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PSY426H1 (5)
Chapter 3

CH3 - White summary.doc

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Jason Plaks

So this week’s unit was on epistemic needs; which is essentially the need for knowledge. The theme presented is the struggle between the motivation for certainty and the motivation for uncertainty; because while we seek security and certainty in our lives, we nonetheless look for excitement and variety, as well. There are times when people are open to uncertainty, while at others they freeze their mind to new views—which is a great influence on stereotyping and decision-making. Robert White contributed a lot to the study of this phenomenon, and we are about to summarize the article in which he proposes a new motivational construct called “effectance”, or competence, in other words. Unlike previous research and theories that focused on the basic human drives and dire situations, White’s brought forth the idea that we also have the latent motivation to influence the environment and explore it. The previous motivational theories before the 1950s assumed all motivation to be reducible to the primary and organic needs such as hunger, thirst, sex, etc. But by 1950 there was renewed interest in animals’ exploratory behaviour and the suggestion that activity and manipulation are independent motives. White was one of the psychologists that believed that there was more motivators than just the basic drives, and proposed the motivation for competence; “an organism’s capacity to interact effectively with its environment.” Not only did animals seek to explore their surroundings without organic reinforcement, but competence is something that must be attained through learning, not something that simply arrives with maturation. Exploratory Behaviour  Animals seek out novelty and investigation even when primary needs satiated  Rats, monkeys, and chimpanzees studied: rats would explore maze even with electrical grid, while monkeys learned a task just to look out a window  Although interest in a novelty fades, enthusiasm is high again once new object presented (chimpanzee exp.)  Experiment designers suggest exploration as another primary drive Exploration as a Drive (defence against it)  Exploratory behaviour can be explained by secondary reinforcement  BUT if primary drives are satiated second-hand via examination of novelty, then quick recovery in curiosity would not be seen in chimpanzee experiment, as the behaviour would have to end once the primary need is fulfilled  Also, discovery is in opposition to survival as a baby animal, as one must stay close to mother and familiar places, therefore it goes against primary need fulfillment  Exploration reinforced by reduction of anxiety  BUT studies show that when fearful, are LESS likely to explore. Ex. Rats in novel situation; when fear induced, did not venture out  Fear leads to avoidance, while exploration is an approach behaviour If exploratory behaviour is to be considered a primary drive… a) tissue deficit outside nervous system that acts on that system as strong persisting stimulus b) promotes activity that ends with a reduction in need c) reduction of need leads to learning in order to shape behaviour in beneficial ways BUT a) exploratory drive never satiated, can only get bored with stimuli already exposed to; and can put aside curiosity for more important matters; and nervous system interacts with external stimulation b) no consummatory response occurs, exploration never fully satiated, just rises and falls in response to novelty c) exploration leads to more exploration—as rats that explored a maze subsequently increased exploratory behaviour (increase in arousal is the reinforcement, not decrease) Activity and Manipulation  activity  the longer rats kept in confinement, the longer they will sue running wheel once released  manipulation  rhesus monkeys learned to raise a hasp, which provided no novel stimuli and no primary reinforcement; did about 8 times, just for the sake of it; hence, want to “effect a stimulus change in the environment” Changing Conceptions of Drive Although exploratory behaviour, manipulation, and activity are still too distinct from primary drives, the basic drives have been getting a m
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