chapter  9
28 Pages

9J-U-S-T-I-F-Y to Explain the Reasons Why: A Conditional Reasoning Approach to Understanding Motivated Behavior

WithLawrence R. James, Joan R. Rentsch

Personality consists of those components of cognitive structure and cognitive process that determine individuals’ emotional and behavioral adjustments to environments (see Allport, 1937; James &Mazerolle, 2002). Many of these components areprimarilymotivational in content, theprimeexample being the motives (needs) that lie at the core of the cognitive structure (Murray, 1938) and that strongly influence the direction, intensity, and persistence of the characteristic behavioral adjustments that we commonly refer to as traits. To illustrate, differences in the strength of the need to achieve influence the difficulty levels of the tasks that different individuals choose to perform and the varying levels of intensity and persistence that these individuals are willing to devote to tasks to attempt to satisfy their need to achieve. Intervening between the motives and the behaviors they stimulate are various affective (e.g., sense of challenge, anticipation, and excitement) and cognitive (e.g., goals, expectancies, valences) mechanisms that shape and sustain the direction, intensity, and perseverance of the motivated behaviors. In a real sense, the study of personality is a study of motivation because the core explanatory mechanisms of personalitymotives-shape the individual differences in behaviors that define traits. We shall refer to this functional link or connection between motives and the behaviors intended to serve these motives as the personality-motivation nexus.