The Emotional Motivational Repertoire

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Basic Behavioral Repertoires

Staats's Three Basic Behavioral Repertoires (BBRs)

Examples of Behaviors

Examples of Related Personality Tests








Social interaction

Responses to punishment and reward

Emotional responses to social interactions with friends and family

Sexual arousal Enjoying work and recreation

Religious values



Reinforcing or punishing self-talk

Emotional responses to music and art Type-A behavior1 Feeding Toilet training Writing

Aggressive behavior Active-passive behavior Behavior judged "masculine" or "feminine"

Athletic activities Social skills

Intelligence tests (many items) Reading readiness tests

Interest tests (Strong Vocational Interest Blank) Values tests

(Allport-Vernon-Lindzey Study of Values)

Edwards Personal Preference


Motivation tests

Attitude tests

Anxiety tests

Depression tests

Intelligence tests (some items, such as Geometric Design and Mazes) Behavioral assessments21 Sensation-Seeking Scalea Expressive behavior measures21

(Adapted in part from Staats, 1986, 1993; Staats & Burns, 1981; and Staats & Heiby, 1985. Some items, indicated by superscript a, are the suggestions of this author.)

stimuli come to elicit emotional responses in us through classical conditioning (Staats, 1996, p. 40). This emphasis on classical conditioning illustrates the greater breadth of Staats's theory, compared to Skinner's. It explains, for example, how people can develop learned fears (see Figure 10.3).

The infant learns to love the parent because the parent is paired with food, warmth, caresses, play, and relief from negative stimuli. If a parent frowns when the infant feels figure 10.3 Classical Conditioning of One Emotional Response (Fear)

UCS (unconditioned stimulus, such as a loud noise)

CS (conditioned

UCS (unconditioned stimulus, such as a loud noise)

CS (conditioned

Theorist Skinner Images Ecd Playroom

stimulus, such as the sight of your cousin on a motorcycle)

pain, the parental frown becomes, by conditioning, a stimulus that elicits a negative emotion. Subsequently, since the child has a negative emotional response to seeing her parent frown at her, that will act as a punishment for whatever she is doing. Some people go to symphony concerts because the music elicits a positive emotional response in them that reinforces their behavior of buying a ticket and driving to the concert hall. Other people go to church because the stimuli there elicit a positive emotional response in them or reduce their experience of a negative emotional response, both of which reinforce the behavior of attendance. So the individual's emotional learning, via simple or higher order classical conditioning, produces the emotional-motivational repertoire, and that repertoire plays a veiy powerful role in determining the individual's behavior in almost eveiy life situation that will be encountered.

As a result of learning, people approach pleasant stimuli and avoid unpleasant ones. The stronger the emotion, the stronger the tendency to approach or to avoid. It is the fear learned from its mother's behavior, according to Staats (1996, p. 51), that motivates a young deer to flee from the scent of a mountain lion. This is an example of higher order conditioning; the conditioned fear, itself a product of learning, becomes a motivator that can reinforce new learning (running away). Imagine how much more important human emotions, learned from adults, must be in directing human behavior. A father's frown, because learning has made it elicit a negative emotion in the child, can now become the stimulus that teaches the child to avoid doing what makes Dad frown. Notice that fear and anxiety are not simply unpleasant remnants of past learning, but function as stimuli to direct current behavior. Whether they will be adaptive depends on the specific learning. A wise parental guide can direct adaptive behavior through smiles and frowns. An unwise, abusive parent is the source of maladaptive learned behavior, instead.

Because of different learning experiences, people develop a variety of emotions and motivations about hobbies, work, and even more biological activities, such as food and sex. Eating and sexual behaviors vaiy widely, supporting the importance of learning. People can even learn that "industriousness," that is, working with high effort, is a desirable behavior, so that they become more generally industrious across different kinds of behavior (Eisenberger, 1992). Social circumstances and individual experience shape these potentials into diverse patterns. Emotional learning is also involved in less biologi cal areas. Interests and values, such as those measured in some personality tests, predispose a person toward certain careers. Religion incorporates emotional learning. Positive emotions foster friendship. On the other hand, social prejudice against minorities includes the learning of negative emotions against them. Cultural differences in social interaction occur; for example, Chinese people generally learn more positive emotional responses to older people than do Americans (Staats, 1996, p. 127).

The theory of paradigmatic behaviorism proposes that basic emotional-motivational responses build the foundation for more mature behavior. Early in life we learn to approach things that we enjoy, or pull them toward us, as a baby grabs for a toy. We also learn to push away what is repulsive, spitting out undesired food or shoving a disliked object (or sibling!) away from us. These basic approach and avoidance behaviors form the foundation for more mature motivational-emotional processes. An experiment illustrates this (Staats & Burns, 1982). Subjects were presented with stimuli, words associated with religion and words associated with transportation. Several weeks earlier, they had taken a personality test (the Allport-Vernon-Lindzey Study of Values, described in Chapter 7), allowing the researchers to classify each subject as high-religious or low-religious in values. They were then administered a learning task that required the subjects to learn to respond differentially to words related to religion and to a nonreligious topic (transportation). Unknown to the subjects, their speed of responding was measured (and constituted the dependent variable). Some subjects were required to pull a handle toward them when they were shown a religious word and push the handle away for a transportation word. The researchers found that highly religious subjects responded quickly on this task. For other subjects, the task was reversed: to push away when shown religious words and to pull toward when shown transportation words. Highly religious subjects were slower on this task. For subjects low on religious values, the results were reversed (see Figure 10.4). This study shows that reactions to religious values, which are part of the emotional-motivational repertoire, build on earlier, more basic, behaviors in this repertoire: approach ("pull toward") and avoidance ("push away") behaviors. When the experimenters required a highly religious subject to approach what they value, or a nonreligious subject to reject what they did not value, the task was easier than when the reverse was required. That is, we learn more quickly when our earlier learning, our basic behavioral repertoire, has prepared us for the new demands.

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