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Crystal Clear app kfm home.png This user is a participant in the Motivation and emotion unit, 2010.
See also: Textbook
Writer1.gif This page is an e-portfolio. Also see other participants' pages.

Welcome to U118827 E-Folio[edit]

This online e-portfolio has been created as part of an assessment requirement for the purpose of recording and sharing my personal impressions of learning about human motivation and emotion. Further to this, the aim of such an exercise is firstly to organise my thoughts and crystallize my understandings of human motivation and emotion. Hence, I will treat my e-folio as a work in progress with the intention of posting each entry to reflect upon the subject material as presented in chronological order in a manner which parallels the unit material that is revealed from week to week. Secondly the exercise will further help scaffold my learning of human motivation and emotion and hence I will develop a rich resource that research suggests will benefit my own learning as well as that of others (Levine & Moreland, 2004). Therefore, as I share this e-portfolio I encourage fellow wikiusers’ to comment on the material I have presented.

Introduction To Motivation and Emotion[edit]

Consider the following questions:

  • What is motivation?
  • What is emotion?
  • And how are these two concepts related?

My learning journey began as soon as I opened the prescribed text for this unit (Reeve, 2009) and was confronted by the authors’ initial question he posed to readers of this book. Reeve asks readers to attempt to define motivation...which I have found incredibly tricky. The word motivation as derived from its Latin origin means ‘to move’ (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002), and this definition elicits the idea that we are discussing a theoretical, intangible driving force, although in an attempt to simplify motivation as a concept the Latin term does not address the nature of the construct. Alternatively, (as an initial reaction following reading the first two chapters of the text), I suggest motivation is an abstract term that captures a feeling, or a push (as the Latin term suggests). However, that 'striving’ or ‘push’ is seen to prompt a human behaviour in a manner to achieve a desired outcome. Fortunately I have had time to think and digest the concept of motivation before coming up with that above mentioned, and during my digestion of the concept noted a real inner struggle to adequately define this somewhat slippery concept.

This picture depicts Romeo and Juliet's motivation to pursue a relationship thwart with obstacles

A motivated reader strives to read all the Twilight books might ask..."What compells me to engage in and then pursue readings about Edward and Bella's adventures?"

Therefore, I ask why is the concept of motivation so difficult concept to pin down? Paradoxically, it is very easy to bring to mind examples that demonstrate motivational behaviour. For example, in the literary classic Romeo and Juliet, is it not through the characters’ shear motivational behaviour that they pursue a fatalistic relationship despite the major obstacles that are presented? Or more recently, an example of the motivational process at play that you are probably more familiar with (represented by Meyer (2005) in her book, Twilight, sees protagonists Bella Swan and Edward Cullen strive to overcome certain unique differences in order to pursue a romantic connection. Motivational behaviour is not only seen at an individual level, but also exemplified in group behaviour within and between societies. For example, historically we have records of approach based motivation demonstrated by certain Aboriginal Australian tribes as their need to migrate to different regions within Australia to access further resources fuels (and therefore motivates) their behaviour (O’Dea, 1991). Conversely, a social group can be motivated away from a certain fate, as demonstrated by groups of individuals who try to flee the poorer conditions of their country (Nicholson, 2002). Another example of motivational behaviour is often witnessed in the area of sport, where athletes are viewed as prime examples of human motivation in action as they work towards achieving set goals in a structured manner (Garn & Cothran, 2009). Hence the evidence of the ‘pushing’ and ‘pulling’ or ‘striving’ nature of the concept of motivation as described earlier highlights the difficulty of formulating a definition.

However, it is also clear these examples demonstrate the push and pull behaviour towards achieving a desired outcome, which captures the concept of motivation succinctly. Reeve (2009) provides an adequate definition of this behaviour in a very succinct manner that captures the forceful nature well. Concisely, Reeve (2009) offers the following definition of motivation within the framework of behaviour analysis, by stating “The study of motivation concerns those processes that give behaviour its energy and direction” (p.8). This definition provides a very simple ideational structure of this energetic process at work, where you can easily observe the relationship that the role emotions play within the study of motivation.Such a definition (Reeve, 2009) gives readers a full understanding that the motivational process is a very rich, dynamic multidimensional construct that involves a certain amount of reciprocity between each concept, in comparison to just how one feels in terms of motivational process. Emotions are divided into four separate but overlapping notions (subjective feelings, physiological preparedness/arousal), functionality and expression) conceptualising the emotional process. If you reflect on the earlier examples of motivation that were listed, it is difficult to separate the observations of the motivational process and observations of human motivational behaviour. Personally, I spent a great deal of mental effort to decern between these two overlapping notions until I realised perhaps these two themes are somewhat nubulous because when we obseve motivational behaviour we actually observe the motivational process in action so the two concepts are perhaps nestled within the same idea.

Let us investigate the 25 year old, Jamaican sprinter, w:Usain Bolt (who is currently the fastest man in the world) . Observe the following you tube linkand ponder these questions:

    1. Can you see Bolt exhibiting energy directed towards the accomplishment of a goal?
    2. Does Bolt seem physiologically prepared for running in this particular race?
    3. Do you think Bolt exhibits functional behaviour or rather, behaviour that is aimed to accomplish a task (and is this a very similar question to question one)?
    4. How is Bolt communicating possible emotions he is experiencing? Can we objectify possible feelings Bolt has with the behaviour his displays in the clip?
  1. Does this therefore imply Bolt is feeling and expressing himself as part of the emotional process that one experiences when motivated? My first question is posed to explore whether Bolt’s behaviour qualifies him as a motivated person. However, the next question overlaps this primary question but is posed to only investigate the emotional aspect of Bolt’s performance. Here it is clear; emotion plays a critical role within the motivational process.Furthermore, according to the UK Times, Bolt’s sole focus in life is directed towards his possible future achievements within the area of sprinting [UK Times article on Bolts motivation]. However, this same article depicts Bolt as quite an emotional character, happily relishing in his accomplishments and at times feeling the emotions of the lows of at times poor athletic performance (times where his set goals remained unachievable).

A runner who exemplifies motivational behaviour

There is such an overlap between emotions and motivation that one cannot separate the two intertwined concepts. Thus, emotions are seen as having a unique and important role within motivation that perhaps in themselves provide fuel that drives the machine, and the energy that Reeve (2009) so eloquently outlines as being the necessary requirement to achieve a desired outcome. Although emotions play one of three important roles found within internal motives, emotions perhaps overlap cognitions and needs in such a way that overshadows their importance. For example, research suggests cognitions indeed colour our emotions in a reciprocal manner (Devets & Raichle, 1998). This relationship is suggested to parallel a similar relationship between needs and emotions (Ryan & Deci,2006). Hence the role of emotions can be observed within two other identified concept, as well as uniquely, and this supports the idea the emotions play a major role in motivational behaviour. Although the motivational model Reeve (2009) proposes in defining the process is open to some conjecture and further scientific scrutiny (like most models), it offers insight to help break down the concepts involved in a parsimonious manner where clearly the relationship between motivation and emotion is seen as crucial when exploring the fundamentals of such a construct. This knowledge is important to have at the beginning of a journey into the exploration of motivation and emotion. Reeve's (2009) model provides a benchmark to enable the exploration of more exciting concepts generated by studies of motivation and emotion.


Devets, W.C., & Raichle. (1998). Reciprocal suppression of regional cerebral blood flow during emotional versus higher cognitive Implications for interaction between emotion and cognition. Cognition and Emotion, 12, 353-385.

Eccles, J.S. & Wigfield, A. (2002). Motivational, beliefs, values and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 109-132.

Garn, A.C., & Cothran, D.J. (2009). Correlates of a high 2x2 achievement goal profile in a fitness testing context: A qualitative analysis. Sport & Exercise Psychology Review, 5, 30-45.

Levine, J.M. & Moreland, R.L. (2004). Collaboration: The social context of theory development. Personality and Social Psychology Review,8, 164-172. Nicholson, B. (2002). Economic migration and asylum: A case for rethinking immigration policies.Conference paper accessed on-line: [4]

O’Dea, K., Jewell, P.A., Whiter, S.A., Altmann, S., Strickland, S., & Oftedal, O.T. (1991). Traditional diet and food preferences of Australian Aboriginal Hunter-Gatherers. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 334, 233-241.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Ryan, R.M., & Deci, E.L. (2006). Self regulation and the problem of human autonomy: Does psychology need choice, self-determination and will? Journal of Personality, 74, 1557-1585.

External Links:
You Tube Video of Usain Bolt[[1]]

Important Considerations in Understanding Motivation[edit]

This section serves to supplement the contents of last weeks learning within the lecture and readings and is devised from notation taken during that time.
Key points:

  • The area of motivation has long underpinned many specific areas found within the study of psychology
  • The study of motivation and emotion employs the empirical analysis expected from any scientific discipline (using empirically based and objective methodology)

Two Perennial Questions Plague The Study of Motivation

Reeve (2009) suggests two questions dominate the study of motivation and a further five subquestions that unfold in response. Clearly, there is a lot for us to explore in this unit!
  1. What causes behaviour?
  2. Why does behaviour start?

These two question lead to further questions, such as...

  • Once begun, why is behaviour sustained over time?
  • Why is behaviour directed towards some goals and yet away from others (the difference between approach-based and avoidance-based motivation)
  • Why does behaviour change in its direction?
  • Why does behaviour stop?
  • Why does behaviour vary in its intensity?

Most empirically based studies suggest that an individual’s level of motivation is seen to be in a constant state of flux and varies in degree of intensity over time. Which is intersting to note because it means that there is varying degrees of intensity in the energy required to motivate behaviour.
Motivation is defined as: "the force that gives energy and direction towards the pursuit of s specified goal and is either externally or internally influenced" (Reeve, 2009.p.6). Hence, the idea behind examination of motivation (and emotion) is to elucidate the causes and nature of this behavioural response. Why? As answered above, so that we learn how to tweak the underlying processes and maximise our own potentials in doing so (for ourselves and others).

Internal Motives

  1. Needs: the internal conditions that operate covertly within an individual to ensure basic needs (such as deficit needs such as nourishment) and psychological needs (growth needs such as self-competence) are satisfied
  2. Cognitions: Attributions, thoughts, expectations and is tied to the emotional realm of self-evaluation (such as the concepts of self-worth and self-esteem). Operating sometimes in defense of the ego in response in an interpretation of an environmental event or internal cue, cognitions are an important internal motive.
  3. Emotions and the Connection to Motivation:Emotions as a concept, is strongly linked to the study of motivation because of its purposeful and enegizing nature. Reeve (2009) introduces emotions early on to underscores the impotance of indlucing such a component in the study of motivation. However, the class will delvel further into the exploration of emotion (and its other three undelying components as listed below), in week ten onward. However, it is interesting to note that emotions are highly complex, difficult to define,and not only linked to motivation but other key experiences as well (listed below):
Emotions have a strong connection to the motivational behaviour in driving our approach or avoidance behaviour
  • Feelings – subjective verbal descriptions of emotional experience
  • Physiological Preparedness – a bodies physiological response to environmental demands (including the primitive fight or flight response)
  • Function – what specifically we want to accomplish at that moment
  • Expression – an overt way to gauge another’s (and our own) emotional interpretation in response to an event

External Events
External events can influence both the motivational and emotional experience. These include early experiences with the attchement relationship, forming strong bonds with others, school experience, and even nutritional components (for example the diet that a professional runner eats is often designed to sustain energy and concerntration required for competeting well in a running event). There are many more extrernal influences on motivation that i have not listed (otherwise I might be here for decade). The external influences that I am interested in exploring in regards to the motivational behaviour of students is seen the external incentives often used in schools as part of behaviour modification program aimed towards engaging students within their educational settings. So far, in my readings I understand there is much conjecture in relation to whether offering external rewards actual erodes internal motivation among students. I have also found there is a stricking difference in the type of educational versus psychological research that revolves around the notion of student motivation and external incentives both within journal articles and textbooks (especially textbooks). Often (but not always)in the teacher recommendations inside a textbook there is no actual empirical support for the guidelines offered. I have noted this within my chapter and encourage you all to follow up on the references provided if this is a phenonomen that interest you too.

Expressions of Motivational Behaviour

  • Behaviour
  • Engagement
  • Brain Activation & Physiology
  • Self Report (least preferred method as it is deemed less objective)

Table 1.

Concept Behavioural definition
Attention Concerntration and on-task focus
Effort exertion put forth while trying to accomplish a task
Latency The time a person delays a response following an initial exposure to stimulus event
Persistance The time between initiation of a response and its cessation
Choice When presented with two or more courses of action, showing a preference for one over the other
Probability of response Given a number of different opportunities for behaviour to occur, the number (percentage) of occassions that particular goal-directed behaviours does occur
Facial expreressions Facial movement, such as winkling the nose, raising the upper lip, and lowering the brow (i.e. disgusted facial expression)
Bodily gestures posture, weight shifts, and the movements of the legs and arms, and hands (e.g. clenched fists)

Note. Adapted from Understanding Motivation and Emotion (2nd ed.)(pp.11), by J. Reeve, 2009, USA: Wiley.
Four Interrelated Aspects of Engagement:

  1. Behavioural Engagement – Attention, effort and persistence
  2. Emotional Engagement – Interest, enjoyment
  3. Cognitive Engagement – Strategies, Self-regulation
  4. Voice – Self-expression, participation

Physiological Methods of Assessing Motivation (In addition to those listed in the table

  • Brain activity
  • Hormonal Activity
  • Cardiovascular activity
  • Ocular Activity
  • Electrodermal activity
  • Skeletal Activity

It was interesting to note that self-report measures were not the least reliable means of assessing an individual's level of motivation. Additionally, it was emphasied that examination of physiological responses in assessing a person's motivation was thought to be the most objective, followed by observations of the person's behaviour by researcher.
Eight Themes Seen Within The Study Of Motivation:

  1. Motivation benefits adaptation
  2. Motives direct attention and prepare action
  3. Motives vary over time and influence the ongoing stream of behaviour
  4. Types of motivation exist
  5. Motivation includes both approach and avoidance tendencies
  6. Motivation study reveals what people want
  7. To flourish, motivation needs supportive conditions
  8. There is nothing so practical as a good theory

(Reeve, (2009), sums up the chapter presenting the reoccuring themes seen in motivational psychology and emphasised throughout the readings. Personally, this weeks content helped me think about my motivational sources. For example, I was thinking what drives me to attend university and pursue readings, etc? Probably at this point (without having read further than the weeks scheduled readings) i would have to say primarily, I am motivated to attend university out of my innate feelings of curiosity and interest (motivation and emotion overlapping there) and to later enable me to enter a different career to the one in which i am in currently (extrinsic motivation (in terms of accessing additional monetary resources and social status) intrinsic (an innate desire to learn and do well, which satisfies my value system). So...long of the short, there are many competeting motivating factors influencing my decision to pursue my university studies and i have listed some of them. Additionally, you might have seen there is overlap between the motivational and emotional components when exploring motivating factors. Therefore, by applying some of this weeks content to my own situation I can clearly see the complexities that are involved in motivational and emotional behaviour.

Philosophical Origins The first, well-known study of motivation saw Greek philosophers (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) postulation of the Tripartite Theory of the Psyche. Plato (Socrates student) suggested this thee part process is what motivated individuals to behave in the way they do and noted the three levels (presented hierarchically) as the motivation device prompting a behavioural response. The three levels are presented hierarchically within Plato’s tripartite Theory (offered below) see higher levels dominating (or controlling) lower levels.

  1. Appetitive aspects
  2. Competitive Aspects
  3. Calculating Aspects

Aristotle supported Plato’s theoretical stance, but interpreted the levels differently as nutritive, sensitive and rational aspects of the psyche. However, Aristotle organized these three elements in a similar hierarchical fashion that parallels’ Plato’s abovementioned concepts. Later, the Triparate Theory was reduced to Dualism, where there was a two aspects to consider in studying motivation and those aspects stem from either the mind (will) or body (instinct)

In Thoughtful Reflection

I realise in my own journey towards understanding both motivational behaviour and emotions I have a long way to go. Although it has helped to clarify my own understandings into these concepts by looking at practical examples and reflecting on proposed definintons. However, I think that as my understandings develop as I read and learn throughout the rest of the unit, I can see these initial early understandings on the topic will hopefully expand. For now, what I offer in this entry is simply a starting point, so stay tuned for further developments in the area of human motivation and emotion.

Perhaps, the 'thinker' (as he's most famously known as) is quitely pondering a myriad of ways in which he can understand the concept of motivation?

First Tutorial: Inital Impressions/Summary[edit]

This week (as the heading suggests) I attended my first tutorial for this unit (Motivation and Emotion). It was pleasing to note some familar faces among some friendly but unfamilar ones.For the purposes of extending my inital entry that revolved arounded defining the concepts of both motivation and emotion, I thought it crucial to reflect on some of the content that unfolded within this week tutorial as it seems quite relevant. After early introduction, the class formed study groups. The groups were asked to individually note their own definitions of the two major concepts (motivation and emotion), and then we were asked to share within our group those definitions and try to synthesise them into a definition the group could offer for the consideration of the rest of the class. This exercise I found really helpful as I soon realised that my early definition (see above entry), were perhaps lacking depth. Although, some of my definitions were 'on the right track' as it were as other definitions offered in this tutorial seemed in line with my own understandings.
For example, these following definitions were offered during this small group exercise:

Table 2.

Motivation & Emotion As Defined By Our Tutorial Group During A Small Group Exercise
Motivation Emotion
A directed energy to do something that can vary in strengths and priority - something you want, need, or desire and it can be internal or external. A state of mind, thoughts affecting feelings, extrinsic forces in varying strengths and physiological reactions.
A need, cognition, function or emotion that drives organisms to engage and continue with and terminate behaviour. A short-term, subjective-physiological-functional-expressive phenomenon.
An internal or external driving force behind a person's actions and behaviour. A concept to describe a physiological state at any given point in time.
A drive which can be internal or external which compels us to perform certain behaviours which includes energy and direction. A psychological state of mind.
The driving force behind any behaviour. A state of mind which is determined by thoughts and feelings.
The drive for energy and direction utilised in setting a goal or goal-setting behaviour. A fuzzy construct that its difficult to pin down, subjective in nature, can be a physiological state and psychological moment.

My Own Thoughts In Response To Defining The Two Constructs In Class

In regards to defining motivation, I noted that this process pertains to not only humans but all organisms (the area of animal motivation had been somewhat overlooked by my own definition). The importance of external as well as internal motivational sources had previously been something amiss in my own definition, and reflecting on the textbook chapters content, is rather important consideration when asking general questions like why is a peson motivated to behave as they do? The idea of motivation being the driving force towards obtaining a desired outcome or goal supports my early insights above mentioned in my first entry.

In reflection of the definitions of emotion offered by groups, I experienced one of those 'aha' moments when it was proposed that often people are motivated to behave in ways that help to ease emotion unrest. For instance, (and generally) people behave in order to reduce emotion distress they maybe momentarily feeling and that is why the two concepts appear extremely interrelated. Although it seemed as a class we found it easy to refine definition of motivation, we seemed to find defining emotion a lot harder (which was understandable given that the concept is generally seen as being difficult to capture with words). Hence, it is easy to see why some motivational processes are captured within an emotional moment/behaviour (like Usain Bolt's win that appears on the You Tube link above).
In Reflection

The tutorial motivated helped me to stay on task this week as others in my group inspired me to do so. It also helped me to digest some earlier motivational concepts we discussed during tutorial as an extension of this weeks content

As a first tutorial, this task in defining the concepts we endevor to uncover is very valuable as a starting point to know where our own definitions can be modified (and exactly what needs to be included). The tasks also helps not only clarify understandings of the unit content, but helps us to forge beginning relationships with our appointed study buddies (which I am sure will be a cruical ingredient that assures as students helps to support future learning). I look forward to where our group goes from here. I personally, will be working towards religning my original plan I propose for the text book chapter I am writing on student motivation. my revision comes after careful consideration on some the the pre-reading on this subject matter as well as setting some objectives in class for this following weeks upcoming tutorial. As further motivation, my fellow study buddies seem to be fairly driven and extermely organised to achiving the same goal, so this helps knowing I have comrades in the trenches working equally hard on these assessment tasks. As you may note, my motivational processes are alive and kicking and will hopefully push me in the right direction with the goals (e-folio and textbook chapter) that I need to achieve.

Link to an overview of the first tutorial in the unit Motivation and Emotion

Brain & Physiological Needs:[edit]

Week three has arrived introducing the study of biology to the area of motivation. Initially, this introduction began with a brief journey into neurology with an overview on the areas of the brain that play a role in motivational behaviour. This prompted my own readings in the area of brain localization and specificity. An interesting means of examining brain function and in specific, brain specificity, (and often utilized well by neurocognitive researchers (Schnakers, Faymonville & Laureys, 2009; Siggelkow, 2007)), in trying to establish a link between motivation/emotion and brain anatomy, is through the examination of people with damage to specific areas of their brain. One case that springs to my mind is the famous case of Phineas Gage (Wagner & Thagard, 2004). According to Wagner and Thagard (2004), at the tender age of 37 years, Gage experienced a horrific brain trauma. As a railway worker it was Gages job to clear the way ahead by blasting through rock and explosives in order to lay down new railway track. During one of the routine blasts into a mountain side, an iron bar unexpectedly was hefted into the air and progressed with such velocity it managed to impale Gage straight through his head! No… Gage did he die from the torturous ordeal (nor did die from the infection cause by the introduction a foreign object).

This picture depicts A CGI animation of the trajectory the iron bar followed when it impailed poor Mr. Gage

Mr. Gage lived on (minus the bar after some delicate surgical work). However, there were specific impairments in Gage’s personality and behavior (Wagner & Thagard, 2004). For example, close friends of Gage’s reported that he demonstrated significant impairments in emotional regulation (such that he seemed overly impulsive) and within his decision making abilities (observing Gage’s perseveration of seemingly small decisions). Gage’s new behaviours that seemed so unlike his usual energetic (and by implication) motivated self prior to the accident, that friends and family felt significant distress for Gage’s future and translated these concerns to Gages doctor John Martyn Harlow (Wagner & Thagard, 2004). Gage’s case was one of the first presented to those in the field of neuroscience and physiology. This sparks further discussions and further research into the connection between specific brain areas in correspondence to personality traits, cognitions and behavioral functions such as decision making, emotional regulation and some motivational behaviours like approach behaviours that we are looking at during this week’s lessons in the current unit (Motivation and Emotion).

A Daguerrotype Unretouched photo of Pihneas Gage with the rod that caused him so much angst

Hence, melding the research undertaken by Wagner and Thagard (2004) and this week’s readings (Reeve, 2009), the areas of the brain that were significantly impaired by the damage Gage (pictured left with his iron rod)experienced are also those same areas of the brain that underlie motivational and emotional behavior. For example, Wagner and Thagard (2004) postulate a theory of cognitive-affected areas within the brain that mainly operate through the neurological processes between such brain structures as the nucleus accumbens (implicated in decision making), the hippocampal and amydgala regions (responsible for emotional regulation) and the ventromedial area of the prefrontal cortex (involved in integrating information between those structures above mentioned). Further to this, these theorists recognize these systems as the same areas that were thought to be implicated in Gage’s accident and are in keeping with the reports of gage’s behavior post-accident (Harlow, 1999; Wagner & Thagard, 2004). Additionally, there seems to be corresponded with a change in approach/avoidance behaviour such that Gage was notably less motivated and did not appear to his friends the enigmatic and energetic go-getter he once was (Wagner & Thargard, 2004)). Although, there is much controversy as to the reliability of Harlow’s (Gages doctor) observations of Gages behaviour following the head trauma (Harlow, 1999) and in comparison to Gages state prior to his meeting the iron bar for which he became famous, as these subjective reports stemmed from friends/family of Gage. In support of the association between specific brain areas and the correspondence with certain behavioural patterns exhibited, there are many other studies that delve into brain mapping that support the findings that certain brain areas are associated with both motivational and emotional behaviours (Ogawa, et al.1993).

That being said, the advances in the area of brain neurology, although rich in insight into establishing connections between brain anatomy and a person’s matched behavioural responses, only paints half a picture of the human in action. For example, much of the neurobiological research fails to conceptualize that a human lives within a myriad of both internal AND external influences (Maehr, 2008). Although, the focus this week is upon the biological mechanisms that underlie motivational and emotional behavior, it is important that we maintain an understanding that social and environmental forces also play an important role in human functioning, a point that Reeve (2009) does well to elucidate in the weeks readings.

In Reflection

This week learning helped me understand the struggle I experienced in generating a definition of motivation, as I now realize because of the physiological process that goes on within us all we are not always consciously aware of why we do the things we do. For example, sometimes we are motivated to fulfill a basic need such as hunger, but because we may lack the ability at that time to attend to this biological urge (perhaps because we are distracted), we may fail to satiate this need, which is one way in which Reeve (2009) suggests we can at times be poor self-regulators. Once again, this indicates that people experience not only the neurological sensations and physiological urges within, but our actions are externally influenced by the world in which we live. It is these external influences and our perceptions of them such as others in our social world as well as our physical environment interact in such a complex way that necessitate the consideration of new research to look at the whole being within their environment in order to draw specific conclusions. This, I imagine is especially relevant when examining motives that prompt human behaviour. I look forward to next week’s learning’s revolving around psychological and social needs in reflection of this week’s content.

Further to this, I realise there are four main motivational sources:

  • Needs
  • Cognitions
  • Emotions
  • External Events
Brain Regions implicated In Motivational Behaviour

Relevant to this week, we are focusing on approach based or aviodance like behaviours that are physiologically motivated and maybe influenced by extrenal events but include primitive drives, needs, and often accompany an emotional response. To measure the level of motivation an individual displays we can observe behavioural responses, note an individuals level of engagement in an activity, use physiologically derived mechanisms (such as EEG, blood tests, ECG, PET scan, FMRI, electrodermal activity, ocular activity, etc). When measuring brain actitivty and the relevant hormonal levels found within an individuals bloodstream, there are a few major players that are implicated in motivational behaviour. The follow have been nicely summarised in the table below (Reeve, 2009, p.63):

Table 3

Neurotransmitter Motivational Behaviour
Dopamine Generates good feelings associated with reward
Serotonin Influences mood and emotion
Norepinephrine Regulates arousal and alertness
Endorphin Inhibits pain, anxiety and fear by generating good feelings to counter these negative feelings

Table 4

Hormone Motivational Behaviour
Cortisol "Stress hormone" related to poor intellectual functioning, negative affect, and poor health
Testosterone Associated with high sexual motivation: Underlies the mating effort, often implicated in aggressive behaviours
Oxytocin Prompts 'seeking out' behaviours like when looking for consultation with others, support and nurturance of others during times of stress, "the tend and befriend stress response". Often available in large amounts during and after birth and is said to help facilitate the bonding relations between mother and child

The process in which these biochemical agents are activated within the brain usually is derived from an extrenal environmental event (including food deprivation etc). The biochemical agents are released in response and activate the corresponding brain region to then prompt the motivated behaviour.

Of course, physiological needs not only involve the brain, but involves the whole body in motivating the individual. Furthermore, and as stated within the lecture, motivational behaviours are intertwined not only with our inner physiology, but with the world in which we live and interact within. Even drives (basic motivational prompts) follow an antecedent and then behavioural response pattern, with many of the antecedents being those environmental triggers that prompt our physiological responses. However, there are areas seen within the brain that demonstrate hightend activity leading researchers to pinpoint those areas as being implicated in specific forms of motivational behaviour. The key hormones and neurotransmitters listed above are also found in highly concerntrated levels within those areas inside our brains (in the case of neurotransmitters) and within our blood (hormones). We can investigate motivation through examining neural activity within the three areas of the brain; the forebrain (the animalistic part of us that enables the autonomic function of the body and includes the brain stem (the most primitive and oldest part of our brains)); the midbrain and; the cerebral cortex (which covers the greatest neural region). Those areas of the brain that are implicated in approach-oriented motivational behaviour are listed below (table 5).

Table 5

Brain Sturucture Associated Motivational/emotional Experience
Hypothalamus Pleasurable feelings associated with feeding, drinking, mating
Medial Forebrain Bundle Pleasure, reinforcement
Orbitofrontal Cortext Learning the incentive value of events, making choices
Septal Area Pleasure center associated with sociability, sexuality
Nucleas Accumbens Pleasure experience of a reward
Anterior Cingulate Cortext Mood, volition, making choices
Cerebral Cortext (Frontal lobe) Making plans, setting goals, formulating intentions
Left Prefrontal Cortext Approach motivational tendencies
Medial Prefrontal Cerebral Cortext Learning response-outcome contingencies that underlie perceived control beliefs and mastery motivation (the area that is probably implicated within the physiology of student motivation i will endevor to note in my text chapter)

I think investigating (and the exploration that has already been quite extensive as clearly evident in the above tables), is cruical to understand or rather in recording in order to infer the motivational processes that area neurologically involved. Certainly the research already gained within the area of neurology sheds light on individuals who have suffered brain damage through brain trauma (including neglect and emotional abuse as well as enviromentally induced brain injuries)and certain types of psychopathy. It is also intresting to note that there are fewer brain structures implicated in avoidance-oriented motivational behaviours (below). Does this simply reflect a gap in the research? Or is this an indiciation that as we evolve and adapt to our environment there is less need for avoidance like behaviours that are often displayed when threatend? If only there were a caveman handy to undergo a quick fMRI!

Table 6

Brain Sturcture Associated Motivation/Emotional Experience
Right Prefrontal Cerebral Cortex Withdraw motivation and corresponding emotional tendencies
Amydgala Detecting and responding to threat and danger (via fear and increased anxiety)
Hippocampus Detecting and responding to threat and danger (via fear and anxiety)

It is good to determine our physiological responses at the most basic level (as we focused upon in todays lecture). However, we need to push forward with our learning to gain knowledge of the individual psychological, social and emotional self to really undertsnad the motivational forces at play in our learning journey into motivation and emotion. I can hardly wait!


Harlow, J.M. (1999). Passage of an iron rod through the head. Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences, 11, 281-213.

Maehr, M.L. (2008). Culture and achievement motivation. International Journal of Psychology, 43, 917-918.

Ogawa,S., Menon, R.S., Tank, D.W., Kim, S.-G., Merkle, H., Ellerman, J.M., & Ugurbil,K. (1993). Functional brain mapping by blood oxygenation level-dependent contrast magnetic resonance imaging: A comparison of signal characteristics with a biophysical model. Biophysical Journal, 64, 803-812.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Schnakers,C., Faymonville,M-E., & Laureys, S. (2009). Ethical implications: Pain, Coma and related disorders. Encyclopedia of Consciousness, 1, 243-250.

Siggelkow, N. (2007). Persuasion with case studies. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 20-24.

Wagar, B. M., & Thagard, P. (2004). Spiking Phineas Gage:A Neurocomputational Theory of Cognitive–Affective Integration in Decision Making. Psychological Review, 111(1), 67-79.

External Links:

Wikipage on Phineas Gage

Deakin University on Phineas Gage

Further information on Phineas_Gage

You Tube documentary on Phineas Gage

Bridging Week 3 and 4 with Maslow (1970)[edit]

Reflecting on this week’s readings concerning psychological needs (chapter 6, Reeve, 2009), it seems somewhat crucial to understand the difference between psychological needs (this week’s concern) and physiological needs (last week’s area of focus). As I understand, biological needs urge people to behave in ways in which will return their bodies to a more satisfying state. For example, when a person acknowledges a physiological impecuniousness, such a hunger, they are motivated to seek out nutrients to eat and restore an inner sense of internal homeostasis where the body feels satiated. Physiological needs in this regards are often seen as deficit needs as the body is constantly motivated to satiate these needs after acknowledging a sense of internal loss or depletion within their normally homeostatic state (Reeve, 2009).

In contrast, psychological needs are considered to be ‘growth needs’ (Reeve, 2009), as a person is motivated to strive beyond fulfilling basic physiological needs to further skills, improve current abilities all for the betterment of one’s self. I think the point Reeves (2009) is trying to make is that a person’s biological needs are seen to create a sense of internal deprivation, whereas a person’s psychological needs are acknowledged as a means of reflecting a human’s innate tendency towards individual advancement. However, I see there is a certain amount of overlap between the two, as last week’s chapters (and lecture) suggested the physiological needs have to be psychologically acknowledged before one is motivated to behave. Although, I guess those needs are still acknowledged psychologically as basic biological needs and this is what separates them from those needs discussed this week (the growth needs). I feel more satisfied with the same concepts as presented in Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy of needs, only because although the needs are inter-related, they are separated out in such a way that it seems (to me) a little clearer to grasp the differences.

This picture depicts Maslows Hierachy of Needs where development of an individual begins at the lower level safety needs and progresses through each level towards self-actualization

According to Maslow (1970), we all have these basic biological needs and once these needs are satisfied we are motivated to pursue higher needs (such as those proposed by Reeve, 2009). This tendency to move beyond fulfilling basic needs is the human tendency Maslow postulates as an innate need to self-actualize (1970). Although Maslow presents his model as more of an ongoing process (because he suggests that not many of us ever achieve a self-actualized state), the point he makes is an important one in terms of understanding the complexity of competing needs and the impact not only upon a person’s motivation but on their whole development (Maslow, 1970). For example, Maslow (1970) suggests that until a person’s basic needs are meet, they will not be able to pursue any other needs they may have, including psychological needs such as love and belonging needs, esteem and the ultimate…self-actualization needs (Maslow, 1970). In this regard it is clear as noted by Maslow (1970) that a person’s environment is of great consequence to their psychological health and well being. This is where I think Reeves (2009) could improve in terms of painting the environment as a key player in a person’s psychological adjustment. Although, Reeve (2009) proposes “the environment is crucial for the survival of any organism” (p.143), he groups all a person’s needs together in such a way that the reader might think that one may not survive unless socially and intellectually stimulated. Indeed, a person living an impoverished environments such as a child who is abused does, may not learn to accomplish any other needs besides basic needs. It is nevertheless arguable that that same child will not survive. In fact, research suggests that children do survive but they often develop psychologically unhealthy ways of functioning that dominates their personalities well into adulthood (Aviles, Anderson & Davila, 2006).

Abraham Maslow

At present, I work in a situation where my job description entails that I find a positive means of motivating children who have experienced (or are experiencing) tricky environments like those abovementioned, and other children who have significant neurological impediments to learning, to engage them in their education. On reflection of this week’s (and last week’s readings) I can understand why at times these children seem almost frozen in their stage of this motivational process and arrested in their development, as their basic needs to survive demands all their attention, even in a school setting where they appear hyper vigilant and ever ready to evade potential danger. Because these same children seem to attend to different cues in their environment such as to warn them of potential hazards, their ability to attend to academic tasks is compromised. Where to begin to help these children? Well, as Maslow (1970), Reeve (2009) and a number of other researchers suggest (Aviles, Anderson & Davila, 2006), we have to try to build a rapport with these children so that they differentiate between a safe and unsafe environment and so that they feel supported within their school environment.

This is a clear example of how the environment (and the people within it) can be used to help facilitate healthy growth for a child who has experienced trauma, by providing that child with a means of realizing and then satisfying basic needs so the gratification of higher psychological needs may be pursued. Furthermore, it seems fundamental in this regards that the atmosphere that surrounds an individual fosters those elements that helps them to not only survive, but provides the opportunity for a person to reach their fullest potential and hence psychological prosperity.


Aviles, A.M., Anderson, T.R., & Davila, E.R. (2006). Child and adolescent social-emotional development within the context of school. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 11, 32–39.

Maslow, A. (1970). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Our Second Tutorial[edit]

Small group discussion during tutorial facilitated my personal plan in terms of what I need to acheive this week for this unit (Motivation & Emotion)

On a very dark and dank day I experienced the second tutorial in the series this week. Despite the pelting rain and the dismal weather, it was really worth while coming along because the first activity (small group discussion revolving around how we all were going on our textbook chapter writings) was (for me) quite beneficial. I find it good to hear feedback reaffirming that i am on the right track (with the content included in the draft plan on student motivation theories). Additionally, I thought the suggestions students made in terms of extra content relevant to the chapter very helpful and ensured that this week I hunt down articles I had yet to consider. In fact, because of the group discussion I was able to set specific tasks like those previously mentioned (and more) that I could pursue between now and next tutorial. For example, I have a number of articles written by the author of our prescribed text (Johnmarshall Reeve), who has written extensively in the area of educational and motivation that I noted so I could try to track down them down. Happily, I found and read most of them today and feel like I have a deeper understanding as to the importance of autonomy-supportive environments in motivating students to engage in their learning environments. seems Reeve (2009), uses the theoretical framework of self-determination theory to explore the phenomena of student motivation. I have also been able to borrow from the library a number of educational psychology textbooks and this has ultimately been the reason why I revised my original plan for the textbooks to include some necessary information. However, it was really during the process of the small group discussion the idea that to condense much of this information (and it is a lot), it might be wise to draw up a table listing the theoretical perspectives and the corresponding definitions and theorists’ etc. Although this entry is not long and does not involve further readings and specific research, the insights gained at this week tutorial have been important to fuel and direct my thoughts needed for writing the textbook chapter. However, I also feel there was lot to gain from the contents of this week’s lessons on psychological and social needs, and because I have read on this area in particular as it seems quite relevant for the chapter I am working on, I will endeavour to share my understandings during next e-folio entry. Let’s hear it for collaborative learning, as it seems to be paying off.

In reflection of some of the content from this weeks topics, I find Self-determination theory (SDT) reminds me a lot of Bandura's idea of reciprical determinism Reciprocal Determinism(how the person, their cognitions and the environment operate in dynamic interactive exchange). However, with the concept of control versus choice, the SDT notion the person and the enviroment operate within a unique (and dynamic) dilectic,such that behaviour that emininates from within the individual gives them a sense of personal control. Whereas a persons sense of choice and freedom (and by extension competence and mastery), involve the interaction with their environment. I would argue both aspects can be largely learnt. However, as Seligman demonstrates so well in his animal learning experiments with dogs, a persons sense of control is largely based on their own learning histories.

Likewise, social needs are seen to be mainly aquired through cultural and family upbringing, but are seen to be of great importance in the process of motivating an individual. So, stayed tuned, hang in there and you will be rewarded as together we delve into self-determination theory and the importance of autonomy, competence and relatedness in particular (Ryan & Deci, 2000). (I could not help myself I had to put one reference in but it is a very good reference as an introduction to self-determination theory and how this theory sees the person as an active agent of their own environment (and by extension learning), enjoy.


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley

Ryan, R.M., & Deci, E.L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68-78.

Link to second tutotiral for the unit Motivation and Emotion

Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation[edit]

At first glance the chapter content and the corresponding lecture indicated intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are two separate constructs that drive an individuals’ behaviour. However, after really examining the lecture content this week there is quite a lot of overlap to be seen between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and one becomes quickly aware of the dynamic relationship that exists between these two interrelated constructs.

The Reward of A Gold Star Often Seen As Extriniscally Motivating. However, educators must cosider whether giving gold stars undermines a students intrinsic motivation as much research so often demonstrates

Firstly, the influence that external rewards can have in undermining intrinsic motivation demonstrates that these two concepts (extrinsic and intrinsic motivational drives) are related in such a way that one may influence the other. Although, even this point is a much contended one in terms of whether or not extrinsic reinforcers can be used in such a way that all intrinsic motivation is null and void. For example, Amabile, Hennessey and Grossman (1986) discovered that offering a reward for individuals (both children and adults were tested separately), to complete a non-contracted activity (a creative task) did not influence the intrinsic value of the activity itself. That is participants still viewed the task as being inherently satisfying and did not influence the level of creativity that individuals demonstrated within the confines of that particular creative task. However, this only occurred if participants were not contracted to complete the task (hence, the non-contracted task condition). Therefore, this research indicates that although it may be said that extrinsic incentives may in fact decrease the level of intrinsic motivation an individual’s reports, this relationship may only be evident under certain conditions (Amabile,et al., 1986).

Secondly, within the lecture it was pointed out that because of this overlap between intrinsic and extrinsic motives, it is somewhat difficult to determine which process is motivating another person’s behaviour. Furthermore, it seems at times that a person maybe employing both forms of motivation, but favouring one form more so than the other. As previously mentioned in other lectures when noting ways in which an individual’s motivational behaviour can be analysed, self-report measures reflecting on why an individual thinks she/he is motivated to pursue a task/event, may not accurately reflect unconscious goals and underlying behavioural motives. In this regard, two individual completing an identical task maybe in fact using different motives, similar motives or both intrinsic and extrinsic motives in varying degrees (it sounds rather confusing).

Finally, the level of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is not necessarily fixed, as some researchers indicate that it can change during the process of task engagement (Higgins, Cesario, Hagiwara, Spiegel & Pittman, 2010). For example, it seems a person may not always approach a tasks for the purpose of satisfying an inherent drive, but through process of engaging in a task may begin to develop a strong urge to complete the tasks because the task has become intrinsically motivating (Higgins, et al. 2010). Hence, initially a task can be undertaken because of a myriad of externally influencing factors (like deadlines, monetary reward, praise), but during the process of completing such a task, the task itself becomes inherently satisfying for the individual due to the change in the level of intrinsic motivation. In summation, it seems, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation at times demonstrates a fair degree of overlap and influence each other in the degree to which an individual demonstrates their motivational behaviour. The blurring of the concepts is sometimes what can make it difficult to determine which motive is more at play as self-report measures are often unhelpful to separate intrinsic or extrinsic motivational behaviour. Furthermore, the degree to which an individual feels either intrinsically or extrinsically motivated may change through the process of completing the task or activity, again confounding which motive is more dominant. Therefore, let us further investigate intrinsic motives to see if we can shed light on this intricate relationship that is so often presented.

Intrinsic Motivation:

This picture depicts one example of a child involved in the process of painting for perhaps the intrinsic satisfaction that one can experience from being involved with such a task

Defined as, “The inherent desire to engage in one’s interests and to exercise and develop one’s capacities” (Reeve, 2009, p. 111). An elaboration of this definition was noted by researchers Eccles and Wigfield (2002) as they explored intrinsic motivation theories as those postulations that examine an individual’s drive to pursue an activity personal interest and enjoyment. Again, there is an echo of self-determination theory in that pursuing an activity or event because that experience is inherently satisfying demonstrates autonomic, or rather individualised behaviour, as one may break away from a group trend in order to pursue such an experience. Importantly, not only completion of such a task (which may in fact be also seen as externally rewarding), but engaging in the task may lead an individual to increased feelings of competence (the second key point within self-determination theory) and increase in an individual perceived self-determination (Reeve & Deci, 1996). Finally, the drive to pursue such a task in the first place may have been the result of relatedness, a concept that gauges the level of personal interest an individual has towards an activity (or experience) (Reeve & Deci, 1996). It helps to conceptualise the process of intrinsic motivation within a self-determination framework as this helps to underscore the relationship between intrinsic motivation and psychological needs. Furthermore, it helps to elucidate the importance of intrinsic motivation and the positive effect on psychological well-being. Specifically, it is well documented in the vast amount of research revolving around intrinsic-extrinsic motivation, that individuals with higher level of intrinsic drive often report correspondingly better psychological health and well-being and encourage the individual to self-regulate/motivate (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Ryan and Deci (2000) suggest not only does intrinsic motivation lead to better health outcomes, but in this regard it seems to have a perpetual effect in terms of fuelling autonomous desires and increasing an individual’s self-competence. The question an individual always able to find every activity inherently reinforcing? Obviously, and unfortunately, the answer is no. There is no possible way (unless perhaps an individual has had part of their frontal lobe removed), a person can find enjoyment in engaging in every take they will or have ever to complete. In fact, returning to the idea presented earlier, that intrinsic and extrinsic motives operate in flux through the process of activity engagement (Higgins, Hagiwara, Spiegel & Pittman, 2010), sometimes, the important motivating factor to prompt task engagement might initially be in the form of extrinsic reinforcement.

Extrinsic Motivation:

File:Money (reais).jpg
Money is often an used as an intrinsic motivational tool to prompt individuals to go to work

Extrinsic motivation is not always seen as the dark force behind the good and pure experience of intrinsic motivation. Rather, extrinsic motivation can sometimes be the necessary force that helps an individual's initial engagement with a task. Extrinsic motivation refers to those factors that emanate outside an individual but influence an individual’s behaviour (Reeve, 2009). For example, its often the monetary value associated with going to work, or the praise we receive from others when we complete the dirty washing and it is the hugs that I sometimes receive from my son when I wash his muddy football boots. I can personally attest to the fact that if I did not receive such a warm hug after scrubbing down his decrepit football boots each Sunday I just simply would cease to complete this task!!!Yes...there are some tasks in life that have absolutely no intrinsic value but they still need to be completed. On a more serious note, extrinsic motivation is often utilized within school settings as classroom management strategies to encourage on-task behaviour; extrinsic motivation can offer a very pragmatic way to encourage specific desired behaviour (Cameron & Pierce, 1994). However, this is a hotly contested area for researchers, and the original overview of research into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation undertaken by Cameron & Pierce (1994) has been heavily criticised by other researchers in the area suggesting that the extent to which an influence is positively influenced by external motives is somewhat ‘oversimplified’ in the analysis presented (Lepper, Keavney & Drake, 1996). Rather, these theorists suggests that extrinsic motivation can help an individual begin to engage in a task but only under certain conditions and still to the possible degradation of the individuals inherent satisfaction of an activity (experience) (Leppper, Greene & Nisbette, 1973; Lepper, Keavney & Drake, 1996). Some educational theorists take the value of extrinsic motivation to an even greater level saying that it de-rails the entire learning process and the students belief in their own skill, and will hence have far reaching consequences if not removed (see: (Lepper, Greene & Nisbette, 1973) and Alfie Kohns :The case Against Gold Stars found at : Alfie kohn ).

As contentious as extrinsic motivation is a topic, it is still essential that we understand the concepts as there are times (as clearly mentioned in lecture), where one can and does use it in a practical setting. For example, many behaviour modification programs are based on initially intrinsically motivating compliant behaviours with both children and adults who have less adaptive behaviours but are requiring external help to try to overcome the issues that face them as a result.

In Conclusion (and reflection):

Although I have spent the entire entry considering intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, this week’s content also presented important subject matter revolving around goal setting and goal striving. However, I do feel that there is somewhat an overwhelming amount of content presented at an undergraduate level that to encourage deeper understand of the material it is sometimes good to just focus on a few specific points of interests and explore them thoroughly (but in an enjoyable way). I am not the world’s best writer by any means, but I do learn a lot more from going beyond just the material in lectures and textbook readings and finding further material explaining the phenomena that peaks my interest. In saying that, I realize now that it will be almost impossible to include all content presented week by week. Rather, I intend from here on to reflect (in an in-depth-manner) on the material included in each week by narrow scope of the content and investigating the main concepts (or the most personally interesting) concepts presented. This may help you the reader gain knowledge about what I have personally learnt from the journey into motivation and emotion. Certainly, it will cut down the amount of overwhelming material I could have included (yes...I tend to write on and on and on and on). Hence, I have redefined my objectives and feel even more motivated in the competition of this e-folio and I still hope you will join me on this mission.


Amabile, T.M., Hennessey, B.A., & Grossman, B.S. (1986). Social influences on creativity: The effects of contract-for reward. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 14-23.

Cameron, J., & Pierce, W.D. (1994). Reinforcement, reward and intrinsic motivation: A meta-analysis. Review of educational Research, 64, 363-423.

Eccles, J., & Wigfield, A. (2002). Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 109-132.

Higgins,E.T., Cesario, J., Hagiwara, N., Spiegel,S., & Pittman, T. (2010). Increasing or decreasing interest in activities: The role of regulatory fit. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 559-572.

Lepper, M.R., Keavney, M., & Drake, M. (1996). Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic rewards: A commentary on Cameron and Pierce;s meta-analysis. Review of educational Research, 66, 5-32.

Lepper, M.R., Greene, D., & Nisbette, R. (1973). Undermining children's intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the 'overjustification' hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,28,129-137.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley

Ryan, R.M., & Deci, E.L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68-78

Social Needs[edit]

Most living orgainsms have an innate need to belong

According to this week’s content on social needs are one type of acquired need (the other being quasi needs or rather (as we fondly call them "wants and desires") and these are more transient compared to social needs. However, social and quasi needs operate from social origins and similarly originate in response to the environmental demands (either pressure or situation demands) or from learning histories and interaction with others (as in the case of social needs). Both needs effect our cognitions, emotions and behaviour (Reeve, 2009, p.172). To help differentiate the four needs (physiological, psychological, social and quasi) needs I have inserted the table outlined in Reeve, 2009 (p.173).

Table 7
Four Types of Needs and Their Definitions

Type of Need Definition
Physiological Biological needs within the organism, inclusive of and activiting neural activity and other bodily funtions in response. Seen as deficit rather than growth needs. Examples include hunger and thirst
Psychological Growth needs that in a Self-Determination Theretical framework include compentency, relatedness and autonomy. Examples include self-actualization tendency and development of a mastery orientation (versus helpless orientation) as it relates to both autonomy and feelings of compentence
Social Based on an individuals learning history that included interchanges within their social surrounds. The four main ideas discussed within the realm of social needs include: achievement, affilitation and intimacy, and the need for power
Quasi Transient needs that are situationally bound and operate in response to environmental pressures such as the need for an umbrella when it rains.

Social needs are derived from a function of our own learning histories and socialization processes reflecting the positive social experiences we have over the course of our lives. The social experiences we have create the tastes for and increases our drive for future social encounters. Additionally, examining social needs from a psychological standpoint, you can see how intertwined these needs are with our emotions. For example, a social interchange a person encounters creates emotional responses that either further motivates us to pursue or withdraw from further social events.

Children learn to how to develop social skills primarily within their family then community environments

The first socialization an individual experience is of course the attachment relationship with their primary care giver. It is well researched that the socialization process that is played out within this early relationship is often the way in which an individual learns how to respond to others in social surrounds (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Furthermore, this primary attachment relationship can ultimately affect the child’s later psychological well-being in a profound way, especially in terms of developing adaptive behaviours that help an individual towards developing deep meaningful social bonds with others (Baumeister & Leary, 1995) or maladaptive social behaviours that may lead to psychopathy and poor well-being (Vinokur & van Ryan, 1993). As once noted by Baumeister and Leary (1995)the social surrounds that envelope an individual acts as a mirror in reflection of a person’s sense of self-worth, which is why the early attchement process is so cruical for a person's later orientation towards accomplishing goals presented (i.e. mastery versus helpless orientation towards achievement) .

How Do Social Needs Motivate behaviour?

Reeve (2009) suggests that person's behaviour (approach or avoidance behaviour) becomes motivated from social need as a response to their own emotional experience they previously had during similar social exchanges. Clearly, individual experiences of social events are quite unique, and so the accompanying emotional experience then operates as an incentive (for approach behaviour) or a disincentive (as in avoidance behaviours) for upcoming social experiences. Therefore, social needs operate in reaction to the emotional response that is stimulated by thinking about a future event, akin to the relationship demonstrated within self-determination theory. Once again we can see that a person’s motivational behaviour is swayed by a multitude of different events, these events being both internally and externally apparent. There are three important needs (Achievement, Affiliation and Intimacy and Power) that operate from social origins and are important in reflection of this week’s content. However, that being said, the following three concepts are also affected by a number of different other psychological, physiological and emotional needs which sometimes operate simultaneously.


Achievement connotes the striving for attainment of a goal or the accomplishment of a task/event. Often the goal to be attained is set by the individual and thus largely varies from person to person, as does the behaviour that an individual demonstrates when achieving such a task. For example, even though two people may hold the same goal such as completing this e-folio to the best of their ability, the way which they go about completing this task is often quite different and may lead to either the different outcome (variability in grade or same grade but different feedback) or same outcome (same grade no feedback or same grade same feedback). What maybe one person’s desired level of achievement may not be another’s, and the same goes for an individual definition of their ‘standards of excellence’ (Reeve, 2009.p.176).

Achievement and Socialization
Again the early attachment and family environment affects a child’s sense of their own abilities and therefore, specifically affects their awareness of their ability to achieve. Looking at the family environment as being the first social group to influence an individual, we can see that parental pressures and expectations can have a significant influence on that person’s ability to accomplish and realize personal goals. Similarly, it is the home environment that provides the stimulation, the support and encouragement an individual requires in order to experience success and develop a future taste for it. Those experiences one has will ultimately be internalised in the form of the inner monologue or scripts one develops concerning one's own skills. Although Reeve (2009) breaks down the concept of achievement into three nicely formed but separate areas within the text, there is a clear overlap between socialization influences, cognitive influences and developmental influences. Nevertheless, it is sometimes rewarding to look at one dimension at a time in a certain amount of depth especially in regard to researching the specific areas abovementioned in relation to achievement to acquire a more complete picture of the motivational forces at work.

Cognitive Influences on an Individual’s Achievement Sense

In summary I include a table that includes the elementary concepts and their corresponding definitions proposed in this week’s text by Reeve (2009, p.177). Some of the researchers are additional to those mentioned by Reeve (2009), and they are worth looking at if you require further information on specific concepts listed.
Table 8
Cognitive Influences on Perceptions of Achievement Sucess

Concept Researcher Definition
Perceptions of High Ability Nicholls (1978); Hansford and Hattie (1982) (cited in Reeve, 2009p.177) An individual’s sense of self-worth in regards to their achieving abilities.
Mastery Orientation Aunola, Nurmi, Onatsu-Arvilommi and Pulkkinen (1999) An individual’s conviction in regards to their ability to achieve tasks. Seen along a continuum, mastery orientation is at opposing ends to the concept of helpless orientation (where one views themselves as incapable of accomplishing most tasks)
High expectations for Success Eccles (1984). Attributional styles and ability to perform are influenced by expectations from self and others in the areas of achievement
Strong Valuing of Achievement Eccles and Wigfeld (2002) If valuing achieving and success are part of an individual’s value system there may be more emphasis on task persistence and quality
Optimistic Attributional Style Rachel Lau’s honours theses investigating parenting styles effect on boy students academic achievement As Reeves suggests how one thinks about their own ability to satisfactorily accomplish things can insulate them from the effects of self-doubt and similar thoughts that erode self-worth and self-esteem (2009,p. 177)

Developmental Influences
When examining essential needs and neurological development it might have been wise for Reeve (2009) to include a short prelude concerning development and the impact of needs prior to launching into physiology relation to motivation. Why? (I hear you ask). Simply because it is important to understand how needs change in relation to brain development. However, Reeve (2009) was discussing base level needs that are relatively similiar across development and species, so I guess a developmental discussion that is worthwhile here in relation to other more complex, higher needs such as social needs. Anyhow...this section included in this week’s chapter focuses on the developmental differences between people in terms of their perceptions of skills, etc in relation to the area of achievement. Specifically, Reeve (2009) cites research that suggests the younger we are (and the less experience we have had within the world) the more unrealistic our self-perceptions are in terms of expectations, abilities and values. As neural growth occurs allowing progressively more attention to be focused on attaining goals, a child learns to align their self-perceptions with the goal focused activities they experience. Hence, as one's expectations, abilities and values develop are readjusted and become more realistic in terms of what (and how) an individual thinks and feels about their ability to achieve.
The chapter moved on to discuss two important theories (although in researching this area to help write my chapter on student motivational theories I have discovered a number of other theories...still these two often dominate the journal publications): Atkinson’s theoretical Framework on Achievement (where achieving a goal is a reflection of an individual’s choosen behaviour to either avoid or approach the task) and the Dynamics-of-Action Model of Achievement (where environmental pressures can influence an individual to either approach or avoid). These are fairly scant summaries of two very intricate theories, so be need to follow up on reading further to adequately grasp what these theorist are proposing. However, one can basically understand given a general overview that the dynamics of action model (although acknowledging the co-existence of multiple influences), sees the individual playing a more passive role as they are said to be responding to environmental demands. Conversely, Atkinson’s model sees an individual as an active agent that operates within their own world deciding whether to approach a challenge or avoid a possible failure. Although, there is inclusion for the influence of a person’s unique cognitions in the theory, in defining the concepts instigation, inhibition and consummation, there is still that reinforcement element that is often present in other behavioural theories that outline a similar stimulus response type arrangement as primarily influencing an organism’s behaviour.

I feel compelled here to reiterate the need I have to not just regurgitate the information found within our prescribed text and to ensure there is not a duplication of material presented in my e-folio and my textbook chapter. Hence, I will conclude my reflection on these theories here. However, I will say they are interesting to read about and I further encourage you to investigate (at your leisure) these theories if they interest you.

Affiliation and Intimacy
Presented as a ‘deficit’ rather than growth need because of the emotional response received when the need for affiliation with others is satisfied, Reeve (2009) implies we all have a basic need to belong. In fact, a very insightful article written by Baumeister and Leary (1995) underscores the importance of people’s strong desire to belong and how forming strong attachments with others has great gains in terms of well-being (not to mention the need to belong is a very powerful motive). This social need is found to effect both cognitive processes and an individual's emotional level (with further implications for a person’s self-worth). The researchers evaluate the current literature on interpersonal attachments and the effect on a person’s level of motivation and encourage further research to pursue investigations into empirical examinations that highlight the role of affiliation in motivational behaviour (as opposed to theoretical formulations and models that imply the influential process is important). I have included further information (obviously in the lovely scientific writing manner in which we are required to follow) in my section of the textbook, so hopefully soon you can read all about this in relation to student motivational theories. Therefore, I will conclude my reflection on the need for affiliation here (hopefully leaving you with motive for pursuing further information in this area).

The term power generally involves a person’s desire to dominate another, or influence another in a particular way (Reeve, 2009). In 1961, David McClelland [[2]] postulates people's need for power by coining the term N-power and suggests there are two kinds of power that people strive for: (1) social need for power and (2) a personal need for power. A social need for power is demonstrated often by leaders who try to influence a group in some way. For example, a political leader might try to convince his party to vote a certain way on a political issue because then it places that social group in a better place for up-coming elections. Whereas a demonstration of personal power is seen when an individual tries to dominate or sway others to somehow increase their position within a social hierarchy, such as a political leader does when trying to convince a majority of voters to re-elect them for prime minister as we saw recently in demonstrated by Ms. Gillard.
However, Reeve (2009) offers three main ways in which power or dominance can be used to sway others instead of trying to separate the types of powerful influence one can exert. These three methods power are (Reeve, 2009. p.195):
1. Impact: “allows power needing individuals to establish power”
2. Control: “allows power-needing individuals to maintain power”
3. Influence: “allows power needing individuals to expand or restore power”

Often power needs can be seen in the realm of leadership (as noted above) where there is often a quest for social dominance. However, it might also encompass those individuals that desire to control, rule and overshadow other individuals in a long process of climbing the social ladder not always with the intention of becoming leader, but rather with the intention of improving their social status. For example, a worker might strive to become popular among fellow co-workers for purposes of recognition, but he/she may not necessarily want to occupy an executive leadership role. This person may be establishing interpersonal networks in order to bring about social change (which also satiate their need for affiliation with others), and further demonstrates the concept that multiple needs operate sometimes simultaneously. In the example previously mentioned the person’s desire for power has been satisfied by operating in a position that influences others, so there is no further need to rise into an executive position. Nevertheless, it is sometimes people’s benign attempts to achieve a power status in this way that is often overlooked as the concept of leadership dominates the domain when discussions of social need for power arises (in my opinion). A relevant illustrative example of this exclusive focus on leadership is adequately demonstrated within the textbook, as Reeve (2009) uses Winters (1973) and McClelland's (1982) examples of their research revealing leadership and relationships and leadership and motive patterns, the effect of power within organisations with a specific leadership focus (i.e. influential occupations and people who hold positions of power/prestige) (p.198). Needless to say, power is often associated within the roles a leader may occupy and all of the abovementioned excerpts deserve our attention. However, it would be beneficial to look at the other end of continuum (people who lack the motive for social dominance) or even power needs as exerted in a peer group situation (as we have probably had more experience with these roles and can therefore can relate better to those everyday examples more commonly experienced by us as readers).

Although the chapter ends with a very nice, neat summary of the role social needs play in people’s lives, it would be important if anybody is considering this area for our textbook writing to include a discussion on the powerful influences seen within organisations relevant to an Australian context...would there be difference between people in different cultural groups in their attempts to satisfy a need for power? Food for thought perhaps to those of you out there ready to sign up and write for wiki in regards to this topic of social needs.

An Australian study on social needs demonstrated by current leader might reveal important differences in the way in which people pursue their need for power and societies reaction in response


Aunola, K., Nurmi, J-E., Onatsu-Arvilommi, T., & Pulkkinen, L. (1999). The role of parents’ self-esteem, mastery orientation and social background in their parenting styles. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology,40, 307-317.

Baumeister, R.F., & Leary, M.R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497-529.

Eccles, J., & Wigfeld, A. (2002). Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 109-132.

Nicholls, J.G.(1978). The development of the concepts of effort and ability, perception of academic attainment, and the understanding that difficult tasks require more ability. Child Development, 49, 800-814.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th Ed). USA: John Wiley & Sons.

Vinokur, A.D., & Van Ryan, M. (1993). Social support and undermining in close relationships: Their independent effects on mental health of unemployed persons. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 350-359.

External Links:
David McClelland Website

Personal Control Beliefs[edit]

This weeks entry is formulated from the notes taken during lectures and readings.

Most living organisms strive to gain control over one's self and their environment

The areas we have explored in the realm of motivational research and theories have revolved around three perspectives:

1. Basic Needs – Including Drive Theories, Set Point Theories (which is a holistic theory that incorporates our physiological needs), Neurology and Motivation, and other Biological Perspectives, the concept that basic needs operate to ‘fuel the machine’ and are therefore representative of a deficiency (contrasting growth) need

2. Psychological and Social Needs – Although social needs are in part a psychological need (as represented in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs as the need to belong which he suggests is hardwired into our DNA operating almost innately like a basic need), other needs such as growth needs that seek to enhance the individuals development in some way (such as the need for power, love, affiliation with others), Self-Determination Theory and the three elemental concepts represented within a persons’ need to feel competent, autonomous (which really defines the self-determining aspect) and relatedness

And now...

3. Cognitive perspective influencing Motivation – Remembering that at times there is some overlap between those needs represented within the area of psychological and social needs, this perspective is representational of the two constructs that we investigated within this lecture: personal Beliefs (the ideas behind Attribution Theory, Self-Efficacy) and The Self and its Strivings After a little prelude about textbook chapters and showing some demonstrations of some fantastic looking chapters that clearly demonstrates those particular authors are well on their way to completion, we launched into the content abovementioned. Motivation and Personal Control (Based On Chapter 9 of Reeve (2009):

Self Efficacy

The belief in the skills that you have in terms of the perceived ability to use those skills sucessfully and under pressure.
Underlying Assumptions and Expectations:

  • We are all motivated to a large extent to try to exert personal control over our environment in our quest to ensure positive (and avoid negative) outcomes
  • The extent to which we exert our personal control relies on the belief to which we think our efforts will be successfully rewarded
  • The degree to which the person is inclined to wield personal control of their environment is seen hence based on these self-beliefs

Two kinds of Expectancies:
(Expectancy: Defined in this lecture as the subjective prediction of how likely it is that an event will occur)

Attribution theory is a meta-cognitive theory involving one's thinking about the self and involves notions of expectancies (both expectant and outcome based)

1. Efficacy Expectations:
Belief in one’s own actions (i.e.”Can I Do It?”). Includes Bandura’s (1982) notion of self-efficacy and although originally proposed in the bi-directional theoretical framework known as Social Learning Theory. However, not long ago Bandura (1989) revised his original postulations to include the crucial cognitive element and re-named his theory the Social Cognitive Theory of Human Agency. Hence, revision of theories, such as Bandura’s (1989) note the shift in the psychological domains under study (i.e. from socialist perspective to an incorporation of cognitive mechanisms) are indicative of a certain amount of overlap that is present between psychological processes seen within all individuals and this is especially apparent when exploring in the area of motivational behaviour. For example, even though there is an emphasis on the cognitive attributions that unfold in order to motive a person, there is also a social nature to this process as the person behaviour is a function of the social surrounds and learning history.
2. Outcome Expectations are predictions revolving around the future effect of trying to exert personal control over the environment. Questions like, “Will I be successful?” (which is perhaps operating at times subconsciously) or more likely (as was offered during lecture, “Will what I do work?”. In a way this also involves questions that consider the outcome of acting upon the environment in terms of whether or not a person can accept possible failure if their attempts of exerting personal control are unsuccessful. During this phase a person may look at things in terms of possible threat to the ego and defence mechanisms maybe used to combat possible threats to self (Baumeister, Dale & Sommer, 1998). An individual (for example) may feel quite capable (efficacy expectation) but they may feel the outcome is achievable.
Self Talk
Self talk is one of the most predominate influence within both efficacy expectations and outcome expectations, this includes one’s inner monologue and internalized scripts that have been developed over time. Additionally, this also includes the importance of schemas, as a person is more likely to activate certain schemas in response to the self-evaluations as part of the processing involved with both efficacy expectancies and outcomes expectations. The self is conceptualised as part of a nest of schemata relating to identifiable aspects of the self. It was suggested in lecture that the more elaborately designed the self-schema is (and the better that schema is integrated), the higher the chance that a person’s failures can be seen in terms of a specific (and transitory) self rather than relating that failure back to a global sense of self that creates feelings of low self-worth.

The Processes involved In Self-Attributions On Outcomes
Person → Behaviour → Outcomes
(Self) (Action) (Control)
(Agent) (Means) (Ends)

Long lasting beliefs and their Influence Self-efficacy is the cognitively held belief about how well you think you can cope with a situation given your set of skills (it relates to performance of a specific skill set or repertoire of behaviours as demonstrated in pressured situations such as performing in front of others).
The opposite of self-efficacy is self doubt and the two can be seen along a continuum relating to specific skills.
Self Doubt——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy predicts approach-based motivational behaviour indicating an increased likelihood of trying to engage in a task(s). Operates in a self-perpetuating style where doubts can feed into one another, as can thoughts of being efficacious. Self Doubt: Relates to avoidance-based motivational behaviour as is often activated to avoid possible threat to self as it relates to a possible future failure an individual perceives may happen. As Christine Bovee was once quoted...“Doubt whom you will, but never yourself”
It is psychologically healthier to strive to be self efficacious even though those thoughts maybe slightly over optimistic and can become problematic if there is a continual tendency to self-inflate (as in the case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

Sources of Self Efficacy (Input):

  • Personal behaviour history
  • Vicarious Experience (modelling)
  • Verbal Persuasion (internal cognitive scripts). Acts of incoragement from others or self (note: others have to be considered influential beings)
  • Physiological Activity (again there is an incorporation of other areas of human functioning, which is needed when theorizing about human agency otherwise there is a bias in terms of what a theory can account for)

Effects of Self Efficacy (Output):

  • Choice Behaviour (approach/avoidance based)
  • Effort and Persistence
  • Thinking and Decision making
  • Emotional reaction (such as stress and anxiety)

Self-beliefs predicts behaviour to some extent (as does self-esteem). However, it is more symptomatic of self-concept and is best viewed as an emotional barometer that can sometimes fluctuate but acts in response to self-concept. It is psychologically inadvisable to try to bolster self-esteem, and although self-concept is quite robust and resistant to change, under certain conditions, it can incorporate a person’s ability to form new skills and learn new knowledge and therefore add to their existing self-concept in a positive way that ensures that self-esteem will increase in response. Nevertheless, the important message here is to understand that self-esteem is not a casual agent for an individual’s self-concept.

Just holding a self-efficacious belief may not necessarily ensure a successful outcome (especially if that belief is over optimistic and unrealistic). However, the notion of empowerment includes those beliefs revolving around self-efficacy in a way that does translate to positive outcomes for individuals. Empowerment involves processing the knowledge, skills and beliefs that allow people to exert control over their lives. Three ingredients are needed to ensure empowerment unfolds:
1. Knowledge
2. Self-Efficacy Beliefs
3. Skills

How To Implement A Mastery Modelling Program (example given from table that appears in Reeve, 2009, p.242)
Empowering people involves simulating skills, pulling skills together in an integrated example such as what unfolded in the Outward Bound Program Dr. Neill discussed. This brief discussion that unfolded within this lecture was great to include becuase it help translate theoretical understanding into a real-life example. Young teens who voluntarily involved themselves in the outward bound program were taught new skills in an unfamilar environment for which they had not yet developed these internal scripts to guide behaviour. the result was by learning the new skills set and acheiving outcomes, these children began to feel a sense of mastery and competence over their environment. However, this is only a quick summation of what was presented in the lecture. Nevertheless, it seemed like the children included in this program began to develop a stronger sense of who they were becuase of learning new skills in a safe, nuturing environment and although this environment offered new experiences the kids seemed to be able to carry on the positive benefits of this program (i.e. enhanced feelings of competence and self-worth) into their lives upon re-intergration with their normal lives. Empowerment relates strongly to the theoretical framework of Self-Determination (Ryan & Deci, 2000), with self-efficacy concepts paralleling the autonomous construct, mastery skills giving rise to feelings of competence. Hence, feelings of autonomy and competence may equate to thoughts of empowerment increasing the likelihood that a person will perceive themselves as being successful in control their environment.

Coping Strategies
When coping was discussed, the need for devising a plan to overcome obstacles was made clear. It seems if you have a plan to overcome obstacles, then if and when they arise, you feel more confident about dealing with them successfully in contrast to when you have to deal with negative events that are not only unforseen but strike when you feel unprepared. This was especially relevant in the area of goal setting (explored in last week’s learning content).
Ways of Coping
Below is a table that summerizes information from Reeves (2009) as adapted from Skinner, E.A., Edge,K., Altman, J., & Sherwood, H. (2003). Searching for the structure of coping: A review and critique of category systems for classifying ways of coping. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 216-269.

Table 9
Methods of Coping

Method Coping Behaviour
Approach versus Avoidance taking action and moving toward and interacting with the problem vs. Walking away from the problem
Social versus Solitary Taking action with a team of others versus working alone
Proactive versus Reactive Taking action to prevent a problem before vs. After it occurs
Direct versus Indirect Taking action oneself versus enlisting the help of an intermediary who takes the direct action
Control versus Escape Take charge approach vs. Staying clear of the situation
Alloplastic versus Autoplastic Taking action to change the problem vs. Taking action to change oneself
Problem focused versus Emotion Focused Taking action to manage the problem to causing the stress vs. Regulating one’s emotional response to the problem

Mastery Motivational Orientation Vs. Helpless Motivational Orientation

Helpless motivational orientation:
Consistent with Martin Seligman’s Learned helplessness (Peterson & Seligman, 1984). Helpless orientation (and learned helplessness) is the psychological state that an individual experiences when they expect that life’s outcomes are largely uncontrollable(Peterson & Seligman, 1984).We then discussed Seligman’s early animal experiments with dogs who were exposed to shock at unpredictable intervals with no means to escape.Then phase two of the experiment saw these dogs placed in an experimental chamber in which they could escape the skock by jumping over a small rail. However, the dogs did not exhibit avoidance behaviour and try to jump the barrier to prevent receiving a shock. The observation of the dogs failure to escape the shock (as seen during phase two of this experiment) was hypothesised to be due to their inability to learn the contingent relationship between shock and escape behaviour because of the dogs experience of previously uncontrollable (inescapable) shock in the primary phase of this experiment.

Seligman’s experiments have been found to translate to human settings in observation of humans learned helpless behaviour following considerable time exposed to events that are uncontrollable (Reeve, 2009, Figure 9.6, p. 248). Three Components of an Experience That Lead To Situations of Learned helplessness:

  1. Contingency – Failure to see an existing relation between stimulus response because events are often uncontrollable based on a person’s perceived objective relationship between a person’s behaviour and the environmental outcomes.
  2. Cognition – Memory of experiences that are uncontrollable creates a framework in which future experiences are then interpreted and this fuels further beliefs about a person’s ability to cope in anticipation of events and include subjective biased beliefs concerning a persons’ beliefs, attributions and/or expectations.
  3. Behaviour – Both failure to establish contingent S-R relationships and cognitions about personal control will ultimately shape behavioural responses results in listlessness, demotivated behaviour.

When to Give Up?

In the face of adversity is this little girl considering giving up on her goal looking for her parents? Clearly, this is one of those times where it may pay to NOT give up. However, there are times when all of us struggle to keep going so where does one draw the line?

It is not always problematic to desist in pursuing an activity that is not leading to success after many, many failed attempts. This is the idea that bashing your head against the figurative brick wall only serves to give one a headache. Perhaps, there needs to be some emphasis here on re-defining the original problem as well rather than just continuously trying to solve the problem in a fixed way. However, even if revising solutions still doesn’t lead to solving problems sometimes it is better to stop further efforts and salvage what you can (being tenacious to a point). Learned helplessness, however, can inculpate future behaviour, not merely invoking avoidance-like responses but is the element often behind listlessness, demotivation, amotivation (not doing anything) and a general stagnant state of being.

Effects of Learned Helplessness

  1. Motivational Deficits:→ Decreased willingness to try
  2. Learning Deficits:→ Acquired pessimistic set that interferes with one’s ability to learn new response outcome contingencies
  3. Emotional Deficits: → Energy depleting emotions (listlessness, apathy, etc)
  • Learned helplessness seems to be the forerunner for a person developing a depressed state (Peterson & Seligman, 1984; Reeve, 2009). However, there are some criticisms to note in regards to Seligman’s theory of learned helplessness that even Seligman points out (Peterson & Seligman, 1984):

  • It must be both unpredictable and uncontrollable events in an individual life that leads to a state of learned helplessness, as one (unpredictable or uncontrollable event) will not serve alone to create such a condition

  • Sometimes being passive might be efficacious and in the short-term hold greater adaptive power than being proactive

  • It has been argued that the processes at work within the individual who experiencing a state of learned helplessness is actually experiencing fundamentally physiological phenomena rather than entirely cognitive phenomena that revolves around the inability the individual as they perceive a lack of self-control

Reactance Theory
Reactance theory operates on the principle that people are motivated to respond to threats against their perceived sense of personal freedom because of their fundamental psychological need for autonomy. It has been found that physiological reactions that occur in response to events can facilitate and enhance certain neurotransmitters within the neural region, this may serve to fuel cognitive perceptions of personal control over one’s environment. To me, this theory makes sense because it see the person functioning as a total being in terms of biological and psychological processes that unfold as part of social experience with our world, integrating the theories that have already been proposed.
Putting it All Together: HOPE
The diagram below offers a quick glance at the way in which we can apply the concept of hope to facilitate a change in motivational behaviour. this can happen in intergration of an individuals self-efficous beliefs and ways in which they feel they would be more sucessful at acheiving a specific desired outcome they value. i feel there is a genuine overlap between many of these concepts included in the diagram as a persons idea of who they are (their notion of 'self') and what skills they have is continually growing and changing. Similarily, so are the desired outcomes a person strives for. Hence, a person may at time show differing levels of hope in pursuing and achieving a goal depending on their perceived likelihood of attaining that goal given their skill set.

A quick snap shot into the process of hope and the resulting influence on motivational behaviour


Bandura, A. (1982). Self-Efficacy mechanism in human agency.American Psychologist, 37, 122-147.

Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in cognitive theory. American Psychologist, 44, 1175-1184.

Baumeister, R.F., Dale, K., & Sommer, K.L. (1998). Freudian defence mechanisms and empirical findings in modern social psychology: reaction :formation, projection, displacement, undoing, isolation, sublimation, and denial.Journal of Personality, 66, 1081-1124.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E.P. (1984). Casual explanations as a risk factor for depression: Theory and Evidence.Psychological Review, 91, 347-374.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th Ed). USA: John Wiley & Sons.

External Links to this weeks lecture

The Self and Its Role in the Area of Motivation[edit]

This weeks entry is formulated from the notes taken during lectures and readings.

This is a self-portrait of Alexandrovich Servov. This is how Servov saw himself but how did he define his sense of who he was?

The Self and Its Strivings
This weeks conent focused propoerties of the self in relation to the motivational factors. I offer a diagram below that hopefully illustrates the ways in which we conceptualise our 'self' and how that braodly impacts on our motivational behaviour.

All various experiences accumulate over time to develop a story about who you are, and this information is used to develop a self-concept. It is also this very information that can influence the means and ways in which we go about seeking out the information to confirm or refute our defined 'self'. Hence, the is a fair degree of reciprocity between the developing self-concept and motivational behaviour seen as this process continually unfolds throughout life.

Motivational Properties of Self-Schemas:
Consistent Self = Self-schemas developed by gathering feedback that confirms or refutes view of the self
Possible Self = Tries to reduce the anxieties felt when there is a perceived disparity between the real and ideal self

The diagram I have developed to explore important relationships between the motivational aspects of the self in terms of the way in which we may define our 'self' (according to schematic representations of the self)

The notion of the self is a relatively new concept and because it has only recently become culturally relevant. That being said, not all cultures view the notion of the self as being important, and the emphasis is on social consideration for all (this belief often is found in collectivistic rather than individualistic cultures). The self is predicated upon having satisfied physiological needs in order for self-needs to be acknowledged.

Four topics to consider in investigating notions of the self:

  1. Defining or creating the self – relates to self-concept development
  2. Relating the self to society – seeing the self in context in relation to other similar/different groups
  3. Discovering or developing personal potential
  4. Managing or regulating the self – How well does the self cope with obstacles presented by life

(Reeve, 2009, p. 264-266)

Self Constructs
It is sometimes helpful to distinguish the vast ‘self’ constructs appearing in a myriad of research

  • Self-esteem: symptomatic of global self-worth, emotional barometer, not a predictor, directly targeting self-esteem in order to enhance it is not psychological helpful and may turn out to hinder self-concept development in other areas as a person may not attempt to try to invent and add to other aspects of their self concept (and thus miss out on the opportunity to be successful in other areas)
  • Self-Efficacy: The capability one feels towards tasks in reference to their perceived skill set
  • Self-confidence: More of a layperson term but is meant to be synonymous with self-esteem
  • Self-concept: cluster of domain specific self-schemas relating to how a person defines themself(s) For example questions like “I am ...”

Benefits of Well Developed Self-Schemas:

  • Quick and easy processing of new information and events as it relates to the many selves
  • Helps retrieval of information for similar events
  • Can be used to accurately predict the degree of likely success for future events
  • Increases in detail and becomes more elaborate over time in line with development. Hence, the more elaborate self-schemas become, the greater the definition that exists between a person’s perceived ability in reference to skill sets

Self concept is relatively stable but (as above mentioned) influenced by both developmental capabilities and learning histories (especially received self-discrepant feedback). One has to reach a state of uncertainty concerning the self to be able to start modifying one’s self-concept and hence it takes particular conditions to facilitate such considerable change.

Cognitive Schemata Operate in Relation To Other Processes (above labelled) that influence on the one's self schema. Additionally, this process is constantly monitored by self-regulatory metacognitive awareness that responds and adjusts the schema of the self accordingly

Dr. Neill showed a slide that was a wonderful but elaborate depiction of the processes that underlie self-verification and change (that rather resembled a Rorschach Ink Blot Exam?...It looked like cocktail glasses to me but apparently was extremely beneficial in offering insight into this somewhat complicated process).

An Example of A Card From The Inkblot Exam. The diagram did not really look like this, but it goes without saying some theoretical model need to maintain an element of parsimony (but not too simplistic) but understandable nonetheless

Possible Selves
The self is not static, it is more of a container or vehicle for a journey through life and therefore people may hold more than one view of themselves in a well integrated (but multiple) view of the self to be psychologically healthy. The notion of possible selves moves away from the concept that the self is just a single entity that equates to healthy well-being.

  • Mostly social in origin – as the individual observes the selves modelled by others
  • The possible selves motivational role – Is linked to the present self with ways to become the possible (ideal) self
  • An important piece of the puzzle – in understanding how the self develops
  • Portraying the self as a dynamic entity – with past, present and future

Cognitive Dissonance and How It Pertains To The Self
Consider the quote: “Humans are not rational beings, they’re rationalizing beings.” Cognitive dissonance is a process by which one rationalises their behaviour or cognitions to ensure they are more congruent with beliefs. People feel motivated to reduce anxieties that area aroused in response to a perceived disparity between both cognitions and behaviour or between two opposing beliefs.

Motivational Processes Underlying Cognitive Dissonance

This diagram illustrates the ways in which situational events influences choice behaviour and ultimately effects motivational response by producing a perceived inconsistency between cognitions or between cognitions and Behaviour

In summary, motivational responses are influenced accordingly in order to reduce inner anxieties experienced when an individual perceives they have conflicting thoughts in reference to a situation, or when perceiving their thoughts are in conflict to their behaviour. hence the need (the motivation) to change either the thoughts or behaviour in some way to rid themselves of this inner distressed that we refer to as cognitive dissonance. Actually, James importanly pointed out that it is more common that people adjust their perceptions about thoughts or the actual event rather than change their behaviour. Therefore, by exploring cognitive influences helps underscore the importance our cognitions play in shaping our behaviour.

Identity and Social Relationships:

The Development of The Self Unfold in A Nest of Social Influences

Identity is defined is the means by which the self relates to society and people are seen to be motivated to behave in ways that minimise deflection (Affect Control Theory). This need to define one’s self in a social context represents people’s motivation to find identity confirming informing in their social surrounds. Once people find their roles within a society, their identity directs their behaviour (I am guessing stereotyped behaviour and representative schemas would be a major influence in this process) and further fuels a person’s approach or avoidance behaviour in confirming their role as culturally dictated.

To fully investigate identity formation in a cultural context, we used the framework of Affect Control Theory, which postulates there are two motivation/emotion behaviours involved in this process:

  • Identity confirming behaviour (fundamental sentiment confirming)
  • Identity restoring behaviours

Identities Motivate Behaviour
The concept that our identities motivate our behaviour is probably best summerised above, in terms of the way in which we understand our 'self' or rather who we have defined our 'self' as being categorically and its influence of behaviour (not just motivational behaviour but the ways in which we 'think' we should behave according to the way we have defined our 'self). As one broad example, people with powerful identities are motivated to behave in powerful ways. A more practical example sees a mother who views herself as kind and caring, may demonstrate her kind and caring behaviour towards her child after she witnesses him falling off his bike.

Affective Deflections Energise Behaviour
When people act in identity conflicting ways, affective deflection occurs to energise and direct identity restoring courses of action (Reeve, 2009.p. 280-281). This notion of affective deflection almost acts as a defensive mechanism to protect the self. However, I think affective dissonance is slightly more related to the concept of cognitive dissonance in that the individual must perceive there is a conflict between identity and behaviour at a more conscious level. Whereas, defence mechanism are proposed to operate unconsciously.

The Notion of Agency
The notion of agency relates to the concept of autonomy as presented within the theory of self-determination (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Agency emanates from within and is inborn, motivating us towards differentiation and integration of the self in line with developmental processes.

Self-Concordance Theory in Identity Formation The concept of self-concordance relates to goals (as explored last week) and posits that people are motivated to pursue goals that are in concordance with one’s notion of the self. Questions posed by the self-concordance model: 1.How do people decide what to strive for in their lives? 2.How does this personal striving process sometimes nurture the self and promote well-being yet at other times go awry and diminish well-being? These questions are rather overwhelming to find answers to and require a certain amount of reflection and time to formulate a good quality response. Additionally, I think some of these answers may in fact change with time as the self develops and changes accordingly (and in respect of environmental influences). Certainly, we have noted in other weeks learnings about motivational behaviour (especially in relation to goal setting), goals can change from time to time and in reflection of whether one has attained the desired outcome. Therefore, I feel the theory of self-concordance offers the flexibility and versatility needed to account for many possible outcomes as these changes naturally unfold within the developing self.

Cyclical Phases of Self-Regulation Self-regulation is a notion that opens the way to exploring emotions as they pertain to motivation. Self regulation was defined as a person’s ability to use meta-cognitive monitoring (which is like thinking about one’s thinking), in reflection of the process of working towards a goal. It involves three components within the cycle: (Reeve, 2009.Figure 10.7, p.290). The concept of self-regulation was originally proposed within social learning theory by Bandura (1982) and it involves the notion of reciprocal determinism with the person being influenced by their own cognitively held beliefs pertaining to their sense of who they are as influenced by their own behaviour and social environment and includes three important aspects:

1. Performance
2. Forethought – goal setting and implementation intentions
3. Self-reflection – self-monitoring and self evaluating

In Reflection of the lecture Content
There was one last slide produced in reference to Bandura’s (1982) notion of self-regulation, that suggests ways in which the development of a more self-competent sense of self can arise (increasing an individual’s capacity to achieve a desired outcome in reflection of their personal goals) and this revolves around the importance of modelling, feedback, imitative learning, cognitive feedback (including attributions and internalised standards) and the way in which the self-monitoring process is unfolding according to self-perceptions). I think that Bandura’s (1982) concept of self-regulation contributes a great deal towards understand ways in which we can facilitate a positive change within ourselves by looking at the internalized processes operating within in reflection of those external influences. Furthermore, I feel that this is especially relevant in the area of student motivation, and will now go and investigate how this may pertain to my writings in the area of student motivation theories for the textbook we are collectively working on.


Bandura, A. (1982). Self-Efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37, 122-147.

Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human need and self-determination of behaviour. Psychological Inquiry, 4, 227-268.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th Ed). USA: John Wiley & Sons.

Nature of Emotion Introductory Tutorial[edit]

I have just come home from an introductory tutorial on the notion of emotion and have thus discovered that emotion as a psychological construct is not only impossibly hard to define due to the subjectivity involved, but also in terms of categorising emotions into distinct groups. Our group of three was given the task (Q-Sort) to distinguish between sadness, fear, anger, disgust, joy and interest (the core ones) but the list also included many other subjective emotional states. Our group used the six core emotion (abovementioned) to categorise the rest of the states. However, this task was not as easy as it sounds. For instance, where does the emotion of confidence fit if only given the above six categories? There was much debate over where emotional states (terms/labels) should be placed, with the final result unveiling eight (with the addition of a "love" and "confused"), category. It was quite funny to see that disgust as a category, held three other emotional labels (I still doubt whether nauseousness is an actual category or a physiological condition). Although i do understand that such a physiological response could stem from an emotional basis, such as in the case of disgust and nausea. I also see how the two (phsyiological states and emotional bases) can become seen as intertwine, as many of us say such things as, "I feel sick of ..." (for example). Hence, even our everyday language captures the interconnection between physiology and emotionality. As a reaction to the group task, I think the activity highlighted an awareness of the difficulties in defining emotions. Furthermore, I can understand why researchers in the area of emotion find it hard to measure such a construct because of its subjective or phemonological nature. So...what are we measuring when we say we are gauging a person's emotional response? Are we measuring an actual emotion or just the physiological or cognitive responses towards an emotion? As with all psychological constructs, the what (i.e. emotion/cognition/physiology) component being measured pertains to the way in which the construct under study is being operationalized.

This is disgust, as one core emotional component out of the seven emotions identified in our groups Q-sort exercise
These are the core emotions of interest that our group used to categorise several other related emotions during the Q-sort exercise. Compared to disgust, interest includes more sub classifying labels.

Additionally, I found the Q-sort task was beneficial when comparing our 'model' to the other groups and seeing how our categories differed. The other group had looked at overlapping functions at play within emotional processing (i.e. to the degree an individual can experience more than one emotion as perhaps a primary/core emotion leading to a series of secondary emotional responses). The other group also demonstrated the differences that exist between the biologically based emotions compared to the cognitively processed emotional response sets.

The core emotional set as identified by the other class group. Note their clever idea of including a cognitive aspect within their model, implying that emotions sometimes are overlaid and therefore there is variation in the depth of the emotional experience. This model looks at emotions from a multidimensional perspective

For example, emotions were also classified into a cognitive category, which required the individual to part-take in more 'top down', than raw 'bottom-up' emotional processing techniques when responding to an event. Click on the links to the gallery pictures below for further details into the categories and the corresponding terms.

Apropos to the nature and complexity of emotional experience, during the tutorial we engaged in completion of an affect measurement (PANAS). James explained that the affect component of the instrument (PANAS) as related directly to mood, which comprises part (but not all) of an individual's emotional response. The PANAS (which stands for Positive and Negative Affect Schedule) is a 20-item instrument designed to measure how we felt in general. However, the PANAS has been used to detect how individuals feel at a particular moment, during the course of a day, over a week, over a few weeks and over a year with very little variation between the self-reported measures assessed in reflection of different time periods. Little variation between responses gauged in reflection of different time periods suggests that moods are persistent in nature. Whereas, emotions are defined as being short lived. I wonder if the PANAS would show variability during different developmental periods in one's life? But once again I digress, I was describing the PANAS, which lists 20 items that are randomly divided into positive and negative affect labels (i.e. "excited" is a positive affect state). We, the class, (the participants), self-reported the degree to which we felt that affect state generally applied to use (using a 5 point Likert scale from 1(slightly) to 5 (extremely). I was happy to report that when adding up the positive affect items I was one standard deviation above the mean, which translates to feelings of general content. This also corresponded to a lower than average negative affect state I also recorded (however there was no lie scale and I may...well let's just say I knew I would record my results and somehow felt this may have 'enhanced' my general feelings about my own affect state). However, with any self-report measurement there is always a chance of the social desirability effect influencing responses, especially is a large group setting among peers. I thought it interesting to note that positive and negative affect are not seen as polar opposites along a continuum. Rather, positive and negative affect states can operate at the same time (as evidenced by the correlatory data that unfolded from the researchers' statistical exploration of relationships between two supposedly opposite affect states).

Lecture Homework Steming from this Week's Content
We have been asked to think about five questions that we might have in exploring the construct of emotion, so after much thought here are my five:

  1. If we can't define emotion as a construct...what are we measuring?
  2. How do emotions vary in the way individuals interpret them?
  3. What commonalities are there in the way emotions are interpreted?
  4. How do emotions develop along with physiological development?
  5. What advances have been made in the area of artificial intelligence in reflection of our understandings of emotion?

However, I will include more information on the lecture in my next e-folio entry, but for now, the insights gained from the tutorial introducing the study of emotion demonstrates possibly why there is such focus on trying to explore an intriguing construct. Is emotion going to remain an enigma? Or has past research efforts yielded results that help give this nebulous concept some much needed clarity?

Aspects of Emotion[edit]

Note to readers: This week has been particularly hectic for me. So, drawing on my insights of gained from previous units, this week I use a listing technique, which helps me to remember the most important points gathered from this week's content introducing the concept of emotion. If you are a fellow psychology student not unlike myself, you will remember many individuals use lists to facilitate the recall of important events (most of these the studies revolve around people with memory deficits i.e. Alzheimer's (I certainly hope I am not heading that way as I near the upper end of the age spectrum). Perhaps one of the clever students in my current course will go on to research the benefits of listing items for people who are a little fickle minded and need some clarity (like myself). Nevertheless, the lists have helped synthesise and clear my understandings and hopefully present a concise picture of this week's content on 'aspects of emotion'.

Emotions are problematic to describe in a neat and organised manner. Emotions are seen as a multidimensional, multi-layered construct that consist of processes (i.e. cognitive and physiological) that operate simultaneously (Kalat & Shiota, 2007). Hence, with so much going on no wonder it is very hard to define the psychological construct known as emotion. On the other hand, there are certain characteristic that can be applied to a description of emotion when demarcating the construct from other psychological phenomena. For example, emotions are phenomenological or subjective in nature, distinctions can be made between emotional states (Kalat & Shiota, 2007), and emotions are short lived (Reeve, 2009). In this week’s lecture, we explored some of these ideas in order to really pin down just what emotion is.

For some time psychology has been trying to fined definitions of emotion

Reeve (2009) observes that some of the dimensions operating within the emotional process include that of mood or ‘affect’ and therefore emotions include components of affect, also include physiological responses (as mentioned earlier), motivational processes and are seemingly socially engineered. He defines emotions as a unitary construct that often oversees four key aspects: (Reeve, 2009.p.300).

  1. Feelings: including the subjective experiences, phenomenological awareness, and are often cognitively grounded
  2. Bodily arousal: physiological activation, bodily preparation for action, motor responses. However, the mind and body often act as one as they are seen to be holistically connected with regards to emotional responses.
  3. Sense of purpose: motivational properties that direct and energise behaviour including functional aspects
  4. Social-Expressive: Social communication, facial expression, vocal expression

Specifically, with regard to motivational responses, emotions are seen to drive and energise behaviour ‘’and’’ provide a means of self-regulation of this behavioural response. Therefore, when we try to highlight the relationship between emotions and motivation, we can easily observe it is the motivational elements (such as those properties of drive and energy as seen via behavioural response) ‘’and’’ a person’s emotional response Reeve, (2009) refers to this as ‘’emotional readout’’ that underlies the overlap seen between the two constructs. The emotional responses Reeve (2009) outlines are seen as:

  1. Being primarily activated by a significant event
  2. Followed by either biological or cognitive or bio-cognitive processing
  3. Lastly, is processed by way of the four components outlined above (feelings, bodily arousal, sense of purpose and social-expressiveness).

It is the two early paths experienced during the emotional processing of a specific life event (i.e. cognitive and biological) where one identifies causative agents when providing explanations for an emotion. As the cognitive and biological processes are activated, the facilitation of an emotional response can occur. Understandably, this is why researchers seem to focus on either cognitive or biological explanations of emotions when postulating theories. However, Reeve (2009) notes that these processes maybe inclusive of one another and operate using similar mechanisms, therefore providing a more comprehensive picture of the emotional process (as dually noted in the ‘emotional responses listed above). Although, Reeve (2009) goes on to note that most of the conjecture about cognitive versus biological emotional processes revolves around what order the processing takes place (i.e. are emotions primarily biological or cognitively processed?).

An Integrative Theoretical Framework that captures Emotional Processing

[Robert Plutchick] provides a means of looking at emotions in a dual processing theory, with cognitive and biological elements operating simultaneously. This theory makes sense to me because it seems to account for the complexity seen in the construct of emotion. Furthermore, it also provides an integrative rather than all-or-nothing approach that early researchers in this area seem so keen on pursuing. That being said, some of the early research has been an important foundation for other theorists in proposing and challenging limited views. Hence, much of these early theories have been remodelled and now capture a more complete understanding of human emotional behaviour (see Gray, braver and Raichle, 2002).

Identification of Separate Emotional States Following conceptualising the processes (whether they be biological, cognitive or integrative in nature), theorists directed their research focus towards the identification of separate emotional states. There is much conjecture as to how many distinct emotions can be seen consistently across cultures and among different age groups of people (Ekman, et al. 1997). Once again, researchers that aim to elucidate the number and type of emotions individuals experience do so using either a cognitive or biological theoretical framework.

Biologically Based Emotions

  • Are notably limited to the emotions that can be consistently evidenced in other cultures and are thus finite
  • Every biological theory of emotions highlights different effects evolutionary preprograming can have either neurologically, physiologically, evolutionarily/psychological, or motivationally.

Most notable contributors in the field:

  1. Ekman et al. (1987)
  2. Solomon (1980, cited in Reeve, 2009)
  3. Gray (1994) (as cited in Reeve, 2009) – A familiar theorist I have read about in the unit on biological psychology. Proposes three brain systems for processing emotions; the behavioural approach system (BAS), the fight or flight response (which is best explained through a primary physiological responses towards external stimuli and of which is largely outside of our control, and lastly, the behavioural inhibition system (BIS). I disagree with Reeves’ (2009) explanation that Grey (1994) considered these systems as three basic emotions? But perhaps I have interpreted his statement incorrectly. Nevertheless, Gray, (1994)suggests there are finite core emotions that are processed by means of either of the three process abovementioned. Later in his research, Gray, Braver and Raichle (2002) integrate biological brain processes with cognitive responses in providing further explanations on emotional responses seen in participants during an MRI. So, this theory is not necessarily distinct from the cognitive theories on emotion as there is some overlap later on.
  4. Panksepp (1982) (cited in Reeve, 2009)
  5. Stein and Trabasso (1992), who theorise about ‘possible statuses of valued goals (Reeve, 2009). I have reservations about the inclusion of this research in this section, but I really need to pursue further readings in regards to their research before I can note any specific biological/cognitive discrepancies in application of their theories on emotion
  6. Tomkins (1970) (as cited in Reeve, 2009) – an early neuropsychomotor researcher that provides an interesting means of investigating emotional responses
  7. And lastly, Plutchicks theory, although this particular theory has been included as a unitary theory that melds both cognitive and biological domains into proposing hypothesis relating to emotion? Nevertheless, Plutchick offers a fantastic means of defining the emotional process individuals can experience in his emotion ‘wheel’

Cognitively Based Emotions

  • Notably, the emotional range is seemingly infinite and can range in some cognitive theories of emotions from a few to a few thousand
  • Obviously, there is an emphasis on the thinking component in colouring our emotional responses
  • However there is still a connection seen between biological responses and the cognitive interpretation of those responses in making sense of our emotional states
  • In cognitive terms, top down processing, with emphasis on cognitive appraisals, attributions social influences and possibly schemas (although not mentioned, schemas are a summation of the language and personal knowledge components outlined by Reeve (2009)

Theorist that offer cognitive perspectives on emotional processing are:

  1. Schachter (1964)
  2. Mandler (1984)
  3. Kemper (1987)
  4. Lazurus (1991)
  5. Frijda (1993)
  6. Shaver et al. (1987)
  7. Averill (1982)
  8. Weiner (1986) – I have included Weiner’s (1986) attribution theory in regards to my chapter on student motivation theories. It seems attributions play a role in both emotion and motivation.
  9. Heise (1989)

Note. Source from "Understanding motivation and emotion", by J. Reeve, 2009, USA: Wiley. (pp. 311)

'The Happy Medium: Core Emotions and Secondary Emotions Ekman et al. (1987) have identified some fairly consistent emotions as demonstrated among various cultures and ages. These researchers suggests there six are universal emotions that operate at a very basic level but these six core emotions are related to secondary emotions (Ekman, et al., 1987). The six basic emotions outlined by Ekman et al. (1987) are:

  1. Fear
  2. Anger
  3. Disgust
  4. Sadness
  5. Joy
  6. Interest
This picture represents the six dimensions Ekman et al. (1987) has identified. See if you can recognise fear, anger, disgust, sadness, joy and interest

The first four emotions are identified as negative and the following two emotions (joy and interest) are described as positive emotions,Ekman, et al. (1987) also suggests these emotions, and the secondary related emotions operate in functional response to specific situations. Kalat and Shiota (2007) propose the following criteria that are required for classifying basic emotions:

  1. Universality (as noted by Ekman and colleagues (1987). However, Kalat and Shiota (2007) emphasises that universality is limited to emotional responses demonstrated within our species.
  1. The basic emotion, “must facilitate a functional response to a specific, prototypical life event”(Kalat & Shiota, 2007.p.31). This point has been well emphasised by Reeve (2009), and is especially evident in his model that demonstrates life events as the stimulating property that the four emotional processes are reliant upon.
  1. A basic emotion should be evident early in life. This point of early emotional responses is very interesting indeed. I have just read an article that outlines researchers’ efforts in trying to identify the startle reflex as distinct from a physiological process (Bradley, Cuthbert & Lang (1990). These researchers noted that it was the obvious emotional information a person processed that seemed to mediate a startle reflex (the physiologic response) in a group of 36 adult participants (Bradley, Cuthbert & Lang, 1990). However, the researchers did note in their literary review that the startle reflex is evident as one of the many early reflexes that an individual can demonstrate and hence has known ‘basic emotional properties’ (Bradley, Cuthbert & Lang, 1990. P.513). Later on Reeve (2009) discusses the notion of physiological processes and their role in the facilitation of an emotional response and in this regards I personally, I think perhaps the startle reflex is attached to the basic emotion of fear rather than being a unique core emotion.
  1. The fourth criterion a basic emotion must satisfy is an important one. Kalat and Shiota (2007) suggests, “if an emotion is basic, people should have a built in way of expressing it, such as through facial expressions or tone of voice”(p.32).
  1. Lastly, each basic emotion should have a corresponding physiological foundation and those emotional/physiological bases are distinct from one another.

Purpose of Emotions

  • Coping functions

In understanding emotional processes, we often remark on the good or bad emotions. This is an easy trap to fall into as Ekman (1997) identifies negative and positive emotions. However, it is important to note even negative emotions serve a purpose and should not really be classified as bad. Rather, a negative emotion serves a functional response, so that when we feel angry our body becomes aroused to fight the demands of the situation if necessary or gives us the energy to make a quick getaway. Although it does not always feel great when experiencing some of these negative emotions, those emotions do provide a means of facilitating a functional physiological/cognitive response so we can cope.

  • Social Functions

This is probably most easily conceptualised in Plutchick (1980) (as cited in Reeve, 2009), psycho-evolutionary theory on emotion, as we seem to be prepared to behaviour in socially functional ways. Why is this so? From an evolutional perspective, we need to be able to detect emotions in others and our own emotions effectively so we can be informed about resources we may need to access and detect threats from others of our species and importantly operate well as the social animals we are. From an evolutionary point of view we also need emotions to help facilitate sexual relationships that lead to procreation (the whole notion of survival of our species that evolutionists emphasise). Reeve (2009) captures this in four neat criteria outlined by past researchers (p.319):

  1. Communicate feelings to others.
  2. Influence how others interact with us.
  3. Invite and facilitate social interaction. (that’s the evolutionary perspective I mentioned earlier)
  4. Create, maintain, and dissolve relationships (remembering even if we use the computer to email our friends and loved ones (and possibly enemies if one is so incline), we use communicative language that may lead the reader to identify what emotional state we might be experiencing). Therefore, technological communication as well as more personally interactive communication can just as easily create, maintain and dissolve relationships. Next week I am off to see the movie (entitled, “The Social Network”) that is about this very idea that we can communicate our emotions by use of a technological medium (it is not really specifically focusing on this, but rather it looks at the creation of Facebook and the people involved and I have felt that it is relevant to pursue in respect of the content under study).

Reflection: Sometimes, when investigating the emotional processes that unfold in average individuals, (who are uncompromised by any psychological disorders), it is necessary to compare research insights concerning the same phenomena among individuals who experience difficulty in that area (such as individuals with autism, for example). This helps me conceptualise the processes that are vital to the process under study. You tube link to Duke University study by Pettiford. This particular study by Pettiford identifies emotional processing mechanisms used among young children in their evaluation of emotional responses in strangers. This study was particularly intriguing, as it used the photos of six emotional states as identified by Ekman et al. (1987) together with the 'Toby eye-tracking system', to look at where the children focused their attention on in the processing and identification of the emotion depicted in the photo they observed. The researchers discovered that children, who were not identified as autistic, tended to focus on another person's mouth, eyes and nose (in a triangular fashion) to try and gather information about that individual's emotional state. I would love to find the article Pettiford published as follow up to the study she discusses in the YouTube link provided. However, I have not as yet been able to find this particular study as published in a journal. Pettiford’s supervisor (Pelphrey, 2002) has published many sequential studies relating to the emotional processing inabilities as demonstrated in children who are autistic. This is interesting to read about because it relates to the emotional processing deficiencies some people have or are experiencing? Not only do people with autism experience difficulties in processing emotions of others, they often have difficulties in expressing and regulating their own emotions (Ozonoff, Pennington & Rogers, 1990). Furthermore, there is a lot of research looking specifically at techniques that are offered to help facilitate emotional processing and regulatory abilities [ Lovaas, 1987; Gulsrud, Laudan & Kasari, 2009). For example,Gulsrud and co-researchers(2009), explored an early intervention techniques as applied to a group of 34 toddlers with autism and their mothers. During a twenty-four hour long sessions, mothers were taught how to emotionally regulate their own emotional responses and then communicated these self-regulatory techniques to their child through the attachment relationship (Gulsrud, et al. 2009). Curiously, these researchers also used motivational techniques to help reinforce self-regulatory principles in regard to emotional processing (Gulsrud, et al. 2009). Hence, it seems that because these processes are intertwined, activation of a motivational response may help facilitate an emotional process. This relationship is not unidirectional, however, as emotions have been shown to focus energies and direct behaviour in activating an motivational response (Pekrun, Goetz, Wolfram & Perry, 2002)


Darwin, C. (1998). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. New York, USA: Oxford university Press. Originally published in 1872. Accessed online: 21st October, 2010. [3] [4]

Ekman, P., Friesen, W.V., Chan, A., Diacoyanni-Tarlatzis, I., Heider, K., et al. (1987). Universals and cultural differences in the judgements of facial expressions of emotion. Journal of personality and Social Psychology, 51’’, 712-717.

Gulsrud, A.C., Laudan, B.J., & Kasari, C. (2009). The co-regulation of emotions between mothers and their children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40’’, 227-237.

Gray, J.R., Braver, T.S., & Raichle, M.E. (2002). Integration of emotion and cognition in the lateral prefrontal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99,4115-4120.

Kalat, J.W., & Shiota, M. N. (2007). Emotion’’. USA: Wadsworth

Lovaas, I. O. (1987). Behavioural treatment and normal educational and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 3-9.

Ozonoff, S., Pennington, B.F., & Rogers, S.J. (1990). Are there emotion perceptions deficits in young autistic children? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 31’’, 343-361.

Pekrun, R., Goetz, t., Wolfram, T., & Perry, R.P. (2002). Academic emotions in students’ self-regulated learning and achievement: A program of qualitative and quantitative research. Educational Psychology, 37’’, 91-105.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion(5th ed.). USA: Wiley.

Web Links:
Ekman (2009). An argument for basic emotions. Retrieved online

Robert Plutchick's (1980) psychoevolutionary theory of emotion

Personality, Individual Differences and Emotion[edit]

As the title implies, this week we explore personality characteristics in explaining the wide variations seen among individual’s motivational and emotional behaviour. To provide a holistic picture of the personality characteristics at play, we draw from our pre-existing knowledge gained from other units that focus on individual differences within the area of psychology. The three motivational aspects that are thought to impact most greatly upon a person’s character are seen are represented in the table below:

Three Motivational Principles: Corresponding personality characteristics:
Happiness (and unhappiness) Extraversion and neuroticism (as part of the Big 5 identified personality traits)
Arousal Sensation seeking (and it’s bearing on motivational style such as high approach motivation such as reward seeking), as related to extraversion and its capacity to predict in risk-taking behaviour. Sensation seeking is also seen in terms of individuals needing high ‘AND’ have a high degree of impulsivity
Control Perceived control (linked to attributional theory (Weiner, 1984) and is defined as an individuals desire for control

Individual Differences Influencing Motivational/Emotional Responses
After controlling for environmental factors, and other extraneous influences, why is it that people demonstrate such wide variations in emotional and motivational behaviours? Individual differences seen in personality characteristics offer explanations as to why these variations among peoples responses exist given that they are experiencing the same environmental conditions (Reeve, 2009). It is important to point out here that personality characteristics are conceptualised as the differences between individuals’ experiences of emotional states (including affect, and affect regulation), thinking and behavioural responses (including a person’s physiological response)(Reeve, 2009).

I personally hope that these individual differences in personality characteristics explain why I become so anxious and tense when I have to give a public speech in comparison to other peers who seem so relaxed and confident when handling the same task. Perhaps it is the differing level of arousal that I experienced compared to what others experience, that facilitates differing reactions. Furthermore, perhaps it is my inhibited personality style, my introverted nature and my tendency towards neuroticism that explains my reaction towards public speaking tasks.

The lecture material summarised these differences wonderfully by pointing out that personality traits cause people to respond differently in terms of motivational behaviour (such approach versus avoidance behaviour) and emotional reactions (such as positive or negative emotional responses). Additionally, personality traits are seen to play a mediating role in the facilitation of a behavioural response following circumstantial experience. That is, after we all experience the same event, it is our personality traits that mediate what motivational or emotional behaviour reactions ensue.

Personality Traits versus Personality Types

Personality assessments must be completed by qualified personnel so they are carried out and interpreted in context. Personality traits are seen in terms of broad spectrum labels rather than discreet either/or typology

It is also important here that the individual differences that we focus on in this week’s lecture (and tutorial) content revolve mainly around personality traits not personality types. Traits are defined as personality dimensions seen along a spectrum and assessment instruments identifying traits highlight where in the spectrum an individual falls. Individuals are along the reflective dimension on which they are being assessed (Reeve, 2009). The example of sensation seeking seen as a personality trait demonstrates the inverted-U shape curve that resembles a bell curve, shows the majority of people score within a centralised cluster and low and high sensation seekers fill the tails to the left and right sides of the curve respectively. The sensation seeking continuum demonstrates that people have some degree of seeking out stimulating and sometimes thrilling (harmful) events, but the degree to which they seek these experiences down varies between individuals.

Conversely, typological assessments define a personality in terms of a broad label, identifying them as either / or in classifying them into distinct ‘binary categories’. Individuals assessed with a personality typology are seen to be described as being a defined personality type according to whether there score falls above or below the mean for that particular type (Reeve, 2009). Perhaps the reason there was a fairly heated debate in tutorial this week over some of the personality labels was because there was confusion between personality typing and trait identification.

How Do Personality Traits effect Motivation and Emotion?
It is our personality characteristics that facilitate the situations we chose to involve ourselves in and what our behavioural responses will be. For example, extroverts seek out social situations because they require the external stimulation those situations provide. Whereas, introverts experience enough internal stimulation they find themselves quite satisfied not to have to seek out further to heighten their levels of arousal. Therefore, the bearing personality has on motivational and emotional behaviour is quite significant in regards to the choices in behaviour (and emotional response) people make. The desire for our levels of stimulation to reach a level of equilibrium (known as our optimal arousal level), leads to our desire to pursue and create environments that helps satisfy our needs and hence, soothes personality requirements.

Exploring the Big Five Personality Traits

The Big Five Personality Dimensions (temperaments). Can you identify them according to those outlined in the big five? Think about why you feel they capture that particular trait (or perhaps they do not?)

IPIP – is defined as International Personality Item Pool , a psychometric personality indictor that includes subscales that assess emotionality (similar to the NEO that uses, for example, the trait of Neurotism in the assessment of an individual’s emotional stability). IPIP is based upon the five personality traits outlined in the theory of the Big Five Personality traits (by Costa and McCrae as stated on the abovementioned web site). The Five factor model of personality traits of Neurotism, Extraversion, Openess, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, do correspond with an individual’s emotional and social responses (McCrae & John, 1992) and have been extensively used to assess one’s character traits as they are broadly thought to cover all personality dimensions (Barrick & Mount, 1993). These traits are listed below presented in terms of the importance of factors (as assessed through factor analysis):

  • Neuroticism (Anxiety, Hostility, Depression, Self-Consciousness, Impulsiveness, Vulnerability)
  • Extraversion (Warmth, Gregariousness, Assertiveness, Activity, Excitement-Seeking, Positive Emotions)
  • Openness to Experience (Fantasy, Aesthetics, Feelings, Actions, Ideas, Values)
  • Agreeableness (Trust, Modesty, Compliance, Altruism, Straightforwardness, Tender-Mindedness)
  • Conscientiousness (Competence, Self-Discipline, Achievement-Striving, Dutifulness, Order, Deliberation, Fastidiousness)

Sub dimensions of Big Five personality traits: (look for the connection between these aspects and motivation and emotion)

Personality and Happiness

People expressing their happiness and being snapped in the moment

Neuroticism – (Relabelled as emotional stability – but it must be noted that we take these labels as broad descriptors and not a psychological diagnosis). Seen along a continuum where one end represents calmness and the opposite end looking at anxiety, general feelings of security versus insecurity and self-satisfaction versus self-pity. It is a person who reports high levels of neurotism in personality inventories that would also report feelings of tension, high stress, higher sensitivity levels and emotional instability for example. It is also the best trait in predicting levels of unhappiness (or to gauge the unhappiness set point), perhaps because their emotional stability shows wide variation.

It is interesting that neurotism, rather than extraversion is the best predictor of happiness, because in my first year of psychology I would have imagined that introversion would predict unhappiness as I saw these constructs as both the reflective opposites (i.e. the opposite of extroversion is introversion and the opposite of unhappiness is of course happiness). But this is NOT so at all. These traits are not mutually exclusive, as people can have portions of each trait, and some traits override others. That is, extroversion is not the opposite necessarily of introversion, it merely means that people who show higher levels of extroverted behaviour consistently across differing situations, also demonstrate less introverted behaviour in those same situations. In fact, those people who score highly on extroversion might also show moderate amounts of introversion and this very issue was briefly discussed in tutorial this week. It was pointed out to us that these labels are not to be taken too seriously (as in defining a person’s worth, or unjustly diagnosing a fellow human). Instead these terms are to be used as broad descriptors that suggest general trends in one’s behaviour as seen consistently across different situations (as abovementioned but underscored by our tutor’s instruction). Personality indicators often capture commonalities that groups of people assessed with the same characteristics tend to display. Personality assessments do not aim to capture the essence of an individual’s sole, nor do these assessments report on many other unique qualities outside of included subscales. However, many of us (and I am probably included in that group) feel a little sensitive towards the idea that people may literally asses us as a person. Perhaps this is why prior to psychometric assessments, psychologists provide details as to the purpose of the assessment (including limitations) as well as labelling the instruments in specific terms (such as the NEO – which Costa and McCrae ( state stands for Neurotism, Extraversion and Openness, which were first used to note changes in these three dimensions as seen over time.) (NEO link).

Extroverts have a need to seek stimulation (often social stimulation) from external sources, such as social occasions. When a person rates highly on the trait of extroversion they are satisfying their need for external stimulation and they also report feelings of happiness in this environment (Reeve, 2009). Hence, their happiness ‘set point’ (as explained in lecture) can be explained by individual difference in extraversion. Additionally, the trait like qualities that define a persons as being extraverted also highlight the person’s high degree of warmth, responsiveness towards others, fun-loving nature and positive emotional responses. To clarify, this means, the loud, boisterous (but rude), unresponsive- to- others, party goers are not necessarily extroverted. Similarly, the quiet, self-assured individual who carefully decides when it is appropriate to share opinions with others, can also be fun-loving, responsive towards others and warm but rate low on the trait of extraversion. It helps to have a look at the personality inventories and the items that are designed to assess the specific dimensions to really understand how this works.

Extroverted people also show high levels of gregariousness, activity and excitement seeking behaviour and this is what separates them from individuals who report lower levels of extraversion generally speaking. Within the assessment of an individual’s personality, it is important to look at the general ratings of the traits once calculated, but it is of equal importance in reviewing these facet scales especially in regards to reporting individual differences. I object to personality assessments being carried out by large recruiting agencies through an on-line process, as I feel they generally overlook the importance of the subscales in assessing personality characteristics and hence miss important aspects in assessing one’s unique character. However, not all research agrees with y opinion (Goldberg, et al. 2006), as there is some advantage in terms of efficiency when evaluating personality via online assessment (the article above mainly concerns the use of the IPIP in assessing personality via an on-line format). Nevertheless, personality assessments, currently using the big five traits to identify personality dimensions, generally agree the subscales in personality inventories do well in representing the particular personality dimension to which they refer (Barrick & Mount, 1991).

Generally speaking, introverted individual find they have enough internal processes occurring within, so they do not require any further external stimulation and are therefore quite happy to not pursue external sources of stimulation. I think Gray (1990) conceptualised this process most efficiently for me, as the difference between the Behavioural Activation System (BAS) versus the Behavioural Inhibition System (BIS) that neurologically occurs within all individuals. The BAS energises and directs behaviour by facilitating approach oriented and goal directed behaviour. Whereas, the BIS serves to facilitate avoidance based motivational behaviour and goal directed behaviour in attempts to avoid negative, harmful, threatening or risky situations. It is the BIS system that is thought to be activated with people who score highly along the neurotism trait. Both introverts and extroverts are motivated but towards OR away from an event/experience/object in accomplishing their specific goals.

Global happiness index(known as the HPI – Happy Planet Index), defines a countries level of happiness by combines environmental impact with an individuals reported well-being to derive a score that is designed to reflect how happy people report they feel living in a country. Hence, the pursuit of happiness has entire nations, groups and individual’s caught up with trying to solve the complex riddle of how to increase happiness.

Importantly, happiness does not fluctuate because of a particular life event, as this abstract construct is thought to be a relatively consistent over time. Happiness is thought to revolve around an individual’s happiness levels, or rather, the happiness ‘set point’, that is said to be genetically fixed. Hence, Gray (1990) rewards systems explain why extroversion and neurotism affect happiness. According to the text, Reeve (2009) suggests extroverts seem to view positive events as more positive and also have a greater capacity to experience positive emotions. Whereas, introverted people report positive emotional response reportedly less as they are less sensitive to the influence of positive events (Reeve, 2009). Gray (1990) supports Reeve’s summation (2009) and further suggests the difference between extroverts and introverts in the way a positive event is interpreted lies in the difference in level of sensitivity between the two personality traits. Hence, extroverts are motivated to approach social events, or actively engaging situations. Socially, extroverts (rather than introverts) are more likely to seek social dominance and desire for social influence and control over others (not always in a negative i.e. like the extrovert that seeks to become a strong leader). Additionally, extroverts show greater interest in engaging in adventurous activities as they are thought to be more attracted by the possible reward and are experiencing (according to Gray, 1990) neurological disinhabition that allows them to overlook the possible negative consequences of their engagement.

Happiness and Agreeableness

Diener & Seligman (2002) researched the notion of happiness among 222 college undergraduates and found a connection between the trait of agreeableness and a person’s reported happiness level, with people who demonstrated higher scores on agreeableness more likely to also report feeling of happiness in contrast to those people who had lower scores on the same trait. These reportedly happy people also demonstrated that they felt a strong need for social engagement with others that was of a high quality in nature. That is they did not require many friends but they required meaningful relationships with others (significant people like mothers, siblings, lovers and close friends) (Diener & Seligman, 2002). The researchers hypothesised that it was an individual’s social agreeability that increased the quality of the relationship and feelings of interconnectedness towards others which led to higher levels of happiness) (Diener & Seligman, 2002).

There is a very tongue-in-check presentation on YouTube entitled “How to be happy” which is well worth a look when needing a little study break How to be happy link to YouTube clip. Funnily enough, this YouTube link was listed above the other presentation entitled “How to stop farting” and below “How to give a perfect man a hug”, it makes you wonder if we really are that motivated to seriously follow set steps to find happiness. Perhaps it also indicates we are generally satisfied with the levels of happiness we currently experience. On the other hand, it may also mean if we find a means of farting appropriately and hugging perfect men we can then set our sights on enhancing our happiness.

Levels of internal arousal fluctuate during the day and are a function of the environment. Behavioural responses try to facilitate a state of optimal arousal. Individual difference exist in the level of arousal people strive to achieve and this is according to a person’s personality trait and specifically in regards to personal emotional stability.

Low Levels of Arousal
When people are sensorially deprived of external input (no sound, sight, little touch sensation, little taste stimulation), they report hallucinations (auditory and/or visual) and cognitive slowness. This is because the brain still tries to make sense of the neural firing it is experiences and due to the brain being programmed receive information (Reeve, 2009).

High Levels of Arousal
Sensation seeking is a personality dimension related to extroversion, where individuals seek out situations that provide high arousal. Sensation seeking is closely linked to risk-taking behaviour as they are potentially uninhibited by the possible consequences of their behaviour. We all take risks to some extent, but sensation seekers often feel less inclined to worry about consequences and are hence more draw to positive and novel experiences. Sensation seeking is highly correlated with drug taking behaviour, gambling and other additive behaviour (Reeve, 2009). If the behaviour becomes entrenched overtime it is easy to see how sensation seeking emerges as a personality dimension related to the repetitive behaviour demonstrated by addicts as there is need to continually strive to enhance arousal levels.

Affect Intensity

This photo of a gorgeous babe having a great intensely happy time perhaps?

Stability versus variable mood states an individual experiences is often related to the personality dimension of neurotism. It changes overtime in accordance with development as self-regulatory mechanisms grow in line with neurological development. People who demonstrate high affect intensity would interpret a distressing event as more negative and a pleasant event as more positive than those with less affect intensity because of their greater mood variability (also seen as emotional instability).

Perceived control related to locus of control or Weiner’s locus of causality shape a person’s attributions as to whether they feel they have the skills needed to successfully complete an event. Weiner (1984) defines personal control as an individual’s desire to control an event they are experiencing. Both predict motivational and emotional responses. Perceived control is high when you think that you can fulfil a desired outcome (Weiner, 1984). In contrasts lower levels of perceived control is evident when the person is dependent on others to help them reach a desired outcome, as they believe they cannot achieve the goal themselves (Weiner, 1984). Clearly, this effects motivational approach or avoidance behaviour, as thoughts about whether a person feels the can reach a desired outcome will determine whether they engage in the activity or not. I have seen this in my workplace at a primary school. The children who have experienced situations where the circumstances are largely outside of their control and the outcome is left determined by someone other than themselves (irrespective of their effort and engagement), they seem to give up. Certainly, it is often these same children who have to try to sort through the negative emotional responses that come about from feeling their attempts to control the situation are futile. Personally, it is also the main reason why I keep turning up to work, ready these students who are experiencing or have experienced low personal and perceived control. I do believe that (like Seligman) we can teach these young children different ways of thinking about their skills in reflection of events and hence overcome these feelings of helplessness. However, there are specific means of going about facilitating such a change and for students who are not motivated to want to change the circumstances (because basically they have given up) it becomes very difficult. Using the foot-in-the-door phenomena, where students can experience even the smallest positive benefit from controlling the outcome of an event, children I have worked demonstrate increasing approach-like behaviours towards engaging in further educational tasks. It often takes the support of the teaching environment and classroom peers to help this process, and importantly provide positive feedback necessary for to shape the student self-perceptions concerning their skills, but change is definitely possible. I am really lucky to be in a workplace where students are supported in this manner and perhaps this is why the students I have worked with have responded positively to such behavioural interventions. Nevertheless, it is an important consideration for educators and others working with children who desires to stimulate a motivated response towards educational activities.

Personal Reflection
During my studies in psychology, I have quickly come to realise that psychology is about the study of the interrelated aspects at play within individuals and that often there is simultaneous process occurring with great overlap between them. Specifically, with regard to motivation and emotion, there personality aspects do influence the behavioural responses an individual demonstrates. With motivational behaviour this seems to mainly involve approach or avoidance behaviour with the outcomes of that behavioural choice facilitating an emotional response. Generally speaking, I think there is a great deal of individual difference that still remains largely unknown in terms of the influence of individual differences and therefore a great deal more research needed in the areas of motivation and emotion in this regard.


Barrick. M.R., & Mount, M.K. Autonomy as a moderator of the relationship between the big five personality dimensions and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 111-118. [5]

Diener, E., & Sligman, M.E. (2002). Very happy people. Psychological Science, 13, 81-84.

Goldberg, L. R., Johnson, J. A., Eber, H. W., Hogan, R., Ashton, M. C., Cloninger, C. R., & Gough, H. C. (2006). The International Personality Item Pool and the future of public-domain personality measures. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 84-96.

Gray, J.A. (1990). Brain systems that mediate both emotion and cognition. Cognition and Emotion, 4, 269-228.

McCrae, R. M., & John, O. P. (1992). An introduction to the five-factor model and its applications. Journal of Personality,60, 175–215. [6]

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). USA: Wiley.

Weiner, B. (1985). An attributional theory of achievement motivation and emotion. Psychological Review, 92, 548-573.

Web Links:
International Personality Item Pool: A Scientific Collaboratory for the Development of Advanced Measures of Personality Traits and Other Individual Differences Internet Web Site.

Reflection on Multimedia Assignment[edit]

Multimedia assignment required more than one take for me to perfect

This week I have focused on developing my multimedia presentation, which is a five minute overview of the Student Motivation Theories chapter presented on wikiversity (insert link here). This focus came after last week’s completion of the chapter (which at one stage I thought would never happen). The problem I have in completing this assessment piece (and frankly all assessment items) is that after I have completed a task I usual go over and over and over it trying to make changes to improve the final project. I understand the editing process is really important if I want to submit assessment pieces of high quality, but when should one stop? I think I could go on and on forever. However, it is nice to have the security of a due date that also needs to be adhered to expectations. Hence, I have actually formulated a script and power-point presentation a while ago, but I am going through the restructuring and practicing process to improve the presentation prior to the admission date of Monday 15th November (9am). Today I have visited screenr and opened an account and have recorded a few (a large number) of practice trials of my multimedia presentation. After finally deciding to keep one of the many presentations I have made (yep…we can delete all the less than pleasing presentation attempts), I have published my multimedia presentation on screenr and YouTube. Thus far I have discovered:

  • No matter how I annunciate the script I can’t escape the fact that I sound like a six year old. Although it is comforting to shed years of my aged life, it is not comforting to sound as young as a Kindergarten student when trying to speak knowledgably about a fairly extensively research field of study.
  • It is fairly confronting to hear my voice played back via screenr. Presentations are daunting at best and we are lucky students to only have to present a five minute overview of information we should know really well at this stage of the course.
  • If trying to upload and publish a completed presentation turn off any background programs that maybe downloading or uploading information on the net. In my experience, other programs accessing the internet will block any publishing made using screenr.
  • Five minutes goes by at a very, very fast rate! I had to cut my script in half, then half and then finally half again. I still managed to trip over my words, but I hope that was in keeping with the six year old persona I seemed to adopt rather well for this activity.

I have whinged a little bit about this assessment piece, but let me stress that I have found this piece extremely beneficial in a number of ways:

  1. I have received valuable feedback from others in my tutorial group and feel (although we submit individually), as the multimedia (e-folio and wiki chapter) project(s) helped facilitate crucial peer support. Perhaps there was a greater collaborative effort made by students because we were allowed the freedom to choose the area of study we wished to focus on when learning about motivation and emotion. I feel there is less competition between students I have encountered in this unit compared to all my other psychology units and I am sure this is due to the peer mentoring and support. However, I am only one of a few students who regularly attend tutorials and have a fairly supportive group. Maybe less competition among students is also due to the interactive nature of the assessment pieces and support from staff.
  2. My sense of autonomy has helped feed into my need for competence (just as the theory of self-determination suggests). Being able to work independently and achieve certain outcomes for the presentation task as well as our wikiversity chapters and e-folios, has aided my feeling of mastery and control over the subject matter and hence fuels my feelings of confidence, especially in the development of my knowledge base of motivation and emotion. Hence, I feel I am able to apply the principles presented in such a unit on motivation and emotion to real life situations, so this unit has been quite personally beneficial.
  1. I have retained the information learnt in this unit because we were given time to digest and reflect on the content of the unit. I do not have to cram information into my brain for the purposes of doing well in an exam, only to have forgotten that information a few weeks after completing the exam. I know when I complete more than one unit, and most of them have mid-semester and end-of-semester exams, I find (probably due to the recency and primacy effects) the information I take in becomes a little cloudy. It is nice to reflect on what information is presented in readings and lectures through the e-folio and tutorials because then I receive immediate feedback as to whether or not I’m on the right path in developing a deeper understanding about the concepts discussed.
  2. I have learnt ways in which my own efforts towards maintaining energy and drive to fulfil a goal can be improved because I now understand how those processes unfold. This is probably why I enrolled in such a unit (as well as the need to enrol in this unit as a requirement towards completion of my degree, which is equally important). However, in my long years as a part-time student on the University of Canberra campus, I have completed many courses, not all of them in order to complete a degree. In this regard, this unit has been one of those units I have engaged in because I wanted to learn more about the area of motivation and emotion and can at this stage state that I feel I have satiated that interest somewhat (I am also a perpetual student that loves to learn).
  3. I have learnt to develop new skills such as wikiversity editing and writing and online presentations. Being able to develop new skills in the area of ITC and problem solving has also helped boost feelings of confidence in this area and hopefully has given me additional skills that are useful in the workplace (or if I ever commit to completion of post-graduate qualifications).

Overall, the multimedia task, although challenging, has given me the opportunities to develop new skills and refine old skills and therefore I have found this particular task very beneficial. I hope that my feedback is taken into consideration for future planning of this unit as I am sure many students would benefit from engaging in the meaningful assessment projects presented to u this year in the motivation and emotion unit.

Unconscious Motivation[edit]

This reflection is derived from my notes taken during this week’s lecture, as I feel it was one of the most beneficial lectures I have attended. I have included some additional readings and comments in relation to my understandings of unconscious motivation to further synthesise my knowledge in this area.

Definition of unconscious motivation:

  • The pleasure seeking drives that we are largely unaware of that urge us towards immediate gratification of innate physiological and psychological needs (Reeve, 2009)

This week’s focus is on an individual’s momentum towards goals that are somewhat mechanistic, but operate outside our conscious awareness. That is, it defines that automatic motivational intention that operates without fully engaging our attention. Furthermore, the notion of unconscious motivation demonstrates that we can unconsciously absorb and process information that ultimately influences later behaviour.

The Popcorn and Cola Study (Moore, 1984)

An icon (actually a photo) was subliminally played to participants suring a movie in the Moore (1984) study
A photo alike this cola can was played at random intervals in the same study by Moore (1984)

A specific research example offered during lecture helped me to digest the notion of unconscious processes and the influence of motivational behaviour. This specific study examined people’s motivated behaviour (their observed behaviour when buying popcorn and cola) as influenced by a subliminal message played to participants as they watched a movie (second long flashes displaying cola and popcorn) (Moore, 1984). The researchers suggest the participants who were exposed to the subliminal message, were primed to purchase more cans of cola and containers of popcorn after the conclusion of the movie compared to those participants who view the movie without experiencing the subliminal messages (Moore, 1984). This study sounds like there is indeed some empirical support for the way in which our brains take in information that can in fact impact on motivating our behaviour.

Historical Contributions To understanding the Role of the Unconscious in Motivating Behaviour

  • The historical roots that underpin the notion of unconscious motivation are probably traced back to the school of psychology known as psychoanalysis.
  • Psychoanalysis recognises the contributions that Dr. Freud made in his theory of motivational behaviour when he included the three elements of unconscious forces that operate to energise behaviour. Specifically in regards to motivational behaviour Freud suggested we are driven to satiate our instinctual urges which he conceptualised as our instinct for life (Eros) and Death (Thanatos, which is better understood as the human general tendency towards destruction and aggression).
Sigmund Freud, the founder of Psychoanalysis
  • Additionally, Freud suggested there are three unconscious forces that seek to negate these instinctual urges known as the id (the pleasure seeking principle that is rather similar to the concept that the id will pursue the immediate gratification of hedonistic goals), the superego (the polar opposite notion of the id, that develops as the child learns to internalise parental rules, expectations and socially perceived responsibilities through their conformist behaviour), and the ego (the general manager that negates the id’s impulses and the superego’s response in reflection)
  • Hence there is an emphasis here on such psychoanalytic concepts as defence mechanisms, ego formation and even ego strength (as later acknowledge in the psychodynamic perspective).
  • Defence mechanisms arise from the ego’s need to reduce anxieties that are felt when experiencing in ‘internal or external reality’ (as discussed within the lecture).
  • Ego strength has a great influence on motivational behaviour, as an ego that is too strong in asserting its dominance on the unconscious can lead an individual toward a somewhat stagnant state in their development because they fear to acknowledge emotions and thought that may stem from a pleasure seeking source. Similarly, a weak ego may lead to feelings of fragility and influence validation seeking behaviour as individuals pursue external sources of approval of their sense of ‘self’ (hence the overlap seen in similar ideas presented by the positive psychological perspective known as growth psychology).
  • The development of mental representations of the ego (the self) relies on those interchanges experienced with others, as often noted by attachment theorists that have incorporated some of the earlier notions of ego formation into their theoretical model to explain human development (Roisman, et a. 2007).

A Criticism Often Made In Discussing Unconscious Motivation:
One major critique of this theoretical perspective of both psychoanalysis and psychodynamics is that the conceptualised understanding of human behaviour offered seems quite negative and generally revolves around the problems that individuals face when constantly trying to tame their innate, biological urges. However, this is when things (for me) become really, really exciting!

A Fresh Look at Unconscious Motivation:

A new way of presenting the psychodynamic perspective was engaging and exciting!

I have sat in many, many lectures and have listened to poorly introduced theories of human personality, development and behaviour as proposed by the psychoanalytical perspective. Often this perspective, although acknowledged as one of the grand theories, is presented briefly, then heavily criticised for being founded largely on notions that cannot be empirically tested. Well thank goodness I went to lecture today, because this was not how psychoanalysis was introduced at all! I actually breathed a huge sigh of relief when the empirical research was explored, as this helped justify this theoretical perspective and further validated some notions as originally presented by Freud

Although there is less empirical value in the therapeutic technique such as free association and the analysis of Para praxes (more commonly known as Freudian slips), there is certainly significant gain in scientifically exploring the role of the unconscious in motivating behaviour, as many studies demonstrate (click here for neurological explorations into the existence of an ego, id and super-ego ). Perhaps science must learn to develop instruments that are sensitive enough and refined enough to be able to investigate unconscious processes. Dr. Neill used the analogy seen in other sciences in the quest to develop an instrument sensitive enough to detect the presence of tiny atoms, as previously the existence of atoms were only validated theoretically. Therefore, even though the role of the unconscious operates below the threshold of awareness, it does not necessarily have to be below the threshold of science. That is, by developing new and delicate psychological (and perhaps physiological as the mind-body operate in tandem) instruments, we may in fact be one day be able to gather further empirical data to some of the components operating within our unconsciousness.

Future Trajectories in Studying Unconscious Motivation

  • By understanding the unconscious processes that impact upon motivational behaviour, we may begin to realise ways in which these processes can be brought into an individual’s conscious awareness. Partnering such concepts as mindfulness (one of many examples) an individual has the potential to intervene in the unconscious process. That is, they may choose to act differently because they are now aware of the influences that are directing their behaviour. It was further discussed in lecture that unconscious motivation might therefore be the forerunner to positive psychology.

Object Relations Theory

Quality relationships can feed our unconscious drives and effect the way in which we relate to one another

Object relations theory has been heavily influenced by the role the unconscious processes play in motivating humans. Furthermore, the proponents of this theoretical perspective note that there is a strong benefit in applying an understanding of unconscious processes when trying to motivate humans to behave differently. This theoretical perspective suggests three unconscious components affect the quality of how one conceptualises their interpersonal relations with others (Goldman & Anderson, 2007; Reeve, 2009). These elements are:

  1. Unconscious tone – benevolent versus malevolent
  2. Capacity for emotional Involvement – Selfishness/narcissism versus mutual concern
  3. Mutuality of autonomy of others – respecting the independent acts of others in the relationship without judgment and condemnation

A Conscious Reflection of This Week’s Lecture Content:
In reflection I feel I am really lucky this psychological perspective was not totally discredited because of testing processes that are largely hidden (with the implication they are therefore untestable). For a long time now I have felt a general dissatisfaction with the way in which psychoanalysis and psychodynamic perspectives have been presented…until now. The way in which Dr. Neill discussed the possibility of developing ways of testing the components proposed in the unconscious process of motivational behavioural analysis offers science hope in finding a further means of exploring us as the dynamic and complex beings that we are. Additionally, in consideration of unconscious processes we legitimise researchers’ rights to journey into the new and largely unknown realm that is in my opinion) largely condemned.


Goldman, G.A., & Anderson, T. (2007). Quality of object relations and security of attachment as predictors of early therapeutic alliance. Journal of Counselling Psychology, 54, 111-117.

Moore, T. E. (1982). Subliminal Advertising: What you see is what you get. Journal of Marketing, 46, 38-47.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Roisman, G.I., Holland, A., Fortuna, R., Fraley, C., Clausell, E., & Clarke, A. (2007). The adult attachment interview and self-reports of attachment style: An empirical rapprochement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 678-697.

Growth & Positive Psychology[edit]

Positive Psychological Perspectives on Conceptualising Motivation
This week’s focus of learning pertains to the psychological perspective known as positive psychology and specifically how motivational concepts have been represented. The area of positive psychology stems from humanistic perspectives and emphasises a human’s innate tendency towards growth they realise their full potential. Early on in the readings I felt that the positive psychological perspective of human development was perhaps overly optimistic, however, as I read on these feelings changed.

Not only was this beautiful flower picture of the day as appearing in wiki commons, but it also reminds me a little of the ideas raised by positive psychology (i.e. grwoth and potentials)

The area of positive psychology (and humanism) is historically seen as the third force in psychology. Psychoanalysis, which was seen to be the primary theoretical view, offered a more negative view of human motivation as individuals were conceptualised as organisms that needed to constantly deal with the anxieties in which occurred when trying to manage the conflicts within the three elements found of the subconscious (the id, the ego and the super-ego) (Reeve, 2009). Hence the second wave of psychology, behaviourism developed in order to restore the empirical validity needed for a science based discipline such as psychology. Hence, behaviourists look towards objectifying data in order to justify their view of human motivation rather than by making assumptions of largely untestable unconscious processes (Krause, Bouchner, & Duchesne (2003). However, Duckworth, Steen and Seligman (2005) suggest behaviouristic notions of motivational behaviour seemed somewhat overly simplistic at the time and thus there was a real need for human motivation to be explained more fully.
Humanists intended to complete understandings of motivational behaviour by including positive (and later on negative) instinctual drives towards growth predominately from an individual’s conscious awareness (Duckworth, Steen & Seligman, 2005). Although there have been humanistic models attributing motivational behaviour as developing through unconscious processing, currently there is a stronger emphasis on concepts (such as mindfulness as one example) that bring an individual’s motivational behaviour into conscious awareness (Duckworth, Steen & Seligman, 2005). The area of positive

Positive psychology explores the optimal conditions for a human to flourish and grow. Clearly this is not a human...but you get this idea that growth occurs consistently and accordingly with environmental support (like this plum tree

psychology that we explored this week is seen as relatively new but incorporates those early concepts noted by such humanists as Maslow (1970). Maslow (1970) suggests that individuals can only reach their potentials as humans if they are raised in a nurturing and supportive environment. Hence, from a modern day view of behaviour, there is an implication that it is people in our immediate environment coupled with the social expectations of those people that have influence whether we are motivated towards realisation of their potential or not.
Many studies have explored some of these specific concepts raised by positive psychology theorists in the area of motivational analysis in the models, and have revealed that there are number of mental health benefits in developing such skills as mindfulness, life meaningfulness, resilience and growth realisation (Duckworth, Steen & Seligman, 2005; Reeve, 2009) as four specific examples. Additionally the importance seen in the concepts raised in the exploration of motivational behaviour through a positive psychological perspective was addressed in studies included in this week’s readings and lecture. It was observed that people who strive towards realising their full potentials are also those people who develop other beneficial skills such as coping mechanisms through positive attributional orientations (as one example) that help inoculate them against potential negative mental health outcomes like depression.

Holism and Positive Psychology
Holism is the theoretical notion that humans are best viewed as integrative beings and are more than just the sum of their parts (Reeve, 2009). Rather, the theory of holism suggests that humans operate in complex ways through the intrinsic co-ordination of inter-related elements operating from within and in response to outside influences (Reeve, 2009). Holism also stems from a humanistic psychological perspective and has been a prime contributor to the emergence of the field know as positive psychology in the early 90’s (Seligman& Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), as this view of human behaviour incorporates an understanding of the integrative elements that emerge within the human motivational processes (Reeve, 2009). Furthermore, holism defines the active participation of the human organisms and this perspective is therefore in contrast to the passive role humans play in the theoretical models offered by behaviouristic understandings of motivational processing (Reeve, 2009).

The Emergence of Positive Psychology
Humanistic psychology (although significantly overlapping with notions incorporated in a positive psychological perspective) offers a unique perspective in explaining human motivational behaviour and has less empirical support. It is difficult to test the notion of the self-actualised person perhaps because Maslow has not operationalized this specific concept. However, there are some studies that investigate ways in which some of the deficiency needs seen in Maslow’s hierarchy can be addressed by schools in the hope of engaging students in the educational process (Duckworth, Steen & Seligman, 2005; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) and these studies have found there is benefits in addressing the needs Maslow has outlined in order to facilitate a motivational response, especially among school students ((Duckworth, Steen & Seligman, 2005). Therefore I have some reservations concerning the section in this week’s readings that discusses the empirical studies that explore Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as outlined by Reeve (2009) as the critique offered seem overly simplistic (in my opinion).
In my wikiversity chapter I explored Maslow’s hierarchy (as presented in Reeve, 2009) and the research that has investigated this model in explaining student motivational theories. I can only hope I have provided a full picture of this theoretical perspective when trying to integrate the psychological and educational research that uses Maslow’s (1970) model to explain human motivational behaviour, as often these two disciplines (education and psychology) seem distinctly different (often having a conflicting empirical approach to testing theoretical models). Furthermore, I have explored motivational processes by applying some of Maslow’s key principles earlier on in this e-folio, so I will not go into too much depth in this week entry as I do not wish to ‘double up’ on presenting humanistic ideas as represented by the this specific theoretical orientation.

Generally I feel that Maslow (1970) offers some significant contributions in the way in which he explains an individual’s innate tendency towards self-actualisation. The early theorists that explore this tendency to reach our fullest potential (the drive towards self-actualisation) and investigate the self-actualising process via two modes of operandi (Reeve, 2009):

  1. Autonomy:
This happy tomatoe stands independently and autonomously from the bunch. Is he well on his way to meeting his psychologically optimal conditions?

The degree to which individuals feel they can work successfully independently in reflection of their perceived skill set. The concept of autonomy has been adopted in Ryan and Deci (2000) Self-Determination Theory of Motivation and is considered to be an important element in enhancing someone’s drive towards self-actualisation (Reeve, 2009). Because people high in autonomy are less likely to be swayed by their social surrounds, they feel more inclined focus their efforts towards reaching their own potentials through engagement in the self-realisation process (Reeve, 2009).

  1. Openness:

The notion of openness has been earlier explored when we investigated the ways in which personality traits influence our motivational behaviour. Openness refers to the ways in which an individual is open to taking in external information from others in their social surrounds, and the degree to which this information is processed and then acted upon (Reeve, 2009). An open person, for instance, is more likely to be mindful of others and their own experiences (Reeve, 2009). I wonder if this is perhaps because people who are more open feel they can let go of those defence mechanisms that operate to protect the ego, as they seem to have a solid view of who they are (i.e. they have a strong sense of self).

An Additional Understanding of Some of the Key Feature of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
There are three elements that have been presented within our textbook readings that are important to include in a discussion of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. These three ‘themes’ Reeve (2009) has observed are: 1. Needs have been arranged within the hierarchy 2. These needs follow a logical progression that begins from the basic needs towards self-actualisation, and as these needs are met they develop in their complexity and nature. The first four out of the five needs are felt at a more intense level and revolve around fulfilling a deficit need (hence, Maslow has named these needs the deficiency needs). However, self-actualisation (and arguably the esteem needs), are considered to be growth needs and are pursued at a less intense level as people no longer strive towards satisfying a perceived loss, but are motivated to move towards developing and expressing their full capabilities in the best manner given their potentials. 3. The model can be used as a means to explain the development of needs, as deficit needs seem to dominate the motivational behaviours of young children and as the child grows, their needs become more complex in the manner in which those motivational behaviours become increasingly more sophisticated.

However, Maslow does recognise that not many of us reach the stage of being self-actualised (suggesting only 1% of people actual reach this state (Reeve, 2009). This makes sense to me because if Maslow proposes his model to explain motivational behaviour, what needs does a self-actualised individual try to pursue after they have reached the seemingly ultimate goal in realisation of their fullest potential? Therefore reaching a self-actualised state may not necessarily be a good thing as there is no motivation to move beyond this point. Hence, there are some limitations seen within this motivational model.

Additionally, if we more often than not fail to reach an actualised state, we are motivated to sometimes pursue needs that in the past may have satiated, but often reoccur. That is, there is more flexibility seen in the hierarchy of needs that Maslow notes (but Reeve (2009) does not necessarily emphasise, as individuals are motivated to move between the different levels of the hierarchy accordingly. I feel this is a more than noteworthy point that Reeve (2009) fails to adequately capture in his strong emphasis on meeting needs only in an upwardly logical progression. The versatility seen in the hierarchy has actually firmly asserted by Maslow (1970) in his book on motivational behaviour.

Click here for the Making Australia Happy link and take the test to see how your current levels of happiness. Well-being is one on the psychological predictors of happiness and an area in which growth psychology focus upon.

The Actualizing Tendencies as Explained by Carl Rogers

Rogers has a similar idea to those concepts presented earlier by Maslow (as presented in Reeve, 2009) in that Rogers suggests people have an innate tendency towards reaching an actualised state in becoming a fully functioning individual. However, the self-actualization tendencies have been explained by Rogers somewhat differently as individuals are seen to be only motivated to develop their sense of self and other lower level needs that have been addressed by Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy of needs are only pursued because it meets the individual’s only objective in developing a coherent sense of self. This is more complex than the oversimplified version that I have provided here, however, in a broad sense my summary notes the key difference between the two theorists in their explanations of the human motivational behaviour. Rogers’ notions of the emerging self could very well be included in the past weeks’ lecture content concerning self and motivational behaviour as there is a strong emphasis here on an individual’s development of the self, especially in reflection of how inner cognitions, as influenced by our social surrounds, influence such notions of self-worth. If a developing child is in a social settings where they perceive themselves as unworthy (such as in the case of the neglected child for example), then that individual’s motivational behaviour towards actualisation will be negatively affected (Reeve, 2009).
Furthermore, Reeve (2009) explains how cognitions and the social environment influence the emergence of self, and this helps me to understand how important Roger’s notions of unconditional positive regard is, especially when trying to help a person feel a sense of worthiness. There is much empirical data that also supports the idea of unconditional positive regard, especially in relation to its use in therapeutic settings (Duckworth, Steen & Seligman, 2005; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). These examples highlight the differences in theoretical orientation between Maslow and Rogers. Although both offer a humanistic perspective in their explanations of human motivation, their concepts are differentiated accordingly to a physiological or therapeutic emphasis respectively.
In lecture we briefly looked at how many of the humanistic concepts raised in the area of growth psychology may in fact stem from a culturally Eastern philosophical perspective that has arguably not been satisfactorily incorporated into our Westernised cultural practice. However, there is a lot of research that supports such eastern philosophical origins emerging and this has had significant effects in the way in which some of these skills are now used in therapeutic settings (such as the art of mindfulness). No longer is there a need to constantly try to bolster self-esteem, as this has been shown to (need something here to finish off this thought).
As well as the importance of the social surrounds in terms of the influence of internalised validation process the ‘self’ experiences, Rogers additionally suggests actualisation tendencies are realized through an inner guidance process that motivates individuals to engaging in new and challenging life experiences. Hence there are two important processes at play which influence the growth and development of fully functioning humans as Rogers has outlined:

  1. Actualizing Tendencies
  2. Organismic Valuation Processes – in reflection of the emerging self

Both of these processes unfold in accordance with developmental capabilities and therefore are a little similar in this regard to the model Maslow (1970) proposes. Rogers proposes three factors that are considered crucial in this self-developmental process and these unfold in the following sequence:

  1. The emergence of self
  2. Acceptance
  3. Expression

These three factors operate as motives to propel the individual towards optimal development of the self.

Causality Orientations
The notion of autonomy is flagged once again as being important in Rogers’ concept of actualization. However, autonomy is seen as a means in which an individual orients towards life experiences and includes the influence and development of cognitive scripts (internal guides), the need for self-reflection, and is strongly associated with other psychological concepts such as intrinsic motivation and self-regulation. Additionally, autonomously ‘causality oriented’ individuals are often those people who report better mental health outcomes (as discussed within the lecture). Another important orientation that effects an individual’s tendencies for self-realisation and ‘full functioning’ (a concept termed by Rogers), is their ‘control causality’ orientation. This is the polar opposite of the ‘autonomous orientation’ and may revolves around an individuals’ need for external validation and to a large extent is related to other psychological concepts such as extrinsic motivation. I would suggest that all I have learnt so far in this unit seems to indicate that individuals who overly rely on extrinsic motivators seem to also be the same people who report poorer mental health outcomes and this was well captured in lecture when we discuss the differences between growth-seeking versus validation seeking behaviour in reflection of mental health outcomes.
Rogers suggests that validation seeking ‘individuals (conceptualised as having a control causality orientation), have weaker ego strength and seem to have a greater need to actively seek out external validation of the self in order to try to improve their feelings of self-worth. Clearly, these are often the individuals who will ultimately experience poorer mental health outcomes as their constant need for external validation fails to solve the internal problem of their ego development.
In contrast, Rogers suggests growth seeking behaviour is often demonstrated by individuals who have a more autonomous orientation toward life engagement. These individuals seek to engage in and experience optimal conditions where they feel their sense of self can benefit. Hence, these growth-seeking behaviours often leads individuals to report more positive mental health outcomes.

Relationships and the Actualising Tendency

This photo is of two sea-otters holding hands. The quality of their relationship may mean they are well on their way towards being fully functioning otters! Only if their relationships contains the important elements Rogers has addressed

Within this lecture we briefly explored Roger’s concept that within the experience of a deep nurturing relationship an individual can learn ways of developing important growth seeking behaviour to develop a stronger ego base. However, the influence of interpersonal relationships is often mediated by the quality of these connections, and Rogers offers five elements which need to be expressed in order to develop good quality relationships that lead to positive growth:

  1. Warmth
  2. Genuineness
  3. Empathy
  4. Interpersonal Acceptance of Other
  5. Confirmation of the other person’s capacity for self-determination

Sometimes these elements can be neglected within the relationship as outside pressures also seem to impact on the interpersonal aspects that Rogers noted. However, I think if there is a strong sense of relatedness as is often experienced in good quality relationships, there is often a means of re-engaging the interpersonal process to overcome external pressures and this is one technique I have read about that is used by couples therapists (as explained in lecture this week).

The problem of Evil
Growth psychologists are often heavily criticised as having an overly optimistic outlook of human motivation and development (Reeve, 2009). That is, positive psychologists have at times seemed to neglect the negative qualities of human behaviour and motivation as often demonstrated through failing to explain the human tendency towards destruction, for example when explaining acts of aggression. However, it was noted during lecture and this week’s tutorial that today’s positive psychological approach does try to explain acts of destruction from the standpoint of society’s failings. That is, growth psychology suggests that while an individual pursues their natural desires towards growth in realisation of their potential, it is the social environment that ultimately influences their motivational behaviour, even if that motivational energy is directed towards destruction. Our unit convenor included a discussion within the tutorial allowing us to debate the perceived deficits positive psychology has in consideration of human motivation and development. I enjoyed this discussion because it offered a method in which I could openly weigh up other opinions in reflection of my current understandings and try to integrate a fuller picture of human motivation which expanded my understandings from just reading the textbook.

Positive Psychological Growth
Although positive psychology does offer a somewhat optimistic picture of human growth, this psychological perspective is often used to help people strive towards leading a meaningful life in line with their value systems and I feel it is one of the most noteworthy psychological orientations of great appeal for use in therapy.

Leading a Meaningful Life
In tutorials this week, we discussed Viktor Frankl’s notion of leading a meaningful life and his ideas were developed from his experiences of a concentration camp where he noted those individuals who seemed less negatively affected by the consequences of living within the camp were often the same individuals who seemed to be very engaged with their life, in that they had a sense of meaningfulness. In fact, it was also noted within tutorial that a sense of meaningfulness is often related to the notion of the actualised individual, as the self-actualised being often reports a clear sense of life purpose. The discussion of sense of meaning lead to the introduction of a psychological instruments that is designed to tests meaningfulness (and also an individual’s sense of comprehensiveness and manageability [7]. it was interesting to discuss the results we obtained in class and to reflect on those norms gathered in the data collection and analysis that used a large number of university students. For example, I thought I had a higher sense of meaningfulness and possibly lower sense of comprehensibility (the notion that you understand what is happening around you) than what I demonstrated by completing the questionnaire. I also thought that my scores would be similar to those reported by the larger comparable student body. This was not the case as the students involved in the study seemed to have an overall higher sense of meaning in general than our group, but a lower sense of comprehensibility. Can you think of why this might have occurred? Our sample consisted of around nine people who are all completing the same degree.
General Reflection on Positive Psychology’s Perspective of Motivation
Overall I enjoyed learning and thinking about the area of growth psychology in the conceptualisation of human motivational and emotional behaviour. I am somewhat of a fan of this perspective, but because I am aware I have this little bias, I always try to insure that other considerations (such as individuals’ equal potential towards negative behavioural responses) are also addressed in order to remain objective in my review of research. I also hope that I can privately complete some of the tutorial exercises recommended by growth psychologists as these tasks seem not only to be fun and engaging but may help me towards developing as a full functioning individual.


Duckworth, A.L., Steen, T.A., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2005). Positive psychology in clinical practive. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 629-651.

Krause,K-L., Bouchner, S., & Duchesne, S. (2003). Educational psychology for learning and teaching. Ausralia: Thomson.

Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and personality. New York, USA: Harper & Row.

Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Ryan, R.M., & Deci, E.L. (2000). Self-Determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68-78.

Seligman, M.E.P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology. American Psychologist, 55, 5-14.

Web Links
This link is to Seligmans article ‘Positive Psychology’
This link is to an article about positive psychology in clinical practice
Maslows self-actualised state and Hierarchy of needs
East versus Western view of psychological growth

Final Reflection[edit]

One final thought…

I have thought long and hard about what to include in my round off for this unit (and my last unit as an I feel like I should have posted a picture of someone crying!), because frankly, sometimes it is hard to say goodbye

For many days prior to my posting (I work offline on my e-folio submissions), I have been considering all the ways I can adequately write reflectively on all my learning experiences in this motivation and emotion unit. I think I put so much effort into trying to write something of worth firstly because I wanted others to develop the will to want to learn about this important psychological area. Secondly, as this is my last unit of study required for completion of my undergraduate degree I feel it is almost like saying goodbye to university (at least for now anyhow). But I was wrong. It is not goodbye at all. This unit is all about energy and drive, and whilst there are fluctuations in life, the energy is always there at some level to keep us forever moving forward. When one goal is reached, like in the case of completing my degree, another goal is set and on and on we go. I think the cyclical process of motivational and emotional movement through life is perhaps best conceptualised by the writings of the great Doctor (Dr. Seuss). Therefore I include the following segment from Dr. Seuss to conclude my e-folio entries. Hopefully I have motivated any readers out there to use some of the motivational and emotional concepts I have addressed to pursue your own hopes and desires in life. I also hope that you have learnt that during this process there will be times where you might feel the normal wax and wane of energy levels and the typical overwhelming emotions one experiences when goals need to be realised and you doubt the resources that are available, but these moments pass and probably the most important part of goal achievement is seen in the process you experience in reaching these outcomes. If you understand that motivation and emotion unfolds as a dynamic and variable process I am sure you will succeed in dealing with all that your life will offer you.

‘On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
With many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
A Great balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ per cent guaranteed.)

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!’

Note. Adapted from "Oh, The Places You’ll Go!", by Dr. Seuss, 1990, New York, USA: Random House. Also note…APA enthusiasts would probably have a little heart attack when trying to reference Dr. Seuss as my little friend does not use page numbers (nor does he use his real name!), very refreshing indeed.

Both Doctor Neill and Doctor Seuss (featured) helped me learn about motivation and emotion and for their efforts I will be eternally grateful