Friday, October 30, 2009

Fear Versus the Positive Incentive - What moves us?

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Fear versus Positive Motivation - What moves us?

Dear Thinkers, Ponderers and Students of Life:

It is sad, but true. Human beings are much more readily motivated to action by the threat of pain or loss (i.e.,by fear) than by the opportunity to gain, socially, professionally or financially, with some curious high-risk exceptions where it comes to instant gratification. Of course in these latter exceptions, the risk usually involves getting caught (and it is perceived as unlikely) while the reward is pleasure (which is perceived as very likely).

Fear overcomes inertia or creates inertia, while the positive incentive...the opportunity to gain tends to be far less of a driver. Again, there is another exception here where the potential perceived gain is enormous with respect to the amount of risk or work entailed in the process. People tend toward indolence.

Viewing this situation, why do you suppose our minds and our resultant behavior tend to operate in this fashion?

Here are some possibilities:

1.     Because we visualize threats more powerfully, and more sensorially;
2.     Because we feel that the likelihood of loss is always more probable than the likelihood of gain;
3.     Because we are more emotionally invested in maintaining the "status quo" than we are in getting ahead -- we are only motivated when we feel what little we have, or what little we believe that we deserve;
4.     Because we perceive that an adversary's ability and willingness to carry out a threat is far greater than our ability and willingness to make something positive happen through our efforts;
5.     Because we feel, in the deepest reaches of our subconscious, that we are more deserving of punishment than reward (through feelings of low self-esteem, guilt, and the like) and that it is more likely that harm will come to us than happiness;
6.     Because it is, in fact and perception, easier to run away from something than to run toward something;
7.     Because we feel that we are weaker than those around us.

I would like to know your thoughts, as would Christine West, a colleague and a featured columnist for The National Networker Newsletter. Please either respond by posting directly to this this article in the "comment" section below, or by writing directly to Christine West, noted expert on facing down and overcoming fear, at . If you write to Christine directly, please write "Braintenance and Fear" in the subject line of your email.

You can visit Christine West's website (a beautifully designed one, too) at .


Douglas Castle

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