This e–portfolio is a record of progressive learning over the period of the unit in a journal format. It incorporates the unit material, activities, personal experiences, thoughts, and examples from real life that I found personally useful from this unit. It also incorporates examples from events, situations or things I may have seen or heard in an attempt to better understand motivation and emotion.
The definition of motivation is that it is a process, which gives energy and direction to a behaviour (Reeve 2009). It may also help to explain the way someone thinks and acts (Neill, 2010, August 18).
In order to make sense of a motivation we may observe an emotion such as sadness in everyday life, then we may come up with a theory to explain this and a scientific prediction or a hypothesis, for example sadness is linked to decreased levels of dopamine – we then conduct and experiment - link this back to the theory to see if our hypothesis supports the theory – and we can then use this piece of information in everyday situations such as increasing the level of dopamine through an external stimuli to prevent sadness (Neill, 2010, August 18).
The question of what causes motivation will be subjective depending on the individual experiences of individuals and the relative balance different elements play in their life to drive the emotion forward (Neill, 2010, August 18). These can consist of external and internal factors.
According to Reeves (2009) there are four sources of motivation:
1) Needs internal events – such as food or water;
2) Cognitions – visualising the desired self;
3) Emotions – responses to the environmental stimuli; and
4) External events – or environmental stimuli.
However the relative weighting of these would differ depending on the individual and how much they were influenced by these sources as well as the situation (Neill, 2010, August 18).
The idea that we adapt to the environment leads me to believe that we may not consciously create all goals and we may not know all intrinsic motivations. If this is true, then motivators that are incentives or motivators that are disincentives and drive us away will have a huge impact on the further decisions we make.
The brain according to Reeve (2009) is discussed as a physical entity which is part of and can impact or is impacted on my by the motivational and emotional behaviours. It also acts as a physiological and cognitive mechanism for example neurotransmitters (Reeve 2009) such as dopamine can be release and I can appraise my emotion as a happy one or I may be motivated to help someone out.
The evolution of the brain and thus the proposed evolution of related motivations and emotions, derive from the assumption that our emotions and motivations have evolved from a purpose or a survival function (Reeve 2009).
The biological approach posits that we as humans are influenced by our physiological state i.e. neurotransmitters and hormones. Different parts of the brain structure and thus physiological reactions through the limbic and autonomic systems are associated with approach and avoidance orientated states and the subsequent way we react to an environmental situation such as flight or fight responses will either draw towards or pushes you away from the situation (Neill, 2010, September 1).
The brain thus is thought to have evolved form an instinctual related mid-brain which such as areas of the hypothalamus that drive basic instinct such as hunger, thirst, sleep and sex(Reeve 2009). The conscious part of the brain involved in thought surrounds this instinctual part. This view of the brain, based on rich empirical evidence, suggests that we have innate tendencies and traits that win out or may surface over the conscious rational cognitions (Neill, 2010, September 1). This idea to me is somewhat uncomfortable, as I would like to think as humans we have evolved past the point where we rely on basic animal instincts. The idea that innate mechanisms still drive us probably explains a lot about the way we behave – such as territorial driven anger through war and ownership, and the more basic functions that we need to take care of ourselves.
When we are angry or fearful the emotions seems to take over, in which many people report feeling loss of control of their actions. For example this is commonly claimed by women who murder their husbands that their emotions take over their rational and logic driven thought processes.
However, the biological approach alone does not explain the appraisal of anger and the resulting behaviour in a social context, as the environmental stimuli must be present to act on the emotional state (Reeve 2009).
The concept of a need implies something is essential for life or wellbeing. However this can be subjective (Neill, 2010, September 1). For example, absolute poverty where needs such as water and food may be barely met, as opposed to relative poverty where basic needs may be met but not at the standard of living expected in the country.
Physiological motivation is thought to act upon the homeostatic mechanism, which in turn requires the state to be reduced once the need is met, therefore the individual seeks out a stimulus which will decrease the drive (Neill, 2010, September 1). For example, we may seek water to decrease our thirst and thus our motivation for water.
There are three primary needs that Reeves (2009) outlines: hunger, thirst, and sex.
Trigger Action Response Thirst Need for water arises as there is a bodily deficit – both intra cellular and in the blood stream, lack of water triggers thirst. Perform the action to reduce the need- drink or dehydration and death will occur. Return to regulated state. Hunger Need for food arises, as there is a bodily deficit through a drop in blood glucose levels, caused by a lack of food triggers hunger. Perform the action to reduce the need - eat or the long-term system will burn fat. Return to regulated state. Sex Need for sex arises as there is a bodily deficit – genes and sex hormones act on the body through external cues and stimulation, lack of sex triggers desire for sex. Perform the action to reduce the need- sex or go without (possible without resulting in death). Return to regulated state.
However, these three needs or drivers differ dramatically in their urgency and the effect on the body. For example a person may die more quickly after not having access to water then they would from access to food due to this long-term system. On the other hand, a person will not die if they are not able to procreate. This is important as the flow theory stipulates that an ordered flow of behaviour occurs after a need arises, which may become a want depending on the input from the environment and from the self feedback, which leads to whether or not the behaviour is performed (Reeve 2009).
I found the topic of physiological feedback systems very interesting as our previous experiences dictate what we should and shouldn’t do in the future. For example, I love hot dogs, however after one particularly nasty case of food poisoning I can no longer eat them, and I now have a complete aversion to the smell, taste or thought of the taste of a hot dog. But I know I used to like them. This is an example of an adaptive response that is telling me I was unwell from eating this food previously, therefore it would be unwise to do so again as my body wants to maintain homeostasis.
It is important to note that external stimulation does drive all these physiological desires as if one is in the situation where there is a lot of food, water and potential mates – the physiological need may not arise or at least not as frequently or intensely.
The Cognitive approach sees the main driving force behind motivation as fulfilling psychological needs. The self-determination theory like Maslow’s theory suggests that after we satisfy our biological needs these psychological or personal growth needs are tolerated (Reeve 2009). However not all of these needs classified as physiological needs, such as the need for sex, are precursors for psychological needs (Neill, 2010, September 8). Sex may arise form a psychological need. The theory stipulates that as you fulfill these basic conditions you tolerate these needs. However this may not be entirely true of all situations. For example a student may be sleep deprived and hungry but they may not have the time to sleep or eat when a deadline for an assessment item is pending. The theory states that this need to gain extra rewards is an innate need to interact with the environment to develop growth and a need to advance the self-social development and well-being. This theory then illustrates that the person is consciously aware of their motivational state and the impact they are having in the environment (Neill, 2010, September 8).
According to the self-determination theory (Reeve 2009) there are three needs:
1. Autonomy – this means the person has self-control over the environment and their actions. This perceived control may be influenced by our preferences and our decisions as we may be happier when we have more freedom and flexibility if we have an internal locus of causality (the cause of action is yourself) or they may feel less responsible if they have an external locus of causality. Therefore it is entirely possible that this freedom in an environment may actually serve to distract or detract from an end goal or overall comfort of the person (Neill, 2010, September 8). For example, people with ADHD in a workplace where they are given to much autonomy may work against them as they already have a lower threshold for boredom and will seek out sensation seeking activities rather than concentrate on the task at hand.
However the level of autonomy given the person and the situation may differ (Neill, 2010, September 8). For example I used to work in a retail job where there was a controlled and a set script we would use for every customer that came into the store – tailoring it only slightly to account for the situation. In comparison to my current job where I am given the flexibility to be relatively creative in the way in which I do my work, I tend to work better in this environment and most likely have more of an internal locus of causality and tend to internalise the goal. However, many of my friends in my previous job, like the structured approach to the job, showing that not all individuals may like a great deal of freedom.
2. Competence and skill in the area lead to higher levels of related work performance. This is seen when performance feedback is given to reflect the situation and not the person (Neill, 2010, September 8). The level of competency must also not be too challenging, as it will result in failure, however if the tasks are too easy this may result in boredom – therefore the optimum level of task difficulty produces flow (an optimum state). This theory posits that both negatives and positives are useful in feedback to determine an optimum level, which will produce the greatest pleasure (Reeve 2009).
3. Relatedness – refers to the social bonds with other humans, as we need to connect with others to induce positive emotions. However the way we interact is based on the situation, such as work related exchanges between individuals based on mutual need for assistance or intimate relationships with others such as internalisation of a goal or desire of another person (Reeve 2009).
Social needs have historically been seen as a desire not a need, however this is contested as humans have evolved as social beings and have been termed as quasi needs as they are induced by the situation (Reeve 2009). The approach says that these needs remain unchangeable and differ from person to person.
The need for Achievement reflects the approach-oriented response rather than avoidance-oriented behaviour (Reeve 2009). Achievement motivates us to undergo difficult or taxing tasks to achieve a goal or sense of satisfaction. A perfect example is undergoing a degree. Whilst we may encounter difficulties along the way, we persevere in order to continue our education.
Attkinsons’ model of Tendency to achieve (Reeve 2009) sees success as a formula of either the approaching or avoidance behaviours being higher, indicating that approach behaviours are more likely to end in success. However, if we act upon something such as a difficult assignment we may either decide to: a) avoid it and procrastinate; or b) approach the activity.
The sense of success is however judged by individual standards, according to own norms that are socially and culturally created (Neill, 2010, September 8). Success is also socially constructed to influence an individual’s sense of success – for example I may believe being happy is an achievement but others may view success as having a nice car or house.
Intimacy can be seen as something that is learnt as it varies across cultures and thus the relative need for this also differs across cultures and individuals(Neill, 2010, September 8). For example a friend from Sri Lanka puts less emphasis on intimacy and more on functionality when comparing her to my friend from America who is extremely interested in men from an intimacy point of view!
Power can be seen as ones sense of control over themself and their environment. However the type of power can differ between cultures and the relative influence of this may also differ. Aggression according to Reeves (2009) is an essential pre-component to this notion of power. However this concept was rather difficult for me to digest, as many influential leaders have existed that have not used aggression and indeed some such as Gandhi have used the polar opposite drive, passivity, to achieve their means. Gandhi did exhibit an important element for this notion of power, not caring what others thought, even when he was physically beaten down, he was not humiliated or seen to be humiliated by this. He also exhibited a high need for self-control and leadership, which are qualities essential to a position of power. Furthermore the mediums may be a car or a house for one person and for another it may be social responsibility status such as a doctor or a mayor, and thus the motivations behind the attainment of power. Power is seen to increase approach tendencies.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is personally interesting to me as I have worked in school environments where at times I felt it was extremely difficult to motivate children to perform a task they felt was boring or tedious or that they showed a lack of interest in. Some students however, seemed to be involved in the learning process far more than others and seemed to be motivated by the learning experience alone.
Intrinsic motivation Extrinsic motivation Is an inherent desire to participate in activities of interest, with the rewards coming from within the self, such as self-satisfaction as opposed to an external force? Is a desire that arises from external motivators or rewards in the environment such as money or praise.
Is not apparently obvious to the onlooker, and may arise from a deeper motivation. More obvious due to external stimuli arises from classical operant conditioning type motivation. Self-rewarding. Rewarding from an outside source. Useful when the behaviour is valued or liked. Useful when the behaviour is boring or tedious.
Reeve (2009) however is critical of punishment as an external motivator as it can have adverse consequences that are not worth the short-term gain for the individual. An alternate approach may use an extrinsic positive motivator such as praise. For example a teacher instead of punishing a child may praise the child sitting next to the child doing the wrong thing to motivate them to perform this behavior.
In contrast to punishment rewards have shown greater evidence for effectiveness (Neill, 2010, September 15). However to do this we need to understand what the individual wants, and we can influence the amount and type of reward given to further stimulate dopamine release. For example if children do not want to engage in a boring task such as washing up, offering a reward such as a lolly may help to aid participation.
In this case a boring task such as washing up may warrant a lolly, however giving external rewards to children for something they should already be doing such as sitting quietly or answering a question correctly – may undermine the intrinsic value of the task.
This leads us to the question of how much are we motivated by internal forces and how much by external forces. Reeve (2009) suggests that this is a continuum, which is dependent upon the individual. If a behaviour reflects an interest or is seen as important it is then regulated by intrinsic motivation whereas if it is being preformed due to an outside factor or force it is more likely to be an external motivator driving the behaviour.
I found the section on how to motivate others particularly useful in a workplace setting. For example recently a junior work colleague has become particularly disinterested and unmotivated at work. The following tips are useful for getting someone motivated.
Tips to Motivate Others (Reeve 2009)
1. Firstly, we need to make sure the person is motivated to achieve something, as to induce change we cannot force them. 2. Secondly, we need to find out the individual’s strengths and focus our efforts on development in these key areas, to foster a sense of autonomy and creativity, which is theoretically likely to induce approach behaviours such as interest and result in more positive affect. 3. The motivation needs to be personally satisfying to them, and relevant to their goals. 4. We may be able to offer a small external reward as long as it does not override or interfere with the internal motivation.
In this case I know the individual is quiet intrinsically motivated by creativity, so helping them and the organisation to develop a more creative or flexible work environment may aid in the motivation levels of this particular individual. However an external incentive to motivate may also be offered such as a monetary reward. Exercise Plan based on the principles of goal setting and goal striving
Like many, I have set myself many goals and have sometimes fallen short of achieving them. According to Reeve (2009) my belief that I have fallen short of my goals emerges from the dissonance I experience, as there is a discrepancy between my desired and actual goals. I have decided that I would write this part of the E-Portfolio on something I believe could help me with a goal I have been trying to revive for years, my running program, based on the principles of goal setting and striving.
According to the tote model or the tototoe model to achieve my goal(Reeve 2009), I must develop a well thought-out plan as a first step to achieving my goal. Therefore I must Test (Compare my state with my future state), so in this case I may choose to time myself running up a mountain. Then I must Operate (act upon this goal), so in this case perform the action of running. Then I must Test myself again and compare (so in this case compare the actual with the desired times), and then I can Exit the task at the end of my set goal and look back on my ideal time and my actual time – which hopefully by now should be quiet close or at the very least closer than before! If not I have the opportunity to reassess this or within the tototoe model reassess my progress and gives me feedback along the way. This approach will help me to keep track of my progress as well as measure it objectively.
Goal setting is an extremely important aspect of my future success (Neill, 2010, September 8). Setting a goal will enable me to work towards a benchmark and will help to create incentive. The goal also has to be proximal – so I must set myself a time limit to have it completed and possibly smaller time limits along the way to try and make sure my efforts are goal specific. For example there would be no point in going for a run and then eating 6 cheeseburgers.
Feedback (Neill, 2010, September 8), is an important element in assessing my goal in that either dissatisfaction or satisfaction may seek to have a positive impact on me as if I am dissatisfied I may increase my effort to run. Alternatively, if I am satisfied with my goal achievement I may able to pursue a higher fitness goal after my initial goal has been achieved as it may impact on my sense of self-efficacy. This source of information whether it be from my own personal records such as a diary or a personal trainer, who may give me positive encouragement and knowledge about correct procedures, this can help to increase my knowledge and therefore future effort on the task.
I have a goal, which is being able to run up Mount Ainslie in 15 minutes, now I need to be able to accomplish this goal striving. Research suggests that I will be more effective if I plan out my goal and then reassess it along the way. As my goal is intrinsically motivated I may not need extrinsic motivation however I could extrinsically motivate myself with a new dress to add to the reward. However, I do not want to undermine my intrinsic motivation so I would not want to offer myself a large reward such as a holiday in Hawaii and six new bathing suits to wear while on holiday (Neill, 2010, September 8). As my goal is long-term and depending on my fitness levels, it may be relatively difficult to achieve this goal without smaller goals and easier short-term goals along the way. Therefore mapping out my goal in a linear fashion may help.
Four predictors are going to influence my success (Neill, 2010, September 8) and (Reeve 2009).
1. Ability – am I fit and able enough to run this – (if I have a heart condition I may need to reconsider the level of goal attainable). 2. Self-efficacy – do I believe I can do it? 3. Past performance – I have succeeded at previous level of high performance, however I have recently failed at trying to achieve this fitness level (in this case I can be optimistic but I should understand I may not be able to peak back at my previous athletic performance). 4. Amount of external incentive – I really want a new dress too!
The more complex my goal the more planning it will take. So if I have failed at this before, I may need to assess why this has happened. For example it could be lack of time and distraction, friends that are distracting me, as I am a very sociable and busy person. In this case I may need to take steps such as switching off my phone, instant messenger, Facebook, email, personal organiser and blackberry and run at a suitable time of day where these distractions are going to be less likely such as at 6am.
However, this approach can have some problems as if there is a large enough gap between the actual times I can run the mountain and the perceived time, I may experience cognitive dissonance or become disillusioned by failing to achieve my outcome expectation (Neill, 2010, September 8). I must ensure that I am not going to ignore other areas of my life to achieve this goal and if so weigh up how important it is to me in my overall life. I do not want the behaviour to become a punisher either – which I may have to psychologically overcome when I first get out of bed at 6 o’clock in the morning in Canberra winters!
This week’s material was extremely useful as it can apply to anyone in any given situation. I have taken a few things away from the lecture that I feel can be applied to real life applications. As we are theoretically motivated to exercise control over environment and maximise positive experiences and minimise negative outcomes, it seemed strange to me that there were so many examples of where this is not the case, both in everyday life and in psychopathology (Neill, 2010, September 22). Alternatively maybe it is the somewhat evolved, very rational functioning of our inner cognitive processes that leads to this somewhat ironic outcome. Our negative experiences lead to negative appraisal of a situation and therefore we are less likely to want to be put in the same situation next time.
Example problem – A friend comes to me at Uni, she is failing her classes and is unable to achieve results. When I talk to her further to try to uncover why she may be failing all her classes she tells me she never attends exams.
Explanations – As we further examine the issue it becomes clear the behaviour my friend is exhibiting is indicative of learnt helplessness and low self-efficacy! As she believes that she is unable to perform the task Expectancy, she believes this reflects on her capabilities and therefore her Outcome expectation, as she does not perform the task. My friend never attends her exams as she exhibits four of the main causes of low self-efficacious behaviour.
1. My friend has never passed an exam at Uni. She believes because she has never completed an exam that she is now somehow incapable of completing one. Every exam she has had scheduled she has not attended due to her previous experiences which were negative, thus impacting on her negative perception of her ability. This feedback system may be directly contributing to her unwillingness to attend an exam, as she is reinforcing her negative self-schema.
2. My friend does have some friends who have passed their exams however she has a few close friends who have not passed their exams either and this impacts on her beliefs.
3. Verbal Persuasion – My friend routinely has a negative affect and attitude towards exams which she verbalises to me continuously, repeating that she is “terrible at exams” and that “exams are scary” is also contributing to this belief.
4. My friend also clearly exhibits a distressed negative physiological reaction to the stimulus as she shakes and has panic attacks about her exams weeks before them.
According to Bandura this task becomes more difficult under taxing conditions where a person may be under pressure or exhibits physiological responses such as stres (Reeve 2009).. As she believes that she is unable to perform the task and this reflects her personal abilities, this causes her to move away and exhibit avoidance behaviour from any likely performance situations.
However in order to create a more self-efficacious belief, my friend needs to approach the situation in which effort and persistence will pay off and ultimately approach behaviour will result in further experiences to base her learning on in order to exhibit self-control over her environment (Neill, 2010, September 22).
My friend is also exhibiting learned helplessness as she believes that she is not in control of her conditions which leads to her avoidance behaviour or her environment which leads her to outcomes such as her poor grades. She routinely uses phrases like “there is no point”, so she shouldn’t bother trying.
Possible plan for overcoming a fear of public speaking - using mastery experiences of Albert Bandera’s theory.
According to this approach developing knowledge and skills will lead to higher perceived levels of self-efficacy and lead to empowerment of the individual to achieve the task they seek to avoid (Reeve 209). According to this theory we could put our participant with a fear of public speaking through a mastery program. Firstly the teacher or expert (someone who is competent at public speaking) will model the problem-focused behaviour. The participant’s skills on a relatively easy task, such as a 30 second talk about their likes and dislikes may then be monitored in order to form a basis for improvement. However, it is likely that according to the principles of self-efficacy if the participant was made to give a speech this may create further negative experiences and feelings of inadequacy. In this case we may seek to measure this performance another way such as self-report. The expert may then model the behaviour giving directions on how to perform each element of the task. The participant may create a few practice speeches combining an element of each task and performing it in a small group situation to further relate to and speak in front of a group with similar norms – such as also having a fear of public speaking. The expert each time may give feedback on each element of the talk and model it (Neill, 2010, September 22).
The participant performs the speech with all the elements integrated individually in a near real experience around a small room of people and is aided by suggestions and feedback from the expert. The experts may now model arousal regulation techniques to help deal with anxiety in an emotion-focused style and remodel the performance using these techniques. It may also be a worthwhile option to discuss the route causes of the participant’s behaviour such as any previous traumatic events or challenging the assumption of an external locus of control into a more internal locus of control to aid in the creation of a more positive or optimistic approach style rather than the avoidant negative style (Neill, 2010, September 22).
This plan posts an approach vs. avoidance model as avoidance does not help to change self-doubt and there are no new experiences to base change upon. It may also be helpful to have a facilitator who can foster and help to improve a person’s sense of mastery through providing them with the skills and guidance in order for the participant to: a) look up to a positive role model; b) see the skill being preformed correctly; and c) believe it is possible to achieve once they have been given the necessary tools for self-growth.
The plan also promotes the Alloplastic vs. Autoplastic approach, which promotes taking action on the problem which is external to the self rather than viewing it as ones internal problem (Neill, 2010, September 22).
Reactance theory – stipulates that when presented with a situation that you believe threatens your personal freedom, you may seek to act against the situation to maximise your autonomy (Reeve 2009). This theory implies that autonomy is an intrinsic. For this assumption to be true then autonomy must be exhibited through all stages of life. However in developmental psychology there are many instances of babies and infants showing they would prefer to be around others than alone, especially their mother (Neill, 2010, September 22). It is only later that they develop this sense of autonomy and this may be developed socially. For example a toddler may learn that they want a glass of milk, but another toddler may also want a glass of milk, therefore they need to compete with that toddler for the item, it is now that they act in their own self-interest. Later on they develop a sense of autonomy, but as humans are social creatures the assumption that we seek autonomy may need some theoretical and empirical work. Having said this, the theory does plausibly explain why people deviate from their desired course of behaviour, especially in children and in adolescence, a period where a lot of rebellion is taken up.
I personally found the notion of the self as a created and subjective construct to be quiet interesting, as we each have not just one self but many selves. I reflected on this in my own life as I am a sister, a daughter, a student and an employee and how these relative schemas and social scripts impacted on my behaviour personally. For example I may regress back to a child-like state if I do not get my way around my brother by complaining, however at work I may just have to take it with a grain of salt or work on the issue with my fellow employees due to the way I have been socialised and the way I believe it is appropriate to relate to individuals in society. However, an individual from a different culture that has different perceptions of the self and the way they relate to society may act more formal around their brother due to cultural expectations of respect (Neill, 2010, September 22). It would seem that an individual’s perception of the self is largely dependent on time, place and experience.
The idea that the self-concept is very difficult to change seems very indicative of the type of stable behaviour patterns that are presented in individuals with melancholic features. For example a person with depressive symptoms may see themselves as useless and worthless, therefore they may not get a job, and in turn others may start to perceive them in this way too. This explanation also accounts for a lot of self-seeking prophecy behaviour in that we seek to confirm our belief and perceptions of the self (Neill, 2010, September 22). It is likely that we revaluate our own self-perception unless we experience evidence in the form of cognitive dissonance, where our beliefs and actions are at odds and we experience guilt. For example, I used to be a runner and perform in an athletics group, however due to other life factors such as injury, university and job, I have slowly run less and less, can I still call myself an athlete, probably not. However, despite this confirmatory evidence that I did not attend athletics meets and started only running for fitness, it took a long time to admit this to myself, as I sought to confirm the belief that I was still an athlete via watching athletics meets and running on an ad hoc basis.
I also thought the idea of the self as a continuous stable, lone concept as telling of the Western cultural ideal of the self. For example, mediums such as the way we dress, or our style, is supposed to represent who we are to the world through the implication of status, wealth, occupation, lifestyle and values. However, the self is ever changing and dynamic depending on the environmental and external stimuli as well as internal emotions. We may have a happy self and a sad self. The idea that this is seen as somewhat dangerous as it is symptomatic of multiple personality disorders may warrant further research into stigma, and the possible shift away from those behaviours towards parallel behaviours. For example, children who have imaginary friends that stay around longer than desired by parents. The child may well be exploring aspects of the self (Neill, 2010, September 22).
What is an emotion?
According to Reeves (2009) there are four aspects of an emotion:
1. Feelings and subjective experiences and cognitions; 2. Bodily arousal and physiological activation (biological perspective – physiological response); 3. Social expressions such as facial expression; 4. Sense of purpose – these are goal directed and motivational states that originate from or are triggered by anticipated life events or actual events.
This explanation of an emotion explains the physiological, cognitive and social explanations of an emotion within a definition (Neill, 2010, October 13). . However, I would also add to the definition that the response in an individual is a subjective feeling, even though this feeling is subjective it is reported by many other people at different rates and levels of extremity. I think it is important to understand it is not only a concept that comes from the self and an individual situation, but also it is widely established within populations that these elements which combine to make up a feeling of sadness are universally felt among humans and among some animals.
Emotion can also be seen as a motivation to either draw you towards something if it is a positive emotion or a negative emotion may push you away (Neill, 2010, October 13). This notion of emotion as a feedback system is highly adaptive and useful to individuals as it help to prime the individual to adapt to a situation such as an opportunity or threat.
What causes an emotion?
Many processes including the Cognitive (appraisal of the situation or stimuli that can produce arousal or different emotions or meanings) and biological (emotional states are genetic, hardwired thought neural circuits and innate) processes have been found to play a role in the creation of emotion(Neill, 2010, October 13). .
These two perspectives come from a bottom up approach and leave little room for the role of social interactions within the creation of emotion. However, Reeves (2009) points out that different emotions may be better explained by one system. For example anger is better explained by the biological system as it has the effect of appearing out of nowhere, suddenly and then we may appraise the biological response later. Alternatively, the two systems may interact at the same time to produce heightened effects of the emotion, and sometimes the effects of the systems may be disproportionate (Neill, 2010, October 13). For example we may perceive slight agitation as a sign of stress, however if we appraise the situation as worse than it is or appraise our biological systems function as more severe, this may induce more stress.
How many emotions are there?
There are lots of different emotions and this is subjective depending on the emotion as there can be many experiences of the one emotion. There are four criteria for an emotion to be considered as and emotion (Neill, 2010, October 13) and (Reeve 2009):
1. Innate – this means we can see it in the disabled and some animals, and possibly infants. 2. Arises from similar circumstances – if you report a similar or trait feeling towards an emotion. 3. Expressed uniquely – of other emotions. 4. Physiological event – activity and bodily patterns must occur.
Reeve (2009) suggests that while emotions are created via a particular state or combination of states, some states are a lot more similar to other states and are made up of the same key traits or feelings. For example being in love or lust may have some of the same traits that are experienced when exhibiting anger. Therefore maybe a more distinguishable set of differential factors is needed to distinguish the different emotions.
What good are emotions?
Emotions have both negative and adaptive functions, as they can sometimes be perceived as getting out of control in a social situation (Neill, 2010, October 13). The biological approach posits that emotions play an adaptive role in our behaviour as we can communicate our feelings to others and are important for survival and in influencing others. However, it may also be possible that emotions can be experienced as either good or bad given the situation. I monitored my own mood state for a day and wrote down my emotions every hour for 12 hours. Although my emotions varied throughout the day, possibly due to a variety of factors such as time, tiredness levels etc, I found that my emotional state varied greatly during different tasks! For example doing assignments that I thought were more difficult, recorded frustration or anger, whereas when doing tasks I enjoyed, I reported interest and when eating I reported pleasure and happiness. As this was my own attempt at an ad hoc experiment, this may not be the case, but I think it would be worth investigating.
What is the difference between emotion and mood?
There are three points of distinction: the antecedent; the action specificity or behaviours involved; and time course (long-term or short) that determine the difference between an emotion and a mood (Reeve 2009). .
Emotion Mood Antecedent Significant life situations may, from short-lived events. No actual cause. Action Pathways used to trigger emotion may be shorter acting and influence behaviour and actions in a specific way. Pathways used to trigger mood may be longer acting influence cognition and what a person thinks. Time course Short-lived (20mins maximum). Less quick to trigger and leave / long-lived mental events.
There are three central aspects of emotion: biological, cognitive and social aspects.
The biological aspect looks at the fundamental biological systems such as the endocrine system, autonomic nervous system, neural brain circuits, and resulting facial feedback as a way to explain emotion. The James Lang theory of emotion posits that each emotion has a strong genetic marker or footprint, which then influences the emotion later on. According to this theory emotion is explained as a way of interpreting physiological data coming in (Reeve 2009). However the body may react uniquely to different events and thus a complete model may not be able to be established. It is not possible to identify the unique emotions however it is possible to tell if there is a fight or flight response to them as specific neural circuits operate independently for these. Izzard in Reeve (2009) identified 10 underlying emotions based on facial expressions and neural firing patterns, however, I feel that these are not strongly representative of the different array of emotions available as different circuits may interact to produce other emotions. Ekman in Reeve (2009) argued that there are many expressions across cultures, however if the categorisation of these is wrong as some imply more meaningful emotions and some describe personality or disorders. I thought that this view was focusing on the categorisation of all the different types of emotion, and may be missing the point. It doesn’t really matter what we call them, all of these emotions are going to have some physiological drive behind them to exist!
The cognitive approach is based on the principle of knowledge, which helps us to identify greater amounts of emotions when we get older. It may also help us to appraise the behaviour, as I have mentioned before, which is an integral part of the cognitive approach(Neill, 2010, October 20). This also influences our response of fight or flight and we are able to map out if the situation is threatening, beneficial or neutral and react accordingly. The appraisal theory stipulates that if the behaviour is more important to the individual it will predict a much higher cost or benefit emotional response (Neill, 2010, October 20).
The socio-cultural approach to emotion includes the socialisation history of emotions in different cultures and contexts. People often express their emotions through the vicarious emotional experiences of others in order to promote understanding in another (Neill, 2010, October 20). So it seems that emotions play a part in helping us to empathise and understand one another better. This can be seen as adaptive, however, it can also be seen as culturally specific. For example someone in Western society may be able to empathise with another person’s emotions of sadness and hurt over a breakup than they would over a person from a different culture who may have lost face and finds this personally embarrassing. This empathetic understanding can promote feelings of happiness, approach behaviour and thus helping others out for social good, as it may become personally satisfying to the person. Through talking to others we may also learn from their experiences and use this as a source of knowledge in our own lives.
Being able to control, or when to express an emotion, is also a culturally and sub-culturally learned aspect, for example when someone dies it may be traditional to cry and express sorrow or sadness, however due to gender roles this may be seen as acceptable for women but not for men. The three aspects differ in that they explain the origination of emotion differently and each one explains the process as having key or more integral parts to emotion, however all these function to produce and emotion.
Individual differences relate to differences in people’s motivational and emotional states. Emotions may affect individuals differently as in the same situation one person may act a certain way and experience a stronger emotion and another person may react completely differently and experience a lessened emotion (Neill, 2010, October 27). The two main personality traits that are associated with emotion are extraversion and neurotism (Reeve 2009). Extraversion relates to higher levels of happiness. Extraverts in general have a greater capacity to accept positive actions, which is linked to approach behaviours. As extraverts have lower levels of arousal they therefore seek more exciting and novel situations. A typical appraisal of a positive situation for an extravert when something positive happens may be a happier overall affect of emotion. Extraverts are more attracted to events with people; seek social dominance and risk taking behaviour. Extraversion is also seen as more emotionally stable trait. The set point theory can also be applied here as people may seek out their optimum level of comfort. In general these traits remain unchangeable and therefore influence the emotional stability of an individual (Neill, 2010, October 20).
Neurotism relates to avoidance, caution and hesitance behaviours. Neurotism is also thought to have a set point for levels of unhappiness(Neill, 2010, October 20). Neurotic people tend to have higher anxiety levels, may be more moody and have a more regulated inhibitory system, so their behaviours will reflect this aversion to harm. These traits may impact on an individual in two ways (Neill, 2010, October 20). Firstly they may impact on the way the individual chooses to interact with the environment. Secondly, environmental triggers may have a greater impact upon the emotions felt by an individual, as these traits remain relatively stable (Neill, 2010, October 20). It is easy to see why these traits may stay stable across the life of the individual as they act as a feedback loop. For example, if a person who is high on neuroticism avoids a potentially stressful situation and this results in lessened anxiety, they are likely to perform this activity again. Whereas if the person is exposed to the situation they may find it less stressful and may be more inclined to try it next time, as traits can change a little throughout the lifespan.
The traits are affected by three main factors (Reeve 2009):
Arousal – this is a function of the environment and can be expressed in the performance and motivation u curve. Performance at a task is better when the optimum level of arousal is achieved. For example, during an exam if my arousal levels are too high, I may experience shaking, fidgeting, not being able to concentrate, concern and stress. However, if my arousal levels are too low, I may not be able to concentrate properly as I am bored or tired. Therefore organisms seek their optimum level of arousal. This can also be applied to educational settings, as children may need different activities at different levels to stimulate their interest.
Sensation seeking – is a function of extraversion as it involves risk-taking behaviours. Those with a higher level of extraversion may seek out more uninhibited and risky behaviours due to their relatively low boredom threshold. For example Zukerman in Reeve (2009) found that some people really disliked sensory deprivation. Sensation seeking can lead to gambling and risky social behaviours, however it can lead to greater rewards in the long term such a taking business risks for greater monetary rewards.
Control – is an important aspect especially in individuals with high levels of neurotism, as they desire for more control over a situation in order to avoid rather than approach a situation. Control may also be positive as if the individual has a sense of control over a situation they may feel more comfortable about the environmental stressors. For example in cases where an individual has a fear of public speaking, making sure they are prepared and have rehearsed in advance may help to alleviate this problem as they feel a greater sense of control over the environment. Control may also be beneficial for completing more difficult goals, however too much control may lead to a loss of inhibition and subsequently a loss of enjoyment.
I thought it was interesting that although traits can be predictive of personality, they can also be predictive of emotions and stability of a person. If for example we know that a particular person is higher on neurotism this means we can effectively predict the way they will emotionally experience a situation, and possibly help them to establish coping mechanisms to deal with their negative emotions. We could offer the person breathing exercises or counting from the number ten to one every time they are stressed in order to control this emotion. However, these emotions are likely to remain as stable as the personality trait.
Unconscious motivation is seen from the psychoanalytic approach as an innate animalistic urge, which we routinely suppress in order to function effectively as a social being in society (Neill, 2010, November 03). According to the approach this need to suppress these innate urges leads to anxiety. This approach is deterministic as it implies that we all have these subconscious desires and wants that we cannot change.
The approach has two main theoretical attempts (Reeve 2009):
- Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of unconscious motivation or dual instinct theory draws a distinction between the Eros (instinct for life and positive motivations of sex and nurture) and Thanatos (instinct for death from which emotions of aggression, self-criticism and depression arise. According to Freud these operate simultaneously (Reeve2009). This theory explains self-sabotaging behaviour and can explain some of the emotions surrounding psychopathology, however, these concepts are not testable and are relatively useless, other than for the purpose of creating thought and insight into why we may have these negative urges or motivations (Neill, 2010, November 03).
- This instinct for death does not seem at all adaptive or logical with the biological principles of psychology nor the cognitive ones (Reeve 2009). It can help to explain behaviours such as suicide, but suicide is usually based on environmental stimuli and if not can be accounted for sufficiently by the biological approach. It has been suggested that Freud’s instinct for death and life can be equated with the biological processes that correspond with the suicidal ideation. If analysed for what it is, a theory alongside biological explanations Freud’s conceptualisation may be useful in understanding un-realised motivations and desires to perform behaviour outside the realm of conscious thought( Neill, 2010, November 03).
- The contemporary psychodynamic approach to unconscious motivation posits that processing happens on an unconscious level as it is adaptive, and frees our conscious thought for the processing of more difficult information, much like cognitive processing based on schemas, this is efficient. This information at a subconscious level may otherwise threaten the control we have over a situation (Neill, 2010, November 03).
Objects relations theory posits there are four key areas or levels of processing that act as a filter of unconscious to conscious thought and that act as defence mechanisms (Reeve 2009).
1. The Unconscious (processing is passive, automatic and we are not aware) based on the Freudian approach. 2. Adaptive Unconscious – there are goals that are within that have another agenda. 3. Implicit motivation – we pay attention to events that have emotional content that may retrigger past emotional experiences. 4. Subliminal Stim – we don’t know that we are processing this. Alternatively people may be aware of a stimuli but not on the way it impacts them, for example children in a school yard may sing a popular song related to junk food “McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut.
The idea of the ID as an animalistic pleasure and drive can help to explain the maladaptive behaviours within forensic populations such as an over developed ID may lead to paedophilia, and the development of the ego may help to explain phenomena in developmental psychology (Neill, 2010, November 03). For example a toddler may want to push over another toddler but until they develop an ego, which prevents them from this behaviour, they continue to do it. However, this development is clearly based on external forces such as nurturing, care and parenting style. For example if children are not corrected when they push over a child they may believe this is ok and go on to keep performing this action. If a child is sexually abused when they are younger there is a good chance that they will go on to offend themselves. Many sex offender rehabilitation programs are aimed at consciously realising and suppressing the desire, however these are largely ineffective if the offender is not willing and due to the lack of empirical evidence for this theoretical approach. In order to develop a strong ego an environment must be created in which the individual feels they are capable of achieving acceptance among the morals and standards of society. If an individual feels that a societal goal is set too high they may give up and give in to their conscious urges (Neill, 2010, November 03).
Positive psychology is interesting in that it does not reflect upon many causal motivations other than the individual drive to fulfill their life through either self-actualisation or through an innate desire to self improve (Neill, 2010, November 10).
As the approach acts as an alternative to psychoanalytic and behaviourist perspectives it is argued that these approaches view individuals in a negative light whereas humanistic psychology sees humans in a more positive light and focuses on human potential and strengths of an individual (Reeve 2009). The perspective also comes from a holistic or top down approach to motivation, as it explains emotion or motivation originating from the whole (Neill, 2010, November 10).
Humanistic Behaviourist Psychoanalytic Positive Human potential Negative and positive Human potential Negative and positive Human potential Top down approach Bottom up approach Bottom up approach
According to the theories of the approach individuals either seek to reach self-actualisation or self-improvement (Reeve 2009).
Maslow’s Self Actualisation Assumptions Rogers Self Improvement Assumptions The lower the need on the pyramid the more strongly it is felt. Therefore self-actualisation needs are the weakest needs, and physiological type needs are more important. The organism has an innate desire and or tendency to reach self-actualisation through self-improvement. The lower in the hierarchy the lower in the development and stronger the lower needs are. There is an evaluation process that occurs when to appraise the situation as good or bad. Needs at bottom of the hierarchy must be fulfilled before higher ones. There is acceptance of desire into consciousness.
However there are problems with these assumptions, for example Maslow argued that only 1% of people were self-actualised (Reeve 2009). However, there are many examples of people who may acquire higher needs without the fulfilling the lower needs. For example, many students do not always have everything they need, however they give up these needs and wants in the pursuit of knowledge. According to (Reeve 2009) when people are happy they are likely to fulfil other altruistic functions in society – however there are many instances of people such as Uni students or priests that do charity work. The perspectives ignore the problem of evil or acts of harm against others and the approach cannot explain these (Neill, 2010, November 10).
Causality orientations explain the way individuals see themselves as in control. If someone has an internal causality orientation they are more likely to see themselves in control and act on the situation (Reeve 2009). Whereas if they have a control causality orientation they may feel they are less able to impact a decision and may continually look to others and authority to provide guidance as how to behave. The reason to why a person may do something is also important, for example they may seek validation from others or they may like to perform the task and are intrinsically interested by it(Neill, 2010, November 10).
I found the phenomenon of seeking pleasure when someone else suffers as particularly interesting as if someone in a similar situation to us fails we may get a sense of satisfaction out of this. This may be a product of society that we are taught to compete with others or it could be an innate desire to win out.
I also found the notion of optimism extremely interesting as if you are more optimistic you are likely to be happier even if this is an illusion. According to Victor Frankall the meaning and purpose in your own life can help you get through difficult situations, such as a concentration camp, where the difference between those who survived and those who died was their reason to live (Neill, 2010, November 10). This has subsequently been translated into a therapy for psychopathology patients.
There are many themes running throughout the different approaches and areas of motivational psychology to help make up a complete picture of how motivations and emotions work and how we may apply these to settings in the real world. Many approaches seek to explain the phenomenon in many contrasting ways and are additive to the overall picture of motivational and emotion psychology (Neill 2010, November 17). I found the philosophical discussion of drives and the not yet understood concepts on human nature to be fascinating. Many of these theories and what we know, can be taken and applied in our own lives and in the lives of others. However no one theory is mutually exclusive as humans have such a wide array of behaviours, motivations and emotions. The philosophical debate is still somewhat surprisingly relevant in this area of psychology as it almost seems that there is an ongoing battle to be (what we conceptualise as) human going on inside us all. This battle urges us to fight against our intrinsic desires (of the psychoanalytic approach) or what seems obvious to us (biological and cognitive assumptions) and go against this to further develop, critique and analyse the self and the state of what motivates us as humans.
Neill, J. (2010, August 18). Lecture 1: Introduction. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, September 1). Lecture 3: Brian and Physiological Needs. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, September 8). Lecture 4: Psychological and Social Needs. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, September 15). Lecture 5: Intrinsic- Extrinsic Motivation and Goal Setting. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, September 22). Lecture 6: Personal Control Beliefs and the Self and its Strivings. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, October 13). Lecture 7: Nature of Emotion. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, October 20). Lecture 8: Aspects of Emotion. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, October 27). Lecture 9: Personality, Motivation and Emotion. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, November 03). Lecture 10: Unconscious Motivation. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, November 10). Lecture 11: Growth Motivation and Positive Psychology. Lecture Notes distributed in the course 7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Neill, J. (2010, November 17). Lecture 12: Conclusion. Lecture Notes distributed in the course7124 Motivation and Emotion, University of Canberra ACT.
Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Amazon.