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Annu Rev Psychol. 2008;59:361-85.

Motives of the human animal: comprehending, managing, and sharing inner states.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.


We propose that four fundamental developments of the human animal together produce distinct human motives: (a) social consciousness or awareness that the outcomes or significance of a person's action (self or other) depend upon how another person (self or other) reacts to it; (b) recognizing that people's inner states can mediate their outward behaviors; (c) relating the present to both the past and the future (mental time travel); and (d) sharing reality with other people. We review a typology of four categories of concern for these motivational developments: thoughts, feelings/attitudes, competencies, and reference values (goals and standards). We then review the recent research on three specific areas related to these motivational concerns: imagining future-self inner states, managing how others comprehend us, and sharing knowledge about the world.

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