Monday, September 19, 2016

Positive and negative emotional attractors and Intentional Change Theory

Intentional change theory (ICT) explores the process by which individual change occurs and offers a new understanding on the role of positive and negative emotion in the process of intentional change. The positive emotional attractor (PEA) triggers constructive cognitive and physiological responses that enhance an individual's motivation, effort, optimism, flexibility, creative thinking, resilience and other adaptive behaviors. On the other hand, the negative emotional attractor (NEA) triggers another process by calling attention to current social and environmental stressors that may compromise an individual's effectiveness. 

The "PEA–NEA theory" brings together and integrates work on emotion and on the self with the advances in physiological measurement and neurological activity; using complexity theory, Boyatzis (2008) argues that these two states are strange attractors, each characterized by three dimensions: (1) positive versus negative emotional arousal, (2) hormonal arousal; and (3) neurological activation. 


In this video, Boyatzis explains the distinct psycho-physiological states of PEA and NEA and correspondet emotional, psychological, physiological, and neurological characteristics, summarized in the above table. 

In other words, PEA and NEA are self-regulating states and therefore, once a person is in either a PEA state or a NEA state, that person will remain in that state until a tipping point provokes a shift to the alternate state. And, since self-regulating systems are inherently homeostatic, unless the system is perfectly efficient (which is not the case for humans) deterioration will occur over time. 

Seems fair to assume that unless the PEA state is actively maintained over time, a person will eventually move toward the NEA even without noticing.