Motivation and emotion/Tutorials/Functionalist theory and self-tracking

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Tutorial 05: Functionalist theory and self-tracking

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This is the fifth tutorial for the motivation and emotion unit of study.

Overview[edit | edit source]

This tutorial:

  1. explores applied motivation topics which extend on content covered in Chapters 07 and 08 of Reeve (2018):
    1. functionalist theory of motivation using university student motivations as an example
    2. self-tracking
  2. discusses how to use Google Scholar to identify the top references on a topic

Functionalist theory[edit | edit source]

  1. Models of motivation considered so far don't really reflect two issues:
    1. People may perform the same behaviour but with different motivations.
    2. There is often more than one motivation (reason) why someone performs a behaviour.
  2. The functionalist perspective on motivation (Clary & Snyder, 1999) suggests that:
    1. Behaviour serves different functions (or goals) for different people
    2. The match between a person's motivations and outcomes determines their level of satisfaction and likelihood of continuing the behaviour.
  3. For example, consider:
    1. "Why are you at university?" - or, more generally,
    2. “Why do students go to uni?”
  4. Develop a class mind-map of the main underlying motivation for attending university. Try to think and respond really honestly - why are students really at university? Answers are likely to cover a wide range of human motives, but as the mind-map develops, look for underlying themes and group similar motivations together. Past experience with this exercise and previous research with UC students has suggested that the motivations are likely to fall within these six categories:
    1. Career/Qualifications - for the degree, so I can get a better job etc.
    2. Self-Exploration/Learning - for the learning, curiousity, knowledge-seeking etc.
    3. Social Opportunities - to meet people, make and explore friendships, enjoy social environment
    4. Altruism - to become better able to help people, help society, help the planet etc.
    5. Social Pressure - expectations of family, friends, society etc.
    6. Rejection of Alternatives - better option than doing nothing, working etc. (Note: Factor analytic research by Neill (2008) has not found psychometric support for this factor, but it has for the other five factors).
  5. Complete the University Student Motivation survey
  6. According to a functionalist perspective (Clary & Snyder, 1999) on motivation (e.g., see volunteer motivation), a good match between motivations and outcomes leads to satisfaction and retention (or intention to continue), whereas motivations not matched by corresponding outcomes leads to low satisfaction and risk of drop-out.
  7. The take-home messages from the functional perspective on motivation are that:
    1. Motivations are multiple and complex.
    2. Motivational profiles differ between people.
    3. The match between our motivations and outcomes predicts satisfaction which predicts our likelihood to continue.

Self-tracking[edit | edit source]

What are these objects?
They are self-tracking tools.
Is this me mental disorder of looking.jpgBullet-Journal-by-Matt-Ragland.jpgPedometer.JPGMoodring2.jpgWhat's the Right Weight for My Height? (4254117120).jpgBlutdruckmessgeraet.jpgEmWave2, powering up.jpgStresseraser.jpgFitibit Flex.jpgBlack Nike FuelBand.jpg
What are they for?
Learning about ourselves.


  1. What is self-tracking? (Define and provide examples) (see Quantified Self)
  2. What self-tracking do you do? What have you discovered? What are you curious to try?
  3. Watch and discuss:
    1. The quantified self (Gary Wolf, TED@Cannes, 2010, 4:52 mins)
    2. The quantified self: Data gone wild? (PBS NewsHour, 2013, 5:45 mins)
  4. 21st century mobile applications are on the cusp of deploying a bewildering array of self-monitoring life data recording streams and analysis tools.
  5. What are the potential benefits? (e.g., for trackable goals we can obtain a steady, relevant, valid data stream as feedback and thereby have access to powerful tool for facilitating change and growth)
  6. What are the potential problems? (e.g., does ST externalise the motivation?)

Project work[edit | edit source]

Demonstration of Google Scholar search tips:

  1. Citation rates
  2. Author search
  3. Linking to institutional library
    1. Login using Google Account
    2. Settings: Three bars (top-left) - Settings - Library links
    3. Search for institution name ("UC Library" is the main one, but also "University of Canberra" for Proquest)
    4. Select target libraries
    5. Save
    6. Search results will now show links to full-text resources held in the institutional library
  4. Storing citations (saving to My Library)
  5. APA style citations
  6. Setting up alerts

More Google Scholar info:

  1. About
  2. Search tips

Other possibly useful search strategies:

  1. Identify key journals
    1. Topic-specific - e.g., Motivation and Emotion
    2. Major review journals and review articles - e.g., Annual Review of Psychology and 'review in title'
  2. Work from textbook content and citations - get these articles and follow their citations

References[edit | edit source]

Clary, E. G., & Snyder, M. (1991). A functional analysis of altruism and prosocial behavior: The case of volunteerism. In M. Clark (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology: Vol 12. Pro-social behavior (pp. 119-148). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Clary, E. G., Snyder, M., Ridge, R. D., Copeland, J., Stukas, A. A., Haugen, J., Miene, P. (1998). Understanding and assessing the motivations of volunteers: A functional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 516-530.

Clary, E. G., & Snyder, M. (1999). The motivations to volunteer: Theoretical and practical considerations. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8, 156-159.

Recording[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Lectures and tutorials

External links[edit | edit source]