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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.

About Me[edit]

Hi there! I'm a student studying Motivation and Emotion as part of my Psychology degree at the University of Canberra. I have technically been at Uni since 2006, and am very keen to finally get a degree under my belt after all this time. I only have six units left for my degree, and due to either my love of a good challenge or complete insanity I have decided to take them all on within the same semester. So, this semester I will be studying:

  • Motivation & Emotion
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Personality & Individual Differences
  • Innovative Applications of Design
  • Learning
  • Social Psychology

It certainly promises to be a very hectic and full on semester, but at the same time I am so excited to be getting back into full time university. Earlier in the year I went down to part time University and worked full time in retail. While I managed to save enough money for a few trips to different destinations around Australia and a new (or at least newer) car, I just did not have motivation to continue on with that particular job day in-day out. So, here I am back at university ready to go. It's scary but also thrilling!

I'm looking forward to the journey this particular unit is about to take me on. If nothing else, I hope it teaches me how to remain motivated throughout the semester: however I hope it will offer me more than that. I would love to learn what makes people act as they do, and whether it is possible to consciously change our own motivation.

Textbook Chapter[edit]

The following link will take you to "Motivation & Sexual Promiscuity"- the textbook chapter that I composed as part of the "Motivation & Emotion" course assessment. [[1]]


Week 1: Introduction to Motivation & Emotion[edit]

I walked into the lecture today not quite knowing what to expect. Admittedly I was feeling nervous and slightly overwhelmed after looking at the unit outline, as the assessment for this course looks pretty intense. However, having been to the lecture, I am now feeling more at ease and somewhat more enthusiastic about the textbook chapter I have to write this semester. I am still yet to determine what topic I want to base the chapter on, but I must admit I am feeling a little more confident now that I have seen just how extensive the list of possibilities are. I have set myself a goal of choosing a definite topic to stick to by week three as James suggested, however as I am still feeling a touch intimidated by the new wikiversity program we are using in this unit, I think I will leave sorting through the list until next week.

In terms of lecture material, I don’t have much to say for my first entry, since it was mostly a broad introduction to the unit outline and topic in general. Mind you, it looks like it is going to be a very interesting unit. I particularly look forward to learning about different aspects of emotion. At this stage it looks as if we are going to be learning about motivation for the most part for the first half of semester, and emotions in the second half. I am hoping at this point that by learning motivation first, it will perhaps teach me some skills that will facilitate my motivation to perform well academically this semester. In the past I have had rather strong tendencies to procrastinate. As I am determined to fight that urge this semester, I am hoping that this unit will provide me with some insight into why I do this; and possibly even equip me with some skills for combating this bad habit in the future.

James stated during the lecture that the more he read the textbook the more he liked it. Initially I was sceptical of his claim, as it seems that every lecturer I’ve had since I began university has made the same statement and I have seldom agreed with them. However, having reading the first two chapters I find myself pleasantly surprised. So far it seems easy to understand and the delivery of the content isn’t as dry as other textbooks I have been forced to read in past units. What I have particularly enjoyed so far is that the textbook literally invites you to stop and think about aspects of what it is saying. With so many textbooks to read and so little time to do it in, I normally just cram my readings into my day as quickly as possible without really giving a second thought to the information I am reading. Understanding Motivation and Emotion has invited me to think about definitions for myself before providing me with them- to think about certain scenarios- and as a result I feel I’ve actually taken in the information. I also found it a bit of a confidence booster when I got the definitions right. For instance, on one of the first few pages Reeves invited me to stop and answer the questions ‘what is motivation’ and ‘what is emotion’. I actually took the opportunity to stop and write down on a piece of paper a fairly short answer for each one (something that was very out of character for me). When I found that my answer for motivation- ‘an internal or external drive to do something’- was in essence the correct answer (though perhaps a little more simplistic than that given in the text) I immediately felt far more confident in my ability to understand this unit. It also made me realise just how complex emotion is, as I struggled to find a more in depth definition than ‘mood/feeling’, whereas the definitions provided in text were much more complex.

Overall, at the end of week one I am feeling energized and enthusiastic about this unit, though still a little nervous about using wikiversity and tackling the assessment items. I am hoping that after next weeks lecture, I will feel more confident with these aspects of the unit. Lmckenz 02:34, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Week 2: Introduction to Wikiversity[edit]

There was no reading or tutorial for this week, and lecture was on using wikiversity. Thus, an entry was not created this week. Wikiversity logo-refresh example.png

Week 3: Brain & Physiological Needs[edit]

This week’s lecture/readings looked at the physiological aspects of motivation- specifically our needs. A need is essentially any condition that is necessary to live. Overall, it was suggested that there are three main physiological drives for human beings: hunger, thirst, and sex. Essentially it appears that we are driven to return to sense of homeostasis by obtaining food, beverages and sexual gratification. While hunger and thirst are clearly physiological drives (as they are necessary for survival) sex seems to be a more controversial drive.

One reason that people may disregard sex as a primary physiological drive is that individuals who do not engage in sexual behaviour can survive without it. While it may not be necessary for individuals to live, it is certainly necessary for the continuation of a species. This evolutionary perspective is one of the main reasons why sex is considered a physiological need. However, with the advancement of reproductive technology, intercourse is no longer the only means by which a person can become pregnant. This has made me wonder: as technology advances further, can sex still be considered a physiological need? In my opinion, while it may no longer be the sole means of reproduction, and while one can survive without it, the majority of people still need it. Perhaps this is to satisfy the hormonally produced drive to return to homeostasis; or perhaps it’s a psychological issue (in which case I suppose I will find out in next week’s lecture). Either way, it is my personal belief that for adults, sex is an essential part of one’s wellbeing.

Audrey Hepburn Tiffany's.jpg

What I found the most interesting this week was the exploration of physical attraction. I had already learnt in college women are attracted to men based on job type and security, while men physical attractiveness as the most important factor in a potential mate. What I did not yet understand was what exactly makes a person physically attractive. Before today, I could look at a man or woman and know whether they would generally be viewed as attractive or not, but I could not pinpoint exactly what makes that person attractive: particularly in the case of men. I now know that (generally speaking) there are three categories of faces: neonatal features; sexual maturity features; and expressive features.

George Clooney is considered an attractive man among many circles

In men, thick facial hair and signs of post-pubescence are considered attractive qualities. This has made me wonder if this is how that general consensus that men become ‘distinguished with age’ came about. Women, on the other hand, are attractive when they have large eyes, small noses and expressive features. This seems to fit the description of traditional beauties such as Audrey Hepburn and Marylin Monroe. However, I think that a lot of models today seem to possess masculine features (e.g distinct cheekbones and solid jaws). This makes me wonder if maybe their was a shift in the public opinion of what is classified as attractive. I had hoped that a discussion of this nature would take place in my first tutorial.

This week I attended my very first tutorial for the semester. It began with an interesting ice-breaker in which we had to line up in order of thumb size. We also had to split up into different groups based on who we voted for in the election and our favourite take-away. Then we split into groups for ‘textbook chapter buddies’: so that we would have a designated group that we can share our chapter plans with etc. The group that I am with don’t actually seem that enthused about the unit though, which is a bit disappointing. I think I will therefore be inclined to share my ideas with friends from other classes to get their opinions.

We were asked in the tutorial to create our own definition of motivation and emotion: first individually and then in our small groups.These were the definitions we came up with as a group:

  • Motivation: the processes that gives behaviour energy and direction.
  • Emotion: cognitive thoughts and feelings that are descriptive in nature.

I had already made up my own definition during week one. Motivation was again pretty simple to define. Emotion, on the other hand, was again difficult to put into words despite the fact that I had created a definition a couple of weeks ago. It just goes to show how complicated it really is. My hope is that come the second half of the semester, I will be better able to understand the exact components that emotion is made up of.

Week 4: Psychological & Social Needs[edit]

Psychological Needs[edit]

I was very keen to find out what this week's topic had in store for me, as while I have learnt about physiological needs in the psychology 101/102 units, psychological needs is not a topic that I have come across so far in my studies. I now know that psychological needs (like physiological) are both innate and necessary for growth and wellbeing. There appear to be three primary psychological needs: Autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Psychological wellbeing cannot take place unless a combination of these needs are met to some extent. Each need has been briefly defined below:

  • Autonomy: is essentially a need to experience self direction and a feeling of empowerment and control.
  • Competence: The extent to which the individual believes they have necessary skills for their environment.
  • Relatedness: A social element of psychological needs that deals emotional bonds and attachment (note that this is not the same as social needs, given that it is innate).

By the sounds of it, a work place that encourages autonomy would probably result in the most motivated employees: which would be good for business. Unfortunately, a lot of work places (particularly retail in my experience)do not nurture this particular need. To demonstrate, let me share with you my experience at my last job. When I first started working at a ladies boutique in the Canberra Centre around two years ago, I was instructed to dress and act a certain way. This is a given for most jobs, however this particular job had some rather outrageous demands for retail in Canberra. I was expected to wear a full face of make up: Specifically being instructed to wear bright red lipstick for each shift (with the threat that I'd get sent home without it). In addition, high heal shoes were expected to be worn all day: which had to be at least one inch high. We were expected to wear stockings and pearls, to cover tattoos, and to have our hair done as if we were going to spend a night on the town instead of a day in the workplace.In addition to this strict and somewhat ridiculous dress code, we were expected to sell in a manner that I would refer to as 'pushy' (to put it lightly). I was expected to be all over a customer from the moment they walked into the store to the moment they left. This is not the type of approach that I like to take when selling to customers, and it got to the point where I was being forced to do so much that I was uncomfortable with that I actually began to lose motivation for that job. I also began to dread going to work, to the point where I would feel anxious and generally unhappy the day before a shift. Needless to say, it was not good for my personal wellbeing, and certainly did not help me achieve my best in terms of sales targets.

From my above example, you can see that I was neither experiencing autonomy or motivation as a result of that particular job. It was at that point that I had to evaluate whether the pros were outweighing the cons, and I realised that the money simply wasn't a good enough incentive to continue my work there. I am now back in full time uni, and while I do not get to be completely autonomous, I certainly feel that I have much more say in what I do now.

What I liked most about this week's textbook chapter was a section entitled "What Makes a Good Day". Before this week I would have answered this question as "On a good day, good things happen". I never would have thought for myself that meeting the needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness can increase or decrease a person's mood on a day to day basis. However, I think about my mood this week compared to first week of semester, and it starts to make a lot more sense. During the first week I had no assignments or exams to deal with so I spent the time doing what I wanted to do; I socialised quite a bit, and I had no reason to feel incompetent at that point as I did not know what the semester would hold. As a result, I was in a fantastic mood almost every day of that week. Now that I have a mid semester exam next week (and one the week after that) I have to study constantly instead of doing the things that I desire to do and I will not have time to socialise. I am also not feeling entirely confident about my ability to combat what will be a very hectic semester. As you can probably guess, my mood this week has been horrible. At least I can now take some comfort in the fact that if I structure my semester so I have time to do the things I want to do and to remain social, my mood should be more positive.

Talking with the hands.jpg

Social Needs[edit]

Unlike psychological needs, social needs are learnt through experience and socialisation. Once learnt, these needs become activated by by the appearance of environmental incentives. In this sense, they remain dormant within us until a particular situation comes along to activate an emotional and behavioural potential. Essentially the needs are split into the categories of achievement, affiliation, intimacy and power.

One aspect of this topic that I found particularly interesting was the idea of was approach versus avoidance in relation to achievement. It seems that people who are approach or achievement oriented have a go at tasks, tackling them head on. Avoidance-oriented people on the other hand tend to shy away from trying in an attempt to avoid failure. The motivation for these people therefore stems from avoiding the negative outcomes associated with failure, rather than being motivated to aim for the positive outcomes that come with actually achieving the task. By avoiding the task altogether, the person can attribute the failure to being the result of lack of effort, as opposed to personal failure.

Week 5: Motivation & Goal Setting[edit]

People who run because they love it are more likely to stick with it than people who run to look better

This week highlighted the two main types of motivation, being intrinsic and extrinsic. In particular, we looked at the definition and features of both types of motivation, the effectiveness of rewards and contingency management, and goal setting.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic[edit]

Intrinsic motivation comes from within. In other words, it is an inherent desire to pursue a particular goal. This particular form of motivation is therefore based on your own beliefs and values. External motivation, on the other hand, is motivation that comes from one's surrounding environment. Behaviour is therefore encouraged with tangible rewards and incentives, and well as social rewards such as praise. While these two motivators are very different from one another, it is hard to determine which one is determining the behaviour of others. For instance, if I were to look around the lecture room it is near impossible for me to determine why each person sitting there has decided to engage in tertiary education. I can assume that perhaps students that turn up to lectures and tutorials are more intrinsically motivated to learn, while those who do not attend are externally motivated and only care about achieving their degree. However, as an incredibly busy student myself I am all to aware that other factors might be influencing attendance. One can therefore not truly know the motivation without actually interviewing them about it.

One piece of information I found particularly interesting this week was the notion that punishers are not necessarily affective. While they can deter certain behaviours, they are often accompanied by negative side effects such as issues with self esteem, negative emotions and trauma. Yet, we are all brought up with some concept of punishment from childhood. I therefore wonder if it has something to do with the nature of the punishment rather than punishment itself. I cannot imagine parenthood working without any form of punishment for negative behaviour at all. Perhaps smacking a child has become an extreme nowadays, but in my opinion other punishments such as a stern word or having a toy taken away are neither harmful nor out of line. It is my understanding that the parents who rear the most well adjusted children are authoritative, in that they are nurturing but yet dominant. Thus, I believe that if a parent needs to enforce some form of punishment from time to time during early childhood it would not necessarily have a negative impact on the child. Moreover, parents often use punishment to teach the child not to act in a dangerous manner. I know that I personally would rather be yelled at by my mum for trying to stick a fork in the toaster than the alternative to that scenario.

Goal Setting[edit]


Goal setting and motivation is all about where we are now and where we want to be. What a person usually does when they want to change something about themselves or their life is to employ the TOTE method of goal setting. This involves a test, operate, test, exit strategy. Essentially what this means is that the individual first looks at what they want to achieve, and then they follow this with a behaviour that they believe will get them closer to their goal. They then re-test the situation to evaluate whether the goal is met, and if it is they can exit this cycle. If their goal is not yet met, they start the cycle over without exiting.

One example of the TOTE method is writing up the textbook chapter for this unit. To start off, I'll begin by analysing what I want to be in my textbook (test) and then devise a plan as a result (operate). I might then bring that plan into my tutorial group and get feedback on it (test). If I get positive feedback, I can exit the planning stage of my assignment and move on to another mini goal (e.g. research). If. however, I get feedback that it needs more depth, then I go back and start working on the plan again.

Week 6: Control Beliefs & the Self and its Striving[edit]


This was the final week focusing on motivation before we start on emotion after the break. The focus this week was the concept of personal control and the self. Control in a motivational sense refers to the premise that we are exerting as much control over our environment as we possibly can. For me this linked in quite a bit with the view of the self as autonomous- as this concept has to do with doing things the way you want them done. A person who feels that they are in control of a situation acts with more confidence within their environment. With this in mind, I imagine that such individuals would be more likely to achieve as opposed to avoiding situations.

A person may feel in control, but they are only truly empowered when they have the knowledge and skill to go with it

While I believe that sense of control would make a person more likely to attempt things, James pointed out within the lecture that self efficacy doesn't guarantee success. Control is essentially the perception one has that they are in charge of their situation. However, confidence without competence is likely to lead to action, but not necessary to success. As was said in the lecture, a person who is in control still needs the necessary skill to complete a task. For instance, if I go out into the world confident that I can be a psychologist but I have not been fully trained, I'm not likely to be a very helpful psychologist. Thus, individuals need to acquire a state of empowerment to maximise the likelihood of success. This involves not only having the self belief, but skills and knowledge as well.

Apparently happy individuals are more likely to perceive themselves as having control than depressed individuals. However, the more negative perceptions held by the depressed people are considered more realistic than 'healthy' individuals. This fact invites us to ask ourselves- is it better to be accurate and unhappy, or inaccurate and happy? I personally would prefer to have a false sense of confidence in my ability to control situations. In my personal opinion, there seems to be some merit to the phrase 'ignorance is bliss'.

One aspect that I found particularly disturbing was the learned helplessness experiment conducted by Seligman. In this study, dogs were put in one of three conditions: no shock, inescapable shock and escapable shock. Dogs in the two shock groups were placed in a harness type apparatus and administered a shock. Dogs in the escapable condition were able to press a button which would stop the shock. Dogs in the inescapable shock group however could not do anything to stop the shock. When put into a new situation where these same dogs could cross to the other side of a box to escape being shocked, dogs in the inescapable condition did not bother trying to escape. While this was a cruel and somewhat upsetting experiment, this outcome was undeniably intriguing. In humans, learned helplessness can lead to motivational, learning, and emotional deficits.

The self[edit]

The most interesting point that I took away from this particular topic was the idea of Cognitive Dissonance. This is the concept that we experience discomfort as the result of discrepancies between our beliefs and our behaviour. For instance, a teenage girl might have the personal belief that she shouldn't judge others. Yet, when out in the school yard with some girlfriends one day, that same girl gets caught up in teasing a less popular girl behind her back for the clothes she is wearing. The girl may then feel discomfort as a result of this incongruence between her personal belief and her actions. She has one of two choices to rectify this. Either she can change her behaviour in future instances by keeping her mouth shut when her friends start gossiping, or she can change her belief pattern. She may therefore change her beliefs so that maybe picking on that one girl is not going against her beliefs because she deserved it in some way.

Week 7[edit]

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the tutorial this week, and there was no lecture or reading.

Week 9: Nature of Emotion[edit]

Defining emotion[edit]

It became clear within the tutorial 1 that emotion is difficult to define. This week has made the definition of emotion a little clearer. Emotion is a combination of feelings and associated bodily changes that are usually socially expressed. Before this semester I had a basic idea of what emotions were (even if I had trouble verbalising my own definition) but I had never really contemplated the reason why we have them. I therefore found it particularly interesting to learn their purpose: to motivate behaviour.

Grass of Happiness.jpg

Now that I think about it, when people are made happy by a particular behaviour they are more likely to do it. For instance, the majority of people (at least those in my life) really enjoy food, and this ultimately motivates them primarily to eat, but it can also motivate people to take an interest in cooking. In terms of my textbook chapter- motivation of promiscuity- I anticipate that positive emotions would be motivating people to partake in such behaviours. Alternatively, maybe they are initially experiencing negative emotions, and are trying to escape these through partaking in sexual promiscuity. While I won’t have enough time to explore emotional aspects separately for my textbook chapter, this is something that I would be interested in following up after the semester when I have more time on my hands.

Grey areas[edit]

In the lecture and readings for this week, five main questions regarding emotion were posed:

  • what is emotion?
  • what causes emotion?
  • How many emotions are there?
  • What good are emotions?
  • What is the difference between emotion and mood?

These questions were to an extent answered within the lecture. After listening to the lecture today, i decided to put together some questions of my own:

  • Are all emotions necessary for function today?
  • Is love an emotion?
  • Can you experience emotion without bodily arousal?
  • What are the consequences of negative affect?
  • Is sadness really the most negative emotion?

These questions were inspired in part by some of the points that were touched on during the lecture that were not fully explored. Some of these questions were explored within the readings, however other questions still remained unanswered. One question that is now answered for me is ‘can you experience emotion without bodily arousal?’. According to Reeve (2009) bodily arousal and emotion are strongly interlinked. After having thought about it, the answer to this question seems to be ‘no’. When I think of the experience of an emotion like fear, it is hard to imagine that feeling without a racing heart, and that general feeling of panic that is caused by physiological changes. Fear would not be an intense or highly motivating emotion without these accompanying bodily reactions. It was this thought that lead me to the realisation that the feelings associated with a particular emotion are probably caused by such bodily arousal.


I have been tossing up whether sadness is a more negative emotion than aggression, and having thought about it I am now in agreement that sadness is the most negative emotion. Thinking back on times when I have been angry, it has always motivated me to do something. At the very least, I have reacted by speaking to someone to vent my anger: even if they were not the cause of this emotion. Ultimately, behaviour brought about by anger has generally been positive (e.g. talking to someone has stopped a build up of negative emotions) and the emotion tends to pass quickly. However, I have found that sadness leads to less productive behaviour (e.g. sulking). For me, sadness can be paralysing, and is more likely to result in a long term negative mood. In my experience, this particular emotion is more likely to be pent up rather than shared with others.

When people are angered, it’s an energizing emotion that makes you feel you must take some form of immediate action. Sadness on the other hand seems to slow you down, and in the long term (in my opinion) it’s far more likely to lead to psychological distress. These are the consequences of negative affect, and they are also what made me wonder if all emotions are necessary. As sadness seems to impair function, I don’t entirely understand what good it does people. However, I have come to the conclusion that it is part of what makes us human. I try to imagine the world without sadness, and I begin to imagine a world without empathy. Could we truly experience positive emotions like happiness and love for others if we did not have that opposite emotion of sadness when we lost that love?.. I honestly don’t think that we could.

My final question is whether love is actually an emotion. James suggested in the lecture that perhaps some people would consider it an emotion, while others may consider it a mood. I am yet to determine the answer for this particular question, and will continue to search for an answer over the coming weeks.

Week 10: Aspects of Emotion[edit]

There appear to be three major influences on emotion, each of which has its own set of explanations and theory. For this week’s entry, I will be addressing the points that I found the most interesting and thought provoking for each aspect.

Biological aspects[edit]

Many of the physiological perspectives seemed to imply that emotion is a reaction to physiological changes within the body. However, I seem to recall James saying within the lecture that experiments have been conducted in which physiological reactions have not increased emotions. My opinion is therefore that perhaps we cognitively interpret the event (as will be discussed in the cognitive aspect) and that this interpretation evokes an emotion that is simultaneously accompanied by the relative physiological response.
I found it really interesting that this perspective names 10 emotions. I would have thought that there would be a lot more. It is now my understanding however that these are the basic and universal emotions, and that perhaps there are more that stem from this. Ekman’s seven reasons for this number of emotions made this much clearer. According to Ekman, more emotions can be gained through experience, while other attitudes, disorders and moods can be confused for emotion. It was during this explanation that an explanation of ‘love was offered.

It was suggested within the lecture that love could be a combination of lust, caring and empathy. This is one possible answer to the question I posed in my last entry: Is love really an emotion? The answer offered here is that love is not an emotion, but rather a combination of different feelings, attitudes and mood. This is also the answer that makes the most sense to me. I was beginning to doubt that love was in fact an emotion because emotions are short term, while love is generally long term.

Cognitive aspects[edit]

You cannot experience emotion until you think about a situation's meaning

Before this week I hadn’t actually considered the possibility that without contemplation, emotion would fail to exist. This idea was put forward in the cognitive perspective of emotion, and I now strongly agree with the premise. Initially I thought of emotions as automatic- mostly because they are experienced almost automatically. For instance, when I get a good grade, I almost immediately experience joy: while I immediately feel sadness when I hear that someone important in my life is moving away.
What I failed to consider was the fact that these events (as stated within the lecture and readings) are ambiguous. Therefore a good grade, without cognitive interpretations, would have no meaning and thus could not possibly change my emotions on its own. It is my interpretation of that grade (e.g. ‘I’ve been successful at something’, ‘my hard work has paid off’ or ‘this increases my likelihood of going on to honors’) that give this particular event meaning. Similarly, if a friend of mine moves away and I don’t think about those implications (e.g. ‘This is a person I care about and they won’t be around anymore’) their move probably won’t elicit that particular emotion.

This entire concept makes me wonder if we have the power to regulate our own emotions. Since emotion is affected by cognition, could we manipulate our cognitions to bring about less negative emotions when a negative event happens? My initial thought is that this may work for mood (as it is more long term), but is probably less likely to work for emotions because our cognition of the event is so quick: we would virtually have to change our beliefs about situations permanently for this to work. It is still interesting to consider, however, and I think research on the matter would be very interesting.

Socio-cultural aspects[edit]

Love is one emotion that is interpreted differently across cultures

The most interesting thing that I learnt this week was the cultural differences in the interpretation of emotions. Specifically, the experiment looking at differences in the interpretation of Love by Chinese and American participants was, to me, fascinating. When James first mentioned in the lecture that Chinese individuals interpret love as a negative or ‘sad’ emotion, I thought this was a ridiculous notion. Evidently it seemed that I had a bit of a cultural bias, as I could not see beyond the norm of Australian society that love is a positive thing that most people strive to experience. It was after I read this week’s chapter of Reeve (2009) that I began to understand why the Chinese have this view.

It was stated within the chapter that this view had a lot to do with arranged marriages, and the idea that love could ultimately lead to disrespect of the parents. It was when I began to think back on experiences during high school/college that I began to see where they were coming from. During school, kids began to defy their parents for the sake of their relationships with their boyfriend/girlfriend. I remember many of my friends getting into fights with their parents over what they could or could not do. Everyone began spending less time with their families and more time off with their partners. Moreover, several of the people I knew had come from fairly religious families, and went on to defy the beliefs about sex after marriage as a result of these relationships: which did not go down well with their parents. In this sense, I can understand why it would be considered a negative emotion. Despite this thought, I still struggle to view love as a negative emotion, as while it can have negative implications for the family, it generally seems to be a positive emotion for the individual who is experiencing it.

Week 11: Personality, Motivation & Emotion[edit]


Towards the beginning of this week’s lecture, a question was posed that I am certain everyone has pondered over at some stage in their lives:

Why do people react differently to the same situation”.

When one asks this question, the likelihood is that the answer they receive will simply be ‘everyone is different’. The question often remains, however, is there some commonality in the way in which people differ? More specifically, are there certain traits that make us more or less likely to enjoy a situation as opposed to hating it? These are the sorts of questions that I have often asked myself over the years, and this week’s topic seems to have addressed such questions.

OCEAN & Emotion[edit]

It is hard not to wonder why one person has fun at the same party that other people find themselves bored at.These differences, according to this week's lecture and readings, is in large part influenced by the underlying personality traits of each individual. The combination of traits within each individual is what makes our thoughts, feelings and behaviour so unique compared to everyone else. It seems that our traits influence our emotions, and our emotions influence our behaviour. Thus, individual differences in our reactions to specific situations emerge as a result of our personality. As our traits are not passive in nature, they influence the choices we make.

Evidence suggests that there are five general personality traits that each individual possesses.

  • Openness- wanting new experiences
  • Conscientiousness- attention to detail, punctuality
  • Extraversion- sociability, assertiveness, venturesomeness
  • Agreeableness- easy to get along with
  • Neuroticism- negative affect

Several different personality tests have been developed to assess the degree to which people are open, conscientious, extraverted, agreeable or neurotic. Rather than state that a person either has the trait or not, the results of such assessment suggest that a person is either 'high' or 'low' for that characteristic. It is apparent that the majority of the population will score 'average' for personality traits, and thus very few people will be at the extremes (high or low). Interestingly enough, I actually took the IPIP-NEO personality test as part of my involvement in the 'Personality and Individual Differences' unit earlier this semester, and found that while I scored high/low on particular sub-traits within each of the five factors, I did score fairly average overall for openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness and neuroticism. However, I did happen to score high in extraversion. This last score came as a particular shock to me, as I previously did not consider myself an extravert by any means.It has become apparent to me, however, that extraversion is not simply a matter of whether someone is loud or particularly outgoing. What many people (including myself) fail to realise is that extaversion is about sociability, as well as sensation seeking and the ability to experience more positive emotions. In this light, I can now happily embrace my 'extraversion'.

I found it of interest that James used the example of the textbook chapter to assess conscientiousness. It was suggested within the lecture that perhaps a highly conscientious person would have worked throughout the semester on their chapter, while someone low on conscientiousness would be more likely to have left the assignment til the last minute. What I began to wonder, however, was whether this example could possibly link to extraversion as well. Perhaps those who leave their textbook chapters to the last minute do so because of their desire to socialize, or from the lack of arousal they get from doing assignments. Or yet another possibility is that as they are sensation seekers, perhaps they enjoy the thrill of last minute submissions. While the answer is unknown to me, I find the whole concept fascinating.

Arousal & Sensation seeking[edit]

Some people live for the thrill of adventure sports while others shudder at the thought of jumping out of a plane. I find myself somewhere in the middle. It is apparent after this weeks lecture and readings that people have a tendency to function best when they have an average arousal level. Sensation seeking is a characteristic strongly affiliated with extraversion. An extraverted individual will generally have low baseline arousal, and thus will constantly be seeking more arousal from their external environment. Thus, they look for novel situations, and can become bored with routine. This could explain why some people are content with quiet activities and routine, while others need 'excitement' and adventure. In certain situations, this search for arousal can lead to risky or problem behaviours.

According to the textbook, a person who is under-aroused is less likely to perform well compared to someone who is of moderate arousal. This made perfect sense to me. However, it was at first confusing for me to learn that people with high arousal tend to perform worse than if they had moderate arousal. My immediate assumption was the opposite. However, after thinking through a few examples within my own life, it began to make sense to me. For instance, within my retail job I am often working at a moderate arousal level. If, however, I become particularly excitable (perhaps from working with someone I enjoy socializing with) I become easily distracted and tend to slow down in terms of productivity.


What the textbook and lecture material seemed to convey this week was that perception of control is almost as important as the level of actual control. I find this to be particularly true within my own life. This semester, for instance, I am undertaking 6 units instead of the usual 4. As a result, my uni life, work life, and social life have all changed dramatically.There have been times when I have had perfect control over this situation, but have felt like I have no control whatsoever. It is during times like this that I begin to lose the plot a little bit- become less engaged with my situation, and my performance is negatively effected as a result. However, there have been times that under the exact same conditions I seem to have the perception that everything is under control. It is within these situations that I seem to do my best work.I can therefore certainly identify with the self-confirming cycle mentioned in this week's lecture. This just goes to show you how powerful perceptions can be. --Lmckenz 00:14, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Week 12- Unconscious motivation[edit]

A common psychoanalytic metaphor for our mind is an iceberg. Only a small portion of it is above the surface (conscious), while the majority of it hides below the surface (preconscious/unconscious)

The central premise of this week's topic is that a lot of our drive comes from unconscious forms of motivation. The topic was, as James described it, a darker view of human nature in that it really focuses on aspects of ourselves that we cannot control. Unconscious motivation is derived from two theories: the early psychoanalytic theory, and the more recent psychodynamic theory. Given that the texbook chapter is due next week I will not be going too deeply into this week's entry, but I will highlight what I thought to be the main points.

The theories of unconscious motivation posit that motivation is something that happens to us, rather than being something that we choose to do. It is apparent that much of our cognitive processes (and some motivations) are unconscious; and this is useful in that it conserves energy that we can use for other purposes. To explain unconscious motivation, Freud proposed the Dual Istincts theory- suggesting that we have two major instincts that motivate us: The life instinct (Eros) and the death instinct (Thanatos). However, this theory is not used within the contemporary psychodynamic approach.

Psychodynamics- focuses on the conflict between the id and the ego. A good example that I was taught back in college was to think of it as a parent and child relationship. The Id is like a child- in the sense that it wants something pleasurable and it wants it now; with no regard for the concept of delayed gratification. The parent on the other hand is more experienced and conscious, and knows that getting everything you want in the present doesn’t always work out in respect to the future. Thus they remain in a state of conflict, with the id whinging that it wants something, and the ego deciding whether that is an appropriate thing to obtain right now.

Ego Defense[edit]

The ego is incredibly vulnerable, and thus has to utilize defense mechanisms to protect itself from negative outcomes such as rejection, failure and embarrassment. These mechanisms arise in a hierarchy based on level of maturity and adaptivity. From least to most developed, the mechanisms are as follows:

  • Denial
  • Fantasy
  • Projection
  • Displacement
  • Identification
  • Regression
  • Reaction Formation
  • Rationalization
  • Anticipation
  • Humour
  • Sublimation

The order of this list actually makes sense in terms of maturational age. While I can understand why the list was sorted into a hierarchy in terms of maturity, I think that once you've passed that stage of maturation you could go back to that mechanism again later. For instance, I believe that fully matured adults would still be likely to adopt denial in times of turmoil, and I feel the same for projection. Of the list above, I would have to say that I tend to use rationalization and humour more so than anything else. However, I can certainly think of instances where I have used most of the other mechanisms at some point in my life.

Week 13[edit]

maslow's hierarchy of needs:physiological needs must be satisfied first

After last week's darker look at human nature, it was nice to finish off with a more positive view of motivation and psychology. This particular topic focussed a great deal on Maslow's concept of self actualisation: the ultimate goal of self striving in which one reaches a state of autonomy and openness. It involves total self dependence and to self-regulate thoughts, feelings and behaviours. The future for all of us who strive for this state are in for an rude awakening, however, as it is thought that only one percent of the population reach this point. To meet this need, we must first meet the other four levels of the need hierarchy.

When a person has met their physiological, security, belongingness and esteem needs, they then begin longing to fulfill their full potential. One is therefore motivated to become everything that they have the potential of becoming. It is apparent that there are particular characteristics that increase or decrease that person's likelihood for growth achievement. For instance, it is believed that particularly warm, genuine and empathetic people are more likely to experience growth. In addition, James cited six other characteristics likely to encourage growth:

  • Honesty
  • Openness to experience
  • Allowing the self to emerge
  • Making growth oriented choices
  • Position self in peak experiences
  • Giving up defensiveness

While the characteristics mentioned earlier seem to describe specific personality traits, the six characteristics listed above are all aspects that could potentially be learned over time through modifying one's own behaviour. For instance, an individual who is normally deceitful (to themselves or others)can change their behaviour to become more honest in time. Similarly, a person could work out what kind of experiences would help them achieve growth, and could then enroll themselves within the appropriate situations. These aspects all seem to be possible for almost everyone, given that people know where they want to go in life and that they are motivated enough to do so.

Week 14: Summary and Conclusion[edit]

And so we reach the final week of the unit Motivation & Emotion. It has been a deep an insightful journey into what makes people behave the way they do. I would like to begin bringing all the information I have now learnt by highlighting one main point that I took away from each week.

Points of Interest:

  • Introduction to Motivation and Emotion: Motivation is the intrinsic or extrinsic drive to do something.
  • Physiological needs: Our three primary physiological drives are thirst, hunger and sex.
  • Psychological/Social needs: There are three main psychological needs- Autonomy, competence & relatedness. A combination of these needs is required for psychological growth and wellbeing
  • Intrinsic/Extrinsic motivation: Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than extrinsic
  • Control & the Self: To be truly successful in a situation, one needs to reach empowerment- the state in which one has belief in their self in addition to necessary skills and knowledge.
  • Nature of Emotion: is a combination of feelings and bodily changes that are often socially expressed.
  • Aspects of Emotion:Emotion can be explained through a biological, cognitive or socio-cultural point of view.
  • Personality, Motivation & Emotion: Our traits are not passive in nature, and thus influence our actions
  • Unconscious Motivation: you can respond to unconscious motivation but you cannot control it
  • Growth & Positive Psychology: To become self actualised, one must first meet their more basic needs

There were three main learning objectives for this semester: to explain, predict and apply concepts of motivation. I felt that the lecture and reading material took care of the first point- as they outlined the definitions and theories necessary to understand what exactly motivation is as well as it's underlying mechanisms. In terms of prediction, the lectures and assigned textbook gave me the information necessary to understand which situations certain behaviour is likely to occur. Furthermore, by writing my own textbook chapter on promiscuity, I now have a much clearer understanding of what factors are associated with promiscuous behaviour. For instance, I now know that extraverted individuals are more likely to engage in such behaviour than introverts. Finally, through the personal examples that I have provided throughout this portfolio, I have been able to apply theory and concepts of motivation (and emotion for that matter) to my own life.

Now that we have looked at both motivation and emotion, I understand how emotion can actually effect motivation. When I first began this unit, I thought that perhaps emotions would directly impact on motivation, and to an extent this is the case. As individual who is sad is probably far less likely to feel motivated to achieve at work that day. However, emotions go further than this, by working as an indicator for how well we're going towards reaching our goals. When we start to feel positive emotions, we know we're on the right track to our goals. For instance, during this semester I have had productive and unproductive days. On days when I was studying hard and felt I was starting to understand the material I felt joy, whereas on days where I procrastinated I felt guilt, sorrow, anger and frustration. As I started reaching my goals throughout semester I began to receive feedback through the form of grades- informing me that I was on the right track. This finding always lead to a positive emotion (which was not only indicative of being on the right track for my goals, but also acted as an incentive in itself).

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in this unit, and I have worked very hard to ensure that I have engaged in each topic, to get the most out of this learning experience.


The information featured in this portfolio has come from lectures and the assigned textbook chapter below:

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