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Running Head: THE OPPONENT-PROCESS THEORY OF ACQUIRED MOTIVATION The Opponent-Process Theory of Acquired Motivation 1
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THE OPPONENT-PROCESS THEORY OF ACQUIRED MOTIVATION The Opponent-Process Theory of Acquired Motivation In the article, “The Opponent-Process Theory of Acquired Motivation” the author, Richard L. Solomon explains how benefit and pain emotions contrast each other. Solomon states that acquired motives can be so powerful in a person’s life that they can become the focal points in every single one of a person’s actions. Acquired motives, or learned traits, can have the same type of effect on a person as an innate motive does; a trait that is not learned, therefore coming naturally from birth to a person. The opponent-process theory basically means that at the experience of one emotion, another emotion is being suppressed. If a person is feeling something very pleasurable, then that means the pain is being suppressed versus a person feeling something very painful, the emotion of pleasure is being suppressed. Both emotions seem to go back and forth in someone’s life, which is why acquired behaviors can be just as powerful as innate behaviors. Empirical Law The main idea of the article is that acquired motives obey the empirical laws for addiction. Examples of some acquired motives include things like love, cravings, social attachments, or needs for achievement and power. In other words, these things are experiences you learn from. The empirical law basically states that one gains knowledge through experience; so after a person goes through something, they are going to learn from it and act differently for the next time they experience something similar. Like the heroin example that Solomon made, an addict will seek nothing but drugs throughout the day and ignore any other beneficial behavior that they might have. Behaviors like hunger, thirst, communication, or sexual incentives. Because the addict wants the pleasure of being high, they suffer through the drastic side effects 2
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THE OPPONENT-PROCESS THEORY OF ACQUIRED MOTIVATION they wouldn’t have had to experience otherwise. The want of heroin most definitely is not an innate behavior, but a very powerful acquired behavior which acts on the user as a positive reinforcer.
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  • Spring '14
  • JulieA.Chappell
  • Psychology, Richard L. Solomon

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