Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
Corr I 228
Motivation/Bowlby/Shaver/Mikulincer: BowlbyVsFreud: In explaining the motivational bases of personality development, Bowlby (1982/1969)(1) rejected Freudian and object relations versions of psychoanalytic theory that conceptualize human motivation in terms of ‘drives’ and view the mind as powered by ‘psychic energy’. Instead, he created a ‘behavioural systems’ model of motivation, borrowed from ethology and cybernetic control theory, according to which human behaviour is organized and guided by species-universal, innate neural programmes (>behavioural systems). These attachment, care-giving, exploration and sexual systems facilitate the satisfaction of fundamental human needs and thereby increase the likelihood of survival, adjustment and reproduction.
Motivation: Bowlby (1982/1969)(1) viewed the systems as ‘goal directed’ and ‘goal corrected’ (i.e., corrected by changing sub-goals based on feedback about goal non-attainment). Each system was conceptualized as a servomechanism that could be turned on, or ‘activated’, by certain stimuli or situations and ‘deactivated’ or ‘terminated’ by other stimuli and situations (basically, by the attainment of what Bowlby called ‘set-goals’, which in the case of the attachment system include escape from and avoidance of threats and dangers).
Corr I 229
BowlbyVsFreud: This new conception of motivation rendered the Freudian notion of general drives (e.g., libido) unnecessary. Goal directed and goal corrected behaviours are activated not by an accumulation of psychic energy or a desire to reduce drive intensity, but by conditions within a person or the person’s environment that activated behaviour intended to achieve a certain goal state or to avoid threats and dangers.


1. Bowlby, J. 1982. Attachment and loss, vol. I, Attachment, 2nd edn. New York: Basic Books (original edn 1969)


Phillip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer, “Attachment theory: I. Motivational, individual-differences and structural aspects”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Bowlby, John
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-05-20
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