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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
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Motivation & Emotion - An introduction[edit]

I realise that by now, it's probably time I get cracking on my e-portfolio. a period of laziness and the inability to step away from my guitar when I had uni work due has not exactly worked out how I would want it too. Not to mention the whole idea of putting down my thoughts onto a webpage for potentially more people than I physicially know to see, is a daunting thought to say the least. But in in a way, that statement itself is one of the very things that underlies the basic principles of this unit. The role that the "fear" of thinking about what other people think about you, and how they judge you for things you do, or are motivated to do is one of the biggest inhibitors to us as humans achieving what we want to achieve. This theory is the one thing that has got me interested in the idea for my textbook chapter. I am interested in writing about what causes motivation to drop, or in some cases completely stop or not even start at all when striving to achieve a specific goal, aim or dream. It can range from something as simple as wanting to learn that new guitar lick, become a ballet dancer, get up in front of a crowd and rally people together for a common cause, or even run for parliament. This goal orientated motivation exists everywhere in everyday life, but of more interest, what stops us reaching these goals?

The first lecture for Motivation & Emotion was an introduction to the unit. It covered the basic principles of motivation and emotion and what was in store for us in the first semester.

What is Motivation?[edit]

The lecture started out with general information about motivation. Basically "Motivation = Energy + Direction", and are processes that give behaviour energy + direction.

  • Energy can be defined as being behaviour that is relatively strong, intense and persistent
  • Direction can be defined as behaviour that is aimed toward achieving a particular purpose or goal

Basically there are four major processes that are capable of giving behaviour strength and purpose, and its energy and direction are driven by needs, cognitions, emotions and external events

Motivation can be measured through expression of behaviour, engagement, brain and physiology and self report, with the behavioural expressions of motivation encompassing behaviours such as attention, effort, latency, perisitence, choice, facial expressions and bodily gestures.

There are also four inter-related aspects of engagement - behavioural, emotional, cognitive and voice. These provide the framework in which we can begin to understand the study of motivation.

There are a number of ways in which we can use motivational theories to solve practical problems. For example; "Practical Problem -> What I know about motivation/emotion -> Proposed solution"

This is one of the ways in which we can apply a basic understand of human motivation and emotion to solve a problem. Another effective way in which this can be done is through understanding the motivational agent, and framing the problem. We begin by asking questions such as, what is the phenomenon? What is its opposite? Where does it come from? What does it relate to?

A Brief History of Motivaiton[edit]

There are two major theories in the area of motivation, which have proven to be pivotal in the understanding and devlopment of understanding this area of human behaviour. They are Freuds Drive theory, and Hulls Drive theory, for the purpose of this page I will explain Freuds theory

Freuds Drive Theory[edit]

  • Drives Source - A bodily deficit occurs
  • Drives Impectus - A Deficit grows and emerges into consciousness as a psych discomfort/anxiety
  • Drives Object - Seeking to reduce anxiety and satisfy the bodily deficit searches out and consumes a need satisfying environmental object.
  • Drives Aim - If the environmental object satisfies the bodily deficit, satisfaction occurs and the anxiety is diminished for a short period of time


This first real insight into the unit was an important one for myself, as motivation, I believe is a crucial part to reaching goals. Without motivation, goals would simply exist as part of an unattainable realm trapped deep within the mind. Whilst their are a number of other factors that contribute to achieving goals, motivation I believe is the framework to build upon, with motivation and a belief almost anything is possible however without motivation or the desire to do things, we would all live in an extremely boring world.

Freud's drive theory proved to be somewhat interesting in explaining the number of way's in which we can use different motivational theories to solve problems

Brain and Physiological Needs[edit]

Week three's lecture covered the brain and physiological needs.

The Brain is typically divided into three parts

  • The Thinking Brain - what it is doing
  • The Motivated Brain - whether you want to do it
  • The Emotional Brain - what your mood is while doing it

The brain is divided up into the following structures -

Brain Structure Associated motivational or emotional experience
Hypothalamus Associated with feelings of pleasure IE Sex, Eating & Drinking
Medial Forebrain Reinforcement, but also feelings of pleasure
Orbiofrontal Cortex Making choices and the value of events
Septal Area Sociability & Sexuality
Nucleus Accumbens Liking and pleasure associated with reward
Anterior Cingulate Cortext Mood and making choices
Cerebral Cortext (Frontal Lobes) Making plans, setting goals & formulating intentions
Left Prefrontal Cerebral Cortext Emotional Tendencies and approach motivation
Medial Prefrontal Cerebral Cortext Mastery motivation, response-outcome contingencies & percieved control beliefs
Avoidance Orientated
Right Prefrontal Cerebral Cortext Withdrawal (motivation and emotional)
Amygdala Threat and Fear responses
Hippocampus Threat and Fear responses


The brains responses are activated via a number of neurotransmitters, which send signals to various parts of the brain and activate certain responses. These responses are carried along what is known as the neurotransmitter pathway via a cluster of neurons that communicate with one another. There are four neurotransmitter pathways, these are

  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Norepinephrine
  • Endorphin


Personally, Ive never been that interested in specific parts of the brain. There's just something about all those complicated names and functions that just dont appeal to me. This lecture was pretty straightforward and I haven't got a whole deal of personal thought beyond what I have already said. Alot of it I have heard before, with a fair bit of it being explored in our first year psychology units.

Personal and Social Needs[edit]

Psychological Needs[edit]

Psychological needs are "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". To continue on from this, a number of motvational theories will be explored

  • Self Determination Theory - Is based on an organismic approach to motivation and is based on two assumptions, people are inherently active and the person-environment dialectic.
The person-environment dialectic is based on a reciprocal relationship between the person and the environment; that is they both act on behalf of each other, and can constantly change.
The self determination theory is futher also based on three psychological needs; autonomy, competence and relatedness.
  • Autonomy- Pychological need for self direction and personal endorsement in the initiation and regulation of behaviour. This follows on to "percieved autonomy", whereby there are three subjective qualities; internal percieved locus of causality, volition and percieved choice over one's actions. It encompasses the conudrum of choice whereby not all choices promote autonomy and they are either choice among options offered by others or the meaningful choice that reflects peoples values and interests.

There are four essential ways of supporting autonomy; nurtures inner motivational resources, relies on information language, promotes valuing and acknowledges and accepts negative feedback. In conclusion, autonomy support has a number of benefits.

Benefits from Autonomy Support Header text
Motivation Conceptual Understanding, active information processing aswell as deep processing and self regulation strategies
Engagement Positive and less negative emotion, class attendance and persistence
Development Self worth & creativity
Learning Intrinsic and mastery motivation, curiosity and internalized values
Performance Grades task performance and standardized test scores
Psychological Well Being Vitality and school/life satisfaction

  • Competence- Is the psychological need to be effective in interaction with the environment and is made up of four environmental conditions, which are; optimal challenge and flow, interdependancy between challenge and feedback, structure and finally failure tolerance.
  • Relatedness- Psychological need to establish close emotional bonds and attachments with other people. Can be described as being a desire to be emotionally connected to and interpersonally involved in warm relationships. It involves an interaction with others, the perception of a social bond, comunal and exchange relationships and internalisation.


Psychological Need Environmental Condition-Involves need Environmental Condition that satisifies the need.
Autonomy Opportunities for self direction Autonomy support
Competence Optimal Challenge Positive Feedback
Relatedness Social Interactions Relationships

Social Needs[edit]

Motivation and Goal Setting[edit]

Intrinsic Motivation[edit]

Is the inherent desire to engage ones interests and to exercise and develop ones capacities. It involves an engaged activity and a type of motivation. For example I am playing guitar because it is enjoyable.

Intrinsic motivation stems from a physiological need satisfaction and involes

  • Autonomy-Support from the environment and ones relationships
  • Competence- "" ""
  • Relatedness "" ""

Intrinsic motivation also has a number of benefits, which can be factors such as

  • Persistence
  • Creativity
  • Conceptual Understanding/High quality learning
  • Optimal Functioning and well being

Extrinsic Motivation[edit]

Is an environmentally created reason to engage in an action or activity and is based upon a "whats in it for me" type of motivation, it also involves a requested behaviour which involves an extrinsic incentive or consequence.

Types of Extrinsic Motvation

  • External regulation
  • Introjected regulation
  • Identified regulation
  • Integrated regulation

Four Reasons Not To Use Extrinsic Motivation

  • Undermine quality of performance and interfere with learning processes
  • Distracts attention
  • Undermine the individuals long term capacity for autonomous self regulation

External Regulation of Motivation[edit]

Incentives Consequences Rewards
An environmental event that attracts or repels a person toward, or away from intiating a particular course of action Positive reinforcers vs negative reinforcers and punishers Any offering from one person given to another person in exchange for his or her service or achievement


How do they work? Rewards work by facilitating behaviour because it signals the opportunity for a personal gain by offering a reward for that behaviour. However, rewards also have hidden costs, which include;

  • An intended primary effect - Promotes compliance
  • Unintended primary effect - Undermines intrinsic motivation, interferes with the quality and process of learning and also interferes with the capacity for autonomous self regulation

On the flipside, are punishers. Research has shown that punishers are an ineffective motivational strategy, and have a number of side effects, of most importance are negative emotionality, an impaired relationship and negative modelling.

Cognitive Evalutation Theory[edit]

Provides a way of prediciting what effect any extrinsic motivation will have on motivation. It is mediated by the psychological needs for competence and autonomy and is based on the premise that all external events have two functions

  • Control Behaviour
  • Inform Competence

The controlling function operates on the basis that if "you do X, then you get Y" . This descreases intrinsic motivation and inteferes with quality of learning, external regulation also increases and self regulation is undermined. The informational function of CET operates on the basis that "Because you were able to do X, that means you are effective/competent". This increases intrinsic motivation, enhances high quality learning and also self regulation.

Motivating Others To Do Activities[edit]

Providing a rationale - Explain why the uninteresting activity is important and useful enough to warrant ones volitional engagement Building Interest - Involves first catching one's situational interest in an activity and then holding that initial interest over time by developing an individual interest in the activity. Building interest in a particular domain involves the characteristics of the environment, the characteristics of the person, this is then turned into an actualised experience of interest and results in increased attention, learning, knowledge and achievement.

Goal Setting and Goal Striving[edit]

Goal setting is an important aspect of human nature, it is what drives us to succeed and achieve things which would otherwise be out of reach if we lacked any sufficient motivation. Goal setting refers to the process undertaken to achieve whatever it may be that the individual is trying to accomplish. It involes

  • A standard - this is a definition of what adequate performance is
  • An incentive - a performance criterion for reinforcement.

It involves a target to aim for, which is usually an external object such as a high grade or money.

When setting a goal there are typically two items that remove goal performance discrepencies. For example, when an goal is difficult it engergises behaviour which in turn increases effort and makes the individual work harder and longer, this then results in enhanced performance. When a goal is specific it directs behaviour by increasing attention and enables the individual to work smarter. Furthermore, goals help clarify performance expectations and counteract boredom. They also highlights the importance of feedback which can act as a reinforcer or a punisher, Feedback is also the single most important predictor of achievement and as such is a powerful tool in goal orientated behaviour. Goal attainment can also generate a feeling of pride, satisfaction or competence

Goal acceptance There are four factors which affect goal acceptance, they are the percieved difficulty, participation in the goal setting process, credibility of the person assigning the goal and also extrinsic incentives.

Goal Choice There are four predictors of goal choice, they are

  • Ability
  • Past performance
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Incentives

Dangers and Pitfalls in Goal Setting

  • Increases stress
  • Possibility for failure
  • Non-goal areas ignored
  • Short range thinking
  • Cheating
  • Undermines intrinsic motivation


This is probably the most exciting topic for myself, as It is something I constantly think about, even more so since this unit as I am more aware of how motivation works etc etc.

For me there are two major examples in my life at that I feel are relevant to this topic . Being a revhead ever since I was a little kid and growing up and around cars, reading about them and all those other things car enthusiasts do it was a dream of mine when I was a young teenager in highschool to own and drive a 1st generation Mazda Rx7. It all started out with the dream, then the motivation and the steps I took to owning one. I got a part time job, well a couple of part time jobs over the years and saved my money hard, didnt go out as much or party heaps like other kids my age did, all I had was that single goal to own one hopefully by the time I finished high school. Well, I worked hard and was motivated like no tomorrow, forever talking with my mates about how much i wanted one. Well, years later and Im 22 and Ive owned four of them, and I at current have two of them sitting in my garage, one is a weekend toy and the other is a project car which began as a really nice example but with a few problems so I pulled it off the road and have slowly been buying new parts for it. A new job has meant a rather substantial increase in money so I can now move the project along quicker. With the uni semester ending im more motivated than ever before!

The next is my music, whilst I am no young gun talent by any means it's one of the hardest things I have found to stay motivated for. I recently hit a plateau with my playing and I took a break from music (guitar) as I had got fed up with not moving forward. I took this break, and re-assessed what needed to be done and said I will come back to this when Im not so busy with uni and other things. I came back, got tuition for mainly my solo and improv work and it has worked a wonder. It has always been one of my goals as a player to improve my soloing ability and I am now pretty happy with it.

I spose in looking back at this, one of the things I have always had a hard time dealing with was sustaining motivation. Too many times had I seen people lose motivation for goals they desire, others will stop at nothing to reach it. So how hard is it to keep motivated? For me one of the major things I do/did is surrounding myself in material that I feel is relevant to my goals, it keeps me somewhat focussed on what I want to achieve and when I feel motivation levels dropping i have a sit back, re-assess and then look at why my motivation has dropped, fix it and move forward - rinse, wash, repeat.

I have however learnt, that yes there are many times where I have simply given up, sometime's it actually is for the better, sometime's that stress isnt needed when their are other more important things to worry about (such as doing the dishes) and sometimes it isn't.

I think how you deal with the object of motivation, and sustaining it comes down to the person. No single band-aid will apply to all cuts so to speak, its just how you find what works for you.

Personal Control and the Self[edit]

Personal Beliefs[edit]

Motvation to Exercise Control

  • People desire to control over their environment to make positive outcomes more likely and negative outcomes less likely
  • Belief that he/she has the power to influence results favourably

Two Kinds Of Expectancies Efficacy Expectations - Can I do it? Outcome Expectations - Will what I do work?

Person -> Efficacy expectations -> Behaviour -> Outcome expectations -> Outcome Self (agent) -> Action (means) -> Control (ends)

Self Efficacy is ones judgement of how well one will cope with a situation, given skills and circumstances. It is also the capacity to improvise ways to translate personal abilities into effective performance. The opposite of self efficacy is self doubt and it predicts the motivational balance between anting to give it a try vs anxiety, doubt and avoidance

Self Efficacy Sources Effects of Self Efficacy
Personal behaviour history Choice
Vicarious experience Effort and persistence
Verbal persuasion Thinking and decision making?
Physiological activity Emotional reactions

Empowerment This Involves possessing the knowledge, skills and beliefs that allow people to exert control over their lives.

Mastery Beliefs Are the extent of percieved control one has over attaining desirable outcomes and preventing aversive ones. There are numerous ways of coping, such as approach vs avoidance, social vs solitary, proactive vs reactive, and direct vs indirect.

Mastery vs Helplessness Mastery motivational orientation - A hardy resitant portrayal of the self during encounters of failure. Failure feedback can be helpful and constructive information. Helpless Motivational Orientation - A fragile view of the self during encounters of failure. Failure feedback is a personal sign of inadequacy

Learned Helplessness The pyshcological state that results when an individual expects that lifes outcomes are uncontrollable. My Behaviour -> Outcomes that happen to me -<> Other uncontrollable influences

There are three components of Learned Helplessness

  • Contigency - Objective relationship between a persons behaviour and the environments outcomes
  • Cognition - Subjective personal control beliefs, biases, attributions, expectancies
  • Behaviour - Listless, demoralised, coping behaviour

There are also three effects of Helplessness

  • Motivational Deficits
  • Learning Deficits
  • Emotional deficits

Criticisms and Alternative Explanations Criticisms

  • Traumatic events themselves could induce helplessness
  • The expectation of failure induces helplessness
  • Uncontrollable events induce helplessness deficits not because they are uncontrollable but because they are unpredictable

Alternative Explanations

  • People actually motivated to remain passive
  • Helplessness might fundamentally be a physiological rather than a cognitive phenomenon

Reactance Theory The psychological and behavioural attempt at re-establishing an eliminated or threatened freedom

Putting it all Together[edit]

Agentic Thinking

  • Performers percieved capacity to accomplish the goals. "I can do this" - Self Efficacy
  • Pathways Thinking - Performers belief that he or she can generate multiple visible routes to desired goals. "I will find a way to get this done" - Mastery Motivation

The Self and Its Strivings[edit]

The Self Involves four areas

  • Defining or creating the self
  • Relating the self to society
  • Discovering and developing personal potential
  • Managing or regulating the self

Self Constructs Self Esteem - General self worth or value Self-Efficacy - Ability to perform specific tasks Self Confidence - Combination of self esteem and self efficacy Self Concept - Nature or beliefs about ones self - Cluster of domain specific shemas, and a set of beliefs an individual uses to conceptualise his or her self

Benefits of Well Developed Schema

  • Process information about ones self with relative ease
  • Quick retrieval
  • Confidence in prediction about future behaviour
  • Resist counter-schematic information

Motivational Properties of Self Schema Consistent self - Self schemas direct behaviour and generate feedback Possible self - Generate motivation to move the present self to a desired future self

How to Create an Identity Recipe 1st step- Identity is the means by which the self relates to society, and it captures the essence of who the self is within a cultural context 2nd step -Once people assume social roles, their identiies direct their behaviours in ways that express the role identity's cultural value 3rd step - The identity directs the person to pursue some behaviours and to avoid other behaviours

Affect Control Theory People behave in ways that minimise affective deflection

  • Identities motivate behaviour - People with nice or powerful identities engage in nice or powerful behaviours
  • Affective deflections energise behaviour - When people act in identity conflicting ways, affective deflection occurs to energise identity restoring courses of action

Agency Self as action and development from within as innate processes and motivations. The two keys points here are that

  • Human beings possess a core self, one energised by innate motivation and directed by inherent developmental processes of differentiation and integration.
  • Not all self structures are equally authentic, while some reflect the core self, other reflect and reproduce the society


This topic I found was also extremely interesting. In a nutshell I find it to be the way in which we can control the outcomes of our actions, and the belief that a single person can have the power to influence results favourably. This section can be related to human nature gambling of sorts, if we know the odds we can control the outcomes, metaphorically speaking we control the betting amount and these amounts are influenced by the odds which we know. However, the catch here is that we can also sometimes influence the odds to work back in our favour if they were negative in the first place. However this is not alway achievable, and this is where feedback plays an important part in helping develop our abilities as humans to cope effectively with situations that are deemed helpless, however most see failure feedback as a sign of personal inadequacy. The key point from the lectures I found to be applicable in this case was that Learned Helplessness is the pyshcological state that results when an individual expects that lifes outcomes are uncontrollable. My Behaviour -> Outcomes that happen to me -<> Other uncontrollable influences

This is a key notion to understand, as we are all innately individual in nature some outcomes in life are ultimately beyond our contro and there is no cosmic miracle on the planet that can change that.

Furthermore, this section I found was important as it described the ways in which we as humans cope with certain situations, for example such as approach vs avoidance, social vs solitary, proactive vs reactive, and direct vs indirect.

Nature of Emotion[edit]

Five Perennial questions with five answers 1-What is an emotion? They are;

  • Feelings, an subjective experience, phenomelogical awarenesss and cognition
  • Bodily arousal, physiological acitivation, bodily preparation and motor responses
  • Social-Expressive, social communication, facial expression and vocal expression
  • Sense of purpose, goal directed motivational state, functional aspect

2-What causes an emotion?

  • Significant situational event -> cognitive processes and biological processes = feelings, sense of purpose, bodily arousal and social expressive
  • Biology lies at the causal core of emotion, and cognitive activity is a necessary pre requisite to emotion
  • Emotion is a chain of events that aggregate into a complex feedback system

3- How many emotions are there?

  • 6 basic emotions - fear, anger, disgust, sadness, joy, interest

4-What good are the emotions?

  • Utility of emotion - coping functions and social functions
  • Regulate behaviour
  • They communicate our feelings to others, influence how others interact with us, invite and facilitate social interaction, and create, maintain and dissolve relationships

5-What is the difference between emotion and mood?

  • Emotions emerge from significant ife situations and appraisals to our well being, they influence behaviour and direct specific courses of action. They also emerge from short lived events.
  • Moods emegre from ill defined processes, influence congition and direct what the person thinks about, they also emante from long lived mental events

Five more questions

1-How can emotion be measured?

2-What are the consequences of emotion?

3-How can emotion be changed?

4-How and why did emotions evolve?

5-How do emotions of animals and humans vary?

Five more questions






Aspects of Emotion[edit]

Biological Aspects Cognitive Aspects Social & Cultural Aspects
Autonomic nervous system Appraisals Socialisation history
Endocrine system Knowledge Cultural Identities
Neural brain circuits Attributions
Rate of neural firing Socilisation history
Facial Feedback Cultural identities

James Lange Theory of Emotion[edit]

1- Does each emotion have unique bodily reactions?

2- To what extent do bodily changes induce emotion? Is it; stimulus -> emotion -> bodily reaction


stimulus -> bodily reaction -> emotion

james Lange proposed that there were two hypotheses to do with his theory of emotion, they are

1- The body reacts uniquely to different emotion-stimulating events
2- The body does not react to non emotion stimulating events

He states that emotional experience is a way of making sense of bodily changes, for example a cold shoer increases the heart rate and arousal, and induces the surprise/shock/fear emotion

However, there are a number of criticims to his theory of emotion, mainly they are that body reactions were part of fight-flight responses that did nt vary between emotions, emotion ate experienced more quickly than physiological reactions, and physiological arousal augments rather than causes emotion. Its role is small, supplemental and relatively unimportant. In light of this, one must also consider the contempory perspective of this theor. It is important to note that there are distinct physiological differences that are evident for some emotions, but there are only few with distinct ANS patters (survival value). Furthermore, emotions recruit biological and physiological support to enable adaptive behaviours such as fighting fleeing and nurturing.

Differential Emotions Theory[edit]

1- Ten emotions constitute the principal motivation system for human beings 2- Unique feeling, each emotion has its own subjective and phenomelogical quality 3- Unique expression, each emotion has its own facial expressive pattern 4- Unique neural activity, each emotion has its own specific rate of neural firing that activates it 5- Unique purpose/motivation, each emotion generates disntictive motivational properties and serves adaptive functions

Izzard's 10 Fundamential Emotions[edit]

  • Interest
  • Joy
  • Surprise
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Disgust
  • Distress
  • Contempt
  • Shame
  • Guilt

Ekamns 7 Reasons why biological theories focus on a small number of basic emotions

  • 1- Non basic emotions are experience based
  • 2- Many terms better describe moods
  • 3- Many terms better describe attitudes
  • 4- Many terms better describe personality
  • 5- Many terms better describe disorders
  • 6- Some terms are blends of emotions
  • 7- Many terms refer to specific aspects of an emotion

Facial Feedback Hypothesis[edit]

Emotion stems fron feelings aroused by

  • Movements of the facial musculature
  • Changes in facial temperature
  • Changes in glandular activity in the facial skin

Appraisal Theory of Emotion[edit]

Three questions

  • How does the perception of an object or event produce a good or bad appraisal?
  • How does the appraisal generate emotion?
  • How does felt emotion expres itself in action?

Situation (life event) -> Appraisal (good or bad) -> Emotions (liking vs disliking) -> Action (approach vs withdrawal)

Complex appraisal theories are about 65-70% accurate in predicting peoples emotions. Why not 100%? This is because other processes contribute, appraisals intesify rather than cause emotion, patterns overlap, developmental differences and emotional knowledge and attributions.

Emotion Knowledge[edit]

  • We learn to distinguish finer shades of emotion as we develop.
  • An individuals emotions knowledge is the number of emotions he/she can distinguish
  • Emotion knowledge partially underlies the rationale for teaching emotional intelligence


  • An attribution is the reason the person uses to explain an important life outcome
  • Primary attribution - good or bad
  • Secondary attribution - cause
  • Primary + secondary attributions -> emotion

Social & Cultural aspects of emotion

The sociocultural context one lives in contributes to a cultural understanding of emotion -> Appraisal contributes to a cognitive understanding of emotion -> social interaction contributes to a social understanding of emotion.

It also involves;

  • Mimicry
  • Feedback
  • Contagion
  • Emotional socialisation
  • Managing emotons

Personality Characteristics - Individual Differences in happiness, arousal and control[edit]

Personality traits cause people to react differently to different situations. and they also cause people to approach and avoid different situations. These traits then determine how people react to situations and determine the choice of situations and the altering of situations such as approad, avoid or modify the situation.

There are 5 big personality traits, and they are well supported by a wide variety of research however not everyone agrees on naming these traits. According to the NEO, these 5 traits are

  • Neuroticism
  • Extraversion
  • Openness to experience
  • Agreeableness
  • Concientiousness

Stimulation and Arousal[edit]

  • Sensory Deprivation = An individuals sensory and emotional experience in a rigidly changing environment
  • Herons sensory deprivation study: the brain and nervous system prefer a continual and moderate level of arousal generated by the environmental stimulation
  • Overstimulating stressful environments leads to:
  • emotional disruption - Anxiety, irratability, anger
  • cognitive disruption - Confusion, forgetfullness and impaired concentration
  • physiological disruption - Nervous system, hyperactivity

It is also important to note that human beings also harbour motives for counteracting excessive stimulation.

Sensation Seeking[edit]

This determines how a person reacts to a situation or event and also determines the activities that one chooses. It involves how the characteristics of a person are related to arousal and reactivity. Zuckerman defines it at being 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. Sensations seekers as they are called, typically need a higher level of stimulation to maintain their mood, if they cant maintain stimulation then their mood decreases, thus they push to keep stimulation levels as high as possible. High sensation seekers typically enjoy much more intense sensations and experiences and are more likely to engage in risky sports and activities such as bungee jumping or skydiving. They prefer to choose things that are out of the ordinary and are much more susceptible to boredom.


Extraversion -> Happiness = Happiness set point Neuroticism -> Unhappiness = Unhappiness set point

Extraversion & Happiness

Extraverts have a greater capacity than introverts to experience positive emotion, and have a stronger and more sensitive BAS. Extraverts also have an eagerness to approach potentially rewarding situations, and thus have greater sociability, greater social dominance and greater venturesomeness. On the other hand, neurotics have a greater capacity to experience negative emotions and tend to avoid potentially punishing situations and thus have a great avoidance behaviour and also emotional distress.

Unconscious Motivation[edit]

Psychodynamic Perspective[edit]

  • Psychoanalytic = Traditional Freudian approach to unconscious including dual instinct theory
  • Psychodynamic = The study of unconscious psychological processes without necessarily subscribing to Freudian tradition

Freud's Dual Instinct Theory

  • EROS - Instinct for life such as sex, nurturance, affiliation
  • THANATOS - Instincts for death, such as aggression towards self and others

Drive -> Wish

Unlike hunger and thirst, neither sex nor aggression conform to a physiological model of drive. The drive theory evolved into a discrepancy theory, IE motivation arises from a mismatch between present state and ideal state. Contemporary psychoanalysts propose psychological wishes, not instinctual, drives and regulates behaviour with a focus on helping people and improving them. It involves four factors

  • The Unconscious
  • Psychodynamics
  • Ego development
  • Object relations theory

The Unconscious[edit]

Furthermore there are thee contemporary views on the unconscious, they are

  • Freudian unconscious
  • Adaptive unconscious
  • Implicit motivation

Subliminal Motivation

Subliminal Stimuli are below threshold for conscious perception, and the information processed at the unconscious level has emotional effects however people do not necessarily act on subliminal information.


Are the clashing of psychological forces, and involves two aspects

  • Conscious Volition (will) ----> Unconscious Counter-will
  • Idea ---> Counter Idea
  • Desire ---> Repression
  • Excitation ---> Inhibition
  • Cathexis ---) Anticathexis
Repression is the process by which we forget information and experiences, it is basically the ego's counterforce to the id's demanding desire
Supression is the process of removing thought from attention

One of the biggest questions posed by psychologists is to whether the ID and the EGO actually exist? Well it is considered that the limbic system makes for a fair ID as it involves the hypothalamus, thalamus, amygdala, medial forebrain etc basically pleasure and unpleasure brain centres. The neocortex is said to make a fair EGO, and involves learning, memory, decisions making, problem solving and is the executive control centre that perceives the world and learns to adapt to it. Finally the intricately interrelated neural pathways and structures of the brain show how one structure affects another.

Object Relation Theory[edit]

The quality of anyones mental representation of relationships can be characterised by three chief dimensions

  • Unconscious tone - benvolent vs malevolent
  • Capacity for emotional development -selfishness/narcissim vs mutual concern
  • Mutuality of autonomy with others

Criticisms of the Psychodynamic Perspective[edit]

  • Many of Freuds concepts are not scientifically testable
  • Motivational concepts arose from case studies of disturbed individuals
  • Many points about human motivation and emotion was simply wrong
  • Methods of Data selection
  • Psychoanalytic theory is woeful as predictive device