2 Motivation

Experimental Psychology


  1. Bill P. Godsil PhD1,
  2. Michael S. Fanselow PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop204002

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Godsil, B. P. and Fanselow, M. S. 2012. Motivation . Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 4:I:2.

Author Information

  1. 1

    L'Université Paris Descartes, Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences, Paris, France

  2. 2

    University of California, Department of Psychology, Los Angeles, CA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


The goal of motivational theories is to account for variance in behavior that is not easily ascribed to learning or genetic factors. A functional behavior systems framework is described that defines individual systems in terms of evolutionary purpose, environmental cause, behavioral consequence, and the neural circuits that link and achieve these characteristics. The approach suggests that specific behavior patterns emerge as a consequence of proximity to the goal. Signals for distant goals promote very different behaviors than more proximate signals, but the behaviors are functionally geared to what is necessary to move to the next step in a sequence of behaviors directed at obtaining the goal. Pavlovian conditioning plays an essential role in the ontogeny of these signals. Feeding (hunger), defense (fear), sex (reproduction), and thermoregulation are used to illustrate the framework and capture much of what is known about basic motivational processes.


  • fear;
  • reproductive behavior;
  • feeding;
  • behavior systems;
  • learning;
  • motivation