- 1 About Me
- 2 E-Portfolio
- 2.1 Week One
- 2.2 Week Two
- 2.3 Week Three
- 2.4 Week Four
- 2.5 Week Five
- 2.6 Week Six
- 2.7 Week Seven
- 2.8 Week Eight
- 2.9 Week Nine
- 2.10 Week Ten
- 2.11 Week Eleven
- 2.12 Week Twelve
- 2.13 Week Thirteen
- 2.14 Week Fourteen
Hi, my name is Jenny, and I am a student studying a Psychology/Arts Degree at the University of Canberra. This semester is my 6th, and I am taking units in Spanish, Social Psychology, Photography and this one, Motivation and Emotion. This is my E-Portfolio for this unit, where I will share my reflections and thoughts about what I learn.
So the first week we attended our first lecture, and covered a brief introduction to the unit Motivation and Emotion. Motivation and emotion can be defined in many different ways, but here is my personal definition: Motivation is the study of what drives us to do what we do, and emotion is the physiological reaction to internal and external cues, such as our thoughts, memories or experiences. It will be interesting to see how my ideas and views change as the unit progresses.
The textbook for this unit is called Understanding Motivation and Emotion, by Johnmarshall Reeve. Chapter One of the textbook informed us that there are many different sources of motivation, such as intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, flow and perceived competence.
The chapter also posed questions such as why behaviour varies in its intensity, for example why is a person super motivated to study one week, but the next week lacks energy, is unfocused and seemingly uninterested in the material? We learned the difference between internal motives which are based upon emotional regulation, needs and wants inside a person, and external motives, environmental, social and cultural sources of motivation that drive our behaviour, such as rewards and punishments.
After reading this chapter and attending the lecture, I actually think this unit will be quite fun and interesting. I am particularly interested in learning about well-being, and ways to increase well-being and happiness for people. Studying motivation and emotion also includes studying what people truly desire, our wants, needs, fears and hopes for the future. Motivation study also examines questions as to whether we are innately good or evil, co-operative or aggressive, and whether people are intrinsically designed just to survive or to grow and self-actualize. After reading this first chapter, I became a lot more interested in the unit, and am keen to continue learning to see what we uncover.
This week the lecture focused on teaching us the basics of Wikiversity, on which we will be submitting our major assignment (a textbook chapter), and recording this E-Portfolio on. Wikiversity is similar to Wikipedia, in that any member of the public can create and edit any page. However, Wikiversity is a sister project to Wikipedia and has been created for university-level pages and information.
This week focused on the different chemicals and parts of the brain that relate to motivation, and also the physiological needs we experience as humans. I'll break this reflection down into these two parts, to make it easier to follow.
Neurotransmitters and Parts of the Brain
The first half of the lecture covered a bit of what I'd previously studied in Physiological Psychology about neurotransmitters and the different parts of the brain and what each is responsible for. However, this time it was directed towards motivation. Reading the chapter, I found it particularly interesting that we do not simply have one way of finding pleasure or happiness, but many different paths. For example, we can feel good by getting something we want (activating the neucleus accumbens), but also feel happy and rewarded when we socialize (activating the septal area of the brain), or when we eat when we are hungry (communicating through the hypothalamus). I guess I had always through there was one area of the brain responsible for reward or positive emotions, not many different ones activated by different actions. Also I found it interesting that dopamine (a neurotransmitter responsible for producing feelings of well-being) release is highest when an unexpected event happens that is rewarding, which explains why I feel happier when I hear my favourite song unexpectedly come on on the radio than when I listen to it on a CD. This function is to allow people to learn a particular event's motivational significance.
Physiological needs are all the things we need to function. Food, water, sleep, air and sex are included. We are motivated to regulate these states from impulses from our body. These needs basically take over our motivation when they are unmet. I have had times in the past when I am so tired all I want to do is sleep, and am not interested in relating to other people, exercising, or learning to ride a bike. Maslow's hierarcy of needs sums up this chapter and the next couple. For more info go to the wikipedia link here, or take a look at the diagram.
In week 4 we were introduced to the three psychological needs of human beings - autonomy, competence and relatedness. Psychological needs can be thought of as growth needs - they produce positive emotions and well-being when addressed (learning how to swim), but are not deficits like physiological needs (e.g. eating to relieve hunger). This organismic approach to motivation relies on two key points: that people and animals are inherently active, and that a person has an inherent desire to interact with the environment which the environment sometimes supports and sometimes frustrates. The opposite of an organismic approach is a mechanistic one, where the environment acts on the person, and the person reacts.
Autonomy is the need to act freely, and choose what we want to do and how to behave, without being controlled by others. Essentially, we want to follow our own interests, preferences, wants and desires, and decide how and how long we will do these things for. Three qualities determine whether or not we satisfy our need for autonomy:
- Internal Perceived Locus of Causality (our behaviour is initiated by an internal want or desire, rather than an external one)
- Volition (feeling free)
- Perceived Choice over One’s Actions
Particularly with autonomy, it is interesting to note that providing choices to people doesn’t necessarily satisfy their need for autonomy. For example, when I am given the choice between doing my Spanish homework or Motivation homework, but instead want to do something else, my autonomy is not supported. However, if I am freely asked the question ‘Do I want to do homework now or something else?’ then my autonomy need is engaged.
When autonomy is supported, people engage in their chosen task with much higher effort, more creativity, positive emotion, persistence, and better overall grades or task performance. To support autonomy in someone you can nurture their inner motivational resources (such as asking the person what they would like to do), use informational language (find out why a person is unmotivated and help them to solve the problem rather than pressuring them to get on with the task), provide explanatory rationales (explain the value or meaning behind a boring action such as brushing teeth), and acknowledge and support negative affect (acknowledge attitude or resistance, and then work with the person to solve the underlying cause of the resistance). In contrast to autonomy supporting motivational style, a controlling motivational style uses techniques such as pressuring, forcing or commanding a person into doing something, which can reduce their inner motivational resources. I found this really useful to learn about, and have tried to put it into practise a bit while working (I work at a childcare centre). I now understand and better appreciate the importance of nurturing a child's inner motivational resources to help them become a more capable and better person.
The need for competence comes from interacting effectively with our surroundings. Everyone desires to be competent in all aspects of their lives. People seek out new challenges to test their skills, and to build upon old skills.
In this section of the book I am most interested in flow – a state of being in which the person is deeply engaged in an activity. However, the right conditions must be present for flow to occur – i.e. high to very high challenge, and high to very high skill level. Low skill and low challenge presents apathy, low skill and high challenge creates anxiety and worry, and high skill and low challenge facilitates boredom. It is interesting how people regulate an activity to increase enjoyment or the chance of flow, for example by increasing their skill level, decreasing their skills level (by handicapping), or increasing or decreasing the challenge. However, to feel that need-satisfying feeling of being competent at something however, a person must also receive positive feedback and view mistakes as opportunities to learn more rather than failures (high failure tolerance).
I was trying to think of times when I have experienced flow, however I'm not so sure I have. This may be because I have only recently heard of the concept and therefore was not aware of it while I experienced it, however I am also not super-talented at skiing, or at playing a musical instrument, or anything like that. I suppose I have experienced flow to some degree, but never a lot, as I have heard of incredible flow experiences where people lose track of the whole day as they are so engaged with their activity.
People have a need for quality social interaction and a need to belong. Relatedness is the need to form close emotional bonds with other people, and be connected to others in warm, loving relationships. Relationships which are most satisfying to us are those in which we feel we have revealed our true or authentic selves, and have been shown and deemed important, and which the other person has also revealed themselves. Relationships form easily, simply through proximity and spending time together, and are hard to break (when people more away, we cry and exchange phone numbers to stay in contact). There are two types of relationships people have with each other:
- Exchange relationships: based on business or not involving emotional sharing
- Communal relationship: relationships involving caring and supporting the well-being of each other
Naturally, I have experienced both, however being friendly I often try to move exchange relationships into communal ones, or at least break past that initial barrier and learn a little bit about the person personally. When conducting business (at the checkout counter, at the dentist), I will often ask the person how they are and how their day has been, to get a bit of a glimpse into their lives and not just interact on a business level.
Social needs are needs learned and acquired through our culture. No-one is born with these needs, but we learn through experience that having these needs met leads to more positive emotion, and they are prized by society and culture.
Quasi Needs: essentially wants that change when the situation changes i.e. needing a bus ticket ot get on the bus. However, once the bus ticket is bought, the need disappears indicating it is not needed for growth or healthy functioning.
These are the social needs we are taught are prized and important:
- Achievement - desire to do things well to a standard of excellence
- Affiliation - desire to be liked and approved of
- Intimacy - desire for close intimate connections with others
- Power - desire to make one's physical and social world move and change to one's own plan for it
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is being motivated from your inner desires, being in tune with what you want and need, and using this to motivate yourself. Extrinsic motivation is being motivated by outside forces, such as pressure, money or outward success. Of the two of these intrinsic motivation is more healthy, and is linked to greater health and creativity than extrinsic motivation. In addition, when someone is intrinsically motivated they are more likely to persist at the task longer, will experience higher quality learning, generate more creative solutions and have higher well-being. I know personally that when I do things for intrinsic reasons I feel better, have better health and generally outperform than when I do things for an outward reason. For example, I will compare studying photography to studying statistics in my degree. Stats is something I don’t particularly enjoy, however studying stats is part of the units to get a psych degree. When studying stats, I do it mostly for the outward goal of getting a degree (succeeding), therefore I force myself to learn it, struggle a bit, and instantly forget most of what I have learned as soon as the unit is over. When I chose to study photography as a unit however, it was because I love it, not because I had to. When completing a photography unit this year I was extremely intrinsically motivated, put many hours into the unit, it enhanced my creativity and I wound up with a HD. Where possible, it is much better to try to be motivated intrinsically rather than extrinsically.
Goal setting is one of the best things you can do to increase your motivation. I know this is definitely true for me, when I have a task to finish (such as reading a textbook chapter for an exam), if I make a time to finish it by I will get it done a lot quicker than if I simply read ‘as fast as I can’ or ‘when I am motivated’. Clear, specific goals are the best at motivating behaviour. However, if someone is giving you a goal, ti is also important that you agree with it, otherwise motivation will decrease dramatically. For example, I know personally that if someone I didn’t like told me to do 50 push-ups I would either do 0 or would do a few with half-effort, however if I wanted to get fit and sought out a personal trainer who then asked me to do 50 push-ups I would agree with this goal.
Personal Control Beliefs
The amount of control people exert over their circumstances depends on their belief in having the resources to have an effect on their circumstances (self-efficacy), and their expectation that a particular outcome will be achieved (outcome expectancy). Self-efficacy is the belief that you can do well on a particular task. People's self-efficacy varies depending on the task (I have a high self-efficacy about taking an exam, whereas a low self-efficacy about skiing down a mountain for example). However, some people have a general higher self-efficacy than others and will approach more challenges, and generally face tasks with enthusiasm, optimism and interest. People with low self-efficacy, however, tend to focus on personal deficiencies and tend to feel emotions like anxiety, pessimism and depression. The main question I had while reading the chapter this week was 'Can you teach self-efficacy to someone?' In fact, you can, empowering someone by giving them the skills, knowledge and beliefs that they can do something raises their self-efficacy, for example teaching someone basic self-defense skills. Self-efficacy is based on the person's knowledge of their previous behaviour history in the circumstance, vicarious experience (watching another person perform the challenge), influences of verbal persuasion by themselves or others, and their physiological state.
On the other half of the continuum, outcome expectancies are related to a phenomenon called learned helplessness. When people are originally put in circumstances that are stressful or they do not like, they thrash around and try to change or get out of the circumstances. Once all options and ideas are exhausted however, the person will literally give up and will not make any more effort even when circumstances change. This theory is thought to be at the root of anxiety and depression, people initially try to change the circumstances, when they cannot, anxiety and fear emotions set in, however when these too are depleted depression and other energy depleting emotions set in, and the person feels lethargic and drained. In fact, some theorists go so far as to say the root of all anxiety and depression is low self-efficacy. This is very interesting, as it works quite logically if the person is facing an actual threat. Initially, the body pumps adrenalin and creates anxiety and action to remove the blockage, attack the threat or escape the danger. If none of these work the body will stop using expending energy and instead conserve energy, to stay alive longer in the hope someone will come and help out, or your circumstances will change. However, this type of emotional reaction is not usually useful when there is no physical threat, such as in many cases of depression.
This week we had no lecture or readings (which was good because I had two Spanish exams), but there were a couple of things we covered in the tute that I wanted to add. We completed an Optimism questionnaire which linked to Seligman's research on Learned Optimism, which I found extremely interesting. I love that the tutes are so practical. I like Seligman's work, as he is one of the first contributors to the field of Positive Psychology, a field I am interested in and would consider working in. I have read Seligman's book 'Authentic Happiness' which I would recommend. The optimism quiz was very interesting, as it labeled most of the class as more pessimistic than they thought they were. After much discussion and arguing, we decided that the questions were somewhat outdated and a couple were written poorly. What intrigued me however was that you can actually change your optimism scores, and learn to be more optimistic than you previously were. I find this very interesting, and it adds to my puzzle that I have been contemplating for some time, whether you can truly change your personality or not. I do think that we are born with an underlying temperament that we cannot change, from doing the Psychopathology unit we learned of personality disorders such as Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which therapists are often reluctant to try to treat because they do not have much luck, it seems to be something ingrained in the person. However, I think a person's personality is made up of their temperament, environment and also their personal choices. If this is true, some people will always be more optimistic than others, however everyone can make the choice to change their thinking in a way that makes them more optimistic.
This week was a class-free week to have a break and catch up on assignments and readings.
In the second half of the semester we began to cover emotion. This was the part I was looking forward to the most, as I don't know a lot of theory behind emotion and it intrigues me. Week 9 introduced the topic and covered briefly some theories of emotion. We learned that there are many different theories about how many emotions there are, ranging from about three basic emotions to an infinite amount. The question of How many emotions are there? split the theorists into two groups - those on the biological side (such as Gray (1994), Tomkins (1970), and Izard (1991)), stated that we have only a few basic emotions, such as fear, anger, sadness and joy, that enable us to function and survive in everyday life. According to theorists such as Stein and Trabasso (1992), fear appears when we encounter an obstacle or threat, anger is produced to clear the obstacle or fight the threat, and if these efforts are successful sadness is produced, and we learn to accept the threat or adapt to it. And joy is produced when we successfully overcome an obstacle or attain something we wanted, such as falling in love, achieving a goal, etc. The other side of the spectrum are the cognitive theorists, who argue that of course there are basic emotions, but there are a number of other emotions as well, such as interest, surprise and excitement. Some even argue that emotions are often context specific and related to environmental queues, so there are essentially an infinite number of emotions.
This week's tute was great, we were given a list of every emotion word in the dictionary, and had to cut the words into squares and form them into groups of what we thought were the basic emotions. After discarding many words we decided did not describe emotions, our group came up with happy, loving, surprise, awed/awestruck, sad, fearful, anxious and angry. As well as being lots of fun, this activity allowed us to see how many categories the other groups had formed, and reinforced the idea that there is no definite number of emotions or categories, only different theories.
This week we looked a little more into different aspects of emotion. For example the facial structure of each emotion, whether we can voluntarily control our emotions, and the differences between emotion and mood. I found it interesting that love in China is attributed as a negative emotion rather than a happy emotion. As Chinese culture values arranged marriage, and sees two people getting married as a joining of the two families rather than just the two people, romantic love is viewed as ‘sad love’, as acting on romantic love feelings can break apart the duty and respect a son or daughter has to their parents. Therefore, romantic love is experienced as ‘sad love’. I also found it interesting that most of the emotions we feel come from our interactions with other people, and we experience a greater number of emotions when interacting with others than when we are alone. This is definitely true for me, when I am just at home studying I do not experience many emotions, however when I am out with friends or chatting with family I experience many more emotions. I am also happier when out in the world rather than just at home, I prefer to try to be engaged in life and to interact with people a bit rather than spend a lot of time alone.
We looked at personality and its relationship to happiness this week. And discovered using the Big 5 characteristics, that Extraversion can be used as a predictor of happiness, and Neuroticism can be used as a predictor of unhappiness. This is basically because extraverts have a higher capacity for positive emotion - they have a stronger approach motivation, and neurotics have a greater capacity for unhappiness or suffering, as they have a stronger avoidance motivation.
We also learned about sensation seeking, and an experiment done by Woodburn Heron (1957) which involved sensory deprivation. In this experiment, volunteer college students lay on a bed in a sensory deprived room for as long as they wanted to (while being paid) and the effects on their minds and bodies were studied. They wore visors which meant they couldn't see, an air conditioner emitted a loud hum which masked other noises and they wore cardboard gloves to restrict touch sensory information. Most participants only stayed 2 or 3 days. I would have trouble seeing myself staying at least one day! I dislike being at home for one day, let alone in a sensory deprived room. This also led me to wonder whether my generation would typically last less time in a sensory deprived room, as we are very much in the age of information-overload, and people rarely have moments of boredom, instead they will jump on Facebook, text or play games on their phone or listen to their iPod etc.
This week we learned about unconscious motivation and all the things that motivate us that are out of our awareness. Unconscious motivation began with Sigmund Freud and the start of the Psychodynamic Perspective. Psychodynamics is interesting as it takes a very pessimistic view of human nature, and therefore allows you to take a look at all the unexplained negative behaviours of humans, such as self-defeating behaviours, suicidal thoughts, and overwhelming impulses for revenge. These are all real issues which are not looked at in all theories. Psychodynamics looks at the unconscious, and includes things such as dreams and hypnosis. One of the main criticisms of it however is that it is difficult to be empirically tested. Another criticism is that it is useful to explain after an event, but is not very predictive of human behaviour. For example, when someone has a dream you can relate it back to their previous desires and wishes, however you cannot predict that they will have that particular dream in two years, due to these circumstances.
I particularly found the table in the textbook on Defense Mechanisms interesting, and think I can find instances in my life where I have displayed all of these. Some examples are Projection, Regression, Anticipation and Rationalization. One example is in anticipation of my exams for this semester, I go through what I need to study in my head a few times before the exam, and make plans to go over the textbook and other notes etc so as to be more prepared on the day.
I also really liked the idea of 'mixed emotions' presented in this chapter, and that most people have a love-hate relationship with the things they love to do. I also think this is true, I think that people will always ahve mixed emotions about things, for example at the moment I love my job as a childcare worker, but there is always a part of me that wants to stay home and be lazy rather than going to work!
This was my favourite topic - Positive Psychology and growth. I have been fascinated with this field for a while, and reckon it would be pretty fun to work in. Positive psychology is not about faking happiness or adopting a Pollyanna attitude, but instead focuses on developing your strengths as a person and personal growth. For a list of strengths see the table:
(From our textbook for this unit - Understanding Motivation and Emotion by JohnMarshall Reeve, page 441)
Currently, the ABC is airing a series called 'Making Australia Happy', which follows eight people who work with Positive Psychology experts to try to make their lives happier (for more information see this link []).
One question I had when reading the chapter was Is there a set-point for happiness, or by focussing on their strengths can people all really become happy? The chapter answers this by saying in general extraverts are happiest, regardless of what they are doing, however everyone can become happier and achieve their maximum happiness potential by building on their strengths and choosing personal growth situations. Also, people who follow their values and inner guidance rather than trying to obtain material wealth and possessions end up happier. The chapter also talks about self-actualization, which Abraham Maslow viewed as the growth motivation people experience after their basic needs are fulfilled (see Maslow's hierarchy of needs). I read a bit more about self-actualization on this website: []. It's a bit dodgy but mentions that self-actualized people must be free from psychopathology. Therefore, Vincent Van Gogh for example was not self-actualized. Personally I find is interesting, but also quite hard to believe. Were people like Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln simply blessed with low-pathology genes, or by using their strengths did they overcome these?
Summary and Goodbye
This unit was great!! I learned loads of practical and useful information that I will put into practise in my everyday life. I have found the online tasks to be very useful too - learning about wikiverisity has been fun, and also a great way to interact and see what other class members have been learning and doing. The E-Portfolio has been useful as it has encouraged me to keep up to date with the readings and coursework, and was more fun than doing an exam. Thank you James Neill for helping out with wikiveristy and teaching us this unit, and if you are a member of my class or the big wide world thank you for reading my journal entries!