Tag Archive for: Antonio Damasio

What Motivates Us To Get Up For Work Every Day?

In developing the main character, Jayna, in A Calculated Life, I needed to understand more about the nature of emotion, and how emotion differs from feeling. I found enlightenment in Antonio Damasio’s Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain.
So I’m interested in this online article by Walter Chen who argues that people are more motivated in the workplace by their emotional drives than by the prospect of monetary rewards. And he explains the science behind this emotional motivation. Here’s a snippet from Chen’s article that references the experimental work of Antonio Damasio (click on the link above for the full article):

Making decisions is all about our intellectual capability, right? I thought so too, turns out, that’s completely wrong. In an experiment by Antonio Damasio, named Descartes’ Error he discovered that the key element for making daily decisions is to have strong emotional feelings:

“One of Damasio’s patients, Elliot, suffered ventromedial frontal lobe damage and while retaining his intelligence, lost the ability to feel emotion. The result was that he lost his ability to make decisions and to plan for the future, and he couldn’t hold on to a job.”

The way our brains are built makes it necessary that emotions “cloud” our judgment. Without all that cloudy emotion, we wouldn’t be able to reason, have motivation, and make decisions.

Incidentally, Damasio pointed out in Looking for Spinoza that Shakespeare analysed the nature of emotion and feeling in four lines of verse, toward the end Richard II:
(Richard II) asks for a looking glass, confronts his face, and studies the spectacle of ravage. Then he notes that the “external manner of laments” expressed in his face is merely “shadows of unseen grief,” a grief that “swells with silence in the tortured soul.” His grief, as he says, “lies all within.”