Re: [xmca] Emotion at Work

From: Steve Gabosch <sgabosch who-is-at>
Date: Mon Jul 30 2007 - 09:38:00 PDT

I see CHAT as being on an historic quest to find
a model and a unit of analysis that can outline
the essential psychological functions and
processes, both internal as well as the more
familiar external, of an individual engaged in
everyday activities such as work. As
Wolff-Michael points out, emotion has generally
been left out of previous efforts in CHAT.

I think that this coveted model and its
accompanying unit of analysis needs to be able to
simultaneously describe the essential dynamics of
at least three levels of human social and
psychological reality. It must be able to a)
describe the relevant surrounding activity
systems, and the person's needs and motives
within those systems (note that these needs and
motives may be contradictory), b) describe that
person's internal physical, emotional and
cognitive processes (also potentially highly
contradictory), and c) describe the external
operations, actions and behaviors they carry out
(which we know by observing ourselves and others
can also be highly contradictory and not necessarily "on purpose").

With a model and a unit of analysis that can
generate coherent simultaneous descriptions of
these "levels" of reality, CHAT (a future CHAT,
whatever that will look like) could then continue
on to provide explanations of human behavior and
activity that include an individual's
motivations, emotions, thoughts, and actions. (I
am leaving out the category "identity" that
Michael emphasizes - that is a side discussion in
the scheme I am outlining here). Achieving a
model and unit of analysis that can provide such
an integrated, simultaneous description of the
social context, the internal psychological
processes, and the external behaviors of an
individual in action is a tall order. The
ability to do this is an historic quest which all
of us that related to the CHAT community are part of, in one way or another.

A feature of the model that Michael proposes and
begins to outline in his article that bothers me
is his suggestion that emotional payoffs drive
motivation. This is certainly the common sense
view of individual psychology held by most
thinking people, that humans are driven by the
desire to increase their "emotional valence" and
therefore organize their choices of activities to
participate in, and the actions they carry out, accordingly.

A way to address this difference of perspective
is to ask these simple questions: Do we have
needs and motives because we are emotional (and
cognitive)? Or are we emotional (and cognitive)
because we have needs and motives?

Michael seems to be answering the first question
affirmatively - we have needs and motives because
we have emotions, which we strive to increase the
valence of. "Motivation arises from the
difference between the emotional valence of any
present moment and the higher emotional valence
at a later moment, to be attained as a
consequence of practical action." (pg 60).

My inclination is to answer the second question
affirmatively - we have emotions, and in fact
have the specific emotions that we do at any
given time, because we have needs and
motives. We have needs and motives because must
cope with our contradictory surrounding social
environment. This perspective takes the view
that the surrounding social environment and its
contradictions compel us to have specific but
often contradictory needs and motives, which
generate conflicting emotions and thoughts within
us, which emerge externally as contradictory
behaviors, operations, and actions, some of which
we are conscious of, some of which we are not.

Many of Michael's excellent points and insights
are still incorporated in my revision. This is
not a matter of one perspective being totally
wrong, the other, totally right. Both models can
generate important insights and take into account
many features of CHAT and many aspects of human
psychology, in the workplace and any everyday situation.

Methodologically, I would consider this
discussion an investigation of the
"genetic-historic" relationship of emotion and
motive within an activity system. Michael seems
to place emotion in the genetic-historic sequence
as prior to motive. I place motive as prior to emotion.

What would a unit of analysis of either model
look like? We like to point to the water
molecule as a unit of analysis of that chemical
compound. Among other things, this unit clearly
expresses itself in all the states of H2O - ice,
water, steam. The molecule retains its
conceptual cohesiveness in all conditions, in all
its transformations. But what unit of analysis
can be developed that can remain cohesive through
these three socio-psychological levels of reality
I am attempting to sketch? What unit of analysis
can remain cohesive while it is a set of
contradictory needs and motives in one state, a
collection of rapidly changing and interacting
body processes, emotions and thoughts in another,
and then a collection of conscious and
unconscious behaviors, actions and operations in a third?

Clearly, we need a unit of analysis much more
complex than a molecule. In fact, we need what
will have to be the most complex unit of analysis
ever developed. As I say, this is an historic
quest, a long-term challenge. We have quite a
distance to go and much to learn.

In the meantime, it seems to me we can focus on
developing the model, which includes getting the
basic components of the model in the right
genetic-historic sequence. My inclination is to
reverse the order of motive and emotion from that proposed by Michael.

- Steve

At 09:54 PM 7/29/2007 -0700, you wrote:
>Dear Wolff-Michael:
> Yes, I immediately recognized (and
> appreciated) the double-entendre in the title.
> I also appreciate (now that I think about it)
> your remarks about how individual activity
> realizes a potential that exists on the
> collective level (though I think that is not
> ALL it does, else individual creativity would not be possible).
> Once more on Damasio. I found this today in:
> Volosinov, V.N. (1976) ¡°A Critique of
> Marxist Apologias of Freudianism¡± In.
> Freudianism: A critical sketch. Bloomington and
> Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
> Volosinov takes on a number of Marxist
> writers who have defended psychoanalysis. He
> dismisses with a wave of the hand Trotsky's
> remarks in Literature and Revolution (where
> Trotsky speculates on the compatibility of
> Marxism and psychoanalysis) and he is
> particularly hard on Luria's youthful enthusiasm for Freud. On p. 125 he says:
> ¡°It is an outright falsehood to represent
> the doctorine of erogenous zones as an
> objective physiological theory. According to
> this theory, the body is drawn into the
> personality¡¯s mental system, not vice versa.
> It is drawn, of course, not as an objective,
> external body, but as an experience of things
> corporeal, as an aggregate of internal
> instincts, desires, and notions. It is, so to
> speak, the body seen form the inside out.¡±
> Volosinov continues (pardon my triple quote marks):
> 'The attempt to ascribe an objective
> character to the psychoanalytical concept of
> "drives" is also completely incorrect. Luria
> writes "¡¦for psychoanalysis, drives are not a
> purely psychological concept, but have a much
> broader sense "¡®acting as a bridge between the
> mental and the somatic,¡¯ and are more of a
> biological nature."' No biologist would agree,
> of course, with such an odd definition of the
> biological as being a bridge between the soma
> and the psyche (¡¦). Thus the psychoanalytic
> concept of the whole personality contains not
> one objective quantity that would make it
> possible for that personality to be
> incorporated into the surrounding material
> reality fo the natural world. It is no easier
> to incorporate it into the objective
> socioeconomic process of history. We already
> know, after all, that Freud derives all
> objective, historical formations (the family,
> the tribe, the state, the church and so forth)
> from those same subjectively mental roots and that their
> existence begins and ends with that same
> interplay among internal subjective forces
> (power as the ego-ideal; societal solidarity as
> mutual identification, given the common nature
> of the ego-ideal; capitalism as the sublimation of anal eroticism, and so on.)'
> Thus speaks Volosinov. But it seems to me
> that the SAME problem exists with Damasio's
> version of the James-Lange theory: it merely
> takes the objective world and turns it into
> psychological object. Not only is there no
> place for the social, there is no place for
> material culture as the product of sensuous human activity.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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Received on Mon Jul 30 09:39 PDT 2007

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