Human Motivation. Commentary on Goal-Directed Action by Nathan Brody

By Nathan Brody

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Lacey (1967) wrote an influential article dealing with the specificity of arousal states. Generalized arousal states might be indexed by a variety of different indices reflecting autonomie nervous system effects and cortical influences. Changes in the various indices of arousal in response to stimulation would tend to be uncorrelated or only minimally correlated. Thus a high level of response in one physiological indicator of arousal would not be likely to be associated with a high level of response in a second physiological indicator of arousal.

4. The Yerkes-Dodson Law. generalization by noting that at low levels of motivation or arousal, organisms would have a wide range of cue utilization including a high probability of attending to cues that were not task-relevant as well as cues that were taskrelevant. The diffuse pattern of attention would interfere with optimal performance. As motivation increased, the reduction of cue utilization was presumed to proceed by the elimination of attention to task-irrelevant cues. The focus upon task-relevant cues improved performance.

When subjects were not asked to focus on the auditory stimuli (the low focus condition) and in addition when subjects were asked for delayed recall of the auditory stimuli, shock tended to impede performance and lower sensitivity. Bacon's results do not suggest a sharp diminution in total attentional capacity or ability to deal with demanding task requirements under shock conditions. Rather the results indicate that the subject's performance on the task was a complex function of task instructions and task requirements interacting with motivational variables.

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