Structure and Functions of Fantasy

By Eric Klinger | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Motivational Effects on Fantasy: Incentives

The preceding analysis suggests how we might best proceed to consider the nature of motivational effects on fantasy, by which we mean the effects on fantasy that arise because it occurs in the context of a goal-directed sequence -- after the onset of such a sequence but before its termination. That condition is, of course, what we have been calling a current concern. We have seen that the individual need not be in a state of elevated drive, as inferred either from knowledge that he has been deprived of something or from observations of physiological activity outside some normal baseline range. However, it is necessary that he be aware of an attainable incentive, a goal object, toward which he directs his behavior. Accordingly, one kind of evidence that is relevant to motivational effects concerns the effects of introducing an incentive into a subject's life.

The operation of introducing an incentive seems conceptually simple enough, but for the purpose of studying fantasy it is insufficient. Fantasy must be given an opportunity to occur and to be measured. If a subject were offered an incentive for performing a task and he set about efficiently completing the task and attaining the incentive, there could be no possibility of observing effects on his fantasy, even though some fantasy may have occurred in the interstices of operant activity. Consequently, any study of fantasy requires that somehow the subject's goal-striving must be interrupted. There is a separate, theoretical question of whether fantasy can be said to occur at all without some interruption of an instrumental sequence. For practical purposes, until we discover nonverbal and perhaps nonmotoric indicators of fantasy, the only fantasy that can be studied entails some sort of interruption of goal-directed instrumental activity. Hence investigating incentive effects on fantasy entails introducing an incentive and then interrupting the goal-striving at least long enough to assess fantasy processes.

Interruption, however, has properties and effects of its own. Interfering

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