Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 August 2010
One of the hallmarks of being human is to have an independent will to engage in directed, purposeful, and motivated activity. Yet our understanding of the nature of social motivation remains sketchy, and even a clear and universally accepted definition of the term remains somewhat elusive. This book seeks to provide an up-to-date integration of some of the most recent developments in research on social motivation, and in particular, to explore the relationship between conscious and unconscious motivational processes in social behavior. Arguably, one of the most intriguing recent developments in social psychology has been the growing focus on unconscious motivational processes. It now seems that many social behaviors are performed in an automatic and unaware fashion.
These two motivational systems – conscious, goal-directed action and spontaneous, unconscious behavior – may frequently interact in determining social behavior. One key objective of this book is to provide an informative, scholarly, yet readable overview of recent advances in research on social motivation and to offer a closer integration between what we now know about the operation of implicit, unconscious and explicit, conscious motivational mechanisms. The chapters included here will argue that a proper understanding of social motivation requires a dynamic, interactive conceptualization that simultaneously focuses both on the cognitive, information processing strategies used and on the more fundamental subconscious mechanisms responsible for social action.