Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: May 18, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971935 | Print ISBN: 9781412966702 | Online ISBN: 9781412971935| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Michael John Apter
Of all the general theories of motivation and personality that have emerged in psychology, reversal theory is perhaps the one that pays the most attention to play. In fact, it sees life, at least in normal people, as involving a frequent alternation between a play mode and a serious mode (known technically as the paratelic and telic states, respectively). It is argued that it is not possible to tell from the outside whether someone is being playful or serious. So these two states are defined in the theory in subjective rather than behavioral terms. They are also defined motivationally In the serious state, the basic motivation is that of achievement, or progress toward achievement, in the future. In other words, in this case one sees what one is doing as having consequences beyond the immediate activity. Indeed, it is these consequences that give it meaning. If the ongoing activity is ...