Structure and Functions of Fantasy

By Eric Klinger | Go to book overview
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Motivational Effects on Fantasy: A Theoretical Framework

The sequencing of fantasy segments can be thought of as determined by two different kinds of factors at two different levels of specificity. First, one can think of the momentary events that take place when one particular segment terminates or is interrupted and is replaced by the next particular segment. That is the level of analysis employed in the preceding chapter. Second, one can think of rather more enduring factors that predispose a person to engage in fantasy intermittently about some particular class of content over some period of time -- a few minutes, hours, or days. By themselves the latter factors determine the relative frequency with which a person fantasizes about a class of content, but are unconcerned with the mechanism of segment-to-segment shifts.

Both kinds of determinants can include the kinds of events that have been labeled "motivational." Furthermore if an enduring disposition is ever to be translated into a concrete momentary response the two kinds of factors must interact in some way to produce modulations in the stream of behavior. Studies of fantasy have rarely focused on the naturally-occurring unfolding of responses, but the operation of relatively longer-term motivational determinants on fantasy has been the object of a venerable research history, employing as dependent variables primarily content ratings of projective-test protocols, especially TAT stories.

It is this class of determinants that Chapters 8 to 11 consider, both the evidence that has accumulated and the theoretical questions to which it gives rise. What factors lead a person to engage in frequent achievement fantasy or power fantasy? What are the effects on fantasy of hunger, anger, or uncompleted tasks? What elements of antecedent conditions produce effects, and on which features of the resulting fantasy responses?

The present chapter considers the nature of what is meant by motivation, and then pulls together from the burgeoning literature of motivational


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Structure and Functions of Fantasy


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