Instructional design/Affective behaviors/What is the Affective Domain?

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Welcome to the affective domain module!

"The affective domain describes the way people react emotionally and their ability to feel another living thing's pain or joy. Affective objectives typically target the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotion, and feelings" (wiki aricle: Taxonomy of Instructional Objectives).

Before we delve into what that definition means, let's take a look at this video (or try this link?). While you are watching, think about what the video is trying to get you to do and how it goes about achieving this goal. What instructional elements does it include?

The video teaches a very simple concept: the proper way to cough. The message is also simple: cough into your clothing and not into your hand. The video likely could have gotten its point across in only a few seconds. Why then is the video over five minutes long?

The answer to this lies in the true objective of the video. One might at first assume the objective of the video to be psychomotor in nature, and indeed, the video does want to change your physical behavior. The video however, reveals a deeper objective in the first few seconds when is states "The purpose of this video is to make coughing into one's sleeve fashionable". The video wants to change your attitude or belief toward coughing. This places the objective squarely in the affective domain.

Think of some experiences you have had learning. What did instructors do or not do to really make you believe in what they were teaching? How did they try to change your attitude and beliefs about a topic? If you'd like, you can record your thoughts in the class blog. Keep those experiences in mind as you continue through this module.


In this lesson, you will learn what comprises the affective domain, how it differs from other domains and how it can affect learning. At the end of this lesson, you should possess a basic understanding of the affective domain, its stages and how it affects learning.

Additionally, you should be able to:

  • Discuss how a learner might move through the fives stages of the affective domain
  • Relate the affective domain to other learning domains
  • Understand how the affective domain affects all learning in both positive and negative ways

There are three main topics to this lesson:

  1. Affective Stages
  2. The Affective Domain and Other Domains
  3. The Affective Domain and Learning

Affective Stages[edit]

It is important to first understand the stages of the affective domain. Study the table below. Each stage is listed, along with a definition of what constituties that stages, and an example video, complete with explanation. Read each definition and then watch each video. Look for the definition playing out in the example video.

Stage Definition Example Explanation
Receiving Attending to new information George's Answering Machine George is choosing to screen his calls and not answer the phone to avoid getting information from "Allison". By avoiding her, he is choosing not to even receive the new information. This is a non-example of "receiving".
Responding Actively participating in or interacting with the new information "Shall We Dance" Richard Gere's character (the male dancer) is very reluctant to participate in the dance. Although he has satisfied the "receiveing" stage by being present, he isn't sure he is ready to "respond" to the information. In the end, the character chooses to receive the new information and actively interact with it by participating in the dance.
Valuing Seeing worth in new information Australia's Prime Minister The speaker in this video makes it clear very early on that he has received and responded to information about Australia and decisions being made there by the Prime Minister. Moreover, he has formed his own opinion and is now willing and able to share his ideas with others.
Organization Fitting the new information into existing schema and deciding how the new information makes sense for you "Boy Meets World" Cory (the adult male character) has received, responded to and valued information for some time. In this video, he applies the information and use it to resolve conflict and explain parts of his life. He is also able to share his values with others (the child in the video).
Characterization Making the new information part of your schema and exhibiting new behavior, attitude or belief Advocating for Darfur The video refers to students who have made a decision to make the issues of Darfur part of their lives. To demonstrate this, they have formed the group "STAND", referred to in the video and have begun to reach out to members of the community and the government to help others make changes as well.

The table above represents the five major stages to the affective domain. The information was taken from this resource which will allow you investigate these stages further should you want more information.

How many of the examples were you able to explain? Can you think of other examples? Use the "edit this page" button at the top of the screen to add examples and explanations.

Now that we've further explored each stage, let's take a look at how one might move through these stages with respect to the sneezing video from the beginning of the lesson.

Before continuing, you should revisit the sneezing video and think about how a learner might demonstrate each stage. Once you have done that, check yourself against the information below.

Receiving is being open to the information; you haven't yet made any decisions at this stage, but you've agreed to at least receive the information. In our example, merely watching the video satisfies the receiving stage.

Responding is actively participating in the information. If the video had included tasks or an assessment and you had completed them, you would be satisfying the requirements of responding.

Valuing is attaching worth to the ideas presented. In our video example, if you had believed that the technique offered was worth considering and begun to think about implementing it in your everyday life, you have reached the valuing stage.

Organization is incorporating the new information into your existing schema. In the case of the video, this would include implementing the technique presented in your daily life.

Characterization occurs when you truly become an advocate of the new information. In the video example, this may mean telling others about the technique or finding some way to pass the information along to others.

Topic Task: Think back to a time when something caused you to change your values, beliefs or behaviors. Create a blog entry describing the experience and how you moved through the various stages. Then, read other posts and comment on at least one.

==The Affective Domain and Other Domains==\n\nThe affective domain is one of four learning domains. It is important to understand what is covered by each domain to better understand how they work together to produce learning. Part of understanding the affective domain is knowing what parts of learning are included within it. The affective domain includes behaviors not covered by the cognitive, psychomotor and interpersonal domains. Namely, we are talking about values, attitudes, beliefs, feelings and emotions. The table below shows the five stages of the affective domain and how they relate to stages in other domains. Examine the table below to learn how the affective domain is situated among the other learning domains.\n\n{| border=1 cellspacing=0 cellpadding=5 |Affective |Cognitive |Psychomotor |Interpersonal |- |Receiving |Knowledge |Imitation |Seeking/Giving Information |- |Responding |Comprehension |Manipulation |Proposing |- |Valuing |Application |Precision |Building and Supporting |- |Organization |Analysis |Articulation |Shutting Out/Bringing In |- |Characterization |Synthesis |Naturalization |Disagreeing |- |(none) |Evaluation |(none) |Summarizing |}

Topic Task: In what domain do you typically create learning? Reflect on a recent course you have created and how you would situate it on the table above. Create a blog entry discussing the domain for which you created the learning and how affective elements played a role.

The Affective Domain and Learning[edit]

The affective domain affects learning, regardless of the subject or the method. Read the following examples showing how the affective domain comes into play with regard to learning. First are some examples of how the affective domain can have a positive impact on learning. This is followed by examples of how the affective domain can negatively impact learning. As you are reading, keep in mind the learning you will be creating and how you can incorporate the affective domain to positively impact your learning.


  • A teacher praises a young learner on the picture she is drawing. The child feels good about herself and is encouraged to challenge new areas.
  • A trainer uses a think-aloud protocol in explaining how to add animation to PowerPoint presentations. The trainee(s) recognizes the value of using this type mental checklist and decides to use this in the future.
  • An online interactive time line of women's history
  • A video driven expose of Susan B. Anthony & Elizabeth Cady Statton


  • A piano teacher slams her fist down on the piano and asks their pupil why they are so dense and talent-less. The pupil goes away feeling worthless and begins thinking of ways to get out of the next lesson.
  • A lecturer in an introductory philosophy class spends the first half of class reading from the assigned text without looking up. Half of the students are talking among themselves or text messaging on the mobile phones. The few learners who were interested in the topic begin to feel that registering for the class was a mistake.
  • A (boring) text-based time line of women's suffrage \n\n Topic Task: Create a blog entry describing a learning experiences you have had, using the examples above to think about how the instructor implemented the affective domain and how it affected your learning. Did the affective elements have a positive or negative impact on how you learned and why?


Read the articles below to achieve a more thorough understanding of the affective domain and how it relates to learning. Be sure to complete all readings before moving onto the final task.

The survey instrument in this article will help you understand some of the dimensions of the affective domain.

Lesson Summary

  • The affective domain is concerned primarily with feelings, attitudes and behaviors
  • There are five stages to the affective domain: Receiving, Responding, Valuing, Organization and Characterization
  • The affective domain is one of four learning domains, the others are cognitive, psychomotor and interpersonal. All domains work together to create learning
  • The affective domain impacts all learning, regardless of domain and you must always consider it when creating learning

Final Task[edit]

Think back on your own experiences and create a final post for the course blog describing how you will incorporate the following elements into your learning:

  1. Helping learners move through the five stages of the affective domain
  2. Integrating the affective domain with other learning domains
  3. Using the affective domain to make a positive impact on your learners' experiences.

You should relate your own experiences to the concepts and discussion in at least two different articles from the Learning Resource section.

Finally, you should comment on and provide feedback for other learners' entries.\n\n

Instructional Design: Homepage Affective behaviors: Homepage Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Lesson 5