A biological security motivation system for potential threats: are there implications for policy-making? Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Research indicates that there is a specially adapted, hard-wired brain circuit, the security motivation system, which evolved to manage potential threats, such as the possibility of contamination or predation. The existence of this system may have important implications for policy-making related to security. The system is sensitive to partial, uncertain cues of potential danger, detection of which activates a persistent, potent motivational state of wariness or anxiety. This state motivates behaviors to probe the potential danger, such as checking, and to correct for it, such as washing. Engagement in these behaviors serves as the terminating feedback for the activation of the system. Because security motivation theory makes predictions about what kinds of stimuli activate security motivation and what conditions terminate it, the theory may have applications both in understanding how policy-makers can best influence others, such as the public, and also in understanding the behavior of policy-makers themselves.

publication date

  • 2013