Reversal Theory

Reversal Theory is a theory of motivation and emotion that argues that we have four pairs of opposite states or ways of seeing the world and we reverse between these states depending on the situation at hand. The states are serious vs. playful, conforming vs. challenging, mastery vs. sympathy, and self-oriented vs. other-oriented. When in the mastery state, for example, we are motivated by power and control, whereas in the sympathy state we are more focused on kindness and compassion. Reversal theory can be a tool for understanding change and our reactions to change. It can also help us indentify when we should reverse states based on our own needs and the needs of others.

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