Motivating impulses that influence behavior without conscious awareness.
Unconscious motivation plays a prominent role in Sigmund Freud's theories of human behavior. According to Freud and his followers, most human behavior is the result of desires, impulses, and memories that have been repressed into an unconscious state, yet still influence actions. Freud believed that the human mind consists of a tiny, conscious part that is available for direct observation and a much larger subconscious portion that plays an even more important role in determining behavior.
The term "Freudian slip" refers to the manifestation of these unconscious impulses. For example, a person who responds "Bad to meet you" instead of the usual "Glad to meet you" may be revealing true feelings. The substitution of "bad" for "glad" is more than a slip of the tongue; it is an expression of the person's unconscious feelings of fear or dislike. Similarly, a talented athlete who plays an uncharacteristically poor game could be acting on an unconscious desire to punish overbearing or inattentive parents. Unknown to the athlete, the substandard performance actually is communicating an important message.
Freud also contended that repressed memories and desires are the origins of most mental disorders. Psychoanalysis was developed as a method of assisting patients in bringing their unconscious thoughts to consciousness . This increased awareness of the causes for behavior and feelings then would assist the patient in modifying the undesired aspects of behavior.
See also Memory; Repression.
Atkinson, Rita L.; Richard C. Atkinson; Edward E. Smith; and Ernest R. Hilgard. Introduction to Psychology. 9th ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987.
Clark, David Stafford. What Freud Really Said. New York Schocken Books, 1965.
"Unconscious Motivation." Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 16, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/unconscious-motivation
"Unconscious Motivation." Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. . Retrieved September 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/unconscious-motivation
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.