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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 my Motivation and Emotion E-Portfolio!

About me[edit]

I am currently in my third year of my Bachelor of Science in Psychology, in which I have majored in Human Biology. My main areas of interest are psychopathology (particularly substance abuse disorders, cluster B personality disorders and psychotic disorders), physiological psychology and cognitive neuropsychology. I have chosen to author the textbook chapter Stress and health, as this encompasses both psychology and biology and is a topical issue in Western societies. I am looking forward to learning more about Motivation and Emotion and reading all the textbook chapters that are written by participants in this unit.

Week One: Introduction[edit]

Motivation and Emotion sounds like it will be a fascinating topic. Part of the reason that I became interested in psychology was the hope that, by studying it, I would better understand what motivates human behaviour. Even before the first lecture, I had a good idea about what I was interested in getting out of this topic. This semester I am hoping to learn:

  1. What drives behaviour?
  2. Why are people motivated by certain things and not others?
  3. Why do different things motivate different people?
  4. Are emotions perceived/felt the same way by all people, or is emotion a subjective experience?
  5. If emotions are felt the same way by all people, why do different people react to them in different ways?
Motivation and Emotion Scrabble.jpg

In the hope that some of these questions will be answered this semester, I was eager to get started. The first week of semester is always the most scary - hearing over and over from each lecturer all the expectations and assessment that is involved for each unit. And this semester has certainly been no different. I have to admit that I am slightly overwhelmed by the way in which this unit is being assessed. I am most worried about my e-portfolio - I'm not very good at reflective writing (one of the many reasons I gave counselling away after first year!) and doing things on a week-by-week basis is not one of my strengths. However, I am looking forward to writing the textbook chapter as I think it will give every participant in this unit to research something unique that interests them. I suppose that the only way to tackle these assessment items is piece-by-piece and give it my best shot (by the way, if anyone reading this e-portfolio has any comments or suggestions for me, I would welcome them sharing these with me :) ).

This week, we learnt that motivation = energy + direction. The process of motivation requires behaviours to be both relatively strong, intense and persistent (energy) and aimed towards achieving a particular purpose or goal (direction). The study of the process of motivation in psychology is done in a scientific manner - that is, questions are answered in an objective way through the use of empirical evidence gained through studies that use the scientific method (Reeve, 2009). The scientific method starts with an hypothesis that is derived from a theory. This hypothesis is tested and the findings of these studies can either support or disconfirmed the current theory, which can then be revised in light of new findings. The scientific method sets the study of motivation and emotion in psychology apart from other areas that seek to explain the same phenomena such as philosophy or pseudo-psychologists (life coaches, motivational speakers etc.).

Motivational research is centred around answering two perennial questions: What causes behaviour? and Why does behaviour vary in its intensity? These two questions direct much of the research into motivation behind behaviour. Reeve argues that the first question 'What causes behaviour?" needs to be broken down into five more specific questions:

  1. Why does behaviour start?
  2. Why is behaviour sustained over time?
  3. Why is behaviour directed towards some goals yet away from others?
  4. Why does behaviour change its direction?
  5. Why does behaviour stop?

I am particularly interested in why some maladaptive behaviours sustain over time, especially when it does not appear that the behaviour is being reinforced.

The direction of current motivational research has been influenced by the historical context of this research. The grand theories of motivation are the three major historical perspectives in motivational research. The three grand theories are:

  • Will: This theory boiled the study of motivation to understanding will, and through this, centred around understanding choosing and resisting. Descrates hoped that by understanding these two constructs would unveil the meaning behind behaviour. However, the philosophical methodology behind this theory meant that it explained little about motivation and was almost impossible to scientifically prove any findings.
  • Drive: This theory focused on biological imbalance as the key motivator of behaviour. Both Freud and Hull developed theories that focused on drive as the primary motivator of behaviour. These theories are quite complex and Hull devised an equation to explain motivation.
  • Instinct: Psychologist William James adapted Darwin's theory of biological determinism. James argued that humans possessed a range of inbuilt reflexes or 'instincts' that direct behaviour. Critics of this theory argued that the way it went about explaining behaviour was largely circular and therefore, did not actually offer any insights to the root of behavioural motivation.

The popularity of these three grand theories declined and there has been a rise in the popularity of mini theories. The cognitive revolution had an influence on motivational research, as it did on many areas of psychology. Psychologists began to embrace the idea that many different aspects of people (cognitive, social, biological, environmental etc.) all play a role in motivating behaviour.

Week Two: How to Use Wikiversity[edit]

I found this week's lecture was really useful. I think it was a great idea to dedicate some time to explaining the technical side of the assessment tasks, which was one of the first hurdles in completing them. The assessment in this unit is unlike any unit I have undertaken so far in my studies, but I was looking forward to gaining some new skills as well as learning about the course content. Once the basic concept of Wikiversity syntax was explained, I found it fairly easy to pick up as I have some experience writing syntax/code from my job. I have tried to set up this page with some logical sections and have had a go at adding an image to the page. During this semester, will definitely have a go at making the formatting on this page a little more aesthetically pleasing.

Week Three: Brain and Physiological Needs[edit]

This week, the lecture focused on the biological basis of of motivation and emotion, which starts with the motivated and emotional brain. Many of the brain structures that control and stimulate emotions are the more primitive, old (evolutionarily speaking) parts of the brain. These brain areas (limbic system, hypothalamus, amygdala) are also not responsible for conscious cognitions, reasoning or impulse control. This is why emotions can often feel overwhelming and why it can be very difficult to be rational when in a highly emotive state. There are two types of motivational and emotional states: approach- and avoidance-oriented. Both of these types of emotional states are associated with different structures of the brain, which Reeve (2009) outlines in the chapter.

Messages in the brain that cause motivated behaviour are sent through neural pathways. The brain uses neurotransmitters to send these messages and the outcome of these signals on behave largely depends on the neural pathway and the neurotransmitter involved. The four main neurotransmitters and their functions are also follows:

Chemical structure of dopamine
  • Dopamine: Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is associated with 'feeling good' (Marieb & Hoehn, 2007). When we encounter an event that is associated with reward or positive outcomes, the levels of dopamine in our brains increase. Incentives (or the anticipation of a reward) can also stimulate the release of dopamine. As a consequence of this, we actually don't need to receive the reward to feel good. Dopamine helps elicit approach-oriented, goal directed behaviours.
    The areas of the brain that are affected by dopamine are highlighted blue.
    The pathway that dopamine follows in the brain is linked to the motor cortex, which means that the activation of dopamine can help activate motor responses toward approach-orientated behaviour. Dopamine helps neural messages to get turned into approach behaviours or actions. However, due to its effect on feelings of pleasure, dopamine can help facilitate addictive behaviours. Many illegal drugs can cause the brain to become hypersensitive to dopamine.
Model of a serotonin molecule
  • Serotonin: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is implicated in a number of behaviours such as sleep and eating. Serotonin is also implicated in the development of mood disorders such as depression because of the role that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have in relieving the symptoms of depression (Marieb & Hoehn, 2007).
  • Norepinephrine: Norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter that is associated with 'feeling good'. The release of this neurotransmitter is enhanced by the use of amphetamines (Marieb & Hoehn, 2007).
  • Endorphin: Endorphins are a group of peptide neurotransmitters that are the body's nature opiate (i.e. that assist in pain relief). This neurotransmitter is also responsible for the good feelings that are associated with exercise and produce the 'runners high' feeling (Marieb & Hoehn, 2007).
Maslow's hierarchy of needs.png

The second part of the lecture (and readings) this week focused on the physiological needs that drive and motivate behaviour. According to Reeve (2009), humans have three types of needs: Psychological, social and physiological. The Need-Drive-Behaviour model utilises that negative feedback model to explain how needs are noticed by the body and motivated behaviours are activated. Imbalances in homeostasis cause the body to send out signals to the brain to remedy the situation (be it thirst, hunger etc). The brain then causes behaviour to seek out stimuli to bring the body back into homeostatic balance. Physiological needs are very important in the overall scheme of psychological and physiological health. Maslow (1970) argued that there was a hierarchy of needs that must be satisfied prior to an individual being able to reach self-actualisation. Physiological needs are at the bottom of this hierarchy, because, Maslow argued, an individual would be unable to concentrate their energy towards achieving higher order goals if they were hungry, thirsty or in mortal danger.

Three physiological needs are considered to be very important to human functioning and behavioural drive. Thirst, hunger and sex are covered in Reeve (2009) as well as being present on Maslow's hierarchy as being basic human needs that must be met before any of the higher order processes can take place. I can understand the basic, innate need for food and water, as without these, basic bodily functions would be unable to continue functioning. However, I do not believe that sex should be included amongst those basic needs, simply because it does not fit the definition of a need. We do not technically need sex to survive day-to-day, like we do food and water. Whilst it is essential for the continuation of the human race, I believe that its standing as a 'basic need' should be reviewed.


This week was the first tutorial of the semester. After first doing some icebreakers to get to know our fellow students, we formed groups and discussed our own definitions of what motivation and emotion is. I found that defining motivation was quite easy, especially after reading Reeve (2009) and listening to the first lecture, however defining emotion was much more difficult. The definition that I came up with myself was: "feeling and sensations that are experienced psychologically and physiologically that can effect mood and behaviours". I think that emotions are harder to define because it is harder to think about emotions without describing how they make you feel. A list of all the definitions that the tute group came up with can be found here.

After this exercise, we discussed in our groups the questions that will drive our textbook chapters. By turning the topic into a set of questions, it made it easier to draft a rough chapter structure. Some of the questions that my chapter will be based around are:

  • What is stress?
  • What is the relationship between stress and health?
  • What are the physiological effects of stress on health?
  • What are the psychological effects of stress on health?
  • Can the impact of stress on health be mediated or reduced? If so, what are the strategies for reducing stress?

I think that this exercise was very helpful it focusing the topic down to a few manageable sections. It was also helpful hearing what other people would want to read about in a chapter entitled Stress and Health.

Week Four: Psychological and Social Needs[edit]

I found this weeks lecture and readings to be particularly fascinating. The psychological and social factors that motivate behaviour are diverse and are different for each individual. I have often wondered at the reactions or behaviours of myself and others and asked myself: "What made me react to that situation in one way and made him/her react in another?". Thankfully, I found that this week answered some of my questions.

Psychological needs[edit]

An inherent source of motivation that generates the desire to interact with the environment so as to advance personal growth, social development and psychological well-being

According to Reeve (2009), psychological needs motivate exploration of the environment and challenge-seeking and promote growth. Organismic psychological needs such as autonomy, competence and relatedness, assume that people are inherently active and that people are willing and able to interact with the environment. These needs are the product of a reciprocal relationship between the person and their environment. The organismic psychological needs provide individuals the motivations to learn, explore and develop themselves.

However, this raises the question - why do some people seem to have no desire to develop, learn or grow? I am sure that everyone knows an individual or a group of individuals who do not have any motivation to learn or engage in their environment. If these psychological needs are innate and essential for psychological wellbeing, then why do some people appear to have no motivation to do anything with themselves? Are these people psychological healthy? And what causes this seeming lack of motivation? Unfortunately, I don't know the answers to these questions, but perhaps these will be addressed in this topic or in others.

The three important psychological needs are:

Having fulfilling interpersonal relationships is one psychological need.
  1. Autonomy- Autonomy is the psychological need to experience self-direction and personal endorsement in the initiation and regulation of one's behaviour. When we make decisions, we need to feel like we have some element of control and influence over the outcome of the decision. Reeve defines three elements that determine the amount of perceived autonomy we feel: Internal locus of causality - whether an individual believes that their behaviour is internally or externally initiated. Volition - whether the behaviour was freely performed or whether the individual felt coerced into performing the behaviour. Perceived choice - the feeling that we have flexibility over the options that we choose.
  2. Competence - Competence is the psychological need to be effective in interactions with the environment. When we engage in activities, we will feel the strongest amount of interest when we engage at a level that exactly suits our own level of skill. Being overchallenged or underskilled can cause frustration and negative affect. Receiving constructive feedback is also an important part of the feeling of competence.
  3. Relatedness - Relatedness is a feel of connection and involvement in personal relationships, social groups and communities. Interaction with others is key to being about to fulfil this psychological need. It is essential though that the relationships that we are engaged in are emotionally supportive and fulfilling.

Psychological needs are often fulfilled in social environments, so social needs are another important component in motivation and emotion.

Social needs[edit]

An acquired psychological process that grows out of one's socialisation history that activates emotional responses to a particular relevant incentive

Social needs are needs that are acquired through socialisation and experience. Social needs activate and motivate emotions and behaviour when need-satisfying incentives present themselves. Some examples Reeve (2009) gives of social needs are:

  • Achievement - This social need is elicited when the incentive arises that by doing something well, an individual can show compentence.
  • Affiliation - This social need arises when an individual has the opportunity to please others and gain their approval.
  • Intimacy - This social need arises when an individual has an incentive to develop warm and secure relationships.
  • Power - This social need involves having control, influence and impact on others.

Week Five: I-E Motivation and Goal Setting[edit]

Exercise can have many different motivations.

Where does the motivation to exercise come from? For some people, exercise is something they enjoy - they like being outside and engaging with other people. For other person, exercise is a chore that must be endured. All the people who exercise are motivated to do so, however, some people are intrinsically motivated to exercise (i.e. they enjoy it) and some are extrinsically motivated (i.e. weight loss).

Intrinsic motivation[edit]

Intrinsic motivation is an inherent desire to engage in one's interests and to exercise and develop one's capacities. It is natural motivation that emerges spontaneously (Reeve, 2009). Intrinsic motivation originates from the psychological needs that were discussed last week - autonomy, competence and relatedness. Being intrinsically motivated to engage in a particular behaviour has a number of benefits outlined by Reeve (2009):

  • Persistance: If a person is intrinsically motivated to perform a particular behaviour, they are likely to persist in the behaviour longer.
  • Creativity: Creative thinking is greatly enhanced by intrinsic motivation.
  • Conceptual Understanding/High-Quality Learning: Intrinsic motivation increases the value that individuals get out of learning. Those who are intrinsically motivated to learn are better able to understand what they are learning on a deeper, conceptual level.
  • Optimal Functioning and Well-Being: Pursuing activities that are motivated intrinsically increase psychological well-being and is associated with self-actualisation (see Maslow's hierarchy above).

Extrinsic motivation[edit]

Behaviour that is motivated by the receipt of a reward is considered to be extrinsically motivated. Going to work, for most people, is at least partially extrinsically motivated. For most people, they attend work and try to perform their job to acceptable level of performance in order to receive a pay check at the end of the pay period. Baldwin and Baldwin (1986) devised a model to explain the relationship between behaviour, incentives and consequences. In their model, a situational cue sets up a environment for a particular behavioural response. This then results in a consequence. This consequence may be reinforce the behavioural cue. This model seems to base itself in the principles of operant conditioning. The reward of behaviours is not always a good thing, as the reward of behaviours with tangible reinforcers like money decrease intrinsic motivation for the task (Reeve, 2009). However, rewarding particular behaviour with tangible reinforcers can have a positive effect on some types of behaviour. For example, contingency management (which is a style of therapy that involves using the principles of operant conditioning to change maladaptive behaviours) is highly effective in the treatment of substance abuse disorders (Petry, 2006). This type of therapy rewards abstinent behaviour in drug abuses by offering money or prizes as reinforcement for tangible proof of the target behaviour (Petry, 2006). In the case of substance abuse, intrinsic motivation may be sufficient motivation to 'kick the habit', so to speak. While Reeve argues that extrinsic motivation plays a detrimental role in learning behaviours and negatively impacts on intrinsic motivation, I don't believe that it is a wholly bad source of motivation.


This week in tutorials we completed the Learned Optimism Test from Seligman's book Learned Optimism. This inventory is designed to measure an individuals preference for either optimism or pessimism. Firstly, my impressions of the survey was a little outdated and the questions were forced choice answers (i.e. you either had to pick A or B). After scoring the inventory, it became apparent that the scale was biased somewhat to giving a pessimistic score. My score was much more negative than I anticipated; I know that I can be somewhat pessimistic at times, but I didn't believe that I would score as low as I did (in negative figures!). The class then discussed the items in the inventory - I thought that some of the answers that were 'optimistic' were actually quite narcissistic. Some items implied that anything good that happened was automatically attributable to the self, even if they clearly were not. Perhaps a high degree of optimism is actually undesirable and is related to a inflated sense of internal locus of causality.

Click here to take the Learned Optimism test for yourself!

Week Six: Control Beliefs and The Self[edit]

Personal control is an important concept to many people. It is even valued by society - manners and social norms all require individuals to exercise a degree of control over their behaviours. According to Reeve (2009), people have a desire to have control over the environment so that they are able to produce more positive situations and reduce the occurrence of negative ones. The ability to exercise self-control is largely related to a person's belief that they have the power to influence the outcome favourably. Two kinds of expectancies are taken into account when an individual gains motivation to pursue a particular behaviour:

  1. Efficacy Expectations: Can I do it? - A judgement of your capacity to execute a particular act or course of action. The efficacy expectation is of being able to enact the behaviours one needs in order to effectively cope with the situation at hand. These expectations estimate the likelihood that an individual will engage in a particular behaviour.
  2. Outcome Expectations: Will what I do work? - A judgement that a given behaviour, once performed, will produce a particular outcome.
High self efficacy can help this athlete believe in their ability to cope with the task at hand

Both of these factors must be high for behaviour to be to be motivated and goal-directed. These concepts together form the self-action-control model of perceived control.

Self-efficacy (or your own belief in your ability to cope with a task) is also an important component of behaviour control. There are many sources of self-efficacy such as personal behaviour history, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion and physiological activity. I can particularly relate to the 'verbal persuasion' component of self efficacy. When I was in school, I used to compete in triathlons. I competed for many seasons consecutively and, after a few years, I could almost predict the outcome of my races by the 'verbal persuasion' or self talk I used to have prior to the event. If I allowed myself to get terribly nervous, undermined my training efforts to myself and essentially talked myself into failure, I would have a terrible race. Finishing would be a struggle and I would find my weakest leg (the run, which is also the last leg of a triathlon) almost impossible to continue. I would also feel awful emotionally; those races were never fun. However, if I consciously told myself that 'this race will be fun' and turned my anxiety into excitement, racing was so much easier and far more enjoyable. In both situations, my physical preparation was the same; I had done the same amount of training and was just as fit to race in both situations. However, my self-efficacy for the task was higher when I convinced myself it was, and consequently, the task became much easier.

The self also plays a large role in motivation. Self-esteem and self-concept also play a role in the type of behaviour that a person will engage in. In order to maintain psychological wellbeing, humans like to make sure that our actions are in line with our beliefs. If an individual acts in a way that is inconsistent with their beliefs, they will be in a state of psychological tension termed cognitive dissonance. In order to regain a sense of psychological 'peace', individuals will either change the behaviour or change the belief. Reeve suggests that people are not rational, but are rather rationalising (i.e. justifying their actions by being flexible with their beliefs).

Week Nine: Nature of Emotion[edit]

Emotion: a familiar concept, however, like many simple, familiar concepts, it is hard to define it. According to Reeve (2009), this is because emotions are a complex and multidimensional construct. Just like for motivation, research into emotion deals with five perennial questions:

  1. What is an emotion?
  2. What causes an emotion?
  3. How many emotions are there?
  4. What good are the emotions?
  5. What is the difference between emotion and mood?

Emotion is actually comprised of four different components - feelings, bodily arousal, sense of purpose and social-expressive. Still, defining emotion is actually more that the sum of the aforementioned parts. The definition that Reeve offers for emotion is the following:

Emotion is that which choreographs the feeling, arousal, purposive and expressive components into a coherent reaction to a eliciting event

Emotion is can be seen as both a motivator of behaviour and an indicator of how an individual is coping with a situation.

Does sadness really help us cope with life events or does it inhibit our ability to cope?

One of the perennial questions of emotion that particularly interested me is the question 'What good are emotions?'. According to Reeve (2009), emotions serve two primary functions: a coping function and a social function. The coping function suggests that emotions are adaptive as they help us cope with life events. However, I don't know if this is true of all emotions. For example, sadness. Loss of a loved one or the breakdown of a relationship can elicit sadness, however, I'm sure that many people would have experienced sadness in these situations would report that the feelings of sadness actually do not help the person cope with this loss. I'm sure that almost everyone can relate to feeling grief in a situation and feeling like they could not cope. Is this because the situation I am describing is not sadness, but grief? Or is it true that not all emotions are able to assist coping? As for the social function that emotion has, I think that this is best demonstrated by looking that the social interactions of a group that has trouble with identifying and relating to the emotions of others. A group of developmental disorder called autism spectrum conditions (ASC) impairs an individuals social functioning. One of the behavioural features of ASC's is difficulty in understanding body language, such as facial expressions (APA, 2000). Because of the inability to read emotion on the faces of others, individuals with ASC's have marked difficulty with social interactions. So emotions can be highly useful in social function, as they can give us a quick insight into the mental state of another person without having to ask.

Week Ten: Aspects of Emotion[edit]

Biological aspects of emotions[edit]

Inside my head cropped.jpg

The biological aspects of emotion engage many different structures in the body such as the autonomic nervous system, endocrine system and neural brain circuits. Many of the neurotransmitters that I discussed in an earlier blog are also active in the neurology of emotion. The contemporary perspective of the biological aspects of emotion has focused on specific neural pathways for each emotion. There are distinct and measurable changes in heart rate and skin temperature for some emotions. However, research has shown that only a few emotions have specific patterns of neural firing. These emotions are specifically related to survival reactions such as fear, which activates the flight or fight response of stress (for more information on stress and the stress response, see Stress and Health). An important question that naturally follows the biological theories of emotion is 'Does physiology cause emotion, or just follow the emotional reaction?'. Recent research seems to suggest that the biological aspect of emotion accompanies emotion, but does not directly cause it (Reeve, 2009).

Specific brain areas are implicated in the neural pathways for emotions. The limbic system is the emotional centre in the brain (Marieb & Hoehn, 2007), but other brain areas are also associated with emotion. The amygdala has been implicated the generation of negative emotions such as fear and anxiety (Reeve, 2009). Dopamine and norepinephrine pathways are associated with the generation of positive feelings and affect (Marieb & Hoehn, 2007).

Cogntive aspects of emotions[edit]

The cognitive aspect of emotion is, arguably, the most important aspect of emotion. Without a cognitive appraisal of the event that elicits the emotion, the emotion would not occur. Therefore, it is the appraisal of the event that elicits the emotion, not the emotion itself. Appraisal is an estimate of how significant the event is (Reeve, 2009). The appraisal of an event determines the type and intensity of the emotion that is elicited and, in turn, determines the action the individual will take in reaction to the event.

Social-cultural aspects of emotions[edit]

Another important aspect of emotion is the social and cultural environment that it occurs in. The sociocultural context contributes to the way in which we understand emotion. Social interaction is also very important in both the understanding and elicitation of emotions. Reeve (2009) outlines that basic emotions can be both similar and dissimilar across different cultures. Some emotions such as anger, sadness, fear and happiness were present in both North American and Chinese culture. However, some of the more complex emotions such as shame and love were experienced differently across different cultures.

Week Eleven: Personality and Emotion[edit]

For many years, I wondered why I reacted differently to some situations than my best friend, who seemed to either care about things that I thought were silly or not care when I thought something was important! This differences between us were often a point of contention. However, after this week's readings and lecture, I understanding that these differences may have been due to our own personality differences. According to Reeve (2009), having different personality traits would not only cause us to approach some situations and avoid others, but they determine how or why we would react to particular stimuli. The Big 5 personality traits play an important role in emotional response.

Happiness is related to Big 5 personality traits.

Happiness: Most people report that they are happy. What is interesting about happiness is that is does not seem to differ across socioeconomic groups or levels of privilege. One surprising study that Reeve highlights is the study that quizzed accident victims and lottery winners about their levels of happiness one year after the event and they reported similar levels of happiness. So if money can't buy you happiness what can? According to Reeve (2009), extraversion increases the likelihood that a person will be happy. Extraverts are more sensitive to the rewards that can be reaped from social situations than introverts, due to their stronger behavioural activating system (BAS).

Suffering: Unsurprisingly, individuals who are most neurotic tend to suffer emotionally. Bad life events trigger a range of negative affect and negative thoughts in those who are neurotic. This is due to their higher levels of sensitivity in their behavioural inhibition system. Neurotic individuals tend to report lower levels of happiness than the average.

Arousal also plays a role in motivation. If a person is underaroused by the environment, their performance and motivation for tasks will be diminished. But more arousal is not necessarily better. There is an inverted-U shaped relationship between arousal and performance. Too much arousal from the environment can create irritation and anxiety. Sensation seeking is related to an individuals level of reactivity to arousal. It determines whether an individual will react to a particular situation or event. Because of their lack of sensitivity to arousal, sensation seekers tend to need higher levels of stimulation to feel happy and they become bored easily. This causes these individuals to seek out arousal in extreme ways - drug use, gambling, risky behaviours. Sensation seeking is also related to the development of addictive behaviour.

Week Twelve: Unconscious Motivation[edit]

Sigmund Freud: The father or psychoanalysis

The idea that our behaviour is motivated by thought processes that we are not aware of is unconscious motivation. This theory comes from the psychodynamic school of thought that was developed by Sigmund Freud. The unconscious, according to this theory, drives and motivates behaviour. The contemporary psychodynamic perspective outlines a process called subliminal motivation. Subliminal stimuli are 'below threshold' for conscious perception and information that is processed at this level is involved in the emotional response. However, people do not necessarily act on subliminal information.

I had a great amount of difficulty thinking about what to write for this particular post, because I have a problem with the use of the psychodynamic approach to explain human behaviour and motivation. Whilst I understand that not all thought happens consciously and that we sometimes act in ways that we can not consciously explain, I have a problem with the lack of scientific credibility that is associated with this approach. Reeve (2009) also points out this flaw in his analysis of the psychodynamic approach, and I am yet to be convinced that contemporary psychodynamic approach solve any of the problems that have been associated with Freud's brand of psychoanalysis.

Week Thirteen: Growth and Positive Psychology[edit]

I didn't really know much about positive psychology until this lecture, but I have found it fascinating. I also thought that watching this concept applied in a practical way in the new ABC series Making Australia Happy was highly informative. I would recommend that even if you don't watch the series, you have a look at the website and take the happiness test.

Positive psychology focuses on the proactive building of personal strengths and competencies and seeks to make people stronger and more productive, and to actualise the human potential in all of us

Much of positive psychology is based in the humanist school of thought in psychology and focuses on Maslow's hierarchy of human needs (as mentioned in earlier blogs). Self-actualisation, the pinnacle of Maslow's hierarchy, is an ever-fuller realisation of one's potentials, capacities and talents. Self actualisation takes two fundamental directions: autonomy and openness. According to Reeve (2009), there are six behaviours that can encourage self-actualisation:

  1. Make growth choices
  2. Be honest
  3. Situationally position yourself for peak experiences
  4. Give up defensiveness
  5. Let the Self emerge
  6. Be open to experience

As far as I can see, many of these behaviours relate to many of the topics that we have covered over this semester, such as the self and motivation.

I am interested in the humanistic approach to evil. From my studies into this school of thought earlier in my degree, my impression was that humanistic psychologists tended to think that all human kinds was inherently good and seeking to self actualise. However, let's be honest, I think most adults know that not all people in the world are good and some people intentionally go out of their way to harm others. So how do humanists deal with this fact? Carl Rogers argues that evil is not inherent in human functioning and that people must deliberately choose to act in that way. Rogers also argues that people only act in an 'evil' way to the extent to which they were treated badly by their caregiver. Other humanists take a less hardline approach and assume that some degree of benevolence and malevolence in every person and the environment and the individuals personal values help influence how a person will act. This topic is a complex and multidimensional one, that involves many different branches of psychology (such as personality and social). So I believe that a multidimensional explanation is needed to understand evil.

Week Fourteen: Summary and Conclusion[edit]

Motivation & Emotion.png

This week was the conclusion of our course, Motivation and Emotion. Over the semester, this course has taught me the generic skills of communication, ICT skills and social responsibility. By making our textbook chapter available to the public, I feel that we have had the opportunity to contribute to psychology (in a very small way) by providing other students a literature review of many different topics that could be used as a first port of call for learning about motivation and emotion. Learning how to use Wiki has built my ICT skills and using the different types of medias (such as screenr and Wiki) to develop our assessment items has enhanced my communication skills.