User:Megan O'Connell

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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.

Motivation and Emotion[edit]

Motivation and Emotion Scrabble.jpg

My E-Portfolio[edit]

This e-portfolio will be a record of my learning over the course of the semester while completing the psychology unit Motivation and Emotion.

Textbook Chapter and Accompanying Multimedia Presentation[edit]

Also as part of the assessment for this unit, I will be contributing a chapter to a Motivation and Emotion student text book. My topic is Motivation and Depression.

The accompanying multimedia presentation which provides a 5 minute summary of the key chapter points can be found here Multimedia presentation.

Week 3 E-portfolio Entry - Looking back over the last three weeks[edit]

I am now three weeks into the unit Motivation and Emotion. Already I have learnt many new things and find myself wanting to learn even more about the interesting areas of motivation and emotion. I am really looking forward to delving deeper into topics related to motivation and emotion in the coming weeks. In particular, I am interested to learn about motivation that occurs at an unconscious level.

Freud distinguished between preconscious and unconscious motivation

Freud viewed motivation as something that is based around satisfying unconscious instinctual impulses. Freud distinguished between preconscious and unconscious motivation. He explained these concepts using a metaphor of two adjoining rooms which were separated by a doorway. Our unconscious thoughts and impulses live in the larger room and attempt to enter the preconscious by slipping undetected through the doorway between the two rooms. Our thoughts and impulses that live in the smaller room in the preconscious area, try to steal the attention of the conscious (Deckers, 2010). I find this really fascinating and can recall times in my own life when I can apply this model. I hope we cover Freud’s ideas related to unconscious motivation in more detail later in the semester.

In this unit I am also interested to learn about the links between personality and motivation. Is someone with a particular personality type or trait, more likely to be highly motivated or less motivated than someone else with a different trait? I also look forward to the topic of growth psychology otherwise known as positive psychology and how motivation impacts on this. I think that this is closely related to self motivation and goal setting behaviours. I see self motivation as an essential part of my life. The key is action and positivity.

In the first lecture of the unit we looked at an overview of motivation. I am confident that I have an understanding of the concept of motivation but would find it hard to comprehensively define. The definition that I took away from the lecture was that motivation equals energy and direction. In other words, motivation can be seen as the processes that give our behaviour its energy and direction (Reeve, 2009). As humans, we are constantly motivated to act in certain ways. From a simple everyday action such as brushing your teeth of a morning, to studying for a major exam, to controlling an undesired behaviour in a particular situation, these are all actions that require a level of motivation.

Motivation is closely related to behaviour. Someone’s action or behaviour does not just happen spontaneously but is somehow induced by internal motives or environmental incentives, or a combination of the two (Deckers, 2010). A motive is a person’s “internal disposition to be concerned with and approach positive incentives and avoid negative incentives” (Deckers, 2010). This is seen in everyday life as people continually take part in behaviours due in part to some level of motivation. Whether this is motivation to conduct a certain behaviour because the end outcome will be something positive for example “I am motivated to attend all of my lectures and tutorials at university so I will pass my units and earn a degree,” or whether the motivation is to engage in a behaviour in order to avoid a negative outcome for example “I am motivated to pay my phone bill on time otherwise I will have to pay a late fine.” In this way, I see motivation as being closely linked to learning. The principles of learning are focused around the same key idea – learning takes place through the receiving of rewards and punishments.

"I am motivated to attend lectures in order to graduate."
"I am motivated to pay my phone bill on time to avoid a penalty."

Motivation is also closely related to emotion, the other focus of this unit for later in the semester. Emotions may feed motivation or become a byproduct of it. According to Reeve (2009), emotion is one of the four key sources of motivation for people. The other three are:

  • needs
  • cognitions
  • external events.

The second lecture was focused around the assessment that we will complete for this unit and some core skills to be able to do this, namely getting the hang of using Wikiversity. I was a bit hesitant about the concept of doing everything on Wikiversity as I have never done anything like that before, but after attending the lecture and learning many helpful hints from the expert James, I felt more confident in tackling the Wikiversity mountain! I really like the sound of the textbook chapter which will form the main piece of assessment in this unit. Instead of doing a regular essay, we are required to write a chapter for a Motivation and Emotion textbook and include additional learning features that you would normally find in a textbook, which I think will be both exciting and challenging. The idea is that at the end, all the students in the unit combine their chapters to form one comprehensive textbook. Hopefully once it is up on Wikiversity, other members of the public including other university students will find it helpful and relevant. I certainly would find it helpful!

For the textbook chapter I have elected to do the topic motivation and depression. I chose this topic because I am very interested in psychological disorders and how these impact upon individuals. I think that motivation in particular will be very interesting to look at. I would like to investigate how different levels of motivation impact the likelihood of someone experiencing symptoms of depression and also once someone has depression, how this impacts upon their levels of motivation. Further, are there additional interacting factors that exert influence such as personality type?

In the coming week or so I will hopefully be able to come up with a more concrete plan for the content of my chapter to allow me to start thinking how I will compose the chapter. I hope to come up with some initial title ideas, possible heading names and potential questions to guide my research.

This week I also had my first tutorial for Motivation and Emotion. I enjoyed the activities that we were asked to do and found the content stimulating. Also in this tutorial, we formed groups of four which we will be a part of for the entire semester. As a member of my group, I look forward to sharing ideas and helping each other get the most out of the tutorials. I hope that we can also provide feedback to each other to assist in the textbook chapter writing. I think I will be able to get a lot out of the tutorial for this unit and I look forward to the coming ones.


Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, USA: Allyn & Bacon.

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

Weeks 4 and 5 E-portfolio[edit]

The lecture in Week 4 focused on psychological and social needs. I had not heard of either of these types of needs before. I suppose I had always conceptualised a human need as more of a physiological need rather than something psychological or social. However, after listening to the lecture I realised that human need is a much broader concept and encompasses far more than just physiological needs such as food and drink.

Reeve (2009) defines a psychological need as “an inherent source of motivation that generates the desire to interact with the environment so as to advance personal growth, social development and psychological well-being.” Psychological needs are innate and pre-programmed, similar to a physiological need. I found this quite fascinating; that we have an inherent need to grow and socially develop. This is a very positive human attribute and makes me wonder what then goes wrong in those people who are not motivated to satisfy these important psychological needs in life.

Once physical needs are met, psychological needs can be addressed. Deckers’ (2010) expresses this as a process of emergence, “in some cases psychological needs are assumed to emerge into consciousness from physiological needs.” Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs parallels this sequence in that his model assumes physiological needs must be satisfied before psychological needs (security, friendship, belonging, esteem and self-actualisation) can be addressed.

Deckers’ (2010) lists seven needs that have emerged as significant in the motivation of behaviour:

Need Description
Achievement the need to achieve and to avoid failure
Power the need to have a certain level of power and to show authority
Cognition the need to structure relevant situations in meaningful and integrated ways
Esteem the need to feel as though you are a worthy person who is as good as anyone else
Autonomy the need to feel as though you are the cause of your own actions rather than external forces
Competence the need to feel capable and effective in your actions
Relatedness the need to affiliate or to belong

The last four needs (esteem, autonomy, competence and relatedness) are viewed to be the strongest psychological needs for humans. The last three also make up the Self-Determination Theory that was covered this week. I see that these last four needs have numerous implications for motivation. I think that they are all large internal motivators for people and that when people are given the opportunity to fulfill these needs, they can feel a sense of positive affect. In turn, this impacts positively upon people’s motivation levels. I know personally, that if I am feeling optimistic and also other positive emotions towards a particular situation or task, I am much more likely to be motivated to take action and to remain motivated for a longer period of time.

I think that the psychological need of relatedness is one of the most important social needs for people. Everyone desires to feel as though they belong in some way and feel connected, whether this is to a family, a sporting team, a group of friends or even a pet! I feel that this idea of affiliation also refers to the desire and the motive to establish and sustain positive social relationships, a vital aspect to psychological well-being.

I found autonomy, another of the key psychological needs listed, to be very interesting. From the lecture, I learnt that an individual’s performance tends to be better when they have a higher level of perceived autonomy. This higher level of perceived autonomy means that the individual would feel like they are in control of their actions because they view that their actions are purely caused by what they do, rather than being controlled by factors outside of their control such as luck. I think that what is known of the connection between improved performance and autonomy can be applied in a number of practical settings, for example educational settings and in the workplace.

3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept.jpg

This autonomy and performance relationship reminded me of the Lewin leadership studies that I learnt about when I studied social psychology. In his studies, Lewin (1939) identified three different styles of leadership: authoritarian (or autocratic), democratic (or participative) and laissez-faire.

  • Authoritarian: leaders make decisions with no input from the group, leader is controlling and dictatorial, clear division between leader and followers.
  • Democratic: leader involves the group in decision-making, leader encourages participation, group members feel engaged and therefore are more motivated.
  • Laissez-faire: leaders offer hardly any guidance to the group and leave decision-making to group. This leads to poorly defined roles and less motivation (Cherry, 2010).

Lewin found that the democratic leadership style was the most effective and that this group was much more productive. In this style of leadership, the group members shared a sense of autonomy which led to better satisfaction overall and better performance outcomes. This gives evidence to the autonomy need being viewed as a factor in better performance and therefore should be taken onboard by educators and employers alike.

What's your personal leadership style?

Try the simple online quiz now!
Click here to do the quiz

Psychological needs can be contrasted with social needs. A psychological need, as mentioned previously, is viewed as being something key to psychological growth and well-being. On the other hand, while social needs are also very important and contribute to our growth, they are not viewed as innate. So a social need is something that is learnt and acculturated through experience, the society in which we live and those around us.

While listening to the Week 5 lecture regarding goal setting and intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, I started thinking about avoidance versus approach motivation. This has been mentioned in a couple of the lectures so far, but I think that it can apply to almost every week’s topic. Approach motivation can be seen as the energisation of behaviour by, or the direction of behaviour toward, positive stimuli. On the contrary, avoidance motivation is the energisation of behaviour by, or the direction of behaviour away from negative stimuli (Elliot, 2006). This can be towards or away from objects, events or possibilities. I see that having an approach motivation frame of mind will lead to more goal setting behaviour and a higher level of intrinsic motivation.

I think that the best example of avoidance motivation is expressed through procrastination. While it is easy to remain in the cycle of continually procrastinating, once you have taken the step and made a start on the task, I think that avoidance motivation disappears and approach motivation and the need for achievement kicks in. I find this is the case for me personally when I tackle a university assignment. It is often very hard for me to get motivated to approach the task, but once I have made a start, I am strongly motivated to approach the assignment determinedly and to achieve the end result of finishing the assignment.

I found an interesting website about procrastination that I thought I would share. The site is entitled What can you learn from squirrels about motivation, procrastination and intent? The articles introduces Squeak the Squirrel, a motivated squirrel who likes to solve problems. Squirrels have long been considered special in their natural abilities to survive by being resourceful, versatile and creative problem-solvers. The article goes on to detail what Squeak can teach us about squirrel’s abilities and how they can help humans to stop procrastination and foster motivation.

Meet Squeak the Squirrel!

Squeak’s positive behaviours:

  • The squirrel maintains focus and is determined
  • The squirrel acts with a sense of purpose and without doubt-creating judgments
  • The squirrel doesn’t write a ‘to do’ list like humans or concern itself with weight control, both tasks which can be procrastination hot spots
  • The squirrel isn’t burdened by difficulty
  • The squirrel doesn’t weigh down itself by equivocating over detail.

And as for tips to stop procrastination? Squeak advises that we can be like the squirrel and:

  • Stay in the moment and remain focused on our long term goal
  • When we come to a obstacle (such as procrastination), we can use approach motivation and rise to meet the challenge
  • We either find a solution or move on
  • Take advantage of random discoveries and use trial and error methods to find solutions.

This article made me smile and I took away some helpful tips related to approach motivation. My goal setting activity for this week will be to put these tips into practice!


Cherry, K. (2010). Lewin’s leadership styles. Retrieved September 16, 2010, from

Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, USA: Allyn & Bacon.

Elliot, A. (2006). The hierarchical model of approach-avoidance motivation. Motivation and Emotion, 30, 111-116.

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

Weeks 6 and 7 E-portfolio[edit]

The lecture in Week 6 focused on personal control beliefs and the self and its strivings.

Looking at the self!

I found a few things in this lecture particularly interesting. Firstly, the idea of expectancies and how they are related to the motivation to employ self control. Expectancy is a subjective prediction of how likely it is that an event will occur. There are two types of expectancies:

1. Efficacy Expectations – “Can I do it?”
2. Outcome Expectations – “Will what I do work?”

A combination of these two expectancies can be seen to lead to the motivation to exercise personal control (Reeve, 2009). I was keen to find out more about the link between the idea of expectancy and motivation so I did some reading and came across Vroom’s Expectancy Theory (1964). His theory states that “an individual will act in a certain way based on the expectation (belief) that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual” (Clark, 2010). Vroom explained that for an individual to be motivated, effort, performance and motivation must be linked. He came up with three variables to account for this: Valence, Expectancy and Instrumentality.

Valence (reward) is the amount of desire for a goal or the importance that the individual places upon the expected outcome. For example if someone is motivated purely by money in their job, they probably would not value or be motivated by an offer of additional time off.

Expectancy (performance) is the belief that increased effort will subsequently lead to increased performance. For example if I study harder before my exam, I will perform better on the test. This performance is affected by having the necessary skills to complete the task, for example having attending the lectures and read the text book, having required support, for example the support of a lecturer or tutor and having the right resources, for example the text book, lecture notes and time.

Instrumentality (belief) is the belief that the valued outcome or reward will be received once the task is completed. This can be affected by having a clear understanding of the relationship between performance and outcomes and the transparency of the process that determines the outcomes/reward (Clark, 2010; Droar, 2006).

The product of valence, expectancy, and instrumentality is motivation. Looking at this expectancy theory it seems very applicable to an employment situation and looking at motivations of employees. However I see that it could equally apply to any situation where an individual does something because they expect a certain outcome. People do things for expected outcomes constantly. For example, I recycle paper because I think that it is important to preserve resources and to stand up for environmental issues (valence), I think that the more effort that I put into recycling the more paper I will recycle (expectancy), and I think that the more paper I recycle the less resources will be used (instrumentality). Therefore, I view this theory as the links people make towards expected outcomes and the contribution they feel they can make towards those outcomes.

When reading about this theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model came to mind. Maslow’s model describes which outcomes motivate people while Vroom’s expectancy theory describes whether people will act based upon their experience and expectations.

The other concept I enjoyed learning about in the lecture was self-efficacy. Self-efficacy can be seen as one’s beliefs about how capable they are in performing a certain behaviour in order to achieve a goal (Deckers,2010). A strong predictor of someone’s behaviour is self-efficacy. Indications of someone’s success of failure at a particular task can either raise or lower their level of self-efficacy and this in turn will most likely affect the future achievement striving of that person (Deckers, 2010). I read about a study which illustrates this effect nicely. Weinberg and colleagues (1979) compared high and low level self-efficacy participants on their ability to perform a leg muscle endurance task. The low self-efficacy condition was produced by telling participants they were competing against a track athlete who had performed better than them on a similar task. The high-self efficacy condition was produced by telling participants they were competing against a person with a knee injury and who had performed badly on a similar task.

Participants were measured doing a muscle endurance task.

The participants’ measures of self-efficacy were low when they compared themselves with the athlete and higher when they compared themselves to the person with the knee injury. Additionally, the participants with high self-efficacy predicted better levels of performance and also performed better on the leg muscle endurance task compared to participants with lower self-efficacy (Deckers, 2010).

Self-efficacy therefore is an important attribute for an individual. Unless individuals believe that their actions can produce desired outcomes, then there is little incentive to act and to persist and keep trying in the face of adversity. I think that self-efficacy impacts upon everyone – whether they think pessimistically or optimistically, how they motivate themselves if at all in difficult circumstances, their level of vulnerability to stress and certain mental illnesses and also how people self-regulate. I think that self-efficacy is also vitally important as it relates to goal setting. The setting of goals can allow people to test their self-efficacy.

In the tutorial in Week 7 we covered concepts of learned helplessness and learned optimism and life effectiveness. I find the topic of learned helplessness quite fascinating. Learned helplessness can be defined as the psychological state that results when an individual expects that life’s outcomes are uncontrollable (Reeve, 2009). The famous experiments by Seligman and Maier in the 1970s demonstrated learned helplessness in dogs and this has subsequently been applied in humans. I found it interesting in the lecture in Week 6 that learned helplessness was described as a smart response in many ways. This surprised me at first but when I thought about it some more it made sense. For example there is not much point in repeatedly banging your head against a door if it is not moving and not going to move. So in this case, learning to be helpless and conserve energy by not banging repeatedly on the door can be seen as a good thing. However, repeated incidents such as these may have longer lasting negative effects, for example learning to simply give up and being helpless when times are tough.

Conversely, learned optimism can be seen as the opposite of learned helplessness and concerns the idea of teaching yourself to think optimistically. Learned optimism is an area of positive psychology. In the tutorial we undertook Seligman’s Optimism Test to see how optimistic or pessimistic we were. My overall result said that I was very pessimistic. I was quite shocked at this result as I see myself as generally an optimistic person, and definitely not as very pessimistic. It was interesting to see that the vast majority of my tutorial class said the same thing about their results. This provoked a discussion about the actual measure Seligman used. Many of my fellow students felt that the questions were geared towards pessimism and that while many people answered ‘yes’ to the more pessimistic option for the questions, they felt that this pessimistic quality was situation specific and did not reflect their personality overall. I agree with this and saw this in my own responses. I also think it is important to remember that being optimistic and having a certain amount of inflated self-bias is healthy. This assists in the avoidance of many negatives and even avoidance of mental health issues. However on the other hand, too much of this bias is not positive and may lead to more narcissistic behaviours.

Week 6 was the last of the lectures specifically on motivation. Next term we switch to focusing on emotion. I am looking forward and feeling motivated to learn about emotion!

The rest of the semester will focus on emotion.


Clark, D. (2010). Leadership and human behaviour. Retrieved October 2, 2010, from

Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, USA: Allyn & Bacon.

Droar, D. (2006). Expectancy theory of motivation. Retrieved October 2, 2010, from

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

Weeks 9 and 10 E-portfolio[edit]

You’ve had the job interview, now you’re waiting anxiously…a ringing breaks the silence, your pulse quickens and you snatch the phone: “I’m pleased to tell you…” the voice begins “that we would like to offer you the job.” Energy sears though your body, a grin spreads across your face – this has been your dream for so long. How you interpret this news, what it means to you, the effect it has on your body, the look on your face, how you prepare to react, and how you feel – all these aspects, each influencing the other, are what forms an emotion. Our everyday language – words like ‘elated’ or ‘ecstatic’ – refer only to how emotion feels to us. But emotion is not a particular state or feeling, rather it is the unfolding of these interconnected processes of interpretation, bodily reaction and expression. An emotion is not instantaneous, nor is it prolonged like a mood, rather emotion is a brief episode of synchronised changes in your mind and body (NCCR, n.d).

We are already into Week 10 of the unit Motivation and Emotion; the semester is flying! In the first week back after the break, Week 9, the topic for the lecture was the Nature of Emotion. Week 10 was focused on Aspects of Emotion. I decided to open this E-portfolio entry with a scenario where many emotions are present and details of how this experience links to a definition of emotion. I found this description of emotion very thorough and felt that it was extremely relevant to this entry.

Emotion links strongly to the work we have done in the motivation section of the semester. Emotions perform as strong motives to produce an action, even if sometimes it seems irrational (Deckers, 2010). Behaviour generated by emotions seems to occur more automatically compared with goals or incentives which require more cognition before they are pursued.

Underground miner 001.jpg

A recent world news event, the rescue of the Chilean miners, came to mind while I was reading about emotion. The emotion related to this story is remarkable. I feel that the story is full of raw emotion. For so long, the miners trapped underground would have been experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions – from fear, thinking they were going to die, despair, complete lack of motivation and depression, to hope, compassion towards other miners and then relief and disbelief when they began to be rescued. Further, their loved ones who were waiting for news above ground would also have experienced an emotional ride of anxiety, then anticipation of the rescue, and finally elation, jubilation and ecstatic reunions when the miners began to appear above ground.

See a video of the first miners beginning to emerge here: You Tube Clip

Other emotion displayed as the first miners emerged was a mixture of sadness, shock and joy shown by people crying and other people cheering and clapping as the rescue unfolded. The whole world was captivated by this story and shared in the emotional journey of those involved. The story was so engaging to people because some form of emotion struck a chord with the population. Joy was triggered worldwide with news of the miraculous rescue. “Euphoria met the start of the rescue operation early Wednesday, with horn blasts, flashing lights, congratulations, and a global, shared sense that human ingenuity, this time, had cheated death” (Burleigh, 2010).

In the Week 9 lecture, we discussed ten perennial questions that are asked about emotion. I found this very interesting because emotions are so often taken for granted so I found it fascinating to take a step back and analyse them through asking the ten questions. I also thought of my own five additional questions that would be interesting to investigate:

   1.  Can you control the emotions you feel? 
   2.  Do emotions cause certain behaviours that would otherwise not be carried out?
   3.  What are the activities that can maintain a positive mood and decrease a negative mood? 
   4.  How do emotions unfold? 
   5.  What is the link between an emotion and a public facial expression?

I find the fifth question particularly of interest because there are so many times that you feel an emotion inside however for a variety of reasons, express something different on your face to those around you. So an additional part to this question would be…with what sort of emotions do people tend to do this, and with what emotions is it harder to hide your true feelings?

One of the ten perennial questions was “what is an emotion?” When I tried to define an emotion myself I found this to be very challenging. I liked Reeve’s definition; an emotion is a “short-lived, feeling-arousal-purposive-expressive phenomena that helps us to adapt to the opportunities and challenges we face during important life events” (Reeve, p. 301, 2010). I especially liked how Reeve refers to emotions as adaptive as I feel this is one of the key functions of emotion for humans in everyday life.

Another key question was “what causes an emotion?” Reeve (2010) proposes that it is predominantly a situational life event along with an interaction between cognitive and biological processes. I think it is also important to take into consideration other factors that impact upon emotion, in particular social and cultural processes. I see these cultural influences as a guide to how and why the expression and regulation of emotion differs between cultures.

Some emotions are universal and experienced in very similar ways across different cultures. However, the reactions that they invoke and the way in which they are perceived by people around them can differ across cultures (Wikipedia, 2010). A particular cultural distinction is between individualistic cultures and collectivist cultures. For a Wikipedia article about Emotion and Culture click here: Wikipedia article

The Philippines is seen as a collectivist culture.
Holland is seen as a individualistic culture.

I found a study which reflects emotion and cultural differences nicely. Shame is an emotion that is a response to a personal failure attributed to the self (Wikipedia, 2010). A 2003 study conducted by Bagozzi, Verbeke & Gavino examined shame in salespersons living in Holland (considered an individualistic culture) and the Philippines (a collectivist culture). The Filipino and Dutch employees were found to both experience shame as a consequence of customer actions in similar ways. Both groups saw shame as a painful self-conscious emotion with unique physiological and behavioral urges that created a feeling of threat to the self. However, differences were found in the responses to the shame. Shame caused the Dutch salespeople to withdraw and perform worse in their job because they directed their resources to repair the damage they felt to their ego. On the other hand, the shame experienced by the Filipino salespeople caused them to put extra effort into building customer relationships to therefore perform better at their job. An explanation for this is that collectivist cultures focus on social harmony and see that the individual needs to act in a way to maintain this. This is not the case for individualistic cultures such as Australia (Bagozzi et al.; Wikipedia, 2010).

I find it stimulating to reflect on the purposes and uses of emotion. Firstly, emotions are functional. I think that a good way to look at this purpose is through the examination of people with psychological disorders and how the expression and regulation of their emotions are affected. Emotional disorders, for example depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, are disorders that primarily affect behavior, moods and emotions. Symptoms affecting emotion in those with emotional dysfunction include: hyperactivity, aggression, withdrawal, disassociation and impulse control problems. This illustrates how emotions have a functional purpose.

Other emotional roles include giving situations meaning, playing a role in learning and memory and a motivational purpose to lead us to rewarding and positive situations and divert us from harm. A vital function of emotion is as a social facilitator. Aspects of emotion including facial expression, body language and tone of voice convey emotion to those around us. Without this emotional connection, I can see humans turning into robots with no emotional relationships with others!

A key debate in the study of emotion is the question of the number of emotions. Reeve, among others, proposes six basic emotions:

1. Joy
2. Interest
3. Sadness
4. Anger
5. Disgust
6. Fear (Reeve, 2010).

When I read about this model, I wondered why are there four negative emotions and only two positive emotions.

Two contrasting emotional states.

This seems a pessimistic comment on the human condition. This is similar to Izard’s ten fundamental emotions proposed in his Differential Emotions Theory that we covered in Week 10. He lists seven negative emotions (fear, anger, disgust, distress, contempt, shame and guilt) compared to only two positive emotions (interest and joy). He classifies surprise as a neutral emotion (Reeve, 2009).

The six core emotion proposal also got me thinking - if there are only six core emotions, what about all the hundreds of words that we use to describe emotions? Some researchers have taken their own approach to investigate the number of emotions. For example Johnson-Laird and Oatley (1989, 1990) conducted a large meta-analysis of the meaning of 590 English words to determine the various ways emotions are expressed. A major task throughout the research was determining whether or not a word described a subjective feeling. From their research, they classified words into categories of emotion, with the words that had similar meanings grouped together. Their analysis produced five basic categories of emotion: happiness, sadness, anger, fear and disgust (Deckers, 2010). These are similar to the six Reeve propose however with only one positive emotion.

In the tutorial in Week 10, we sorted a list of approximately 200 emotions into meaningful categories. I along with my fellow group members learnt many new words to describe emotions such as everyone’s favourites: discombobulated (meaning to confuse or disconcert) and schadenfreude (meaning pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others). My group came up with nine core emotions including joy, sadness, surprise, anticipation, anger, acceptance, fear and disgust. The two photos below are a sample of what my group ended up with.

Tutorial Exercise (click on each photo to enlarge)[edit]

I think that many people would include love in their list of core emotions. So much of our lives revolve around love – in contexts of attachment, friendship, social relationships and more intimate relationships. I thought that perhaps it is not included in the list of core emotions because potentially love is more of a learned emotion, beginning with attachment between mother and child at birth, which is passed down through generations. The six proposed core emotions are possibly more innate. Further, love could be seen as including a mixture of different core emotions such as joy and interest.

Love Liebe.JPG

Something I learnt in the two lectures on emotion was the differences between mood and emotion. Emotions are generally of shorter duration compared to moods and are associated with a specific stimulus. On the other hand, mood is more enduring, global, and less related to specific stimuli. Further, moods are generally of less intensity than emotions. Emotions have stronger links with certain behaviours compared with moods (Deckers, 2010).

Everyday mood can be seen to be made up of positive and negative affect (Deckers, 2010). Originally I thought of these as two distinct processes – you are either in a positive or a negative mood. But when I thought more about it, I thought this was not the case. I think that they may not be two distinct processes all the time. For example, I recently had a job interview. I felt both types of affect in the one situation. I felt negative affect in that I felt slightly threatened, anxious, nervous and stressed because I wanted to make a good impression, but at the same time I felt positive affect because I felt emotions of interest, engagement, creativity in coming up with examples to interview questions and a huge sense of satisfaction when it was all over.

“Let's not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.”
Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

''“Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.” Mark Twain

Human are complex beings and emotions and moods are significant contributors to this complexity. As Dale Carnegie, famous American writer and lecturer commented, “when dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”


Bagozzi, R., Verbeke, W., & Gavino, J. (2003). Culture moderates the self-regulation of shame and its effects on performance: The case of salespersons in the Netherlands and the Philippines. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(2), 219-233.

Burleigh, Marc. (2010). Emotional Chile miners' rescue in final stages. Retrieved 21 October 2010, from

Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, USA: Allyn & Bacon.

The National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) for the Affective Sciences. (n.d). What are affects and emotions? How do they work? Retrieved 21 October 2010, from

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

Wikipedia. (2010). Emotions and culture. Retrieved 22 October 2010, from

Weeks 11 and 12 E-portfolio[edit]

These couple of weeks I have been keeping busy putting together my textbook chapter. I am currently in the process of doing final edits and formatting on Wikiversity. I have found the textbook chapter task challenging but at the same time I have learnt a great deal. Navigating and using Wikiversity was a real learning curve. However, overall I enjoyed writing my chapter on Motivation and Depression because psychological disorders are something that I am very interested in. I also have enjoyed reading bits and pieces of other people’s chapters on topics that I find interesting. The project seems to have been successful because people were able to choose an individual topic that interested them. I look forward to seeing and reading through the finished product – especially since the textbook is getting printed!

The lecture in Week 11 was centred on personality, motivation and emotion. I found the content covered by the lecture this week very interesting because it was looking at an individual variable, in the form of someone’s personality, and how this correspondingly has an impact upon levels of motivation and emotion. Personality traits are a vital source of motivation for people’s behaviour. Traits motivate people to react differently when faced with exactly the same situation and also to seek out or completely avoid different types of situations (Deckers, 2010). The key question is “why do different people have different motivational and emotional states even in the same situation?”

I think the following case study demonstrates this quite well:

Jim Springer and Jim Lewis are identical twins who were separated at birth.

“After being separated since infancy for 39 years, identical twins Jim Springer and Jim Lewis were reunited. Even though they were adopted and reared by different families, there were some uncanny similarities between the twins. Each had been married twice, had a son named James, and had a dog named Toy during childhood. In regards to personal habits, both smoked and drank light beer, bit their fingernails, and vacationed in the same beach area in Florida. Both twins had worked part time as sheriffs, owned light blue Chevrolets, and wrote love notes to their wives” (Deckers, 2010, p. 210).

So can these similarities happen simply by chance and coincidence? Surely not. I think this case illustrates that genetics dictate personality traits to some degree and so are a key motivation for people carrying out certain behaviours. For example why did both Jims named their son James and buy light blue Chevrolets? I think investigating this and other related stories further would be fascinating.

Personality differences therefore have an impact on what motivates different individuals. I think that these personality differences can dictate what experiences and relationships people seek out. Deckers defines personality as “a consistent way of behaving as a result of the interaction between temperament characteristics and social experience” (Deckers, 2010, p. 211). Personality traits are a specific set of behaviours across time and across situations (Deckers). For example if someone acts impulsively in all areas of their life and at different ages, this could be considered to be one of their personality traits. However, if someone acts impulsively in a single incident in a particular context, they would not be considered to have an impulsive personality. Personality traits are important to consider when studying motivation because they assist in explaining why individuals are motivated by certain incentives, situations and activities (Deckers).

The main model of personality traits is the Big 5 Factor Model by Costa and McCrae. These five traits have been comprehensively supported by a variety of research. The five factors are: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (Deckers, 2010). The table below lists the sub-dimensions of each trait.

Sub-Dimensions of the Big 5

Neuroticism Extraversion Openness Agreeableness Conscientiousness
Anxiety Warmth Fantasy Trust Competence
Angry hostility Gregariousness Aesthetics Straightforwardness Order
Depression Assertiveness Feelings Altruism Dutifulness
Self-consciousness Activity Actions Compliance Achievement Striving
Impulsiveness Excitement seeking Ideas Modesty Self-discipline
Vulnerability Positive Emotion Values Tender-mindedness Deliberation

Note: Adapted from Reeve, 2009.

The two traits of extraversion and neuroticism have been examined extensively in terms of their relationship with motivation.

Another related personality trait is happiness. Reeve (2009) comments that happiness is connected with extraversion. This is because extraverts have a greater eagerness to approach. This approach motivation may lead to greater sociability, greater social dominance and greater venturesomeness which in turn creates more opportunities for happiness. On the other hand, introverts are not as high in terms of this motivation to approach.

Level of arousal is another personality factor that impacts upon someone’s level of motivation. Reeve (2009) lists four contributions of arousal to motivation:

  1. A person’s arousal level is mostly a function of how stimulating the environment is.
  2. People engage in behaviour to increase or decrease their level of arousal.
  3. When underaroused, people seek out opportunities to increase their arousal levels, because increases in environmental stimulation are pleasurable and enhance performance, whereas decreases are aversive and undermine performance.
  4. When overaroused, people seek out opportunities to decrease their arousal levels, because increases in environmental stimulation are aversive and undermine performance whereas decreases are pleasurable and enhance performance.
This is a good slogan during exam time!

I see all these four factors as having practical relevance, particularly point number four. I see stress as an example of when a person is highly overaroused, for example at the end of a university semester when you have a few large assignments due within a couple of weeks and exams loom! I know when this time of the semester comes around, I feel a level of overarousal and try to decrease this arousal by tackling and completing my assignments and also trying to have regular breaks and some down-time. If this stress was added to by other pessimistic events happening outside of university, this would consequently have negative effects on my university performance. Humans require a balanced level of arousal (not too high or not too low) for optimal performance (Reeve, 2009).

The lecture then discussed the situation of a person being underaroused and given inadequate stimulation in the form of complete sensory deprivation. I found this topic very interesting and found myself wondering how I would behave in one of these experiments. Reeve (2009) refers to Heron’s sensory deprivation study where participants were required to lie on a bed alone in silence and with a blindfold on for 24 hours a day. The longest that someone managed to last in these conditions was about six days. I think that personality traits and style would have a large impact upon how someone felt in these deprivation rooms.

I found a similar study in the Wikipedia article on sensory deprivation which is of interest. In 2008, the BBC aired a show called “Total Isolation.” Six people (four males and two females) were shut inside a cell in a nuclear bunker in the dark for two days and two nights. Prior to the isolation, the participants took tests of visual memory, information processing, verbal fluency and suggestibility. After they were released from isolation, four out of the six participants noted that they could not sense time properly and that they had experienced some auditory and visual hallucinations – including about snakes, cars and zebras! The same cognitive tests were also completed again and demonstrated that the ability of the participants to complete simple tasks had deteriorated considerably. For example, one participant’s memory capacity fell 36% and all of the subjects had trouble thinking of words beginning with the letter "F". One of the male participants commented, "it is really hard to stimulate your brain with no light. It's blanking me. I can feel my brain just not wanting to do anything" (Wikipedia, 2010).

Being shut in an isolation chamber such as this has been shown to have negative effects on the person for example causing hallucinations.

The effect on the cognitive capacity of the participants is quite scary. These effects were visible only after two days and two nights, so imagine how these people would be affected after two weeks!

Both of these two studies, and other studies investigating similar situations, demonstrate that the brain requires constant stimulation to keep functioning well. In these experiments, the brain is so deprived of the stimulation it normally relies on, so it creates its own stimulation or form of entertainment, possibly through hallucinations. I find this intriguing. I am not someone who gets bored particularly easily or someone who has a very low tolerance for repetition. Generally, I am quite happy to sit by myself and do nothing for a while. However, the idea of having no sensory stimulation at all and being alone in the dark for an extended period of time is quite unnerving. I cannot really imagine what this kind of experience would feel like however I do not think I would be able to last all that long in one of these experiments!

From experiments such as these which examined levels of sensory deprivation, Martin Zuckerman became interested in those participants who could not stand the sensory deprivation and could not deal with low levels of stimulation (Reeve, 2009). From this, the idea of sensation seeking was born! Reeve defines sensation seeking as “the seeking of varied, novel, complex and intense sensations and experiences and the willingness to take physical, social, legal and financial risks for the sake of such experiences” (Reeve, p. 379). Sensation seeking can be seen as a sub-component of extraversion and to a degree can explain risk-taking behaviours. Some though would argue that sensation seeking should be its own personality factor rather than just a subsection. People who are sensation seekers search for and require a higher level of stimulation to maintain mood (Reeve). Additionally they are more likely to engage in risky sports, they prefer unusual situations and enjoy trying new things compared to people who are low sensation seekers (Deckers, 2010).

Different levels of motivation can result from differences in sensation seeking. People who are high and low in sensation seeking seek out and engage in different types of activities so as to attain their highest and most gratifying level of sensation. However many of the high sensation behaviours are also illegal for example drug abuse, dangerous and high speed driving, theft and vandalism (Deckers, 2010).

Sensation seekers would get a thrill from risky activities such as parachuting.

I think that the majority of people take part in some form of sensation seeking throughout the course of their life, even if it is only at a low level for example accepting a new job or traveling overseas. However, being high on the sensation seeking continuum is also correlated with negative behaviours such as alcoholism and gambling (Reeve, 2009).

In the tutorial in Week 12 we completed the Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS). There are four factors that this scale measures:

  1. Thrill and adventure seeking
  2. Experience seeking
  3. Disinhibition
  4. Boredom susceptibility.

Overall I was not surprised with my results after completing this measure. I would definitely not call myself a sensation seeker; I do not have a strong desire to disinhibit my behaviour and I am not averted by routine or things that remain the same. So unsurprisingly I scored low on the factors of Boredom susceptibility and Disinhibition and moderately on the factor of Experience Seeking. However I scored quite highly on the factor Thrill and Adventure Seeking. When I looked back over the questions that this factor considered, I think this was partly to do with the wording of the questions. Many questions were worded “would you like to do some activity?” I think I would like to try many activities that the scale refers to such as parachute jumping and skiing down a mountain slope, but whether I would actually go through with it may be another story! Many people in my tutorial group felt that some of the questions were slightly outdated, however I overall thought it was a good measure and I enjoyed completing it.

The lecture in Week 12 was titled Unconscious Motivation. As James mentioned at the beginning of the lecture, up until this point in the semester we have been examining motivation and assuming that it is a conscious decision or action. But…are motives and drives operating at the unconscious level too? Yes, it is believed that motivations at an unconscious level do have an impact. I find this idea fascinating and it makes me wonder how many underlying unconscious motives I and others around me suppress. Some people may see this concept as quite threatening; at any given time could an unconscious motivation surface and cause a particular behaviour??

Freud is the key figure behind the original psychodynamic approach to motivation. His Dual-Instinct Theory states that humans have two kinds of instincts operating – Eros (instinct for life) and Thanatos (instinct for death) (Reeve, 2009). Freud saw these two as being in constant struggle. A notable point made in the lecture was that these two instincts can operate simultaneously and may help to explain self-sabotaging behaviours such as procrastination or at a more serious level, suicide. Acts including suicide and homicide may be seen as having a basis in a confused and unbalanced relationship between the life and the death instincts. “The destructive impulses may be turned against one's own self (suicide) or projected against an external target (homicide). Wars erupt when society at large (or its leaders) have displaced their own neurotic conflicts to the public scene” (Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, 2010). This is a disturbing insight into human behaviour! It will be a nice change to focus on positive and growth psychology next week.


Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, USA: Allyn & Bacon.

Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. (2010). Death Instinct. Retrieved 6 November 2010, from

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

Wikipedia. (2010). Sensory deprivation. Retrieved 6 November 2010, from

Final Entry - Weeks 13 and 14[edit]

Just as a tree grows up from the ground, positive or growth psychology focuses on the positive psychological and mental growth of the individual.

In Week 13, the lecture topic was Growth Psychology and Positive Psychology. I felt that this was a very appropriate topic to finish the semester. It ended the unit of Motivation and Emotion on a positive and uplifting note and raised my otherwise waning levels of motivation for university (which always seems to happen as the semester finishes up and the long Christmas break draws closer!)

The lecture provided a good introduction to humanistic psychology and the more modern version known as positive psychology. Humanistic psychology can be seen as the third force in psychology; the first and second being psychoanalysis and behaviourism respectively. The humanistic approach is seen as a reaction to its more pessimistic predecessors, the first two forces of psychology, as it has a more positive view of human nature. Additionally, this new force of psychology examines the individual and their motives as integrated wholes rather than as the sum of parts (Reeve, 2009).

Humanistic psychology focuses on each individual’s potential and stresses the key role of growth and self-actualisation along with happiness and fulfillment. The humanistic view sees that people are inherently good (Cherry, 2010). The humanistic psychology approach gives credit to the individual for controlling and determining their own life. Further, it has been extremely influential in therapy particularly due to the work of humanist Carl Rogers and his philosophy of a client-centered approach (Cherry).

Positive psychology has its roots in humanistic psychology and became popular in the 1990s due to the work of Martin Seligman. Reeve (2009) states that positive psychology devotes attention to the proactive building of personal strengths and competencies and seeks to actualise the potential of every human being. Positive psychology can be seen to have more of a scientific approach compared with humanistic psychology which was not based in empirical research and evidence.

I see self-actualisation as the backbone of positive psychology or as James put it in the lecture, psychology’s version of enlightenment. Self-actualisation is not just something that you are born with or acquire overnight, rather it is a dynamic state or tendency which has to be developed and maintained over time. Self-actualisation is the ultimate need in Maslow’s influential Hierarchy of Needs Model. The lower needs are required to be filled in hierarchical order before one can achieve self-actualisation. According to Maslow himself, only 1% of people fulfill the self-actualisation need (Reeve, 2009). I thought the best definition of self actualisation is I found from Maslow himself. Maslow says that self-actualisation is “the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualised in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming” (Maslow, 1943).

When I was thinking about the defining qualities of someone who is self-actualised, I thought an appropriate example would be Gandhi, the ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement (Wikipedia, 2010). He led by example.

Gandhi (1869-1948)

Gandhi was an advocate of resistance through non-violent means and due to his work and legacy, India eventually gained their independence. Further, his actions left a lasting impression long after he was assassinated. This has been demonstrated by many subsequent freedom movements and civil rights protests (Wikipedia). However, I think that Gandhi’s story also applies to Maslow’s hierarchy in a slightly different way. Maslow’s accompanying assumptions with his Hierarchy of Needs Models were that the needs are achieved in the correct hierarchical order and that the lower the need is in the hierarchy, the stronger it appears in development (Reeve, 2009).

Applying this in the case of Gandhi brings up an interesting contradiction. I see that Gandhi did not completely fulfill the two lower basic needs (physiological needs and safety needs) before he achieved self-actualisation. The basic physiological needs are things including food, drink and shelter while safety needs include safety and security of yourself and resources protecting against violence and fear (Deckers, 2010). Gandhi frequently sacrificed his physiological and safety needs for the satisfaction of other needs, particularly self actualisation. He lived very modestly, wore basic clothing and went on extended fasts (sometimes for weeks) as a form of protest, subjecting himself to hunger, danger and poverty. Gandhi was operating at the self-actualisation level while some of his other needs were unsatisfied (Accel Team, 2010; Wikipedia, 2010). His hierarchy of needs seemed to be an inverted version of Maslow’s.

Also in the Week 13 lecture, the topic of encouraging growth was discussed. Reeve (2009) suggested six behaviours that encourage growth and self-actualisation:

  1. Make growth choices (rather than being scared of change and rejection)
  2. Be honest
  3. Situationally position yourself for peak experiences
  4. Give up defensiveness
  5. Let the self emerge
  6. Be open to experiences.

Some good points about this model that James raised were that this is quite an individualistic view of achieving self-actualisation, and yes self-actualisation is something that as an individual you work towards, however this also needs to be combined and packaged within social relationships that nurture these six behaviours. Reeve (2009) explains that the quality of the social relationships including aspects such as genuineness, empathy, interpersonal acceptance and confirmation of the other person’s capacity can foster self-actualisation. Further, as a part of these behaviours, it is important for people to not be scared of anxiety and change which is an inevitable part of the growth process. I see this model of six behaviours as inspirational and when you see self-actualisation spelt out in terms of certain behaviours, it seems more attainable.

I found the discussion about the problem of evil in the Week 13 lecture very interesting. The interesting question is that if humans have this so-called innate need for self-actualisation, then why do we see evil so frequently? Reeve (2009) talks about two areas of discussion around this problem of evil:

  1. How much of human nature is inherently evil?
  2. Why do some people enjoy inflicting suffering on others?

I think this could be a fascinating debate. In the lecture, we learnt about the humanistic view on these key questions.

The conflict between good and much is evil inherent in humans??

In regards to the first question, humanists would argue that it is not the human acting in an evil way, it is the social influences and conditions that are the driving force for example a deprivation of basic needs and goods (Reeve, 2009). I found some interesting quotes on the internet from some well known humanists on this issue. Humanist psychologists argue that culture provides the only way to explain how humans are inherently good however still commit evil acts. For example, Maslow explains that our good impulses “are easily warped by cultures—you never find them in their pure state” (Welch, Tate, & Richards, 1978, p. 189). Carl Rogers also wrote, “experience leads me to believe that it is cultural influences which are the major factor in our evil behaviours” (Rogers, 1982). Contrary to this, humanist Rollo May finds it hard to accept this argument. He wrote, “but you say that you ‘believe that it is cultural influences which are the major factor in our evil behaviors.’ This makes culture the enemy. But who makes up the culture except persons like you and me?” (May, 1982). I find this dilemma fascinating. How could society have ever become evil if there was not some sort of tendency within us towards evil? It is an ongoing debate and humanists do not offer a solution.

Humanists would argue about the second question that both benevolence and malevolence are inherent in every human and that humans need to internalise a value system based on benevolence to avoid evil (Reeve, 2009). This is interesting because they are not just looking at psychopaths and murderers as those who enjoy inflicting suffering onto others, but rather it is part of everyone. This is a sinister view of humankind. It also reminded me, and James mentioned it in the lecture as well, of one of the words I learnt in the tutorial on emotion – schadenfreude (pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others). Is this something that we all have to some degree? Could this be even in very simple things such as you get a higher mark than someone else in the class and so you feel happy that they failed? This may be connected to self-esteem and envy; we feel good when something goes wrong for someone else because it makes us look better.

The last section of the lecture in Week 13 discussed building on personal strengths which can also be seen as interest areas for positive psychologists. Personal strengths include happiness, enjoyment, optimism, hope, self-efficacy, altruism, toughness, forgiveness, humour and meaning (Reeve, 2009). I found it interesting that this approach to positive psychology would argue that psychological disorders are not illnesses, rather they are the symptoms of not having nurtured these personal strengths.

One of the personal strengths I felt interest towards was meaning. A sense of purpose, internalised values and high efficacy are the motivational means to cultivate meaning in life (Reeve, 2009). An example James gave in the lecture in relation to meaning was Viktor Frankl. I was keen to find out some more about his life and experiences because I have in interest in history, particularly World War II. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the war. After most of his family died or were murdered in the camps, Frankl had to find a way to survive…and he did. After he was liberated from the camp at the end of the war, he wrote a book about his experiences entitled Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl had come to the conclusion that even in the most painful, depressing, humiliating and dehumanising situations, life can have meaning. Those in the camps who found meaning or a reason to live were the ones who survived. Others who gave up were not so lucky. Frankl wrote, “if a prisoner felt that he could no longer endure the realities of camp life, he found a way out in his mental life– an invaluable opportunity to dwell in the spiritual domain, the one that the SS were unable to destroy. Spiritual life strengthened the prisoner, helped him adapt, and thereby improved his chances of survival” (Wikipedia, 2010). 

From his concentration camp experiences, Frankl later developed logotherapy which focuses on having a will to survive and is based on the premise that the chief motivational force of an individual is to find meaning in life (Wikipedia, 2010). Frankl wrote, “we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: 1. by creating a work or doing a deed; 2. by experiencing something or encountering someone; and 3. by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.” I find Frankl’s story moving and inspiring. He is an example of the importance of finding meaning in life. Meaning is an important characteristic in positive psychology and growth towards potential self-actualisation.

“I think that survival is only possible, or best guaranteed, by meaning orientation.”
Viktor Frankl

Click here for a You Tube clip entitled: “Search for Meaning in Life Today with Viktor Frankl.”
You Tube Clip

The last lecture of the semester in Week 14 was a summary and review of the semester’s topics. I cannot believe that this unit has finished up already! At the beginning of the week I submitted my five minute multimedia accompaniment to my textbook chapter. Although this was at times a challenging technical learning experience, I enjoyed creating a PowerPoint summary of the chapter and talking about the key points of the chapter. I think that having this as a prelude to the chapter is an invaluable learning tool. I know I would like to have something like this accompanying each textbook chapter I have ever had to read!

Also this week James told us about an ABC series called “Making Australia Happy.” This intrigued me and so I watched the first of the three episodes which follows the journey of eight ordinary Australians undertaking a program to make themselves happier. I really enjoyed the program and it was great to see positive psychology techniques being utilised in real life with real cases. I took away a few key points from the program that I wanted to share. Firstly, that happiness is different for everyone. Something very simple that makes one person happy will not necessarily make another person happy. Further, that most people do not actually know what makes them happy. I was surprised by this because I thought that happiness is an easily distinguishable emotion for people that would lead them to take part in behaviours or activities that they knew resulted in the experience of the happiness emotion. The other main thing that I learnt from the program was that happiness has been put down to being made up of 50% genetic influences, 10% life circumstances (including things like material goods) and the remaining 40% is cultivated through the choices we make in our lives. I think that this is positive and hopeful because the implication is that happiness levels can be improved with the right approach. After the first three weeks in the program, all of the participants experienced some positive change (some experienced vast changes) in their level of happiness (as measured through a validated happiness scale). I am interested to see what happens over the next five weeks and hopefully this improvement in participants can be maintained. I also plan to look at the website and complete the happiness test for myself.

To find out more about the program and to test your own happiness go to:

Overall I have had a great time completing this unit.

I give this unit the thumbs up!!

The lecture content was always interesting and the tutorials were never boring, always with interactive activities and the chance to complete psychological questionnaires. I have learnt so many new things and have been intellectually and technologically stimulated! I have also taken away motivational and positive psychological concepts which I hope I will be able to put to good use in my own life. I enjoyed learning about motivation as both a conscious and an unconscious process and I also liked looking at the connection between motivation and emotion. Looking last week at Maslow’s model of self-actualisation and Roger’s model of the fully functioning person gives me something to aspire towards. I have learnt a great deal about my own emotions and motivational drives which I have found very interesting. Thanks for a great unit James!


Accel Team. (2010). Employee motivation: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved 18 November 2010, from

Cherry, K. (2010). Humanistic Psychology: The third force in psychology. Retrieved 18 November 2010, from

Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, USA: Allyn & Bacon.

Maslow, A. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.

May, R. (1982) The problem of evil: An open letter to Carl Rogers. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 22(3), 10-21.

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

Rogers, C. (1982). Notes on Rollo May. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 22(3), 8-9.

Welch, D., Tate, G., & Richards, F. (1978). Humanistic Psychology. New York: Prometheus Books.

Wikipedia. (2010). Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Retrieved 18 November 2010, from

Wikipedia. (2010). Viktor Frankl. Retrieved 18 November 2010, from