Appetitive and Defensive Motivation: Goal-Directed or Goal-Determined?

Emot Rev. 2013 Jul;5(3):230-234. doi: 10.1177/1754073913477511.


Our view is that fundamental appetitive and defensive motivation systems evolved to mediate a complex array of adaptive behaviors that support the organism's drive to survive-defending against threat and securing resources. Activation of these motive systems engages processes that facilitate attention allocation, information intake, sympathetic arousal, and, depending on context, will prompt tactical actions that can be directed either toward or away from the strategic goal, whether defensively or appetitively determined. Research from our laboratory that measures autonomic, central, and somatic reactions when processing emotional scenes is described which indicates that motivationally relevant cues, whether appetitive or defensive, capture attention preferentially, prompt enhanced perceptual processing and information gathering, and occasion metabolic arousal that mobilizes the organism for coping actions.

Keywords: attention; emotion; motivation.