More than any other personality theorist, Allport emphasized the importance of conscious motivation. Healthy adults are generally aware of what they are doing and their reasons for doing it. His emphasis on conscious motivation goes back to his meeting in Vienna with Freud and his emotional reaction to Freud's question: "And was that little boy you?" Freud's response carried the implication that his 22-year-old visitor was unconsciously talking about his own fetish for cleanliness in revealing the story of the clean little boy on the tram car. Allport (1967) insisted that his motivation was quite conscious—he simply wanted to know Freud's ideas about dirt phobia in a child so young.
Whereas Freud would assume an underlying unconscious meaning to the story of the little boy on the tram, Allport was inclined to accept self-reports at face value. "This experience taught me that depth psychology, for all its merits, may plunge too deep, and that psychologists would do well to give full recognition to manifest motives before probing the unconscious" (Allport, 1967, p. 8).
However, Allport (1961) did not ignore the existence or even the importance of unconscious processes. He recognized the fact that some motivation is driven by hidden impulses and sublimated drives. He believed for example, that most compulsive behaviors are automatic repetitions, usually self-defeating, and motivated by unconscious tendencies. They often originate in childhood and retain a childish flavor into adult years.
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