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Have we vindicated the motivational unconscious yet ? A conceptual review.

Abstract : Motivationally unconscious (M-unconscious) states are unconscious states that can directly motivate a subject's behavior and whose unconscious character typically results from a form of represion.The basic argument forM-unconscious states claims that they provide the best explanation for some seemingly non-rational behaviors, like akrasia, impulsivity or apparent self- deception. This basic argument has been challenged on theoretical, empirical, andconceptual grounds. Drawing on recent works on apparent self-deception and on the "cognitive unconscious" I assess those objections. I argue that (i) even if there is a good theoretical argument for its existence, (ii) most empirical vindications of the M-unconscious miss their target.(iii) As for the conceptual objections, they compel us to modify the classical picture of the M-unconscious. I conclude that M-unconscious states and processes must be affective states and processes that the subject really feels and experiences-and which are in this sense conscious-even though they are not, or not well, cognitively accessible to him. Dual-process psychology and the literature on cold-hot empathy gaps partly support the existence of such M-unconscious states.
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Submitted on : Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 3:19:24 PM
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Alexandre Billon. Have we vindicated the motivational unconscious yet ? A conceptual review.. Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers, 2011, september 2011 (vol. 2), pp.Article en ligne. ⟨10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00224⟩. ⟨halshs-00652415⟩