interaction keeps a record and continually updates that state of match/mismatching to expectation that reflects the nature of satiation of motivational needs. The following is a table of sample appraisals of self in interaction and their associated social motivations.

Secondary Emotional Motivation Negative Self-Appraisals Positive Self-Appraisals
Affiliation-Love Motive I can’t get close to another (1)
I want love from another
I am an outsider & don’t belong (2)
I can’t trust (anyone) (1,3)
I am not lovable (2,3)
I am unwanted
I am alone
I can get close to another
I am loved & contented
I belongI am able to trust
I am lovable (3)
I am wanted
I am a part of.
Dominance-Control Motive I am scared
I can’t protect myself (3)I am powerless (3)
I am helpless (1)
I am unsafe
I am calm
I am able to protect myself
I am empowered
I am in control (3)
I am safe (3).
Achievement Motive I’m never good enough (2,3)
I can never do anything right (1)
There is something wrong with me (2)
I am a disappointment (3)
I am good enough
If I try, I can do it rightThere is nothing wrong with me
I am okay the way I am (2,3).
Validation of Self by Another or Others I am not important (2,3) I am different
I have to please others
I have to be perfect (for others) (1,3)I am not respectedI am bad
I am worthless (3)
I am ashamed of myself (1)
I am to blame
I deserve bad things (3)
I am important
I am like everyone else
I can please myself
I can do the best I can (for me)I, my ideas, & my needs are respected
I am good (3)
I have value
I am honorable (3)
I am not to blame
I deserve good things (3)
Subjective Well Being Motive (4) I am empty
I am in need for (love, validation, control, etc.)
I am damaged (or wounded) (3)
I am insecure
I am in pain
I am overwhelmed
I am complete
I am satisfiedI am whole or healed (3)
I am secure
I am healthy
I am composed.

Sources: (1) Goulding & Goulding, 1979; (2) Goulding & Goulding, 1989; (3) Shapiro, 2001; (4) Diener, 2000.


Atkinson, J.W. (1964). An introduction to motivation. New York: D. Van Nostrand Company.

Cooley, C.H. (1912). Human Nature & Social Order. New York: Scribner’s Sons (Chapter 5).

Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being. The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. American Psychologist, 55(1), 34-43.

Diener, E., Scollon, C.N., Lucas RE (2003). The evolving concept of subjective well-being: the multifaceted nature of happiness. Advances in Cell Aging and Gerontology, 15, 187-219.

Goulding, M.M., & Goulding, R.L. (1979). Changing lives through redecision therapy. New York: Grove Press.

Goulding, M.M., & Goulding, R.L. (1989). Not to worry! New York: William Morrow.

Knapp, P.H. (1991). Self-other schemas: Core organizers of human experience. In: M. J. Horowitz (Ed.) Person schemas and maladaptive interpersonal patters (pp. 81-102). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Markus, H. (1977). Self-schemata and processing information about the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(2), 63-78.

Maslow, A.H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

McClelland, D.C. (1985). Human motivation. Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman, & Co. (Chapters 7, 8, 9, 10).

Murray HA (1938). Explorations in personality. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rosenthal, R, & Jacobson, L.E. (1968). Teacher expectations for the disadvantaged. Scientific American, 218(4), 19-23.

Shapiro, F. (2001). Level I training manual: Part one of a two part training. Pacific Grove, California: EMDR Institute Inc.

Stein, N.L, & Liwag, M.D. (1997) Children’s understanding, evaluation, and memory for emotional events.  In: P.W. van den Broek, P. Bauer, & T. Bourg (Eds.) Developmental spans in event comprehension and representation (pp. 199-235), Mahwah, New Jersey: Erlbaum.