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Emotion is a powerful motivator

23 November, 2015 - 11:37
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Not only does emotion provide information and drive for our thoughts and the words we use, it also motivates our behavior at the same time. Harré (1981a) claims that in the 'real' world, explanations are functional in a self-presentational sense. They function as a ritual display, as rhetoric, as show: they are designed to impress, and affect others impressions. And that people operate in a 'rhetorical impression manipulating manner'. There is a self-presentational motivation for peoples explanations (that is, someone has in mind their own presentation of themselves, what they look like, how they are perceived by others, etc when they make any explanation). Here Harré (1981b) tries to subsume all human affairs into a self- presentational motive:

  • What sort of statements are being made in concrete social activities, such as strikes, riots, parties, working breakfasts, overtaking in the inner lane and so on? Starting with these as rough guides: modern strikes can hardly be seriously taken to be economically motivated. They are best understood as claims to recognition and dignity, as displays of worth: riots too may be something like that: look at me, and take me seriously.

So when people think in social situations, their thoughts are probably mostly emotionally driven by self- presentational goals. This doesn't mean that all thought is driven by emotion, it simply means that a lot of thought is motivated. So I have brought up a slightly different question here - how much of thought is emotional? What is it like to have a thought be motivated by feeling vs. not?