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Crystal Clear app kfm home.png This user is a participant in the Motivation and emotion unit, 2010.
See also: Textbook
Writer1.gif This page is an e-portfolio. Also see other participants' pages.

Fragile Emotion cropped.jpg


About Me[edit]

I am a university student currently studying Psychology and Arts. This Wikiversity page contains my reflections and learning regarding the unit Motivation and Emotion in Psychology.

E-Portfolio Table of Content[edit]

Motivation and Emotion E-Portfolio Reflections;

  • Entry 1 - Introduction
  • Entry 2 - Brain & Physiological Needs
  • Entry 3 - Psychological & Social Needs
  • Entry 4 - I-E Motivation & Goal Setting
  • Entry 5 - Control Beliefs & The Self
  • Entry 6 - Nature of Emotion
  • Entry 7 - Aspects of Emotion
  • Entry 8 - Personality & Emotion
  • Entry 9 - Unconscious Motivation
  • Entry 10 - Growth & Positive Psychology
  • Entry 11 - In Conclusion

Introduction to Motivation & Emotion[edit]

What is motivation? What is emotion? The questions posed in the first paragraph of chapter one in our text book Understanding Motivation & Emotion By Johnmarshall Reeve, made me stop and consider the questions for myself before continuing to read what answers the text would give me. To my understanding motivation was a fixed and rigid concept. It was a term used to explain the effort and resulting strength of behaviour by a person towards a certain goal. This effect could be recognised by the magnitude of effect resulting from that person's efforts. For example when someone scored more during a game of pool. In my view being motivated should usually lead to greater/positive results. But.. as i read i realised this was not correct. People may be motivated but they may not get those results, higher scores at pool, when say their opponent was better trained or experienced then them. Motivation, it seems, was far more complex than i had previously imagined. Emotion was no less so. Emotion, to me, was certainly more plastic. Emotions vary widely in their types and magnitude, abnormalities and normalities, all dependent on the circumstances, culture, society, and personality of the individual. I also recognised that emotion is linked with motivation. Without the right kinds of emotion involved, among other things, motivation would not develop. For example, if one was depressed they are unlikely to feel the motivation they need to work.

Motivation, that mysterious drive propelling us to achieve our goals

I learned in the introduction to motivation and emotion that i was right in at least one way regarding the concept of motivation. The resulting behaviour of an individual is important to the scientific research in motivation. Essentially psychologists seek to find why people behave the way they do in regards to motivation. For instance, why does one person continue to persist when another gives up under the same circumstances? This one broad question fans out to encompass a whole multitude of other other areas such as the intensity, regularity, individual differences, goals, and situational differences. Motivation is what gives behaviour extra drive and direction with processes such as needs, cognitions, emotions, and external events at the source. Motivation is therfore indeed plastic, so much that even defining it has been difficult.

The strive to define motivation is the source of its scientific study, called the three grand theories of motivation. In the beginning the ancient Greeks percieved motivation to be involved in two concepts, that of the will and of bodily desires. The will being reason and control clashed with bodily desires which were considered to be impulsive physical reactions. The will being the drive for motivation. But this idea never explained motivation satisfactorily and neither did the next grand theory of motivation, instinct. This was a concept based on a more physiological focus. The theory was able to explain unlearned behaviour that had energy and was goal-orientated, but did nothing to truly define motivation. Because motivation seems to involve much more than a physiological response. The third theory had to do with drive itself, where biological needs were met with the exertion of motivation. But eventually this theory was a bust as well because it was limited in scope by only approaching the physiological responses of organisms. This theory officially closed the search for more grand theories and led psychologists to mini-theories instead.

The turn away from grand theories and into mini-theories was great because of the consequences. It had the effect of dispersing scientists into every area of psychology in search of answers. The sharing of ideas, perspectives and theories in all psychological subjects allowed for more enlightened mini-theories about motivation to emerge. The history of motivation theory gave me a great respect for how difficult it is to understand motivation. The concept is fluid and hard to pin down because of its ability to stretch into every area of life. Emotion is no different because of its strong connection to motivation. Motivation and emotion is therefore, in my view, are at the core of psychology's most basic question, why do we do what we do?

Introduction Tutorial Notes[edit]

Define Motivation & Emotion[edit]

  • Motivation - The drive and energy that urges/pushes an individual towards a particular goal through behaviour.
  • Emotion - The feelings an individual experiences in response to cognitions, physiological influences and external stimuli.

Interests in the Form of Questions[edit]

  • How do people manage emotions?
  • What is a healthy way of managing emotions? What is unhealthy?
  • Are emotions, at times, unmanageable?
  • How does personality effect motivation?
  • In regards to emotional intelligence, how attuned/aware are people regarding their emotions? Is such a thing measureable?

Personally speaking ...[edit]

  • The main motivations in my life are career and relationships. If motivation is indeed all about goal-orientated behaviour, than the main goals i have in my life at present are to acquire my dream job and to maintain and gain good relationships with others. For example, I aspire to become a forensic psychologist someday and subsequently this goal motivates me to study.
  • The main emotions in my life currently are varying degrees of anxiety which is attributed to daily life stressors such as studyload and work, happiness in those times where I do something I enjoy, and a neutral feeling when i'm not on any extreme.
  • My personal goals for this unit is to thoroughly understand motivation & emotion, and to enjoy doing so whilst learning.

To enhance this goal I have decided to test myself by handing over my homework planner to my sister who has sportingly agreed to overview my learning this semester. That is, she will motivate me by checking whether or not I have completed my set amount of university work per week. I will check in with her each Sunday and she will either reward me or scold me depending on whether or not I have satisfactorily completed my homework - yikes! I will summarise the results of my motivator - my sister - in my last e-portfolio entitled Summary & Conclusions. In addition I will write one or two sentences in each e-portfolio on how my progress is going under this new regime. I look forward to seeing and reflecting on the results of my experiment.

Brain & Physiological Needs[edit]

The Motivated & Emotional Brain[edit]

When the class started to look at the physiological nature of motivation and emotion I recall not being suprised. It seems that all things psychology usually have a source within the brain. I was preparing myself for a good amount of physiological terminology regarding areas in the brain associated with motivation and emotion. Luckily enough, there was not actually alot of this to study. It was put down to three basic ways of thinking about the brain, the thinking brain, the motivated brain and the emotional brain. Each part I looked at individually but considered interconnected. That is, each part I understood to be linked to the others in a very important way. The thinking brain, has to do with cognition and intellectual functioning, would influence the motivated brain, to do with goal setting, and the emotional brain which is involved in feelings & mood. Without cognition for example - "It would be good to study" - you may not be motivated - "I don't want to study" - and subsequently you would feel emotion - "I feel guilty that i'm not studying". They all seem to go hand in hand when it comes to motivation and emotion. To go further in understanding the motivated and emotional brain it was necessary to understand the brain-based processes. Specifically, i needed to look into brain structures generating specific motivation and emotion, the biochemical agents which stimulate those brain structures and the everyday events triggering the biochemical agents.

MRI head side.jpg

What interested me most whilst learning this topic was how vital each and every brain structure is regarding motivation and emotion. For example, look at the Amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for detecting and responding to threatening and emotionally significant events. Damage to it will result in overall tameness, affective neutrality, a decrease in emotional responsiveness, social isolation, an urge to approach previously feared stimuli, and greater difficulty learning that a stimulus signals positive reinforcement. It is also through the amygdala that we learn to fear new environmental threats. Imagining what it my be like without a well functioning amygdala was frightening, especially when reading the illustration about the rat with a lesioned amygdala in the text book. Such a creature simply would not survive in the world. Humans may be able to do so a bit better but such a life would not be very fulfilling in my view.

Another area which caught my interest was the Prefrontal Cortex and affect in regards to personality. In the first tutorial I expressed an interest in personality and its affects on motivation. Based on the generally acknowledged personality types of extraversion and neuroticism. I read that those who were more neurotic were often more sensitive to punishment, negative emotion, and avoidance orientated behaviours. But those who were more extraverted tended to be highly sensitive to rewards, positive emotions, and approach-orientated behaviours. From this i understood that personality may have huge influence on motivation. For instance, if someone was more extraverted their more likely to be motivated easily because of their sensitivity to possible rewards that may come from setting and achieving goals. My personality, which last i checked was low on neuroticism but was also more introverted than extraverted, I wondered what this combination means for my own level of motivational capabilities.

Physiological Needs[edit]

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Learning about physiological needs seemed alot more straightforward. This was because, i felt, the fact that we are all human beings that know what need is for us. Need encompasses all that we need to survive and live well. Maslow's hierarchy of needs basically covered all essential human necessities from the most basic to the more complex. These needs strongly influence motivation and emotion. For instance hunger motivates action to eat and that in turn satisfies us both physically and emotionally. All one need to is look at the many experiments with rats in tha past, for instance the famous Skinner box, to realise that needs trigger motivation and emotion. Of course, in regards to eating, it all depends on levels. For example, how delicious food is, I certainly would not eat brussel sprouts unless I had no other alternative. Conclusively, I found that learning about the brain was more interesting and challenging than learning about physiological needs. However, it was good to cover needs in connection with the brain and motivatio and emotion.

Food, especially delicious foods that attract us, are a physiological need

Life Matters (ABC) Video Clip[edit]

The clip in displayed in the lecture regarding the up and coming Female Sexual Dysfunction drugs. I felt slightly shoked that there was a good chance the pharmaceutical companies were manufacturing a drug, and marketing such a drug, in the knowledge that it may detrimentally effect how women percieve themselves when they are experiencing problems. The speaker talked about how the majority of sexual problems experienced by women were natural and needed to be approached as such and not as a serious medical condition. This kind of labelling, he said, would lead to many women considering themselves somehow broken or malfunctioning. Apparently the drug companies came to the conclusion that such a drug was needed because 1/3 women in a research paper responded that they had not felt any interest in sex during the past month or so. But, also in the paper, only 1/10 women reported any distress regarding sex. To the speaked this showed a "far leap" made by the pharmaceutical companies in order to mass produce and profit from drugs equivalent to the male viagra. I think it is highly unethical for such a marketing frenzy to occur, as if the companies were simply selling a normal product like shampoo. I understand that such companies need to run like a business in order to continue functioning, however i do not think that this is a good justification for their actions here. There should be stricter rules applied in regards to the use of results from studies. In this case, they should not be allowed to reach for straw, take the results and turn them into the desired outcome.

My Motivation Experiment[edit]

The progress on my experiment is going well. There has been a significant change in the amount of time I now put into my university work, and the time i actually spend thinking about my work. On reflection, i think my motivation really comes from the importance I place on my sister's perception of me not just the fact that I have someone supervising my work. My relationship with my sister is very good, we are best friends, and I place high importance in what she thinks of me. If i were to procrastinate and not do my work adequately i fear it would put me into a negative light which is not something i desire. So rather than picking anybody to supervise me I was wise to pick someone i hold in high regard. It works as an extra incentive. In comparison, I use to only have myself to answer to and it was obviously not sufficient enough for me to motivate myself to work harder. I would give myself leway, thinking things like "I still have time to do it later" - "I'm really tired so i'll watch tv instead" - "This won't take long, i can risk putting it off". All of these excuses are of course utterly useless. I will continue on with the experiment, but thus far it is looking very promising. I am looking forward to my first check-in with my sister this Sunday. The element of suprise - also mentioned in the textbook - is increasing my anticipation and therefore my motivation is even more stronger.

Psychological & Social Needs[edit]

Friendship, a social and psychological need in our lives

It seems natural to assume that physiological needs are what is most important for human life and such an assumption is quite correct but only to an extent. Physiological needs such as food, water and sex, will certainly sustain a life but will that life be worth living without psychological and social needs being met? There is a film called "Equilibrium" that is a good example of how psychological and social needs are just as essential in a way as physiological needs. The film is based in a futuristic world, where a strict regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and feeling is a crime punishable by death. In the film the main character goes through a transformative process where he struggles to suppress his psychological and social needs in order to avoid emotion. He ends up leading a revolution against the government with the sole intent of releasing the population from repression. It is only a film but it does convey the message that life without psychological and social stimulation is not really a life at all. That is, in terms of life and death, physiological needs are more essential but in terms of living life in a healthy and enjoyable way psychological and social needs are just as essential.

Psychological Needs[edit]

Organismic theorists certainly think along the same lines. They theorise that psychological needs, like intellectual stimulation, are to be met in addition to physiological needs if an organism is so survive. There are three needs that come under organismic psychological needs, there are; competence, autonomy and relatedness. Organismic theories assert a two-way person-environment dialectic. That is, they emphasize a constantly changing combination of the individual's needs being fulfilled or frustrated by the environment, and in turn the environment gives the individual new forms of motivation. Organismic theories also reject Mechanistic theories which conjecture that only the environment acts on the individual who in turn reacts.


There is a vast amount of information on the three organismic psychological needs; autonomy, competence and relatedness. Upon examining the three needs I found that it was easy to identify these needs in life and relate to them. It is always a better learning experience when one can apply what they are learning to real life and to themselves or others around them. In the case of autonomy, which is the desire to freely formulate one's own goals without restriction, I was able to apply it to myself and get a deeper understanding on the importance of the need for autonomy. For instance, when I first undertook university study my choice of degree was based on what my family considered to be a "good choice". In this case they wished for my to study Public Relations. I felt pressured and therefore I felt a sense of obligation to make that decision. But despite the choice ultimately being mine I recall feeling resentment bordering on anger because of my perceived locus of causality. The decision I had made was not in alignment with my own needs. A semester later I changed to a double degree in Psychology & Arts and have not felt the same resentment towards my family since. The theory of autonomy makes sense in this example, because my goal (choice of degree) was not originally constructed by myself and therefore resentment was felt due to the lack of autonomy perceived.

Competence depends on the strength of challenge in a task or activity


Competence is another aspect obvious in its importance for psychological well being. It is the need to be effectual in one's interactions with their environment. That is, people need to use their capacities and skills to find and conquer challenges in their lives. However, just as in the need for autonomy, the need for competence can can be satisfied by certain situations or frustrated by others. It is the situations that cause enjoyment that indicate satisfaction in one's competence. Before learning this theory I had considered "winning" in any sense as a satisfaction indicator for competence. For example, if you score a 9/10 on a quiz in class you have technically "won", or performed well, and should therefore be assuaged with your competence for that challenge. It did not occur to me to factor in the level of challenge as an effect on perceived competence. For instance, being overchallenged threatens competence, and I can certainly go through my memories and find an instance where my competence on a task or activity was lessened because of the perceived enormity of the challenge. A good example of this would be a first driving lesson. In this scenario the driver would normally know little to nothing about driving, thus the challenge of a first drive would be very high. Their driving skills would be inhibited not only due to the lack of knowledge but also because of the perceived challenge which, no doubt, effects confidence in one's abilities and therefore competence. In addition, dread of failure can affect competence, so going back to the first driving lesson the student has to deal with both a fear of failing the challenge and the intimidation of undertaking the challenge in the first place. It seems to me that confidence and knowledge of a subject should be taken into account regarding the need for competence. It would be interesting to see what effect high confidence and low knowledge and visa versa may have on competence levels.


The need for relatedness is the need for relationships with individuals, groups, organisations and communities. That is, people desire to relate to other people. Human beings are social creatures and we genuinely need contact and bonds with other people in our lives. It is known that a lack of interpersonal relationships supporting the need for relatedness will result in low resilience to stress, poor functionality and a risk of psychological illness. What is meant by "supporting the need for relatedness" is the amount of warmth, care and mutual concern that is received by individuals in a relationship. To test this need one only needs to isolate themselves for a few days and feel the effects. I have done something very similar on those occasions where it is necessary to study for an exam. I would isolate myself in my room with my laptop and books and only see those living in the same household briefly (e.g. at meal times). Even though I would succeed in studying all the material required, I would feel lonely and sad at times. Such feelings would immediately dissipate the instance I spent some time with a friend or family member. Conceivably, an individual who is exposed to prolonged amounts of time without enough adequate contact with others would likely face worse emotions and problems than I with my brief exam isolation.

Social Needs[edit]

Prior to learning about social needs I considered my "flights of fancy", or imaginings, whilst my mind wandered as just random thoughts flowing in and out of my mind. I did not believe that they had any importance. I tend to have the same view of dreams. That is, dreams are simply random thoughts, memories & depicted feelings going through your mind without any significance. I was incorrect regarding wandering thoughts. Upon learning about social needs I found that when the mind wanders it reveals our thoughts, emotions and desires which reflect our present social needs. This I found very interesting and immediately proceeded to evaluate my mind's wanderings in an attempt to decipher what social needs were currently important to me. This led me to wonder where such thought came from in the first place. For example, if an individual were to love and read romance novels than would that individual continually fantasize about having a romantic experience because of the books or because they genuinely wanted romance in their lives?

Two people laughing.jpg

The answer was in the origin of social needs which comes from social preferences gained through experience, socialization and development. Such needs are usually constructed over the long-term and can resemble goals that take time and commitment to achieve. For example, my need for a degree that will give me a desired job comes from my experience (prior educational experience), my socialization (friends and family who wish to attend, attend or attended university) and my development (my beliefs in education as a doorway to my dream job).

There are also quasi-needs which are short-term desires triggered by a particular situations and they can be quite intense. When I learnt about quasi-needs the first example that came to mind was impulse shopping. You get a pressure or a demand to buy something, you buy it and then you are satisfied and the need goes away as quickly as it came. This kind of need may explain why people take to impulses like they do. For instance, why is it so hard not to buy that 150th pair of shoes you don't really need? The need tends to be strong enough to override all other thoughts until the individual addresses that need. I would also presume that such an experience would be learned and likely to be repeated again. That is, a person would feel that instant gratification and remember the feeling when next time such a need arises.

Also covered extensively in this topic was Atkinson's model of achievement. Atkinson's model of achievement behaviour features four aspects: need for achievement, probability of success and incentive for success. His classical view made me look at my own motivation experiment. My need for achievement caused me to take an "approach success" tact by constructing a reward system using my sister as a supervisor. This need both raised my probability of success (due to the extra incentive and class level) and my incentive for success (extra supervision and the possibility of rewards). According to Atkinson one may take on an approach success or an avoidance of failure tact depending on my emotions and beliefs. At present it seems that I am taking an approach success strategy with my motivation problem regarding working on university assessment pieces.

My Motivation Experiment[edit]

My first check-in with my supervisor (my sister Isabel) went well. She surprised me with the amount of effort she had put in constructing a system that would give me real incentive to work harder. She had given me three levels with which i would be rewarded each week, grade 3 would be something small (e.g. free sundae) for what she perceived as little but satisfactory work, grade 2 would be a bigger reward (e.g. $30-$50 voucher) for moderately completed satisfactory work, and lastly a grade 1 which would be a large reward (e.g. $50+ gift + a free movie pass) for all work completely satisfactorily. Of course if I had done very little work or work done unsatisfactorily she would give me nothing. For my first update with her I recieved a grade 2 reward for having completely a significant portion of my work - in addition to catching up on things I had left undone from previous weeks. Overall, I was pleased with the result and accepting of my sister's evaluation of my effort. She is nothing if not objective.

Tutorial Two Notes[edit]

Define Needs[edit]

In psychology needs are put into different categories depending on their importance to human survival. For instance, according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, physiological needs are the most important because it ensures that we stay alive. Im my mind however, needs have been anything and everything that allows a person to lead a healthy and happy life, no wants or hopes, just the bare necessities to keep a person thriving. But this is where the definition can get fuzzy. Because what might make me happy might make someone else miserable and therefore would not be a need to them. So I forward that needs is a flexible definition and is redefined depending on the person. Essential such as physiological needs will most definitely suit all people but psychological and social needs are not as malleable.

Organisations of Needs[edit]

At first glans Maslow's hierarchy of needs seems to make sense but on a deeper look you start to see a problem with it. It is thee boundaries between needs, they are fuzzier than implied. Like previously stated, needs are different depending on the person. So the boundaries are therefore also different depending on the person. For instance, for some people love and belonging might come before their safety and for others safety is more important than love and belonging. For myself i believe the order would go physiological, love and belonging, safety, esteem, and self-actualisation.

The Motivated and Emotional Brain[edit]

If I have taken away anything from learning about the brain structures involved in motivation and emotion it is that there is no one area within the brain connected with motivation or emotion. It is a collection of many different brain structures, and other mitigating factors like neurotransmitters and hormones, that are responsible for motivation and emotion. This is probably why it is so difficult to measure emotion and motivation.

Intrinsic - Extrinsic Motivation & Goal Setting[edit]

What motivates us to set goals and follow them through?

By definition Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation are two different things. However, both are rarely found apart when it comes to influencing and creating motivation. The rewards and consequences of each are involved in goal building and striving behviour. Intrinsic motivation is said to come from "within" or from "the heart" or in other words, it is motivation stirred by a person's own interests or desires. Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is an external motivation. That is, the environment around us motivates behaviour. Usually it is the mixture of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation that causes us to behave a certain way. Goal setting and goal striving involves some intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. However, goal setting and striving can only be achieved with the right conditions.

Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation[edit]

Intrinsic Motivation[edit]

Intrinsic motivation is a force of one's own will. It is the "push" from within resulting from a person's interests and desires. This kind of internal motivation seems to be stronger and more beneficial precisely because it comes from the person themselves. This motivation for instance certainly works better when doing homework. I find that when I am genuinely interested in completing a piece of assessment I am more able to complete the work. This is because I enjoy learning about the topic. My thought processes are along the lines of "I would like to get this essay done" or "I want to do this essay". But alternatively if I am assigned an assignment that is not interesting to me but that I will have to complete nonetheless a door in my mind closes. I'm hesitant to approach the work and feel less motivated. More often than not the assignment is left to be done in the last minute. My thoughts are now more like "I have to do this essay" or "I need to finish this essay". There is something in these thinking patterns that indicates whether I am intrinsically motivated or not. This is the strength of intrinsic motivation, if your own free will is involved it is easier to perform. Additional benefits from such motivation also arise. These consist of greater persistance, creativity, conceptual understanding, retained learning, optimal functioning and well-being. These improvements in performance seem to come from the simple enjoyment of the task at hand and the lack of a struggle for motivation. When intrinsic motivation is present the process is altogether simpler even easier to do because people already want to do it and thus do not need to struggle with themselves in order to get the work done.

Extrinsic Motivation[edit]

Extrinsic in contrast to intrinsic motivation is concerned with external reasons for motivating behaviour. It is an environmentally created motivator. As such it works through incentives and consequences. Also unlike intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivators are circumstantial. That is, achieving motivation depends on the kind of incentive or consequence. For example, Reeve (2009) argued that rewards (incentives) may not be adequate to rouse motivation becuase the reward must be something the person desires or cares for. This can be seen in my motivation experiment, which I will touch on more at the end of this entry. In my experiment, I am attempting to motivate myself to do more university work via a supervisor who doles out rewards and punishments depending on the level of effort put in. Lately however, despite an increase in the hours of study put in, my motivation had waned. This I suspect if due to the types of rewards given. These incentives are "mystery gifts", meaning that I do not know what they are until I recieve them. So, if i do not know what my reward will be, I cannot know if I will value it and thus my motivation is affected. Punishment (consequence) Reeve (2009) also argued to be ineffective in a way. Punishments are meant to suppress unwanted behaviours but due side effects Reeve does not believe it worth undetaking. Such side effects may consist of negative emotionality, impaired relationship and negative modeling. These effects would influence the motivated suppression of behaviour and may erode it away eventually. Reeve's arguments remind me of the feeling one gets when pushing themselves to be motivated against their own will. Even though it is your own person who is doing the pushing you still feel resistant to motivation. It is similar with punishment in extrinsic motivation. Punishment is forceful and will ultimately, in my view, have a negative effect on motivation. However, this is dependent on the type of punishment. For instance, if it is a natural consequence of nature like being bitten by a dog it will certainly motivate behaviour which is, in this case, avoiding the dog. But if it is a punishment given by a person the situation has changes and the side effects come into play. People are generally accepting of natural consequences but not so much of those forced upon them by other people.

Goal Setting & Goal Striving[edit]

Matt Reis goal kick.jpg

Goal setting and striving seems more complicated when studied. I once laboured under the assumption that once you set a goal that was it, all you need to do then is follow through. It is not that simple. Setting to and achieving a goal depends on several different factors. The first is discrepancy. That is, whether or not we achieve a goal depends on the discrepancy we percieve between the present state and the ideal state. It is the time and workload involved that we look on. If this discrepancy is too large most will give up the goal as too difficult or too far off. It is this cognitive tension that really motivates people forward. The sense of the current state and the future state in one's mind will either encourage or discourage a person towards their goal. Discrepancy can be split into two different tyeps; discrepancy reduction and discrepancy creation. Both of which can drive behaviour. Discrepancy reduction relies primarily on feedback. Feedback reduces the amount of uncertainty and narrows down the required time and effort needed to achieve a goal. It's a good way to learn but it also gives confidence too because it allows the person to see how they are doing and if they're on the right track. As a student myself i have spent time using programs that are designed to give feedback, such as Academic skills programs, and ever since i have gained confidence and have reached my own goals. Discrepancy creation however is the growing of a higher goal with a proactive approach. Both types can therefore drive behaviour towards a goal. For example, when a student works on an assignment and gets feedback on it, narrowing down uncertainties about how they are going about their project, they are more likely to reach their goal. Also, in the same scenario, if the student wishes to achieve high scores in order to obtain a dream job than they are again more likely to reach that goal.

Percieved difficulty, as already mentioned, has a negative affect on motivation for achieving a goal. The key, it seems, is that the task needs to be challenging but not so difficult that it appears impossible. Once that happens a person is highly likely to drop the task and thus the goal too. Also, if the goal is too far away the result will be the same. People tend to loose motivation when the goal is too far away. This has been observed in studies using operant conditioning. It has been seen in such studies that reinforcement that is immediate is more likely to enforce learning than reinforcement that comes much later on. A good example of this is dieting and exercise. It is difficult to diet and exercise in order to be healthy or loose weight because those benefits usually do not happen until much later on. To achieve such a goal you would theoretically require short term goals inbetween so that the individual can stay committed. For instance, a first goal would be to loose a small amount of weight or to run for a certain period without tiring. Than you could conceivably continue to expand on this smaller goals to eventually achieve the much bigger and distant goal. This kind of technique, i believe, is being used in this class, motivation and emotion. Because the tutor has set up smaller goals within tutorials that have to do with completing large assessment pieces. For instance, in the second class students were asked to bring their first draft of an assessment piece to be looked at by their peers or the tutor themselves in order to recieve feedback. This strategy makes it easier and less stressful for a student to complete their assignment because one big assignment due far off into the future would not usually encourage the needed amount of motivation.

My Motivation Experiment[edit]

My motivation experiment did not do as well as originally thought. There are a few problems which i think contributed. For one, my sister may not have been the best choice of "supervisor". The relationship is too close and therefore not serious enough. That is, i felt there was no real reprucussions and that i could easily talk her into giving me extra time etc. Also, the positive reinforcement my sister chose was always a mystery and according to studies this is a bad thing. Having a 'mystery prize' does not motivate a person because they do not know what they are working for. For instance, if i new i would get that book i really wanted if i completed a task it is more likely that i would do so than if the prize were something i may not have liked. So although it was a good idea, ultimately my motivation experiment failed. I would need to adjust it so that i had a supervisor who could be objective and one where the positive reinforcement was a strong enough incentive to motivate me.

Control Beliefs & The Self[edit]


People tend to desire control over their lives. It is, of course, understandable when things happen that are out of our control such as natural disasters. But where there is an opportunity people will attempt to control what is happening in their lives. With this control people are able to predict what may happen and therefore attempt to ensure the outcomes will be desirable. Thus, by controling what we can we can try to improve our lives and the lives around us. The quest to figure out who we are as people is tied in with being able to control aspects of our lives. Our own judgment of what we are capable of doing and handling is integral to our real ability to exert control. People need to be empowered through self-efficacy, knowledge and skills in order to control their lives.

Personal Control Beliefs[edit]

Motivation to Exercise Personal Control[edit]

The motivation to exercise personal control comes from a desire to control as much as possible of our lives in order to get positive outcomes rather than negative ones. This motivation is highly reliant on an individual's belief in themselves that they are capable of exerting such power over their lives. If they are filled with self-doubt they are arguably a lot less likely to control elements of their lives. Self-doubt does not allow confidence in one's own abilities in order to use the power of control to improve one's own circumstances. This assertion does however give me one question; what about people who have strong religious beliefs? Would such individual's desire such control over their lives when most beliefs dictate that their lives are not controlled by them but by a supreme being or beings? Or perhaps religion is another way to express the desire for control over one's life? It would be interesting to find out more on this. But for now we must go along with the assumption that all people desire such control over their lives. The motivation to exercise control is driven by two kinds of expectancies; efficacy expectations (Can I do it?) and outcome expectations (Will it work?). It is a wonder if this process is done on a conscious level or if it is done unconsciously. I would have to gander a guess at mostly consciously. Because everyday we make decisions based on our knowledge, skills and self-efficacy that will impact our lives either positively or negatively. For example, when consciously asking youself whether you are capable of getting a promotion at work by performing a task extremely well.


Self-efficacy is the opposite of self-doubt and has to do with one's own judgment, based on their skills and the circumstances faced, of their ability to cope with a situation. Self-efficacy mixed with a person's knowledge and skills leads to empowerment and thus the ability to control elements in one's own life. Here I find myself asking another probing question, what about people who have a kind of false self-efficacy? There is of course the psychological need for competence that drives us to tackle new situations without the knowledge or skills that we need, but what about people who are convinced they have those when they don't? A sort of enflated sense of self-efficacy, where a person believes they have the knowledge and skills when they don't. For example, a person who watches an advanced tennis player competing may think "that looks easy, i can do that" and then goes ahead and tries to play tennis under the misapprehension that they a capable of coping. Of course, they will find out quickly that they cannot play tennis at the advanced level so quickly and will thus learn, but there remains the question of where this false sense of self-efficacy comes from.

Tim Henman backhand volley Wimbledon 2004.jpg

Mastery Beliefs[edit]

Mastery beliefs or mastery motivational orientationrefers to how much percieved control one has in regards to attaining the desired positive outcomes and avoiding the unwanted negative ones. For example, back to the previous scenario, the individual who played tennis under the assumption that they would be good at it from the start must have percieved high control over the situation whereas in fact the person have very low control. Therefore, perception of control may not follow through to actual control, both may be very different. However, for not mastery of beliefs is merely concerned with the perception rather than the actuality of things.


Helplessness or helpless motivational orientation is similar to self-doubt in the sense that it is connected to low-self esteem or poor self-image. Both have to do with having a fragile view of the self where one has little faith in themselves and finds it easy to criticise and doubt their abilities to deal with the environment around them. Helplessness can be learnt by continued failure which equates to an understanding that the life is uncontrollable. This can be seen from the classic experiments done by Seligman and Maier on learned helplessness. Studies on helplessness have found why people really need control over their lives. Because without control people can experience motivational deficits (lowered willingness to try), learning deficits (a pessimistic set that interrupts the learning of new response outcome contigencies) and emotional deficits (energy depleting emotions, like depression). You can compare this easily to how you feel during gambling. I personally am never lucky when gambling and thus i always feel forlorn when i do, on the rare occasion, gamble. This is because i have no control over the outcomes and thus i cannot ensure that i recieve positive results from gambling. Although i am sure people who do win alot at gambling only feel good because they have built an illusion of control, such a false perception will surely dissipate quickly once the individual starts loosing.

The Reactance Theory[edit]

Reactance is the psychological and behavioural reaction to any form of instruction, regardless of good intentions, that has the potential to disrupt an individual's expected freedom in making their own judgments or choices. This apparently only happens when a person has at least some control over their own situation. For example, whilst making a difficult decision I was interrupted by a friend with "helpful" advice, for some reason i found myself irritated and threatened, i therefore made every attempt to ward them off so that i could make my decision in peace. This aversive behaviour toward my friend seemed to come from nowhere but now i see it may have been reactance. The reactance theory is similar to the theory of learned helplessness in the sense that both are centered around how people respond to uncontrollable outcomes.

The Self[edit]

Bessie MacNicol - Vanity 1899.jpg

Within the topic of the self there are four problems which take up sole focus, these are;

  1. Defining or creating the self
  2. Relating the self to society
  3. Discovering and developing personal potential
  4. Managing or regulating the self

The self, I believe, is a very important topic to tackle because of its meaning to all people. We all go through life growing, developing and learning about ourselves and one another. Figuring out who we are and what our place is in the world seems to be integral to life. We continually build who we are, and this leads us to self-constructs. These are contructs we build about ourselves and they are based on four different factors; self-esteem (feelings of self-worth or value), self-efficacy, self-confidence (belief in personal worth and chances of succeeding), and self-concept (nature and organisation of beliefs about one's self). Through self-concepts we create self-schemas, domain specific cognitive generalisations about the self, which in turn fuel our self-view. That is, we construct through concepts self-schemas that are representations of who we are, who we want to be, or who we should be based on past experiences. I really understood this by looking at the turbulent years of my youth, where people generally flip-flop around with the self-image. I had many views of myself and there was also much confusion as to which one was the "real me". But as you grow older you realise there are actually many different "you's", that is there can be several different self-schemas for several different domains. For instance, a self-schema for work, home, for particular groups of friends, for strangers etc. They are all variations of the one person adjusted for different domains where the social and environmental rules change as well.

Tutorial Three Notes[edit]

Student Motivation (what motivates a student?)[edit]

  • Career
  • Learning
  • Self-exploration
  • Social opportunities
  • Social pressure
  • Avoiding work or nothing
  • Parent or family expectations and pressure

University Student Motivation[edit]

My Scores:

  • Career & qualifications - 8/8
  • Self-exploration - 8/8
  • Social opportunities - 3/5
  • Altruism - 8/6
  • Social pressure - 1/1

Functionalist Perspective[edit]

  • Satisfaction = a good match between motivation & outcome
  • Volunteer motivations = seems wholly intrinsic (altruism?)

Learned Optimism Test (Seligman, 1990)[edit]

My Scores;

  • Total B (Bad) - 6 = Moderately optimistic
  • Total G (Good) - 7 = Greatly pessimistic
  • Overall Optimism - 1 = Moderately pessimistic

Nature of Emotion[edit]

Centreville High School (Virginia) 1998 · DD-SP-99-04111.JPEG

Emotion is something we all instinctually understand but seem to have trouble wrapping our heads around it when it comes to defining it, quantifying it, measuring it and essentially comprehending it. Emotion can be defined by looking at four connected elements within emotion, these are; feelings, bodily arousal, sense of purpose and social expression. Different emotions will fit within these four concepts, such as fear, sadness, happiness etc. People tend to invisage emotion as social expression and feelings because they are the most apparent components to our conscious awareness. Bodily arousal and sense of purpose seem to be a bit fuzzier because they can be connected to other things such as cognition or physiological reactions, but all the same they are still connected to emotion. This is because these elements are present when emotions are present.

The Relationship Between Motivation & Emotion[edit]

Motivation and emotion, have in my mind, always been connected because motivation seems to be driven by emotion. For instance, if i am feeling lethargic and sad I am unlikely to be motivated to do anything but mope, but if i am content and bored It will be much easier to motivate me into action. In accordance with my original assumptions, emotion is a type of motivation and emotion itself also serves as a kind of report on how good or bad a person is doing with their personal adaption. Thus, if someone is getting more and more excited and exhilirated whilst performing a task than that is an indication of success, whereas a person getting increasingly irritated and bad tempered is indicating poor performance.

The Causes of Emotion[edit]

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There are three major elements involved in the causation of emotion, these are; a significant event and the resulting cognitive and biological processes. These cause the four components of emotion to arise; feelings, sense of purpose, bodily arousal and social-expressive. There has been continuing debate on which, biological or cognitive, is the more integral component to the causation of emotion. But, as is often the case is psychological debates, it is a bit of both. Biologically cause emotions are mostly the basics, that is the primary emotions such as fear, anger, joy or interest. Whereas the cognitive perspective also accounts for the secondary emotions. Both are needed to explain what causes emotions on the whole, because neither cognitive or biological theories will do by themselves. Emotions are complex and they branch out to both areas. For example, a person can label a feeling as anxiety due to the heat and tightness in their stomachs and the sweat on their brow, but without a cognitive perspective they cannot explain where the anxiety came from or more specifically what subtype of anxiety are they feeling. Because anxiety is an umbrella term that covers a range of secondary emotions such as unease, distrust, insecure or worried.

The Use of Emotion[edit]

What use are emotions? The obvious answer to give is self-preservation. Emotions have always been good at continuing our survival. For instance, if we see a big-cat we feel great fear, i'm assuming, and then we quickly decide whether or not to fight or flight. Studying this topic shows that the use of emotions have been broken up into two major categories; coping functions and social functions. Coping functions refer to how a person reacts due to the emotion they have felt regarding a situation. For instance, feeling anger because of a threat (stimulus situation) to our safety so we either run (emotional behaviour) to escape (function of emotion) or attack in order to cause damage. The result of this string of events is the reason why emotions can be useful. In social functions the use of emotions has more to do with our interactions with others rather than our actions and their results. There are four useful things that come out of social functions and they are;

  1. Communicate our feelings to others
  2. Influence how others interact with us
  3. Invite & facilitate social interaction
  4. And Create, maintain, & dissolve relationships

Social functions are seemingly more complex than coping functions and i believe this is because they have more to do with understanding one another in order to get an end result. Whereas coping functions are direct behavioural reactions. This way emotions manage behaviour.

The Difference Between Emotion & Mood[edit]

Personally speaking, i always believed emotions to be different from mood in one very crucial way, in longevity. Emotions seemingly come and go but mood can hang around for days. For example, someone might make you angry but you get over it once something takes your mind of that anger. But if you are generally in a bad mood than you can be irratated and grumpy all day or longer. From what i have learnt in this topic my first assumption was correct but there are also other reasons mood and emotion are considered different. The first is antecedants, emotions seem to come from significant situations whereas moods are hard to place and can just appear with no apparent cause. Also, there is action specificity, because emotions influence behaviour and thus 'action'. But moods influences cognition and changes peoples thought patterns. This seems to work with the time course because actions are usually temporary whereas thought processes can take a longer time to mentally digest. At least that has been my experience with persistant thought processes, where some days i may be thinking about the same problem the whole time and taking short breaks from such thought only occasionally.

Aspects of Emotion[edit]

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Aspects of emotion starts with the same basics introduced in the nature of emotions but with an additional factor; the social-cultural component. In addition, the aspects of emotions part of this course allowed for deeper knowledge on biological and cognitive aspects of emotion. Basically, emotional biological reactions result in activity within the autonomic nervous system, endocrine system, neural brain circuits, rate of neural firing, and in facial feedback. Emotional cognitive responses lead to appraisals, knowledge, attributions, socialisation history, and cultural identities. And lastly, social-cultural aspects result in socialisation history and cultural identities.

James-Lange Theory of Emotion[edit]

The James-Lange theory of emotion has two hypotheses; 1) that the body responds in unique ways to different emotionally stimulating events and 2) that the body does not respond to a stimulating event bereft of emotion. Emotional experiences are therefore a way to understand bodily changes. The theory has been criticised on several aspects but there is one criticism that i did not agree with entirely and that was the argument that emotions are experienced faster than physiological reactions. There are some situations where, i believe, physiological responses would prove a quicker response than emotion. Like when there is pain involved. For instance, if a person put their hand in something very hot unintentionally their first reaction would be the hasty removal of that hand not the emotion associated with pain. This scenario of course requires that the person be unaware of what is happening until they physically react but nonetheless it is a situation where a physical response would come faster than an emotional one. It is also logical because emotions would not do the person much good as a primary reaction in such a case.

Neural Circuits[edit]


Emotion is hard to measure because there is no way yet to put emotion down to one measurable aspect of brain function. However, there are brain structures that have been identified in connection with emotions and there are also specific neural circuits. That is, there are emotion specific patterns in brain activity. But how can you tell which emotion is causing the specific pattern in brain activity? The answer is that different kinds of emotion are activated by different rates of cortical neural firing. For example, suprise would shoot neural firing to a rapid pace but an emotion such as joy will display very low levels of neural firing. It seems that emotions which involve the thought processes being captured, that is people's thoughts being deeply involved with the emotion, are the ones who have an increased rate in firing. Whereas emotions which contain strong emotional prevalence, such as anger, are more likely to have a lower rate of firing.

Differential Emotions Theory[edit]

The differential emotions theory appears to be based on a person's uniqueness in every sense. There is a principle motivation system that describes basic emotions that all people should feel but the theory then goes on to assert that individuals feel these emotions uniquely. So that my kind of anger is not the same as another person's anger because we feel that anger differently, uniquely. Along with unique feelings we also have unique expression, neural activity and purpose/motivation. Conclusively, it seems that all people are capable of the same 'base' emotions but that these emotions are experienced in a unique way by every single individual. But i would like to also add that the emotions felt by people cannot be so unique that they are differing in any fundamental way. Thus, anger must remain anger even though it is experienced differently by different people.

Facial Feedback Hypothesis[edit]

There is the theory that emotion can also come from mere facial expressions. For example, it is argued that the act of smiling in itself can make you happier. However, the critics are quite certain that this kind of feedback is small. However, i do think stronger facial expression may help, so instead of smiling try laughing. There is a positive psychological approach out there that encourages laughter as a way of making people happier. Perhaps the another study will show that there is more to this approach.

Social & Cultural Aspects of Emotion[edit]

This is the part of emotion studies that was not really covered previously in the nature of emotions. It is an interesting topic because emotions seem to be universal in the sense that all cultures and societies have anger, fear, happiness, and suprise, but perhaps feel these emotions due to different things. Key concepts are emotion knowledge and maanagement, and emotion expression. Thus, we contain knowledge of emotions, we express these emotions and then we attempt to manage these emotions. Although knowledge and expression of emotions might be similar accross cultures and societies, i believe emotional management differs between societies specifically individualist and collectivist societies. Because the situations where some emotions are appropriate and others are not are vastly different between these two types of societies.

Personality & Emotion[edit]

Emo boy 03 in rage.jpg

I have always assumed personality had a great affect on emotion, particularly how it was experienced and expressed. Because it is easy to make comparisons between yourself and others when it comes to differences in experiencing emotion. For instance, when i am angry it is an explosive hot and open kind of anger and i always feel that i have all this energy and there is nowhere for it to go. My sister on the other hand, when she is angry it is more cold, focussed and directed, and once cognitively acknowledged and addressed the anger seems to dissipate. Whereas i always need to do something physical, like going for a run, in order to burn of my angry energy. The difference between our personalities can account for the differences in out experience of anger. My sister is usually calm and very hard to anger at all whereas I am expressive and impatient, and in the right circumstances am quick to anger depending on what it is.

Studies in this area reveal such differences can be boiled down to individual differences in happiness, arousal and control. Personality traits are thought to be the leading influencing factors in bahviour and motivation. They are argued to cause people to respond differently in different situations, approach and avoid different situations, determine peoples reactions to situations, and determine the choice of situations including altering situations. Thus, personality traits such as the ones that set me apart from my sister dictate how anger will affect in different situations.

The Big Five[edit]

The big five personality traits are famous and they are the following; neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The test measures to what extent a person is each of these personality traits, and depending on the person's levels the experience of emotions differs. For instance, being high in extraversion is meant to lead to increased happiness but being high in neuroticism leads to a decrease in happiness. These five traits are the most commonly known and used within psychology, and although they are useful it is not the most reliable personality test out there.


Arousal is considered an important contributor to motivation depending on the enviornment. This is because arousal is connected to how stimulating the environment is or isn't. People than engage in behaviour to eith increase their arousal or decrease it depending on the situation. It is asserted that people are thus always on the lookout for opportunities in which they can decrease their arousal in situations that leave them overaroused, or increase thier arousal in situations where they are underaroused. This may be connected to things such as feelings of boredom or over excitement. But i think this may be something that depends on personality as well. For instance, an extraverted personality would likely seek to increase arousal in situations where they are underaroused but an introverted personality in the same situation may be content to just be because they are not so reliant on constant stimulation. It may be worth looking into this as well.

When insufficiently stimulated or underaroused a person, it has been argued, may feel deprived of sensory input (sensory deprivation) and therefore harbour motives to counteract the effects. The brain it seems needs arousal, at least a continual moderate level, in order to be content according to Heron's sensory deprivation study. However, too much stimulation can do more harm than good. Over stimulating or arousal in any given situation may lead to emotional, cognitive, and physiological disruption. It makes me wonder how individual's suffering from bipolar cope with the high's of manic states to the low's of depressive states. I would assume in the manic state they would seek (sensation seeking) out arousal and in the depressive low stage they would try to decrease it. Such swinging must be very difficult to manage especially in the knowledge of the adverse effects it may have on the person.


People seem to have percieved control and desired control. Percieved control has to do with the differences between peoples' preperformance expectancies of obtaining the needed ability to get positive results. Whereas desired control is the extent to which people are motivated to get control over events in their lives. Getting percieved control involves being capable to an extent of actually getting the wanted outcome in a situation where there is some predictability and responsiveness.

Tutorial Five Notes[edit]

Sensation Seeking Scale[edit]

My Scores;

  • Boredom Susceptibility (BS) = 1/10
  • Disinhibition (D) = 3/10
  • Experience Seeking (ES) = 6/10
  • Thrill & Adventure Seeking (TAS) = 3/10

How did my scores compare with others?

  • Well mostly i was along the same track as most except with experience seeking where i was a little above average than others.

Unconscious Motivation[edit]

Whenever the term unconscious enters an area of psychological study the psychoanalytic Freudian approach is never far behind. So in addition to learning about Freud's psychoanalytic dual-instinct theory we learned about the psychodynamic perspective as well.

Sigmund Freud.jpg

The Dual-Instinct Theory[edit]

Freud's dual-instinct theory asserts that there is an unconscious instinct for life and death. This theory has over time evolved into a discrepancy theory, thus motivation is argued to come from a 'mismatch' between the present state and ideal state. Contemporary psychoanalysts posit that is is not instinctual drive that essentially directs and manages behaviour but psychological wishes. Also, the focus seems to be on impoving complicated interpersonal relationships. I find this theory confusing and not at all realistic but that may be because, although i respect Freud's work, i do not trust it. There is usually very little to support such theories.

The Psychodynamic Perspective[edit]

This perspective argues that;

  • Mentally alot in life is processed unconsciously;
  • Mental processes operate in parrallel with one another;
  • A healthy developement involves and Ego developement; and
  • That mental representations of the self formed in childhood guide late social motivations & relationships

It is hard to attempt to reason out unconscious motivations without actual empirical study, which in and of itself is also very difficult, because the unconscious is so unreachable to people personally. So it is with these fuzzy-like theories that we have to attempt to understand in order to contemplate the unconscious and its connection with motivation and emotion. So in this vein, there are also three other contemporary perspectives on the unconscious; Freudian unconscious, adaptive unconscious, and implicit motivation. The Freudian unconscious approach appraises the environment automatically, whereas the adaptive unconscious makes goals, judgments and subsequent actions. The latter I prefer because there seems to be some semblance of control in the adaptive approach and is therefore something i can try to comprehend in real-life terms. Also, implicit motivation, quite differently from the previous two perspectives, has to do with emotions connected to environmental events. This slightly echoes what was learnt in emotional nature and aspects.

Subliminal Motivation[edit]

Stimuli that is considered subliminal is below what our consciousness can actively process, that is it goes under our 'radar'. It is information that is processed on an unconscious level and it can have an emotional affect. But people do not always act on subliminal information. For example, in the case of marketers who attempt to slide information unconsiously to consumers in order to gain profits. People seem to take this information in but do not necessarily act on it. There seems to be a decision making process involved despite the information being unconsciously processed. It is a wonder where else this effect might lie? For instance, would we react the same to emotionaly from specific environmental stimuli?

The Id & the Ego[edit]


There is some debate as to whether freuds, id and ego actually exist in some form unconsciously, and the arguments that they do have somewhat sound support. The limbic system for example if seen to be the representation of the Id and the neocortex is the Ego. The Ego is also considered an important aspect to motivational development. It is said to defend against anxiety, distress and depression as well as assisting the empowerment of the person to use conscious volition effectively.


There a many criticisms of Freud's work and I for one tend to side with them because there are too many holes in his work for me to be comfortable accepting the ideas. Firstly and most importantly, much Freud's work is not scientifically testable. Secondly, those case studies that were done, were done on the mentally ill and not the mentally well. Thirdly, many of his assertions regarding human motivation and emotion were downright wrong, for instance the sexual symbols in inanimate objects. Fourthly, his methods of data collection was shaky. And finally, psychoanalytic theory is terrible as a predictive device. It goes to ask why people are still covering Freud's theories in studies and classrooms? Well i think it is because, historically speaking, Freud's ideas were phenomenal and they got the 'ball rolling' when it comes to investigation the unconcious mind. But i believe that is all it really is, a brilliant idea, but nothing that can be scientifically relied upon.

Growth & Positive Psychology[edit]

Holism refers to the discovery of human potential - mostly in the positive - and encouraging its developemt. This view reminds me of all those times people refer to human potential as 360° in flexibility, meaning that humans are capable of anything in the right circumstances, whether for good or bad. But I believe holism focuses mainly on the positive side of human potential rather than the negative. So along this line, positive psychology looks into the proactive builing of personal strengths and capabilities. It also looks to make people stronger and more productive in their lives. All of this work must start at self-actualization.

Graduation Happiness.jpg


Self-actualization is basically the realization of one's talents, capacities, and potentialities. It involves to directions; autonomy (increased mindfullness, creativity & realistic appraisals) and openness, both of which lead to self-actualization. Self-actualization is a part of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and it is, in his diagram, the last need. Generally i think this is the consensus within society, self-actualization is just not considered more necessary than things such as physiological needs, love and belonging, self-esteem and personal safety. Personally, i also would have put self-actualization last on my list of needs, but perhaps Maslow and myself are wrong and self-actualization is much more important than either of us expected.

Encouraging Growth[edit]

To encourage growth there are some very valuable behaviours that are suggested people make an effort to utilize in order to reach their potential or self-actualization. These include; making 'growth' choices, being honest, giving up defensiveness, and being open to new experiences. All these things seem very positive and generally good for a person to attempt to undertake. However, i do not know how taking such steps, although emotionally healthy, will assist a person in reaching their greatest potential. It is argued that to be a fully functioning individual one must have experienced emergence (an onset of innate desire, impulse or motive), acceptance (emergence is accepted consciously), and expression (the unedited communication of emergence).

The Support of Relationships[edit]

The quality of interpersonal relationships is argued to help support the actualization process. In order to do this relationships need to be; warm, genuine, be empathetic, have interpersonal acceptance, and have confirmation of the other person's ability for self-determination. This aspect of positive psychology is also generally a good thing because it allows people to focus on having real and healthy interpersonal relationships with others. Again, it is hard to see how this will help with self-actualization, unless leading a healthy and positive life is ultimately self-actualization.


Coming back to the 360° rule regarding human capabilities. How much of human nature is inherently evil? What is evil? And why do some people enjoy inflicting suffering on others? Well people are capable in certain situations of doing 'evil' things but this does not mean that people are inherently evil. We will do what we must to survive in come circumstances, such as attacking someone in self-defence, or sacrifice our own safety in order to protect the one's we love. Being capable of evil therefore does not mean that we are evil. But there are people who cross this line and become something that at least I would describe as evil. People who are incapable of empathy and who enjoy using and hurting others to suit themselves, such as narcassists, sociopaths and anti-social personality types. Such people have something inherently wrong with them and are not what I would consider a healthy human being. They are therefore in a category all there own and do not apply in the 360° rule. However, according to humanists evil is not inherent in nature and benevolence and malevolence in everyone. I tend to disagree with this. People are capable creatures and under the right circumstances capable of all kinds of very good or evil behaviour, however there is hope in the fact that most of us seemingly have a choice in the matter.


There are few criticisms of positive psychology and they are;

  • Pollyanna optimism - the humanist view that only focuses on one part of human nature (one i very much agree with);
  • Unscientific concepts - humanists use vague and poorly defined constructs; and
  • Unkown origins of inner guides - how is a person aware of what they really want or what is needed by the actualizing tendency?

Overall there is promise in the theories forwarded by positive psychology and it may be worthwhile to continue studies in the area, however humanists should address the above criticisms before continuing with research.

Tutorial Six Notes[edit]

Problem for discussion[edit]

  • In general i believe 50% of evil resides in human nature and the other 50% as the product of sick culture
  • I would choose to raise a child in his or her natural temperament because emotional repression, which will be the ultimate result of the other option - to conform to social norms, is very unhealthy and not at all a good way at approaching the real issue at hand.
  • I agree with Rogers, that learning does not follow from teaching but rather from having one's interests identified, facilitated and supported. For instance, i did very little learning in highschool because i was forced to learn things i had not interest in. But now in univerisity i do much better learning things that hold real interest for me.

Sense of meaning & coherence[edit]

Sense of coherence questionnaire results;

  • Comprehensability = 5
  • Manageability = 6
  • Meaning = 5

In Conclusion[edit]

In conclusion, i on the whole enjoyed my learning experience in motviation and emotion. It has opened my eyes and has corrected many of my previous assumptions about how motivation and emotion work. I feel i have more of an in-depth understanding on the topic. The assessment pieces although new and difficult, were interesting and allowed me to be more creative than i would have been if set the normal essay, oral presentation and or exam. It was also my first time doing something like blogging through this reflective journal and it has given me more confidence using the internet for other things then checking my e-mail. So generally, although i stuggled some with assessment pieces i feel learned in the subjects and happy with the experience anyway. If only other classes allowed this kind of creative expression and lee-way, i'm sure students would learn more and find they had increaded enthusiasm and courage to do more with their studies.

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