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Title: The motivational staircase : evolutionary insights from reversal theory
Authors: Sammut, Gordon
Keywords: Reversal theory (Psychology)
Motivation (Psychology) -- Social aspects
Need (Psychology) -- Social aspects
Social contract
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Citation: Sammut, G. (2019). The motivational staircase: evolutionary insights from reversal theory. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 25(4), 346-348.
Abstract: This paper discusses key insights from Reversal theory in evolutionary perspective. Reversal theory proposes four motivational states that may serve to justify and motivate the act of fighting. Individual soldiers are variably motivated in combat. Consequently, they respond to different construals of war depending on their idiosyncratic motivations. This paper proposes that these variable motivations are rooted in our genetic baggage and that they have evolved to cater for different demands posed by our shared environment for evolutionary adaptation. Specifically, the paper outlines a motivational staircase comprised of four evolutionary stages, namely survival, social instincts, reciprocity and social contract, which have provided us with a range of motivations that bear on individuals’ decisions to act, including combat. The paper concludes by arguing that understanding variable motivational states furthers our understanding of when individuals choose to collaborate with each for competitive purposes.
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