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  • Cited by 52
  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: June 2012

10 - Emotions and Action



This chapter discusses the relationships between emotion and action. Emotion, by its very nature, is change in action readiness to maintain or change one's relationship to an object or event. Motivation, or motivational change, is one of the key aspects of emotions.

Even so, action follows only under certain conditions, including the presence and availability of an action repertoire, an equilibrium of the costs and benefits of action, and the presence of resources and motivation to consider the costs and benefits.

There are trade-offs between selection from the repertoire and the cost-benefit aspects. The repertoire usually includes low-effort actions that considerably expand the influence of emotions on action.

Obviously, emotions have very much to do with action. One would say that emotions exist for the sake of action, for dealing with the environment. Yet, the relationship between emotion and action is variable. There is much emotion without action; there is also much action without obvious emotion. How to understand the relationships?

In this chapter, I shall do two things. First, I argue that motivation for action – changes in motivation, and motivational processes – is part and parcel of what we mean by emotions. Little theory exists, however, to account for it. Second, I explore the conditions under which those motivations do and do not actually lead to action.

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