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Crystal Clear app kfm home.png This user is a participant in the Motivation and emotion unit, 2010.
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Motivation and Emotion - E-portfolio[edit]


Howdy-doody, this page will contain Jack Straw (from Wichita)'s e-portfolio/blog, which will discuss in fervent detail my thoughts regarding to the weekly lectures and assigned readings for my motivation and emotion class. If you're looking for edge-of-your-seat excitement then hold on to your hats because I'm about to blow your mind!

This is our text, it's very interesting; Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Week 1[edit]

I don't much remember all that happened in week 1, I should have paid greater attention in class. More than that I should have started this blog 3 weeks ago when I remembered all of the relevant details. However I can still reference the text book;

With the text, a strange thing happened; I didn't know much how to approach the blog, however when I was reading the textbook I came across a passage that interested me greatly, and as such I highlighted the text with a pen. It was shortly after this, and in one of those moments of profound insight, that I realised that I should just write about those parts of the text that motivate me. This is, after all, a class on motivation.

The passage I liked was this;

When motivation sours, personal adaptation suffers. People who feel helpless in exerting control over their fates ten to give up quickly when challenged (Peterson, Maier, & Seligman, 1993). Helplessness sours the person's capacity to cope with life's challenges. People who are bossed around, coerced, and controlled by others tend to become emotionally flat and numb to the hopes and aspirations embedded within their inner psychological needs (Deci, 1995). Being controlled by others sours the person's capacity to generate motivation on his or her own. In contrast, when students are excited about school, when workers are confident in their skills, and when athletes set higher goals, then their teachers, supervisors, and coaches can rest assure each of these persons will be able to adapt successfully his or her unique environment. People with high-quality motivation adapt well and thrive; people with motivational deficits flounder. (pg. 14, Reeve, 2009)

This particular passage speaks volumes to me. I have recently come out of a long-term relationship, and at the time of reading this passage I was still emotionally processing the outcome. One major contributing factor to the break-up was that effectively I'd become emotionally numb, and that I had little drive towards taking the relationship further. Upon reading this passage it became evident to me that effectively I had become helpless, our relationship had become such that I wasn't being myself, I was being what I thought my partner wanted me to be, and as such, I was no longer pursuing my own hopes and aspirations, which resulted in me becoming emotionally flat and numb.

You can't live anybody else dreams, and I think it was Jesus who said "This above all: to thine ownself be true." Or Shakespeare, either one. But the point is, if somebody loves you for who you are, then you're going to be motivated to stay in the relationship and work to better it because it nurtures your growth and development. However, if you're loved only when you fulfill somebody else's expectations, then a time will come where you will be in conflict with yourself, where the reinforcement of the love you receive will start to be trumped by your innate drive to develop the person you're supposed to become.

The weird thing is though, as much as I knew I was sometimes emotionally numb and flat whilst in the relationship, I didn't understand why until I read this passage. It was then that I understood I wasn't being myself, and why I'd lost motivation.

The things you learn at school ey?

Chapter two wasn't very exciting. The best part of the text was where the author talked about the re-emergence of the motivation subset within psychology. I certainly love Motivation, it's by far the most interesting subject within the whole degree.

I was surprised in Chapter 2 how little was spoken about Abraham Maslow. Although his work has been discredited because it holds little statistical validity, I feel it accurately portrays the way that human beings develop within a motivational (and spiritual) context, being unable to move to highers needs in the hierarchy until more basic needs are met. The keen argument against this idea is, of course, the notion of the starving artist. However I believe that it all comes down to understanding. If you were born homeless, and have lived most of your life being homeless, you're not going to seriously consider being a virtuoso pianist. However, I believe that the reason for this is mainly because you've never known that to be an option, they never understand all that is on offer to them or, at the least, how to access it. Some people are born socialized in to an awareness of all that is available to them, whereas others never see beyond the realities of fulfilling their basic needs. Maslow's hierarchy should be interpreted in such a way as to say 'this is how most people will develop.' What's more interesting about Maslow's Hierarchy is that it wasn't complete. This link demonstrates that Maslow was developing his hierarchy even further, to contain a new highest point, 'self-transcendence,' a state of being where individuals transcend their personal needs and contribute the utility of their actualized selves towards a greater good. Maslow had even begun addressing the problems with his original hierarchical theory, but unfortunately he passed away before any of the work could be published. I believe he was right though, as far as the notion that humans follow a path of self-development. Unfortunately we get so distracted along the way with things deemed by society to be important, that we neglect our spiritual development. Alas...

Well, that's all for week 1. Hopefully I'm doing it right :D

Week 2[edit]

As with week one, I can't remember what we discussed in class. Oh wait, we discussed the how to use wikiversity. It was easily one of the most annoying lectures I've ever sat through. I honestly thought I wouldn't find out how to use wikiversity until up to a week before my major assignment was due. I had to get into it though, to catch up on these blogs.

On a side note, during week two I felt kind of frustrated having to develop all this stuff online through the wikiversity. In fact, at first I was downright bitter at the concept. However since accessing it, and working out how it works, I've been becoming more interested in it. I'm sure by the end of the semester I'll be happy to have learned how to use it. I don't know if I'll be be contributing to wikipedia or anything though, but at least I know how to mess with it a bunch, haha :D

Week 3[edit]

Tutorial Discussions[edit]

We had tutorials this week. The question the teacher asked us was to define what motivation is, I put; (motivation is) drive and energy directed towards varying goals and behaviors.

We also had to answer what we thought emotion is. I put; (emotion is) personal dispositions toward, and subjective interpretations of, past, present, and future life events. The teacher didn't much like my interpretation, feeling that I'd mistaken emotion for mood. Same cheese I say. I think emotion is how you feel about something, your subjective feeling towards a thing, place, event, time, etc. Although eventually we appropriate our feelings, when I look back through my life I continue to feel a certain way about it, it's not a mood, it's a memory linked with an emotion, it's how I feel. Even moods I think are prolonged emotions, or emotions that resonate for longer than we appreciate. Say your father dies, you feel sad at the time, and for some time afterward you feel saddened. Somebody steals a dollar from you, and you are sad, but hey it's a dollar, you'll make another and you so you get over it. The coin is not as significant as your father dying, it has so much meaning to you, but it's the same context as losing the dollar, because you lost something you treasure, but of course the salience of the emotion is multiplied by how much the event means to you.

In the tutorial we also had to ask what questions we're most interested about learning, or I guess, what we're most motivated about learning. My question was "Why does anyone do anything? What drives any human to do anything (to live/to stay alive)? What motivates human life?" The people in my group responded with "Ahh, what is the meaning of life?" And this frustrated me to a great degree. It's not that I want to understand what the meaning of any life is, but rather, what is the meaning of human life. I certainly don't think the question borders to heavily on metaphysics, and I think that it is answerable, that within each person is the potential for achieving what Maslow refers to as 'self-transcendence'. I think human potential, or the human developmental process, is like a blossoming flower. That with the right nurturing of different elements within the human psyche, that we come to understand ourselves and the unique way in which we can contribute to the world, while simultaneously living a life that is entirely satisfying and fulfilling. The problem, I believe, is that the modern world is not geared towards developing individual human potential; one because we don't understand the keys necessary to human potential; and two because we care too much about the wrong things, immaterial things like money and belongings. On the second reason why, I believe the reason we focus so heavily on these things, on the prosperity of modern life, is because for nearly our entire human existence life has been such a fundamental struggle to obtain these basic things. Like somebody deprived of food or sleep for some time, the first opportunity they have to obtain those things, they will understandable revel and over-compensate on these things for a relative amount of time. So I guess that's where my question stems from; understanding that we have the basic elements of survival mastered, at least to some degree, then what's next? What's next for the human potential? We know there is more to this life than just surviving and surviving well, but what are these elements of further fulfillment? It is obvious the human potential goes far beyond mere survival, because we have art, music, and literature, things somewhat irrelevant to basic survival. So what's next in the human potential? And how does each of us unlock and access our own potentials? It's not just a mere question of "what's the meaning of life", is the question of "How do we, as much as we can, develop and give meaning to our own lives individually?"

Our groups also had to submit questions of which we had discussed the most during an allocated time. Our group questions were; - "What are the motivational and emotional contributors to addiction and self-sabotaging?" - "How much of emotion and motivation is influenced by genes vs. life experience"

To the first question I say that the motivational factors of addiction is a trapped-growth cycle. That individuals go to drugs as a release, or an escape, or as a crutch to get them by. Then the substance becomes all consuming, they need it more and more. The reason this happens is because of their mind-set for taking the drug in the first place. Their first wrong assumption is that they need the drug. The problem with this is that humans have an uncanny ability to adapt to nearly any circumstance. So they take the drug, and it makes them feel good, but then they adapt their experience to the drug, and before too long whatever reasons they went to the drug re-emerges as they become accustomed to a new experience - life + drug. Of course then they need more from the drug, and so they take more, to further chase whatever took them to the drug in the first place. Then of course they adjust to this level of experience, and the cycle continues. Obviously some people go further down the rabbit hole than others, and some have conflicting goals they're trying to achieve (escape, yet functionality, vs. total escape). I think most addictions form out of ineffective coping methods. If people knew how to cope with life better, or probably more accurately, BELIEVED they could cope with life better, then we would see less addiction and dependence of drugs in society. This is, of course, not something easily achieved.

To the second question, I would think that genes play a significant role in creating a start point in the human life cycle, that individuals are indebted with a certain amount of emotional sensitivity, a degree of intelligence, and various other psychological constructs such as dispositions, creativity, self-awareness. However, I believe, from my own experience, that most of these traits (and I hate to call them that) are for the most part malleable, and at the very least have a greater potential that can be maximized than that which we are born with. So, I think it's both, but it's definitely not fixed.

Chapter 3[edit]

Once again, I choose not to go over all part of the text, only those parts that interest me. Like this for instance;

The amygdala has an interesting anatomical relationship with other brain areas. The amygdala sends projections to almost ever part of the brain, although only a small number of projections return information back to the amygdala. This imbalance helps explain why emotion, especially negative emotion, generally overpowers cognition more than cognition overpowers emotion. Hence, a lot of fear and anger messages get blurted out while relatively few messages of reason and rationality return back to calm the amygdala. The current thinking is that most amygdala nuclei (e.g., central nucleus) are evolutionarily old structures that produce primitive emotionality, while a minority of amygdala nuclei (e.g., basolateral) have undergone relatively recent experience to develop reciprocal projections and pathways with the neocortex and frontal lobes (Cardinal et al., 2002) that allow for some degree of conscious regulation of these primitive emotions.

Pg. 58 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

This particular part stood out to me for it's reference to 'Hence, a lot of fear and anger messages get blurted out while relatively few messages of reason and rationality return back to calm the amygdala.' With this I saw a kind of micro-macro dualism, how what exists in the human mind, also exists equally in human society. So much of who we are is governed by fear (war, greed, power), and such little emphasis is given to rational ideas and rational thought. Take some religions with their belief in hell, that's fear based marketing, with little effort towards rational thinking. Even greed in the western world, these greedy people must only be motivated by the fear that they don't have enough, what else would drive people to such immoral lengths just accrue greater wealth. Intolerance, racism, homophobia, prejudice, these are all psychological constructs which stem in the minds of individuals when they feel their way of life is being threatened, but upon inspection of these ways of thinking we can see they stem from fear and are in no way based on rational thought.

Another part of the chapter I found interesting was this;

Because dopamine release cocurs wit hthe anticipation of reward, it therefore participates in the preparatory phases of motivated behavior, including, for instance, an erection that precedes sexual activity or heightened attention to the kitchen upon the smell of chocolate chip cookies. For this reason, we often experience more pleasure thinking about engaging in sex or eating cookies than we do when actually engaging in sex or munching on the cookies. If things go better than expected during the mating or eating, however, then the dopamine release continues and so does its corresponding positive state of feeling good.

Pg. 64 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

This concept made me think of those cartoon or western movies where they tie the carrot to a stick overhanging a donkey or horse's face so that it will keep chugging along. It's an interesting concept though, that the anticipation of sex can make you feel better than the sex itself. I could imagine if you planned to have sex with someone, all the while imagining it, then they postpone it, then you imagine it some more, then they postpone, then imagine, then postpone, by the time it came around to happening you would have so much enjoyed the anticipation that the real deal would be such a let down in comparison.

Another interesting part of the text, also associated with dopamine and motivated action was this;

Once dopamine has initiated approach behavior toward the rewarding event, the person's approach behavior continues and more often than not actually increases in vigor until the goal is attained.

Pg. 66 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

This excerpt makes me think of things like unrequited love, where an individual focuses on a goal and doesn't relent until they achieve it, all the while the dopamine becomes more and more rewarding for the more time they invest towards it. Or maybe it's like stalking somebody, the closer you get, the more rewarding it becomes, the more risks you take, the more stimulating and satisfying it is. Or at least... I assume... :D

Chapter 4[edit]

Chapter 4 was about physiological needs. I've read about physiological needs in intro. psych and psychobiology. I read the chapter but I take anything new from it. The part at the end about Sex was good, but it's mostly based on the work of David Buss and I knew about that too.

Week 4[edit]

Chapter 6[edit]

This was by far my favourite chapter of the text. I know I will re-read this chapter again in my life to work out what I need and what is best for me. I didn't mark any parts of the chapter though, which makes it frustrating to try and read.

Chapter 7[edit]

...But achievement anxiety comes in two forms: cognitive worry and physiological upset ("hyper-emotionality"). The good news is that physiological hyperemotionality does not undermine performance in achievement settings; only cognitive worry does (Elliot & MacGregor, 1999). The primary cause of worry in achievement settings are performance avoidance goals. That is, the roots of worry are performance-avoidance goals like, "I just want to avoid making a mistake." So in a sense, these avoidance are are that straightforward. Change your achievement goals and you change your achievement anxiety.

In trying to reduce worry-based anxiety, some productive advice is to change performance-avoidance goals into performance-approach (or mastery) goals. The arousal-based anxiety may remains (e.g., you may still feel nervous or pumped up standing in front of an evaluative audience), but the worry-based anxiety that really debilitates performance will fade in proportion to which performance-avoidance goals are successfully translated into approach-oriented goals.

Pg. 188 in in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

I guess I can relate to this in some sense. I'm a big-time procrastinator, and I think it stems out of a learned helplessness/ performance-avoidance goals. I feel that I don't want to fail, but instead of just sitting down and pounding out the assignment, I tend to procrastinate as much as possible until I've got the extrinsic motivation of a time crunch. I think in this way I feel that if I was to work really hard on the assignment for a long period of time and then not do as well as I believed I should, my ego would be shattered. I think I harbour grandiose, but objective, perceptions of my abilities, however at the same time, if it is even proven that I'm not as capable as I thought I was, I would be devastated. As such, by procrastinating, or putting myself in a time-crunch position, I can only do so much with the limited time that I have. In this way, if I get a bad or average result I can justify it by saying 'oh, I only gave myself a limited amount of time, that's why I didn't do as well as I should have'. I think this anxiety, or procrastination, stems out of my belief in the worth of GPA's. I approach the course such that I have to get a certain GPA, and everything hinges on that. If instead I approached the course thinking, I want to learn as much as I can about the subject, then the grade is irrelevant, if I didn't prove my knowledge that's irrespective of my goal outcome. In this sense my goals would change from performance-avoidance into performance-approach (or mastery) goals.

And this;

A follow-up investigation showed that additional dispositional characteristics predispose people to adopt performance-avoidance goals, including neuroticism and poor life skills (e.g., poor social skills, poor time management; Elliot et al., 1997). People high in the fear of failure, high in neuroticism, and low in life-skill competence tended to adopt performance-avoidance goals (e.g., avoid being a boor at parties, avoid being lonely, avoid smoking or drinking). Trying to avoid doing something turns out to be a hard thing to do, relative to trying to do something (e.g., be friendly at parties). When people pursue avoidance goals, they gneeral perceive that they make little progress in the effort, and it is thi perception of a lack of progress that leads to dissatisfaction, negative affectivity, diminishes interest, and impaired psychological well-being.

Pg. 189 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

On performance vs. mastery goals

For instance, when college students select "elective" courses, they sometimes choose a course in which they can be assured of doing well, looking smart, avoiding errors, and impressing others, or the sometimes choose a course in which they hope will teach them something new, provide opportunities to learn, and an arena to grow their skills. When given such a choice, about half of the population will, on average, select a performance goal while the other half will select a mastery goal. Pg. 190 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

This is sad to me, but it is a product of the bi-product of the modern success driven society. People are so stuck on their notions of what success is, a good GPA, a high-paying job, a new car, C-sized breasts. It's such a terrible shame. What's wrong with a bad GPA? I think it's wonderful that people do courses that have great interest to them personally, but hold no really "successful" significance. This line of thinking makes me think of a quote by Howard Thurman; "Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." I think this is a wonderfully true statement, and it flows along the same principle. What does applying yourself to socially constructed ideals achieve? You just become another player enforces the construction. People should fight to be themselves, and to do what interests them. And it works too, the book cites so many examples of the power of intrinsic motivation.

Conditions that involve the affiliation and intimacy needs

The principal condition that involves the need for affiliation is the deprivation from social interaction (McClelland, 1985). Conditions such as loneliness, rejection, and separation raise people's desire, or social need, to be with others. Hence the need for affiliation expresses itself as a deficiency-oriented motive (the deficiency is a lack of social interaction). In contrast, the desire, or social need, for intimacy arises from interpersonal caring and concern, warmth an commitment, emotional connectedness, reciprocal dialogue, congeniality, and love (McAdams, 1980). The need for intimacy expresses itself as a growth-oriented motive (the growth opportunity is enriching one's relationships). In the words of Abraham Maslow (1987), the need for affiliation revolves around "deprivation-love," whereas the need for intimacy revolves around "being-love." Pg. 193 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

I think this is a really interesting statement, and it makes sense too. I liken it to a fat person, a fat person wanting to get fit. The fat person moving to a baseline level of health and normalcy would be like the deprivation-love need for affiliation. The person needs something it doesn't have (fitness) and must work to achieve a desired level of satisfaction. The being-love need for intimacy is like the fat person, who would now be considered normal, moving from baseline to become fit, in-shape, athletic, or buff. In this sense affiliation and intimacy are joined along a continuum, maybe a social-interaction or connectedness continuum, where as the left-hand side of the continuum is a deprivation state, and the right hand side is a growth-oriented achievement state. I think lots of psychological phenomenon fall along a continuum like this, fear through to courage/love, helplessness through to happiness, depression through to optimism.

On a lighter note, when I was reading this paragraph I couldn't help but think of Michael Scott, the boss from the US version of The Office, played by Steve Carrell (see clip - here). Michael is always trying to appease everybody and to be everybody's friend. However, because he has such affiliation deficiencies it is really obvious what he is trying to do, or even really obvious that he is trying, which makes him appear very needed. Michael often gets himself in trouble by making promises he can't keep, just so that people will like him and pay attention to him. Michael's intentions are pure, as he just wants to be loved, but people avoid him because they know how annoying and needy he would be as a friend or close affiliate. Similarly, Michael loves being the boss of the office because it means that he gets to, and people have to, interact with him significantly on a daily basis. However, he often misinterprets this interaction as friendship or significant affiliation, and as such tries to extend the interaction to situations outside of the office, often resulting in failing yet hilarious outcomes. Michael's character very much resembles a child with a high need for affiliation, and in some ways it is evident in his character that he never grew out of this need-affiliation stage in his life. But it all makes for wonderfully engaging comedy.

On conditions that satisfy the affiliation and intimacy needs

Because it is largely a deficit-oriented motive, the need for affiliation, when satisfied, brings out emotions like relief rather than joy. When interacting with others, people high in the need for affiliation go out of their way to avoid conflict (Exline, 1962), avoid competitive situations (Terhune, 1968), are unselfish and cooperative (McAdams, 1980), avoid talking about others in a negative way (McClelland, 1985), and resist making imposing demands on others (McAdams & Powers, 1981). High-affiliation-need individuals prefer careers that provide positive relationships and support for others (the helping professions; Sid & Lindgren, 1981), and they perform especially well under conditions that support their need to be accepted and included (McKeachie, Lin, Milholland, & Isaacson, 1966). When told that others will be evaluating them, high-affiliation-need people experience relatively high levels of anxiety via a fear of rejection (Byrne, 1961). Social acceptance, approval, and reassurance constitute the need-satisfying conditions for people high in the need for affiliation. Pg. 195 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

This is interesting. If connectedness or social need is along a continuum, these people are clearly in deficit. I think it is important for people to reach their own middle-ground when it comes to affiliation and intimacy needs. They need to be in a personal place where they don't need people as such, but when the presence of supportive company they flourish. Needy or deficient people, in this sense, are a burden to the well adjusted person, as interaction with them would only result in giving more than taking. Similarly, deficient individuals in this way would get mixed up with the wrong type of people, as their vulnerability may make them fall prey to less socially desirable characters, as both individuals need each other. People need to learn to live alone, or to be comfortable in the notion of being without social approval, and of being able to comfort and reassure themselves. In this way, when such people do approach social interactions, they can appropriately give and take, there isn't a niggling desire to have the affiliation needs fulfilled.

Week 5[edit]

Chapter 5[edit]

Practically every environment we find ourselves in discriminates between desirable and undesirable behaviours. Furthermore, practically every environment rewards us in one way or another for performing those desired behaviours and punishes us for performing those undesired behaviours. For instance, while driving, desirable behaviours include staying on your side of the road, driving 20 miles per hour on city streets, and making sure your exhaust pipe is not billowing out a cloud of black smoke. If drivers forego such desirable behaviours, the environment will rather quickly deliver an array of punishers, such as honks of the horn, speeding tickets, and steely-eyed stares from people with pro-environment bumper stickers. As a result, we generally follow our hedonistic tendencies (approach pleasure, avoid pain) and engage in those courses of action that we believe will produce reward and prevent punishment. Over time, we learn which behaviours generally bring us reward and pleasure and which other behaviours bring us punishment and aversion.

Pg. 110 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

This is interesting because it makes me think me think of someone who is blind-folded playing the hot/cold game, where if they get close to the desired target the other play says 'hot', and if they move away from the desired target they say 'cold'. In this sense the brain organism just moves it's way around it's environment based on what feels good, or with an understand to delay gratification but move towards greater things later. Either way, we're addicted to hedonism, feeling around our lives for what feels best both now and later.

On Creativity

Creativity is typically undermined by controlling events such as being watched, evaluated, bossed, or rewarded. In contrast, creativity is typically enhanced by intrinsic motivation. The contribution of intrinsic motivation to creativity is so robust that Teresa Amabile (1983) proposed the following Intrinsic Motivation Principle of Creativity: "People will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself--rather than by external pressures" Pg. 113 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

I feel this way myself, that I am most creative when something is born out of me that just wants to exist, I have an urge to write or draw or play some music. When someone says 'draw me a picture' it' not usually a very good picture because it's not something I have a fantastic urge to do. That's why I figure the pressure record labels placed on artists to get an album out by a certain is a bad idea, one which doesn't harbour the most creative output. Artists should be free to develop and create as they pleased, not forced to deadlines. Who wants to listen to the kind of music somebody had to write to fill up an album or meet a deadline? Creativity and capitalism make for strange bed fellows, and their children are often retarded in their growth potential.

On optimal functioning and well-bring

Pursuing intrinsic goals (e.g., competence, relatedness, autonomy in life) leads to better functioning and higher psychological well-being than does pursuing extrinsic goals (e.g., financial success, social regulation, physical image). Furthermore, pursuing intrinsic life goals is associated with great self-actualisation, greater subjective vitality, less anxiety and depression, great self-esteem, higher-quality interpersonal relationships, fewer hours watching television, and a lesser use of drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes (Kass & Ryan, 1996, 2001). People who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to say things like "I feel energized" and "I look forward to each new day" than are people who are extrinsically motivated (Moller, Deci, & Ryan, 2006) Pg. 113 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

On extrinsic motivation and creativity

If the environment does not offer incentives and consequences, then people with little autonomous self-regulation will have a difficult time finding the needed motivation within themselves. Pg. 126 in Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

I find this very true of myself, I would not be very productive if I didn't feel there weren't certain pressures on me to become something. The reason I went to university was partly because it was the sensible thing to do for someone in my position. It's highly socially acceptable to go university, and if I didn't go here I don't know what else I would be doing. But that's part of moving forward and accruing wisdom, learning what you do and don't want to do, the important thing is to not stay stagnant. So sometimes incentives and consequences can be effective because they get you moving, and from moving you can work out where or what you want to be. Unless of course you have absolutely no autonomous self-regulation.

Chapter 8[edit]

Mental Simulations: Focusing on Action

Consider a series of studies designed explicitly to test the advice to "visualise success". In these studies, participants either (1) focused on the goal they wished to attain, (2) focused on how to attain the goal, or (3) did not focus on anything in the particular (a control group). Focusing on the goal actually interfered with goal attainment! focusing one's attention on the goal itself actually backfired as a motivation strategy. Focusing on how to accomplish the goal, however, did facilitate goal attainment. These data are important because (1) they draw out the distinction between the content of a goal (what one is striving for) and the process of goal striving (the means one uses to obtain the goal), and (2) once a goal has been set, it does not inevitably and automatically translate itself into effective performance... Mental simulations are not fantasies of success of episodes of wishful thinking. Drawing out the different between the content of a goal and the process for attaining that goal is an important distinction because visualising fantasies of success (i.e., wishful thnking) do not produce productive behaviour. focussing on the rich you, the thin you, or the married you does not get you very far. Instead of focusing on outcomes (i.e., the goal content), mental simulations focus on planning and problem solving. This is the sort of mental effort that produces productive goal-directed action. Pg. 221-222

Implementation intentions

When people fail to realise the goals they set for themselves, part of the problem can be explain by how people set goals (i.e., Is the goal difficult? specific? accepted? paired with feedback?). The other part of the problem, however, is simple that people fail to act on the goals they set for themselves. As the old saying goes, "A goal without a plan is just a dream." An implementation intention is a plan to carry out one's goal-directed behaviour--deciding in advance of one's goal striving the "when, where, and how long" that underlies one's forthcoming goal-direct action. Pg. 222

Goal Pursuit: Persisting and Finishing

Once started in the pursuit of a goal, people often face circumstances that were more difficult than they expected. They encounter distractions and demands on their time, and they also get interrupted and face the prospect of getting start all over again. But implementation intentions, once set, facilitate persistence and re-engagement during goal pursuit... Implementation intentions create a type of close-mindedness that narrows one's field of attention to include goal-directed action but to exclude distractions. Pg. 224-225.

Week 6[edit]

Chapter 9[edit]

Our expectancies of what will happen and our expectancies of how well we can cope with what happens have important motivational implications. Imagine how motivationally problematic your college experience would be if you expected not to graduate, not to pass a particular course, not to get a job after graduation, and not to understand the professor or this book. Imagine how motivationally problematic your interpersonal relationships would be if you expected others not to like you, not to care about your welfare, or to expect only hostility. What if you expected that everyone you met would reject you?

Pg. 230.

This statement is surprisingly true to me. It seems obvious that we are confined in a sense by our expectations, but I think this paragraph illuminates the notion of how much our expectancies determine our life. It's true, if I though that if I went in to the city tonight all the girls would laugh at me, then I probably wouldn't go out to the city. This is a gross exaggeration, but at the same time we hold expectancies. If and when I do go out to the city, I am going with certain expectancies, certain expectancies regarding how people will behave, how people will interpret the way I dress, expectancies regarding the kinds of things do on nights out in the city. The thing is though, our expectancies and reality are so intertwined that we don't notice we have expectancies, as so often what we expect to happen does happen, because we have seen a particular outcome time and time again. It's not until we are faced with new experiences that we garner new expectancies. The first time you travel to a foreign culture you have no idea what to expect, but the second or third time you could probably inform a first timer on the kinds of things he or she will experience, while still be in the position to be surprised by new outcomes.

I think expectancies are very similar to social scripts, ideas people hold about how things will turn out. For example sex, most people have an idea of how a sexual encounter plays out, it's beginning, it's ending, the behaviour in-between. How harrowing a world it would be if we could not form expectancies of things, situations would constantly sway from being so amazing to being absolutely overwhelming.

I think it would be a fun experiment to spend a whole day doing unexpected things; giving unexpected answers to questions people give you, taking mundane behaviour and putting an unexpected twist on things.

Expectancies are essential though, what a maddening world it would be if nothing was predictable. And while it is that chaos could be present at any moment, it is our expectancy that things will take a certain course and that the outcome will be something manageable and understandable, and that things will be OK. Things need to be expectable in people's minds, otherwise people would be overwhelmed with the sheer infiniteness of uncertainty, of their inability to control anything which would only result in a helpless state.

Personal Behaviour History

The extent to which a person believe she can competently enact a particular course of action stems from her personal history of trying to enact that course of action in the past. people learn their current self-efficacy from their interpretation and memories of past attempts to execute the same behaviour. Memories and recollections of past attempts to enact the behaviour judged as competent raise self-efficacy, whereas memories and recollections of past attempts judge as incompetent low self-efficacy... Of course, a person's behaviour history with regard to any specific course of action changes a bit with each new enactment. How important any one behavioural enactment is to future efficacy depends on the strength of the performer's pre-existing expectation. Once one's personal behaviour history has produced a strong sense of efficacy, an occasional incompetent enactment will not lower self-efficacy much (or an occasional competent enactment will not raise a strong efficacy much). If the performer is less experienced (i.e., lacks a behavioural history), however, each new competent or incompetent enactment will have a greater effect on future efficacy... Of the four sources of self-efficacy, personal behaviour history is the most influential. Pg. 235

This is an interesting statement. When I was first studying psychology I was also working as a Carpenter's assistant. One of the most amazing things to me out of that work experience was the effect it had on my competence. While it was true that I did learn skills, and certain techniques that allowed me to fix and construct things, it was the confidence I accrued that was the greatest influence on my ability. My skill set didn't very much change from before and after this job experience, but what did change was the amount of successful encounters I had at fixing and constructing things. Before being a builder's assistant I didn't fix or build many things, and therefore didn't have a lot of confidence in such work, which only served to deter any future such endeavours. But just by being (in a way) forced to exert such skills, born was the confidence in myself that I could do such things. As well, born was a mindset that if I approached a construction task that I had in myself the ability to complete the work, something that I lacked before my training, and something that is entirely pivotal to such behaviour. And that's why I agree with this statement, because I think that it's true that the more successful outcome an individual achieves in a particular behaviour set or action, the more confident, and thus more likely, the individual is to achieve more successful outcomes in that behaviour.

I think that's why education is so important, particularly mentoring, and not giving up on individuals who do not show immediate promise. Individual's need to acquire their own successful behaviour momentum before such behaviour will take hold under the individual's own steam. Of course, there is that dichotomy between Challenge and Skill like in Csikszentmihalyi's Flow Experiences.

Choice: Selection of Activities and Environments

People continually make choices about what activities to pursue and which environments to spend time in. In general, people seek out and approach with excitement those activities and situations that they feel capable of adjusting to or handling, while people shun and actively avoid those activities and situations that they see as likely to overwhelm their coping capacities. In a self-efficacy analysis, a person will often choose to avoid tasks and environments as a self-protective act for guarding against the possibility of being overwhelmed by their demands and challenges.... The same doubt-plagued avoidance choices apply to social opportunities, such as dating, dancing, participating in sports, selecting (or avoiding) a particular musical instrument, and career paths pursued and shunned.

Avoidance choices exert a profound, detrimental, long-term effect on a person's development. Weak self-efficacy beliefs set the stage for people to shun activities and therefore contribute to their own arrested developmental potentials. When people shun an activity out of doubt over personal competence, they participate in the self-destructive process of retarding their own development... Furthermore, the more they avoid such activities, the more entrenched self-doubt becomes because doubters never get the chance to prove themselves wrong and never give themselves opportunities to observe expect models or receive instruction. such a pattern of avoidance progressively narrows people's ranges of activities and settings. Pg. 237-238

Doubt, on the other hand, leads people to slacken their efforts when they encounter difficulties or give up altogether. Self-doubt also leads performers to settle prematurely on mediocre solutions

Pg. 238

I believe that people are stupid, and here's why - people are afraid to fail. Failure is one of the greatest things somebody can do for themselves. Failure only leads to more success, so long as you approach it right. If people approached life with the ethos of "hey, I failed, but I've learned a lot, and I'll do better next time", then I believe people would be a lot happier, and a lot more people would be living the lives they want to be living. Society is such that "success" is so important, people neither have the time nor the patience to mill around in failure, they need to be successful, and they need to be successful fast. Such a notion reminds me of a quote Mark Twain wrote;

"Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

I think this quote speaks directly against self-doubt and people too afraid to fail. People that are afraid to dance, or afraid to ask that girl on a date, they save themselves from embarrassment, or from failure they believe. But what they also save themselves from is rich experience, and chances to get things right.

I used to work with this guy who told me as a teenager he would walk around the shopping centre asking pretty girls for a date. Asking him if it worked, he replied "Nope, rarely ever, but every time I would get rejected by a girl I would think 'well, I'm one step closer to getting a date.'" This notion is what self-doubters should align themselves to; maybe I won't get it right this time, or next time, but I'm going to keep at it because I'll only get better at trying. Similarly, such an attitude, of being OK with failure and remaining optimistic, is self-reinforcing and would ensure more behaviour in the future. Doubt is such a terrible thing, it's born out of irrationality and fear and yet believed as the truth. The only way to overcome doubt is to walk in the exact opposite reaction, by proving yourself wrong, and not caring if you were right because you gave it your best and that's the most we can ask of ourselves.

Using examples of persistent writers, scientists, and athletes, Albert Bandura argues that it is the resiliency of self-efficacy in the face of being pounded by uninterrupted failure that provides the motivational support necessary for continuing the persistent effort need for competent functioning and development of expertise.

Pg. 239

I think this follows on from what I was saying about persisting despite failure. Failure is nothing, failure is just learning how to be better at something you think is worth doing. No-one ever got anywhere significant without some sort of set-back along the way. And similarly, few failures are forever, most can be recovered from and built upon. Even failing in a loving relationship, there's so much you can learn and take away with you in to the next relationship you encounter, and you will encounter more relationships if you stay true to trying to better yourself in that domain.


Before performers begin an activity, they typically spend time thinking about how they will perform. Persons with a strong sense of efficacy attend to the demands and challenges of the task, visualise competent scenarios for forthcoming behaviours, and harbour enthusiasm, optimism, and interest. Persons with a weak sense of self-efficacy, however, dwell on person deficiencies, visualise the formidable obstacles they face, and harbour pessimism, anxiety, and depression. Once performance begins and things start to go awry, strong self-efficacy beliefs keep anxiety at bay. People who doubt their efficacy, however, are quickly threatened by difficulties, react to setback and negative feedback with distress, and see their attention drift toward personal deficiencies and negative emotionality. Pg. 239

I have experienced their phenomenon in my own life, particularly in sporting endeavours. Often times if a team is getting beaten they start to think negatively, you can see it in the way they carry themselves, and through a change in their approach to the game. Often after trying your hardest and still getting beaten people develop temporary hopelessness, they feel that nothing they can do can improve their circumstance. However, this isn't always the case. Persistence, even in the face of defeat allows for opportunity. If people have given up, slight opportunities are meaningless and fail to get utilised, however if individuals are still persistent, a slight change in fate can make all the difference. I think that is why it is important to just 'keep on truckin'', you never know what's just around the corner. But by approaching opportunities or challenges with an already defeated attitude, you disallow yourself any advantages that may swing your way, or more importantly, you fail to learn your own potential and capabilities.

The most interesting conclusion to draw from Lauren Alloy and Lyn Abramson's research is that people with depression are not more prone to learned helplessness deficits. Rather, it is the individual's who are not depressed who sometimes believe they have more personal control than they actually have. Though the conclusion might sound startling, depressed person's memories for the positive and negative events in their lives are balanced and equal, whereas the memories of the non-depressed persons harbour biases for recalling more of the positive events. While people misjudge the control they have over the events in their lives, most of the misjudging is done by non-depressed individuals, not by those who are depressed.

Pg. 253

The above quote text here, and the text below, are along the same lines, and show the polar ends of the same construct of reality perception - depression and optimism (depression is on the southern most end, haha). The above paragraph was probably the most illuminating and intriguing to me in the whole book, second only to the below paragraph. For me, it has spawned a whole ideology regarding the functionality of depression, whereby I have come to see depression as a good, or at least healthy, part of human development. Let me explain, actually, read the below paragraph then I'll explain...

Optimistic Explanatory Style

Equipped with the self-serving bias of an illusion of control, people with an optimistic explanatory style readily ignore negative self-related information, impose distorting filters on incoming information, and interpret positive and negative outcomes in self-protective ways. In one sense, an optimistic style is delusional. The extent to which a person harbours an optimistic explanatory style is correlated with both a full repertoire of excuses, denials, and self-deceptions and narcissism. Narcissists hold a grandiose sense of self-importance, tend to exaggerate their talents and achievements, and expect to be recognised as superior witout commensurate achievements. But most of us are not narcissists, at least not in the clinical sense of the term. For most of us (depressives and narcissists aside), an optimistic explanatory style is functionally an asset, because a "mentally healthy person appears to have the enviable capacity to distort reality in a direction that enhances self-esteem, maintains beliefs in personal efficacy, and promotes an optimistic view of the future." Pg. 254-255

Let me explain my new "theory" born out of these two paragraphs;

Imagine your dad dies, a tragic event which has many long-lasting consequences for both you and perhaps your family. Before your dad died you were swimming along rather merrily, relatively well-adjusted and doing your thing the way that you do it. All of sudden - bam! Your Dad dies. Now taking what is written above, 'swimming along rather merrily' is taken as 'lightly deluding yourself in ways that enhance, but hopefully not hinder, your experience'. For instance, the boss is angry at you, you shirk it off as his bad temperament rather than you goofing off at work, your girlfriend is angry and you put it down to PMS rather than your actual inattentiveness, etc. Minor things that you tend to ignore because they're not problems that you really have to face until they become a big issue, so it's just easier, and takes less energy, if you just keep bopping along with your troubles slightly out of view. In this way, I believe humans have evolved a capacity to shirk reality, and to hum along with a healthy level of delusion in their daily lives. And it makes sense, lots of sense. Imagine if the opposite were true, that you were legitimately affected by the realities of your every day experience. Imagine if you allowed yourself the self-awareness of all your flaws, how gross you are, how primitive and animalistic so many of your urges and behaviours were, to see how selfish, self-focussed, and self-interested you were. Imagine the reality of truly knowing your own inabilities, of your rank on social structures like looks, and health, and height, and especially intelligence. If reality as it is were perceived all the time, it would be surprising if you got out of bed in the morning. And that's how depression is, major and debilitating depression that is. Particularly, that's what the article two above alludes to, that people will depression actually very accurately perceive reality, to their detriment. And realistically, people couldn't survive like that, things wouldn't get done, we need to delude ourselves at least somewhat.

And going back to depression, what possible benefit could come from perceiving reality in such a depressed way? More it should be viewed, what is the possible evolutionary benefit of such a phenomenon, how could depression possibly help us? Well, as much as 'a healthy level of delusion' is necessary so that we may function, so that we may brush over the inconsequential realities of our lives that don't greatly hinder our existence, depression then serves to bring us back to reality, to realign ourselves to the consequential realities of our lives. Back to the Dad dying example, imagine for instance that you just carried along like normal, healthy delusions, not really processing the realities of your father's death. There would come a time when inconsistencies began to exist between what you know, and what actually is. You would go to your father for support or help, and he wouldn't be there. Or you would refer to him in conversation as being alive and being would treat you rather indifferently. In this way, and born out of my understand of these two paragraphs, I believe that depression serves to bring the mind out of its delusional state, to reformat at it to the new consequential realities of the environment, so that it may build back upon these realities and return to it's once deluded state. It's literally like programming software, having to shut the program down in all it's functional glory in order to make significant changes to it's basic script, it's basic limitations - there is no more dad.

In this way, I think people get stuck in depression. Something takes them out of the delusional state of functioning, however they cognitively resist the effort and they get stuck between one part of their mind trying to realign reality, and another part resisting the reality. The trick with depression, for those who experience it on a minor level, is to cognitively evaluative the source of depressive incident, and make particular effort to not apply what needs to be aligned with the other realities of your life. Depression is a journey, a plunge in to the depths of the mind to change how we think on an objective level, as it is from this objective reality that everything else extends from. We build our delusions on reality, as extensions or stretches of reality.

I think people often don't want to face reality, particularly when it's something like the death of parent, something upon which so many realities are born. The kind of depression needed to face that kind of reality is deep, so many are born out of that reality, and people are often afraid of what the new reality will be like, without such a fundamental building block. But the longer they spend avoiding the depths of their necessary depression, the more time they spend in limbo between healthy delusions and depression, the more unpleasant their lives become. Depression is something that should be plunged deeply, with full awareness that brighter days are ahead. People need guides through their depression, but so often we journey depression alone. However I fully believe, out of constructing an entire theory out of this new insight, that depression is an entirely necessary part of the human experience, one fundamental to shoring up our cognitive evaluation of reality.

Chapter 10[edit]

Self-worth follows from being open to experience and from valuing the self for who one is. When people are open to experience, they are more honest and self-disclosing during interpersonal interactions, they take more responsibility for their behaviours and are less likely to hide and distort information to deceive others, they engage in fewer activities to escape self-awareness (e.g., television viewing, movies, compulsive behaviours involving food and work), they take fewer experience-altering substances, they show less defensiveness (e.g., less denial, less criticisms of others), and they prefer interaction partners that fulfil innate needs rather than partners that promote extrinsic goals such as image and wealth. For example, in a love relationship, an individual developing in the direction of greater autonomy would prefer an intimate connection with a growth-oriented partner rather than a partner with socially desirable physical attributes, wealth, or social status.

Pg. 283-284

A lot of things that come up in psychology make me think of the kind of pseudo-social-psychology to which we all ascribe to at some point or another. This paragraph to me reflects the notion people suggest of someone who has ‘come to terms with themselves’, somebody who has fully embraced who they are, who isn’t defensive or aggressive because they’re mad at themselves or life, and someone who isn’t trying to escape their own reality to television, isolation, or mind-altering drugs.

It makes me happy to think that such a state of being is attainable. Sometimes in society individuals can think they’re weird or strange because they don’t want that ego-trip of a “hot” girlfriend for the sake of an attractive partner, or they don’t want wealth just so they can show off to other people how “successfully” they’re doing. Statements like this make me happy because it represents to me that ultimate experience is in being well-adjusted and in a state of contentment within yourself and with who you are, and not in fulfilling some social idea.

In the past I’ve often struggled with accepting who parts of me are, as they often fly in contrast to social norms. But over the last few years, and just in an effort to reduce the social anxiety I feel, I’ve become far more accepting of who I am. I see self-worth in this regard as applying a certain degree of Roger’s unconditional love to one’s self. Sometimes it seems like the hardest thing in the world to be accepting of who we are, especially when parts of ourselves seem ugly and unlovable. But then, with time, it becomes easier to accept yourself, to say ‘Hey, I’m not perfect, but that’s fine, nobody is, and I don’t need to be. All that I can do is be my best, and treat people with the respect I would like to be treated with.’

Recently, somebody said, and in regards to valuing the self, that it is important to come to terms with even the most disturbing parts of the self because if you do, nobody’s has anything against you, nobody can shame you or criticise you because as an individual you’re at peace with who you are and their taunts will hold no value. It seems a superficial reason for pursuing self-worth, but it also results in a strong self-resiliency, of acknowledging your flaws and continuing on anything. For somebody who doesn’t have such a resiliency, the world would often batter them around quite severely, particularly the social world. I feel that often this is the reality of the teenager, as they are first coming to terms with the kind of person they are, in a world often only accepting of the perfection ideal. But through time, experience, and after weathering a few storms, they come to be more at ease with who they are. I definitely feel though that self-realisation and a healthy objective perception of the self is an ideal that everybody should strive for and nurture, and the virtues are spoken of above with the outcome of a richer experience.

People do not always behave in ways that express the core self. Sometimes environmental conditions do not facilitate integration but, instead, place external pressures on people to behave in ways consistent with social demands. Controlling (pressuring) environmental conditions lead the self to ignore innate needs and preferences and, instead, develop a self-structure around the goal of external validation. Hence, people who pursue external validation of a socially desirable self might choose a career for the financial wealth, prestige, or social power it offers rather than a career that is more consistent with their intrinsic interests, preferences, and innate needs. People organise their behaviour and self-worth around the needs of the core self when the environment supports autonomy and personal agency; and people organise their behaviour and self-worth around external validation wehn the environment supports neither their autonomy nor personal agency and instead promotes extrinsic aspirations.

Pg. 284

I think it’s easy to criticise people for ‘going with the flow’ and adhering to social demands, but what options do they have? As an individual I have often struggled to find my own way rather than following social demands, but it hard for one good reason; Social demands have a destination of sorts, there is a clear path that a lot of people are heading in and it’s easy to find your way; Your own path, a path that reflects your innate needs and preferences, has no clear destination. More than this, it’s hard to have a mentor for your own path. It’s easy to look at someone and say ‘wow, they’re doing their own thing, I want to be like them’ but being like them would be following their needs and preferences and moving away from your own. In this way, there is no direction or education towards discovering what you do or don’t want to do. Basically, it’s a blind journey, with trial and error as your most effective form of navigation. But even then, a self-journey, as opposed to a journey aligned with social demands, can seem quite lonely and frightening. Not only are you moving away from some of your friends and families directions, but you might also be moving away from them in ways like wealth, “status”, and social scheduling (what I mean by social scheduling is the socially constructed time-line in which people accrue property, start a family, settle in to a decent job and a respectable life). I think it takes an enormous amount of courage for someone to pursue a life in-line with who they are and what they need. Sometimes they might be lucky though, it might be a lifestyle not far removed from the norm and it makes their existence a lot easier

Personal strivings that seek to bring greater autonomy, competence, and relatedness into one's life are those that seek to satisfy one's innate psychological needs. Strive for these sorts of goals acts like a diet of apples. Extrinsically oriented personal strivings (money, fame) are irrelevant to people's innate psychological needs and act like a diet of chocolate cake, one that is unable to promote personal growth or subjective well-being.

Furthermore, well-being neither follows from nor depends on actually attaining one's goals or persona strivings. That is, people who attain high levels of popularity, money, and awards are not more psychologically well than are those who do not attain these same sorts of goals. Rather, subjective well-being comes from the content of what one is trying to do. When people strive for autonomy, competence, and relatedness aspirations, they are able to create a meaning in their lives that fosters positive affect and subjective well-being. When people strive for chocolate cake (popularity, money, awards), people divorce their strivings from personal meaning in such away that leads to negative affect, alienation, and subjective distress, and this is true even for those people who actually attain their strivings for popularity, money, and awards. Subjective well-being is more about what one is striving for than it is about what one actually obtains. Pg. 289

Happiness isn’t found in the destination, it’s found in the journey Something I’ve learned at university is the awesomeness of goals. If you’re milling about in life, not really doing much, I’m guessing you’re either bored or restless, at least that’s how it is for me. However, when I have goals to aim for, and that I believe in, my life is filled with meaning and purpose, and I think that’s what the above paragraph relates to. The important thing, however, is the quality of the goals, as like they say, shooting for popularity, money, awards, will not be fulfilling in either the short or long term, as these goals have little meaning for you personally.

I think it’s so cool to think of people moving about their lives pursuing their little goals, moving through and obtaining them, then moving on to other goals. I think it was John Lennon who said that ‘life is that thing that happens when we’re busy planning other things’, and that’s true I think, life is that meaning we find when we look back at all the to-ing and fro-ing we had pursuing our different goals. Few things are more engaging than the pursuit of goals you believe in.

And pursuing goals breeds competence, so long as the goals are reasonable. And the most effective thing to do is have lots of little goals, even ones that build up to a bigger goal. Doing this creates both self-efficacy and momentum, which only leads to successful completion of other goals. Like my Mum always says ‘bite size pieces’, that’s how you get by doing the things you want or need to do.

But moving back to the topic of pursuing goals relevant to the self, it’s reassuring to know that the best thing we can do for ourselves is to be ourselves, and to do what we want in a responsible yet engaging way. Similarly I think it’s fantastic that dropping out of the social demand stream is the greatest thing you can do for yourself as well. It’s such a stupid concept and it only serves to benefit a few at the top, and to disrupt the potential of the rest.

Self-regulation is an ongoing, cyclical process. It involves forethought, action, and reflection. Forethought involves goal setting and strategic planning. Following such pre-performance forethought, the individual engages in the task and begins to perform and receive feedback. It is during time that the person experiences goal-performance feedback discrepancies and becomes aware of various obstacles, difficulties, distractions, and interruptions. With this information in hand, the performer reflects on how it's going in terms of self-monitoring and self-evaluating. Self-monitoring is a self-observational process in which the person keeps track of the quality of his or her ongoing performance; self-evaluation is a judgement process in which the person compares his or her current performance with the hoped-for goal state. The self-reflection that is rooted in self-monitoring and self-evaluation leads to more informed forethought prior to the next performance opportunity. The ongoing cyclical nature of self-regulation is apparent when self-reflection on one's performance leads to new and improved forethought...

Independent practice is very important, but the thesis in the self-regulation literature is that people can acquire, develop, and master complex skills more quickly and more expertly if they have the benefit of a tutor who models how to set goals, develop strategies, formulate implementation intentions, monitor performance, and evaluate (one one's own) the on-going goal-performance-feedback process. To summarise, consider a saying of the Chinese: "Start with you master, finish with yourself." The study of self-regulation adds how that translational process from master to to competent self-regulation occurs. Pg. 292.

Self-regulation is fair important, with the old adage “discipline weighs ounces, regrets weight tonnes”. Self-regulation is necessary so that we may drag our dreams out of the sky, spike them to the ground, and then walk all over them. And it’s satisfying, it feels great to actually walk in the direction of something you want to do. Recently I started a community radio show with a friend, and during our induction training I had a moment where I thought ‘wow, I’m ACTUALLY pursuing one of my dreams.’ The moment was interesting, as it both filled me with a feeling of competence that I could bring about realities I wanted, and also strangeness in that the initial attainment of my dream wasn’t as shining and shimmering as one does suspect most dreams would be. But the regulation and realisation of dreams doesn’t need to be glamorous, because such things are for other people, the real value comes from the feeling in instils within you when you realise you’re beginning to live the life you dreamed of.

Self-regulation is necessary though, as dreams can be quite harrowing when viewed as a whole, and can be even overwhelming, as we think, how can I do all that? But similar to conquering a mountain, it would be silly to approach the endeavour in one motion, it is necessary to plan a route, as well as breaks where you can evaluate your progress. This is important for two reasons, for one is makes the task both manageable and accessible, as many minor moves can make for a big movement. But it also gives feedback on your progress, on areas that need improvement, or whether or not it is necessary to reconstruct your plan of attack. Often it is necessary to re-plan your strategy, as experience dealing with the goal or dream leads to more knowledge about it, and the realisation that your original plan going in to the task may not accurately reflect the demands of the task as you now know them to be. Similarly, having smaller goals creates an opportunity to build momentum, as successfully completing relatively smaller tasks makes you feel good and makes you feel that your dream is surmountable.

Week 7[edit]

We were on break this week.

On an irrelevant note, for the year that I was recently overseas I spent most of my weekends here, in Kansas City, Missouri. I really like Kansas City.

Week 8[edit]

We were on break this week

Week 9[edit]

The emotions chapters weren't very interesting, I read the chapters but nothing jumped out as an insightful piece of knowledge, so I didn't mark and retype any of it.

Week 10[edit]

Chapter 12[edit]

Managing emotions

How people learn to manage their emotions an b seen in professionals who interact frequently, closely, and intimately with the public, such as airline flight attendants, hairstylists, and physicians. In these fields, socialisation pressures to manage one's emotions mostly revolve around a theme of coping with aversive feelings in ways that are both social desirable and personally adaptive. Physicians, for instance, are not supposed to feel either attraction or disgust for their patients, irrespective of how beautiful or revolting their appearance might be. Therefore, during their medical school training, physicians must learn affective neutrality, a detached concern for their patients. Pg. 361

When I think of people who manage emotions, I always tend to correlate it with intelligence. Those at the upper-echelons of society tend to be more emotionally reserved, whereas those at the lower socio-economic placements tend to be more emotive and emotionally uncontrolled. Whether or not socio-economic status is entirely correlated with intelligence is one thing, and then again whether it relates to emotional regularity is another. But to me it seems that it is one of the hallmarks of high society, the ability to put one’s emotion aside in the pursuit of bigger and more realistic goals. As well, emotions have always been the destroyer of rational thought, where you are likely to find a highly emotive person, or more, someone whose thoughts and actions are governed by their emotions, you are a likely to find the absence of rational thinking.

Relationships are also prone to a lot of need for emotional regulation. People are so vulnerable in relationships and are often in the position of getting hurt emotionally, and in this way, individuals often react in relationships without thinking things through. I think it’s important in relationships when dealing with issues in which one person feels hurt, to first let the emotion subside, understand its cause, and then express the way you feel rationally and without the influence of the emotion. Emotions act as a kind of alarm bell I think, letting the individual know how it feels about a particular stimulus. In this way, emotions are not something to be acted upon, or used as a form of psychic energy, but rather they are to be understood for their cause. Often emotions don’t change the fact of a situation, so the most important thing to do when dealing with them is to get to root cause of the emotion, and then act accordingly and rationally.

The most adaptive thing a person can do is successfully regulate their emotions. This way you can deal with people from all walks of life, and all situations, without being battered around by the way you feel about your experience. You can appropriate your emotions in adaptive ways, rather than letting them control your thinking as happens with some people.

Week 11[edit]

Chapter 13[edit]


Consider the happiness of lottery winners and accident victims. These are dramatic life events that produce strong emotions. No doubt exists in saying that winning the lottery is a positive life event, and no doubt exists in saying that suffering an accident that leaves one a quadriplegic is a negative life event. When researchers ask lottery winners and accident victims if they are happy a year after their dramatic life event, people who won large sums of money and people who experience debilitating injuries did not differ much from the average person. People react strongly to life events, and they react very strongly to events like lottery luck and life-threatening accidents. But they also seem to return back to the same level of happiness they had before the event... People seem to have a happiness "set point."... Just like people have a set point that regulates their body weight, people also seem to have a set point that regulates their happiness and subjective well-being. Pg. 369-370

How mind-blowing is this statement - that after a year, accident victims and lottery winners return to the same happiness level? I think there must be some kind of distinction between happiness and satisfaction then, because I find it hard to believe that if you’re doing a job you love, you’re in a fantastic loving relationship, you have a great family, and you felt ultimately fulfilled, that your happiness levels wouldn’t increase. Otherwise, it would seem kind of pointless to pursue such things; an individual could just obtain a content lifestyle and then kick-back on their level of happiness. There must surely be a way to maximise happiness.

Perhaps it’s like Martin Seligman talks about, people are restricted from their happiness because they don’t feel like they’re controlling it, I don’t know.

Extroverts are generally happy, neurotics are generally unhappy

Extroversion and neuroticism represent two basic personality dimensions. Some even argue that extraversion and neuroticism represent the basic personality dimensions. The personality that predisposes the individual toward a positive emotionality, the BAS, and an approach temperament is extraversion. The personality dimensions that predisposes the individual toward a negative emotionality, the BIS, and an avoidance temperament is neuroticism. Pg. 373

I didn’t really know what neuroticism was until I read this segment, and then I found out I was, at least somewhat, mildly neurotic. It’s kind of disheartening to learn that then I have a disposition towards more negative emotionality, and general unhappiness. But, at the same time, I love when I’m pigeonholed, because I get a notion in my head to prove the theory wrong, which in itself can be aversive.

It's an interesting realisation I think, that some people have different set-points of happiness, some people are extraverted and other's neurotic. Objectively, you have to look at that each of these dimensions has some evolutionarily purpose; being negative or neurotic is adaptive, by being pessimistic you're in effect being somewhat conservative, in opportunities, in endeavours, in life opportunities. Being pessimistic can have enormous evolutionary benefits, you're probably less inclined to take risks, and you won't try untested paths because of a fear or worry that things won't work out. It's only in the modern world, with it's intense focus on "happiness" that it's all of a sudden relevant. Life is about experience. I've been depressed, and I've been blue, I'm glad I'm not now, but those were some of the most emotionally rich and salient times I've experienced. Some things I've written when I've been down are highly insightful and beautiful, sometimes greater in substance than anything I've created in a positive mood.

I don't think I'm that neurotic, but I'm glad I am. I think it's fun to be neurotic, to pop those hopeful balloons that people carry around. I think, and it's been proven, that neurotics or depressed people see the world more as it is, than do optimistic people with their healthy delusions. I like seeing the world as it is, it's not always pretty, but that makes it beautiful. We have such a desire to run away from the bad things and towards the good, but that's just hedonism. Dark places are beautiful in their own way. I know this girl and she's so dark and depressing in her own way, and it's just the most beautiful thing, she's so wholesome and rigid in her negativity, I like it.

So maybe I should take that paragraph such that being extroverted and happy or being neurotic and unhappy isn't really a good or a bad thing, just a thing, unique in each of their own ways. It's not that optimism or pessimism are inherently good or bad, those are attributes we give them, it's that they are things, objective things, methods of perception that provide a function. it's not to say 'isn't life great?', maybe, probably not, but that's how some people think in order to get through life. And we need to recognise that, that we don't see the the world as it is, but as we are.

Performance and emotion

The inverted-U curve illustrates that a low level of arousal produces relatively poor performance (lower left). As arousal level increases from low to moderate, both the intensity and the quality of performance improve. As arousal level continues to increase from moderate to high, performance quality and efficiency (but not intensity) decrease (lower right). Thus, optimal performance is a function of being aroused but not too aroused... A moderate level of arousal coincides with the experience of pleasure. Low stimulation produces boredom and restlessness; high stimulation produces tension and stress. Both boredom and stress are aversive experiences, and people strive to escape from each. When under-aroused and experiencing negative affect, a person will seek out activities that offer increased stimulation, opportunities for exploring something new, and perhaps even risk taking. On the other hand, when arousal is greater than optimal, a person will avoid and is repulsed by further increases in environmental stimulation. When over-aroused, increase stimulation, novelty, and risk create negative affect--stress, frustration, and hassle. Over-aroused people find themselves attracted to an environmental calm--a vacation, a casual reading of the newspaper, or going for quiet walk. Thus, the inverted-U curve predicts when increases and decreases in stimulation will lead to positive affect and approach behaviour and when they will lead to negative affect and avoidance. Pg. 374-375

I think this is another example of where psychology and pseudo-social-psychology intersect. How often do people who are stressed to the max say “I need a vacation!” or “I just need a break.” People innately know the effect of the inverted-U without having to know the dynamics of the theory. When people are bored in their life they ramp things up by trying new hobbies or doing more with their free time. When people are stressed, they pursue ‘down time’, or work to free up their time so they don’t feel so overbalanced.

I think the inverted-U theory is good as a management tool, learning when to take the pressure of some people when you see signs of stress, and when to apply pressure to other people when you sense they are overly relaxed. Similarly, in self-regulation, you can understand how you’re doing on a task by gauging your relative stress levels. You could also coincide this with Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow theory and alter the variables so that if you’re under stress you could increase your skills through training, or if you’re under stress you could challenge yourself in specific ways.

Overstimulating, stressful environments upset emotional states, impair cognitive activity, and accelerate physiological processes. Emotional disruption manifests itself in feelings of anxiety, irritability, and anger. Cognitive disruption manifests itself in confusion, forgetfulness, and impaired concentration. Physiological disruption manifests itself in sympathetic nervous system hyperactivity, as through high blood pressure.

Pg. 377

This is very true. Towards the end of semester two in my degree I was very stressed; I had some very difficult statistics subjects, I was working three days a week, I was just about to go overseas, I had stress from a relationship I was in, and I had financial strain. At first the stress was helpful, it took me to a higher level of functionality, and for a long time I was going along really well. Then, a few more problems were added in to the mix, and although I was still functioning and getting-by, my brain started to shut down. The stress just got too much for me to handle and I started being unable to think straight, I would often stand at work on the jobsite just staring in the space, not bored or idly, but just fried, my brain failing to function. At that point, any new problems that arose became irrelevant, mentally I just couldn’t let them in, and I didn’t care too. But, it’s a wonderful process, when you have no choice but to succeed its amazing what you’re capable of. Every morning I would drag myself out of bed, tired as all hell, and dredge myself through each day. Your brain isn’t working, everything irritates you, and you get sick all the time, but you keep trudging along because you have no choice. It’s satisfying in its madness.

Risk Taking

No one really likes risk per se, which is essential the forecast that a behaviour will produce aversive consequences. It is not that sensations seekers are attracted to physical, social, legal, or financial risks; rather, sensation seekers see sensations being worth these risks, whereas sensation avoiders do not. Thus, "risk accepting" seem to be a more appropriate terms than does "risk taking"

This is true, risk takers are just individuals who see the rewards of a given behaviour worth the risk of the possible negative outcomes. It's just that sensation seekers are willing to chase what they perceive as greater rewards, and are willing to go the extra distance and maybe pay the higher price to get those rewards.

I remember one night in the city I climbed one those skyscraper cranes, it was based on a dare and monetary incentives, but I just needed an excuse as I wanted to do it anyway. For me, the challenge was being able to do it, despite the legal and physical obstacles. Most people would see it as a stupid thing to do, that it wasn't worth the risks. But to me, I saw it that it proved my abilities as a climber, and in my confidence in my abilities, and that having done the climb I would feel a great sense of competence and achievement, and I would get a beautiful view of the city. All of these things were true, I didn't enjoy the sensation. But at the same time, I think I failed to adequately weigh up the consequences, and perhaps that is the difference between sensation seekers and sensation avoiders, sensation seekers focus more on the good outcomes, perhaps not objectively weighing up the pro's and con's. Perhaps, similarly, certain neurochemicals make them disregard their own fatality, that they could die, and thus such risks don't play on their mind too heavily when they are considering such sensation seeking outcomes.

Self-confirming cycles of High and Low engagement

Perceived control beliefs influence the individual's engagement, emotion, coping, and challenge-seeking. People with high perceived control show relatively high effort, concentrate and pay attention, persist in the face of failure, maintain interest and curiosity in the task, and maintain optimism for future positive outcomes. People with low perceived control show relatively low effort, doubt their capacities, tend to give up in the face of challenge or failure, become discouraged quickly, are prone to passivity, anxiety, and even anger, and appear to simply go through the motions of participating. Such patterns of engagement versus disaffection are important because they predict the outcomes people attain. Attained outcomes, in turn, effect performers' post-performance perceptions of control. hence, engaged effort produces the positive outcomes and post-performance perceptions of high control that produced the engaged effort in the first place. Disaffection (i.e., just passively going through the motions) produces the negative outcomes and post-performance perceptions of low control that produced the disaffected effort in the first place. This is the so-called self-confirming cycle of higher versus lower engagement. Pg. 385

This makes it pretty tough, I feel, to break out of self-confirming cycles of low engagement. But from my own experience persistence is the only way out. Like my boss used to say 'you bang your head on a brick wall, and you bang and you bang, and you never seem to get anywhere, then, when you're just about to give up, a tiny crack emerges, and it's like 'wow', and you start banging again'. The hardest thing for people to have is a meta-awareness, that there experience exists along a continuum and that there are other better (or worse) experiences to be had. I think it's not until people understand that a better life could exist that they actively trying to achieve such a life. Similarly, and like stated above, it is a belief that they have the capability. But sometimes people need to give themselves a chance, let go of those things that might get in the way of their success, let go of the things that hold you from liberating yourself towards higher self-confirming cycles. And as well it goes back to appropriate goal-setting, applying yourself to smaller more manageable goals so that you may motivate yourself from tiny successes.

Like with the helplessness studies, control is often something to be learned, and sometimes it has to be learned forcefully. How quickly does someone learn something when they absolutely have to? When I moved out of home I had no idea how to cook, but all of a sudden when I had to eat, I learned how to cook really quickly. Like the addage some people use 'bite off more than you can chew, chew like mad, and hope you don't choke'. But for other people, it's being presented with controllable circumstance, perhaps not highly significant controllability, but controllability just the same, and from that one can develop efficacy in small doses, gradually working up to controllability on more significant outcomes.

As with many things, the self-confirming cycles of high and low engagement exist along a continuum, and it's not set in stone. If an individual can have a meta-awareness of this continuum, then they can make changes to move their position, to be at a level or engagement and perceived control that they are happier with.

When people desire control but the environment refuses to afford it, the person becomes vulnerable to learned helplessness and depression. low and high demand for control individuals were asked to participate in a typical learned-helplessness experiment in which they were exposed to hard, uncontrollable, and unpredictable noise. Compared to low desire for control individuals, high desire for control persons reported higher levels of post-task depression. Furthermore, the magnitude of helplessness and depression varied in proportion to how important control was for that person in that situation. So, in controllable environments, the desire for control works as a motivation asset, but, in uncontrollable environments, the desire for control works as a motivational liability.

Pg. 388

Here we can see how learned-helplessness, or even just an individual with low demand for control, can be a benefit. And it makes sense, because practically, such a phenomenon would have to have an evolutionary basis. There needs to be mental mechanisms where individuals can still survive under conditions in which they have very little control. Take a slave for example, how quickly would all the high need for control individuals have died as slaves, jumping around trying to exert control over an environment in which none is available. In this instance, it would be those slaves who had a low need for control, or even a helpless personality, who would have survived. Maybe their survival wouldn't have been ideal, but there might come a time when they're free again, and helplessness could be bread out of them through the future freer generations. Strange analogy, but it goes to show a benefit in some ways in the need for helplessness or low demand for control, from an evolutionary and practical perspective, as outlined in the above paragraph.

Week 12[edit]

Chapter 14[edit]

Psychoanalysis is also relatively pessimistic in tone, as it places the spotlight on sexual and aggressive urges, conflict, anxiety, repression, defence mechanisms, anxiety, and a host of emotional burdens, vulnerabilities, and shortcomings of human nature. It sees anxiety as inevitable and the collapse of personality as a matter of degree rather than as an exceptional event that happens to only some of us. We are all dogged by guilt, anxiety is our constant companion, narcissism and homophobia are common, and distortions of reality are modus operandi. It is not a pretty picture, Freud said, but it is reality nonetheless. In his mind, Freud was not a pessimist; he was a realist.

Pg. 393

This paragraph makes me think of the previous sections where they talk about how objectively depressed people view the world - I kind of think Freud has that same bleak outlook on life, perhaps neurotic? Life is though, objectively, gross. Think of all the rutting, selfishness, depravity, and pure anarchic chaos that is born when some form of policing or government is severed for just a moment. The human experience can often be an ugly, ugly thing, fraught with the pushing and pulling of some very animalistic biological desires. But that's not all it is, there's a lot of good in humanity and in the human mind as well. However, I think it takes someone like Freud, with a bit of a negative bend, to plunge the depths of the human mind, particularly the unconscious human mind. From that we can, like we have, take from it what we will, those things that we can use. For all his wrongs, he sure got a lot of things right, and a lot of his theories and ideas still hold true today.

The Unconscious

Freud believed that the individual must express strong unconscious urge and impulses, though in a disguised form. The unconscious is therefore a "shadow phenomenon" that cannot be known directly but can be inferred only form its indirect manifestations. Believe the unconscious constituted the "primary process" while consciousness was but a "secondary process" Freud and his colleagues explore the contents and processes of the unconscious in a number of ways, including hypnosis, free association, dream analysis, humour, projective tests, errors and slips of the tongue, and so-called "accidents" Pg. 397

The unconscious mind is truly a remarkable thing. It certainly sheds light on a way of thinking without thinking, of reacting without consciously knowing why, and of knowing things intuitively or without reason. But I fail share with Freud or any of his followers, that the unconscious mind is such a large part of the holistic human mind. Realistically there are parts of the mind that are not conscious, and do not operate in a conscious manner, they are the evolutionary building blocks that brought us here today. Automatic systems which respond to environmental cues. Adaptive constructs for deal immediately with the environment. They relate to pure survival, or at least to those parts of organism that must happen; eating, sleeping, procreating, defence, and effective survival. I think there's parts of an organism that just can't be rationalised. If a baby elk sits and thinks about the impending arrival of a wolf pack, it's as good as dead. Some things don't need to be thought about, they're automatic, and automatic for a reason, but I think that's about it as far as the human unconscious goes. When Freud talks about suppression or repression I think that's different, I think that's 'unknowing' or choosing not to know, not being unaware, or not pertaining to an unconsciousness. I think even when we suppress things they're not unconscious, they're just held out of consciousness, but they don't exist out of consciousness.

And I don't see what the big fuss is anyway, of denying unconscious urges. That's how we think, that's who we are, better to comes to terms with it than force it to be something it's not, that's not healthy.

Adaptive Unconscious

The adaptive unconscious is very good at what it does... As one case in point, consider the experiment in which college students were shown only a 2-second muted video clip of an instructor and asked to rate his or her teaching effectiveness based on what they saw in that slice of action. Ratings were also taken from the students of these same instructors who had taken a semester-long course. Students who saw only the quickest slice of the instructor's teaching made just as valid judgements of the instructor's effectiveness as did students who spent 4 months in the classroom with the same instructor. These students could not tell you why they made the ratings they did, but their intuition told them something important about how effective or ineffective each instructor was likely to be. Pg. 399

More than a few times in my life, and particularly after I'd been driving for a couple of year, I would drive through a round-about and get to the other side and realise I made it through the whole intersection without a conscious thought. It was amazing. And it was shocking, to get to the other side and realise that I didn't consciously pay attention to what cars were or were not coming. Somehow my mind just knew the appropriate procedure; break, change down to 2nd, check for cars, pass through, indicated out, change back to 3rd. The most startling thing was the realisation, that I had just done that and not been "aware" I was doing it. It was as if two parts of my mind were operating; the conscious mind was busy on some trivial issue, so the unconscious procedural mind just took over until such times as the conscious came back on line. It was impressive. But really, the conscious mind isn't the one that directs behaviour, not on a consistently reinforced learned behaviour like driving a car, more, the conscious mind just monitors the procedural mind, to ensure things are running smoothly, and to make it aware of any inconsistencies in the environment.

It sounds like a crazy process, but I often feel like more than two systems are operating in my mind. Sometimes I feel like one part of my brain will alert the conscious mind of things it might not have seen yet. Sometimes my procedural mind will work in such a way that it is quicker than my conscious mind. For instance, sometimes when I'm playing cricket, I'll catch a ball before I've even consciously known that I've caught it. It's not until I look at my head, or feel the ball, that I know. This makes me think that the different parts of the mind operate separately, even though it's been proven they do. But it's just surprising.

Adaptive unconscious is the reason I'm not a big fan of Gestalt Psychology, or behaviourist who think everything is just a reaction or a learned response. I firmly believe in three minds, a reptilian mind, a mammalian mind, and a hominid mind. Each plays a specific function on the organism, and the deeper they are the less conscious they are. The reptilian mind is nearly entirely automatic, the mammalian mind is partially conscious and unconscious as it needs to be, and the hominid brain is mostly conscious with some unconscious elements. It just makes sense to me. The reptilian brain is nearly purely automatic. The mammalian brain is somewhat automatic, but processes emotion as to better understand it's environment. The hominid brain is designed for awareness, or being aware of the environment, and how to manipulate it.

On Implicit Motivation

When we actually encounter difficult tasks and when we have an opportunity to persist verses quit in the face of difficulty, we experience emotion and affect that predicts our resulting behaviour rather well. That is, during difficulty and challenge we feel good and energised or we feel bad and anxious, and these emotional reactions (rather than our conscious values) predict behaviour well. Pg. 399

I think this is fairly accurate. Think of playing soccer and if somebody gets a goal scored against them they either bounce back with a renewed vigour, or they get down and out. Either way, it pretty accurately represents how they're going to go in to the next play. Similarly, when I got the wikipedia assignment for this class I thought 'oh shit, this is going to suck', and sure as anything, that's how I approached it, already defeated. Realistically it was just an essay ctrl-paste'd, but I approach it thinking it couldn't be done, and it nearly got the better of me, more than any other essay I've faced.

Mindfulness explains when implicit motives affect behaviour, while mindlessness explains when implicit motives fail to affect behaviour. Mindfulness is a receptive attention to and awareness of present events and experiences; it is a non-interference with one's experience in which the person allows inputs to enter awareness in a simple noticing of what is taking place. With the emotional activation of implicit motivation and with the openness of high mindfulness, people are able to regulate their behaviour in implicit and productive ways. This is an important point to make because it shows how conscious and unconscious motivation can potentially work together in a harmonious and productive way (rather than as opposing id versus ego forces)

Pg. 400

Mindfulness is a big deal to me, and mindlessness just about drives me up the wall. Recently I was at the National Library, studying for my motivation essay, and I was getting a drink in the restaurant there. Anyway, there was no-one at the counter, so I was waiting about 2/3 feet away from it. In rushes this guy in a huff, pulls a sandwich out of the fridge, takes it right up the counter just to the right of me, and waits. Clearly he noticed somebody standing there otherwise he would have stood right in front of the counter. Suffice to say a cashier came along and he just hands over his sandwich, and I, slightly annoyed, literally pushed him out of the way. He starts crying a hullabaloo "Oh, I didn't see you there, but you didn't need to push me, rar, rar rar." He was right, I didn't need to push him, but if there's one thing I can't stand in this world it's mindlessness, especially from a man in his fifties. I mean, how hard is it to pay attention to your environment? How hard is to recognise the impact your behaviour is having on the lives of others? And admittedly, there was a time when I wasn't self-aware and mindful, and sure sometimes I make mistakes myself, but just the same. Mindfulness is the first step in carving out the person you want to be, mindfulness is the first step in appraising yourself honestly, mindfulness is the first step to realising your true motivations and intentions.

It's such a selfish state of affairs to be mindless, to be focussed only on what you and the things that affect you are doing. You're just an organism then, vegging away on all that can, doing best by you and your experience.

I think that's what Timothy Leary was talking about when he told people to "Turn on, tune in, and drop out." He meant turning on your awareness, your mindfulness, perceiving all that is happening around you. Of course tune in meant tune in to the inner you, to your own independent needs and wants, to your nervous system, tune in to the way you function and understanding how best to maximise your experience. And drop out meant to remove yourself from secular society, remove yourself from those social demands of which hold no relevance to you, and which only serve to keep you with the herd. But I'm getting sidetracked.

Mindfulness has to be the first step to self-awareness, and to growing as a person. It's not until we become mindful, or ourselves, our experience, and our environment, that we can fully begin to manipulate it in ways that resonate with us personally. I would be surprised to find an actualised person who is not self-aware and mindful. But people ignore so much of themselves, and their experience, they refuse to face the ugliness or themselves and their self-consciousness. But it takes such an appraisal in order to grow and develop in to the actualised you.


The motivations of the id were unconscious, involuntary, impulse-driven, and hedonistic, as the id obeyed the pleasure principle: Obtain pleasure and avoid pain and do so at all costs without delay. The motivations of the ego were partly conscious and partly unconscious, steeped in defences, and organised around the delay of gratification, as the ego obeyed the reality principle: Hold pleasure seeking at bay until a socially acceptable need-satisfying object can be found. Pg. 401

I just liked this definition of the id and the ego. I tend to see the id are the reptilian brain, ensuring those basic survival functions, and the ego as mammalian and partly the hominid brain. The superego is nearly entirely hominid, that pre-frontal cortex which was our last evolutionary add-on.


According to Dan Wegner (1989, 1992), the way out of the thought suppression quagmire is to stop suppressing and, instead, focus on an think about the unwanted thought. Paradoxically, only those unconscious thoughts that we welcome into consciousness are we able to forget. Pg. 404

I'm not sure if I agree with Dan Wegner, that the best way to cure a suppressed thought it to welcome it in to consciousness. Wouldn't the reason you're trying to suppress it in the first place is because it's an unwanted and constantly nagging thought. I guess it just depends on the thought. But if you're trying to get over somebody, constantly thinking about them doesn't make the thoughts go away, but suppressing the thoughts until the emotions subside, wouldn't that be more effective? I think the most important thing is to come to terms with the thought, to process it as reality and to move on from it. If you're gay, or you didn't get the job, it is pointless to hide those thoughts, better to come to terms with them and move on with your life trying to make it better.

Ego Defence

Mature defence mechanisms allowed the men (in the study) to live a well-adjusted life, show psychosocial maturity, find and keep a fulfilling job, develop a rich and stable friendship pattern, avoid divorce, avoid the need to psychiatric visits, avoid psychopathology and mental illnesses, and so on. A second, similar longitudinal study with both men and women and also with people from more diverse backgrounds showed that the maturity level of one's defences predicted--30 years later--income level, job promotions, psychosocial adjustments, social supports, joy in living, marital satisfaction, and physical functioning such as the ability to climb stairs during old age. Pg. 407

I think I cited this because I wasn't sure if there were additional contributions to the results of these outcomes. Could it be that intelligence also had something to do with the defence mechanisms these individual used? Could it be that more intelligent men selected more beneficial, supportive, and complex defence mechanisms, where as less intelligent men used simpler, but ultimately fraught with problems, defence mechanisms? How would individuals even be aware of what defence mechanism to use? If they thought of it themselves then that's probably related to the limitations of their cognitive capacity, whereas if they learned it socially then it could be related to the similar calibre of people they are socialised by. Either way, I can't help but think intelligence plays a hand in the results of these studies.

Object Relations Theory

Positive mental models of one's self predict adult levels of self-reliance, social confidence, and self-esteem. Secure mental models of others predict the quality of one's adult romantic relationships, including whether that person ever marries and, if so, how long that person stays committed to that marriage. Alternatives, a childhood of interpersonal traumas (e.g., physical abuse, serious neglect, sexual molestation) and parental psychopathology (e.g., depression, anxiety, substance abuse, violent marital interaction) predict adulthood dysfunctional relationships. Pg. 415

Week 13[edit]

Chapter 15[edit]

The way not to interfere with organismic valuation is to provide "unconditional positive regard," rather than the "conditional positive regard" that emanates from the conditions of worth. If given unconditional positive regard, a child has no need to internalise societal conditions of worth. Experiences are judged as valuable to the extent that they enhance oneself. If parents approve of, love, and accept their child for who she naturally is (i.e., unconditional positive regard) rather than for who the parents wish her to be (i.e., conditional positive regard), then the child and the child's self-structure will be a relatively transparent representation of his or her inherent preferences, talents, capacities, and potentialities. A condition of worth arises, however, when the positive regard of another person is conditional--depends on some way of being or some way of behaving. Here, experiences are judged as valuable to the extent that they are approved of by others.

Pg. 428

I know many people have varying and different opinions of what they think God is, but I think God is Carl Rogers. At least, I think God is the theory that Carl Rogers is most known for - unconditional positive regarding, or in the case of god - unconditional positive love. Bill Hicks once said "God's love is unconditional, and there is nothing we can ever do to change that. It is only our illusion that we are separate from God, or that we are alone. In fact, the reality is that we are one with God and He loves us." When I think of God, or what God is, I picture God as love, as an entity that loves me unconditionally in a way that nothing else can. I think this is the greatest gift that a person can receive, unconditional positive regard, to be told and to believe that who you are, despite all your shortcomings and misgivings about your potential, deserves nothing but absolute love. You are worthy of love, there is nothing in you that is unworthy of love. I think that is the greatest gift a person can receive. Because, like it is stated in the above paragraph, if someone had total confidence and faith in themselves based on the unconditional love of another, they wouldn't adhere to society's fake standards, they would be totally comfortable with who they are and what they want to achieve, because they would believe they are someone who has worth and value.

I totally understand why people give out conditional positive regard, it's a highly effective strategy to bring about discipline and adherence to rules and regulations, but it's wrong. I met a man once who, every time his child misbehaved, patiently kneeled next to the child and reasoned with them, discussed with them why their behaviour was inappropriate and got them to see that their behaviour didn't lead to productive outcomes. At no time did this man get angry at the children, or threaten the children, or even use his love as incentive, he just patiently showed the kids a better way. And they were some of the best behaved kids I've ever seen, and he was definitely one of the best parents I've ever seen. He had nothing but pure love for his children, and to love them was to show them a better way, not to use love against them.

By loving somebody for everything that they are you allow the person to grow beyond their faults, if they so wish, because they see their faults as not something to hide away, but something worth of illumination, that they can change if they individually are not happy with. People only tend to hold on to faults when they are demanded to change them based on conditional love, or they change their faults but grow resentment and distrust for people.

Conditional regard as a socialisation strategy

To socialize children and adolescents, adults (parents, teachers) sometimes go about the effort by creating "internal compulsions" within the socializee to do what the adult wants them to do and to believe what the adult wants the to believe. The prototype of such a pressuring socialization strategy is conditional regard, which is the offering of love for obedience paired with the withdrawal of love for disobedience. Conditional regard, a synonym of conditions of worth, comes in two forms--positive and negative. Positive conditional regard is giving love and affection for obedience and achievement; negative conditional regard is taking away love and affection for disobedience and failure. While conditional regard uses the potent motivational force of parental love to gain immediate obedience, it creates negative emotions such as anxiety and anger that lead children and adolescents to long-term motivation dysfunctions (e.g., amotivation, apathy, resentment) and maladaptive functioning (e.g., passivity, dropout, perfectionism). Pg. 430

It's so wrong to use love in this way, love isn't a tool to get what you want, it's a tool to improve the lives of others because you care about them and want a better experience for them. It makes me mad when I think about love in this way, it's such a dirty rotten trick. Kids need love, and loads of it. Kids need to feel like people are trustworthy and that they themselves are worthy of love for everything that they are. What kind of lessons are you teaching kids when you control their behaviour by using conditional positive regard? That its alright to manipulate people's emotions? That it's alright to use love against people to achieve what you want? It's gross.

Loving people and rationalising with people, that's the best way to bring about behavioural change. Of course, it's not always possible, but doing it only serves to enhance the person's life, both in terms of improving their self worth, but also getting them to think about their own life, have fore thought, and to get them to care about what happens to their own selves.

Growth-seeking versus validation-seeking

When people identify with and internalise societal conditions of worth, they do more than just adopt socially desirable facades. Quasi-need emerges to the extent that the individual needs social approval--directly or symbolically--during social interaction. That is valuing oneself along the lines of societal conditions of worth leads people into processes of validation-seeking. For the person who needs the approval of others to feel good about him- or herself, fulfilling others' conditions of worth leads to validation whereas failing to live up to others' conditions of worth leads to a perceived lack of personal worth, competence, or likeability. Pg. 434

One thing that I really wish would happen with psychology is that it becomes more prominent in the education system. We know now the benefits of growth-seeking over validation-seeking, but where is that being taught? Where are our young people learning that the best thing they can do for themselves, is to be themselves. In this way I think psychology really needs to take a step out of the laboratory and say 'hey, we're not going to tell you how to think, but here's what the research says about what's on offer in your lives'. How much would society and people's lives change knowing that the greatest satisfaction comes from a growth-seeking lifestyle and mentality? You need to get three years in to a psychology degree to learn the kind of wisdom that should be on offer to everybody. Meanwhile the mass media pumps out another pointless psychological report about whether a single child is happier than a child who has siblings.

Growth-seeking versus validation-seeking

The distinction between striving for validation versus growth is important because it predicts vulnerability to mental health difficulties. For instance, the more people strive for validation, the more likely they are to suffer anxiety during social interaction, fear of failure, low self-esteem, poor task persistence, and high depression. In contrast, the more people strive for growth, the more likely they are to experience low interaction anxiety, low fear of failure, high self-esteem, high task persistence, and low depression. In terms of self-actualisation, growth-seeking individuals are more likely to view themselves as living in the present (high time competent) and behaving in accordance with one's own principles (inner directed). Pg. 435

When I was younger I never really "fit-in", I was kind of different to a lot of the kids, more spacey and withdrawn. It wasn't until I was out of school and I met some like minded individuals that I started to have a lot appreciation for who I am as an individual. I think it's important to help children to become resilient in who they are individually, because we all are individual's, and we need to learn be productive as our selves not as something else. Aligning ourselves to social ideals will never be productive because it's not an intrinsic motivation, it's an extrinsic motivation, something from the outside that we don't necessarily believe in but is rewarding because it helps us to "fit-in". And so we trade the anxiety for fitting in with the more subtle anxiety of not being ourselves. It is clearly better to be who we are, and to learn to refine and grow that self.

Self-definition and social definition

Self-definition and social definition processes are particularly instructive in the developing identities of women. Compared to their socially defined counterparts, self-defined women are more autonomous and independent in their interpersonal relationships (they depend less on others) and social roles (they may prefer non-traditional occupations). They take decisive and successful goal-directed actions, as in occupational decisions and strategies for career development. They organise their goals around self-determined aspirations, including their own personal decision to get married or not and to have children or not. They are also less invested in so-called traditional roles, such as wife and mother. In contrast, socially defined women prefer to work with and depend on others. They prefer traditional female roles both at home and at work. The are typically willing to compromise in terms of their plans, college-degree aspirations, career persistence, and relationships in general. Decisions and experience flow not from the self but, instead, form the social support of others and the beliefs, abilities, and aspirations of others. And be depending on others, socially defined married women hope for husbands who can provide them with a life that is stimulating and engaging (sexually :D). Pg. 438-439

The more I've come to learn about psychology, the more I've come to see social constructs such as "woman" as being grade A baloney. Women are worse than men, I think that more men would be true to themselves because it's more socially acceptable for a man to care less about what people think, in fact that kind of attitude is encouraged. But for women, it's important to be part of the herd, you might not get a mate if you're not. Women the world over so willingly give up massive portions of their lives to have kids without truly considering why and if they really want to engage in such a commitment. So much of human experience is about going through the motions and doing the 'done thing'. And it's worse for women, women have enormous social demands put on them, in regards to attractiveness, their subservient role, what they can and can't achieve, their potential. It's all bullshit. It's always so wonderful however, when you see a young determined woman, highly intelligent and keen to do things her own way. There's not enough of it, too many modern women adhere to this pretty/ditsy standard, and it's not attractive at all.

I'll get off of my soapbox now...


A third criticism questions how one is to know what is really wanted or what is really needed by the actualising tendency. Like an inherent actualising tendency. Like an inherent actualising tendency, early learning, socialisation, and internalisations can also yield the person conviction that a way of thinking of behaving is right and natural. For example, if a person is 100% confident that abortion is bad, wrong, and something to be refused, then how is that person to know for sure that such a preference is a product of the organismic valuation process rather than an internalisation of societal conditions of worth? Knowledge of right and wrong can be difficult to trace back to the origins of its true source (although enhanced "mindfulness" can help a great deal in this regard). If standards of right and wrong are introjected from infancy, a person can be self-deceived into thinking that their preferences are their own rather than their parents'. Pg. 445.

This statement is pretty potent as far as criticisms go. I mean, really, how do we know how much of what we think is what WE truly believe. How much of it is the self, and how much of it learned? And is there a difference? Obviously there is some strong biological basis to a lot of the ways we are, but how much of inner self is determined by that? Like they say, the best thing an individual can aim for is a hearty mindfulness and the courage to face who we really are. Because you can't know, you can't know where your organismic valuation process stems from, you just need to hope it's right and it reflects who you really are inside. I think it takes a little faith in this sense, that when we truly look at ourselves objectively what we see is who we are and not a product of our socialisation. But even then, everything exists within a culture.

Week 14[edit]

Chapter 16 - So long, and thanks for all the fish[edit]

Applying Motivation: Solving Problems

The more you understand the principles of motivation and emotion, the greater will become your capacity to find workable solutions to real-world motivation problems. Solving motivational problems means empower people toward more intentional action, optimal experience, positive functioning, and healthy development, and away from impulsive action, habitual experience, counter-productive functioning, and avoidance. Pg. 450

I just liked this statement, and it's very true what it says because knowledge is power, and once you know the levers to manipulate you can affect the outcome.

Motivating Self

Cultivating inner motivational resources involves the developmental effort to build effectance motivation, strong and resilient self-efficacy beliefs, a mastery motivational orientation, robust personal control beliefs, achievement strivings, a healthy sense of self and identity, sense of competence, an autonomy causality orientation, mature defence mechanisms, goal-setting capacities, self-regulation abilities, interests and positive affect. Developing inner motivation resources means growing optimistic, engagement-fostering, and approach-oriented needs, cognitions, and emotions. The more one cultivates and develops strong, resilient, and productive inner motivational resources over the life span, the more frequently he or she will experience strong, resilient, and productive motivational states in a given situation. Pg. 452

I liked this statement as well, it gives credence to the benefits of garnering resiliency in our inner motivational states, and the upward spiralling effect this will have.