Please click here for full course schedule: []
- 1 About Me
- 2 Introduction to Motivation and Emotion
- 3 Theories Relating to Motivation
- 4 Needs
- 5 The Motivated and Emotional Brain
- 6 Self and Goals
- 7 Emotion
- 8 Personality, Motivation and Emotion
- 9 Positive and Growth Psychology
- 10 References
Hello! My name is Salbo and I am currently undertaking my last semester of university after 4.5 years of studying part time at the University of Canberra. In my occupational life, I am a Human Resources practitioner working for a large Canberra based organisation. To assist me in my learning and to provide you with information that you may find interesting, I am developing this e-portfolio for all to see. This e-portfolio focuses on motivation, the driving force behind behaviour which leads us to pursue some things and avoid others; and on emotion, which is a positive or negative feeling (or response) that typically includes some combination of physiological arousal, subjective experience and behavioural expression. Within this e-portfolio, I have included information on the topics that I found most interesting and in light of my profession, the information in this journal occasionally links back to my interest and experience within a HR environment. I hope you enjoy its content and please feel free to comment on the ideas and reflections expressed throughout. I look forward to hearing from you!
Introduction to Motivation and Emotion
In psychology, "motivation" is the intention of achieving a goal, leading to goal-directed behaviour. "Emotion" is a term used to describe short-lived subjective, physiological, functional, expressive phenomena that determine how we react to important events in our lives (Reeve, 2009).
Theories Relating to Motivation
According to Freud, humans, like other animals, are motivated by drives; internal tension states that build up until they are satisfied. Freud proposed two basic drives: sex and aggression. The sexual drive includes desires for love, lust and intimacy, whereas aggressive drive includes not only blatantly aggressive or sadistic impulses but desires to control or master other people and the environment. Freud suggested that these drives may express themselves in subtle ways. Aggression for example, can underlie sarcastic comments or enjoyment of violent movies. The most distinctive aspect of the psychodynamic approach is its distinction between conscious (explicit) and unconscious (implicit) motives (Reeve, 2009).
The theory of operant conditioning offers one of the clearest and most empirically supported views of motivation. Humans, like other animals, are motivated to produce behaviours rewarded by the environment and to avoid behaviours that are punished. All biological organisms have needs, such as those for food, drink and sex. Unfulfilled needs lead to drives, defined as states of arousal that motivate behaviour. Drive-reduction theorists propose that motivation stems from a combination of drive and reinforcement (Powell, Symbaluk, & Honey, 2009). According to the behaviourist view, deprivation of basic needs creates an unpleasant state of tension. If the animal in this state happens to perform an action that reduces the tension, it will associate this behaviour with drive reduction. Hence the behaviour will be reinforced (Powell, Symbaluk, & Honey, 2009). Most human behaviours, however, are not directed towards fulfilling primary drives. Especially in wealthier societies, people spend much of their time undertaking recreational activities. The motivations for these behaviours are secondary, or acquired drives. A secondary drive is learned through conditioning and other learning mechanisms such as modelling.
Cognitive theories provide an alternative approach to motivation. One such cognitive theory Victor Vroom's (1964) expectancy theory. This theory argues that the strength of a tendency to act in a certain way depends on the strength of an expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome, and on the attractiveness of that outcome on the individual. In an employment context, the expectancy theory suggests that employees will be motivated to exert a high level of effort when they believe the effort will lead to a good performance appraisal; that a good appraisal will lead to organisational rewards such as a bonus, a salary increase, or promotion; and that the rewards will satisfy the employee's personal goals (Stone, 2006). According to Wigfield and Eccles (2000) students of similar actual ability levels often differ tremendously in their success depending on their perceived ability. Moreover, Lynd-Stevenson (1999) found that unemployed workers' expectancies about their likelihood of finding employment and the value they place on work, predicted the probability of them holding down a job for more than one year. In 1977, Albert Bandura developed the self efficacy theory. this theory relates to an individuals belief that he or she is capable of performing a task. According to Bandura, the higher your self-efficacy, the more confidence you have in your ability to succeed in a task. In different situations, we find that people with low self efficacy are more likely to lessen their effort or give up all together, while those with high self efficacy seem to respond to negative feedback with increased effort and motivation, while those with low self-efficacy are likely to lessen their effort in response to negative feedback.
In today's tutorial, we started the session with some ice-breaker activities, which I found to be quite enjoyable. I always look forward to meeting new people as I enjoy listening to people's stories and hearing different perspectives. I personally think that the ice-breakers are a great way to encourage people to introduce themselves and have a bit of a chat. After this activity, we broke into small groups and we were given the opportunity to talk amongst ourselves and get to know each other a little better.
In our small groups, we discussed the definitions of motivation and emotion and presented our thoughts to the class. It seemed as though everyone in the class was on the right track and we all understood the basic definitions. After this activity, we discussed (and some nominated) assignment topics. At this point, I hadn't quite decided on my topic as I wanted to see what other people had chosen before I made my decision. I also wanted to choose a topic that was very different from the rest, just to keep things interesting.
Based on my own experiences, I believe that many people incorrectly view motivation as a personal trait - that is, some have it and others don't. In my line of work, I often see inexperienced managers label employees who seem to lack motivation as lazy or disinterested. Such a label assumes that an individual is always lazy or lacking motivation. However, my knowledge of motivation tells me that this is not at all true. I see people working in my organisation that are highly motivated, but they are motivated by different things. I very quickly worked out that people are motivated, you just have to work out what people's interests are and what motivates them! For me personally, I am motivated by people. I have found that I perform better when I am in the company of enthusiastic and driven people who enjoy getting the most out of their day.
In light of my own personal experiences with motivation and emotion, I am very much looking forward to undertaking this unit and I strongly believe that it will increase my levels of self-awareness. I am also hoping to get the most out of this unit as possible as I feel that it's an important topic and it will be useful to have a greater understanding of what motivates me and others around me.
What are Needs?
Needs are conditions within the individual that are essential for growth and well-being. Hunger and thirst are two examples of biological needs that are required to survive (Reeve, 2009).
Maslow's Hierachy of Needs
It is probably safe to say that the most well-known theory of motivation is Maslow's hierachy of needs (Malsow, 1962). Maslow proposed that within every human being there exists a hierarchy of five needs. These needs are:
- Physiological: Includes hunger, thirst, shelter, sex and other bodily needs.
- Safety: Includes security and protection from physical and emotional harm.
- Love/Belongingess: Includes affection, acceptance and friendship.
- Esteem: Includes internal esteem factors such as self-respect, autonomy and achievement: and external esteem factors such as status, recognition and attention.
- Self-actualisation: The drive to become what one is capable of becoming; includes growth, achieving one's potential and self fulfilment.
According to Maslow, as each of these needs become substantially satifised, the next becomes dominant and the individual moves up the steps of the hierachy.
From the standpoint of motivation, Maslow's theory suggests that although no need is ever fully gratified, a substantially satisfied need no longer motivates. So, if you are trying to motivate someone, according to Maslow, you must understand what level of the hierarchy the person is currently on and focus on satisfying the needs at or above that level.
McClelland's Theory of Needs
McClelland's Theory of Needs was developed in 1974 and focusses on three important needs that help explain motivation.
- Need for achievement: The drive to excel, to achieve in relation to a set of standards, to strive to succeed.
- Need for power: The need to make others behave in a way that they wouldn't have behaved otherwise.
- Need for affiliation: The desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships.
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is when a person pursues a particular goal or engages in a particular activity for the sake of personal interest and growth. Extrinsic motivation is the drive to engage with a particular activity or attain a particular goal because it has some kind of reward or incentive attached to it (Reeve, 2009). The most recent version of the theory, the self-determination theory, is outlined below.
Self Determination Theory
This model suggests that all individuals possess three innate psychological needs; autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy is characterized by an internal locus of control and the perception that behaviors are freely chosen. Competence is characterized by a sense of mastery and the perception of being effective in the things we do (Reeve, 2009). Relatedness is a construct characterized by satisfaction and involvement with the social world. Collectively, the model proposes that all individuals desire to feel autonomous, competent, and related and that this desire leads to participation in activities so that these needs can be met (Reeve, 2009).
The Motivated and Emotional Brain
The brain is an agent of motivation and emotion. it is the brain that generates cravings, appetites, needs, desire, pleasure, and the full range of emotions.
Brain structures associated with positive feelings and approach motivation include the hypothothalumus, medial forebrain bundle, septal area, orbiofrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, medial prefrontal cortex, and left prefrontal cortex. The brain structures associated with negative feelings and avoidance motivation include the amygdala, hippocampus, and right prefrontal cortex. For example, stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle leads people report positive feelings and behave in ways as if they had just received positive reinforcement. Stimulation of the amygdala leads people to report negative feelings and to show the behavioural activation associated with fear response (Reeve, 2009).
All emotions generate in the brain's limbic system which sits near the brain stem at the base of the skull. People tend to be happiest when (report more positive than negative emotions) when their limbic system is relatively inactive. When the lymbic system 'heats up', negative emotions such as anger and guilt dominate over positive ones such as joy and happiness. The hypothalumus is a central link in the neural circuit that converts emotional signals generated at higher levels of the brain into autonomic and endocrine responses. The electrical stimulation of regions of the hypothalumus can produce attack, defence, or flight reactions, with corresponding emotions of rage and terror. The left prefrontal cortex generates joy and positive affect and the right prefrontal cortex generates fear and negative affect (Reeve, 2009).
In today's tutorial, we began by discussing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory. One of the interesting points raised concerned whether this theory is culture-bound. I believe that it is and think that care needs to be taken in applying this theory because it assumes cultural characteristics that aren't universal. Actually, this seems to true of may of the theories I have highlighted above, as most of these theories were developed in the United States by Americans and are about Americans (Adler, 2002). For example, both the goal-setting theory and expectancy theory emphasise goal accomplishment as well as rational and individual thought-characteristics consistent with American culture. Moreover, Maslow's theory argues that people start at the physiological level and then move progressively up the hierarchy in this order: physiological, safety, love and belongingness, esteem and self actualisation (Reeve, 2009). This hierarchy, if it has any application at all, aligns with American and Australian cultures. In countries such as Japan, Greece and Mexico, where uncertainty avoidance characteristics are strong (countries that feel threatened by uncertain and ambiguous situations and subsequently avoid these situations by providing greater career stability, establishing more formal rules) security needs would be on top of the needs hierarchy (Hofstede, 1980). For countries that score high on nurturing characteristics such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, their social needs would be on top (Hofstede, 1980).
Another motivational theory that clearly has an American bias is McClelland's Theory of Needs, particularly in relation to the achievement need. I believe that taking the view that high achievement acts as an internal motivator presupposes two cultural characteristics - a willingness to accept risk (meaning that countries with strong avoidance characteristics are ruled out) and a concern with performance (which only applies to countries with strong achievement characteristics). Based on my research, both of these characteristics can be found in Anglo countries such as America, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. However, these characteristics are relatively absent in countries such as Chile and Portugal (Hofstede, 1980). This research supports the discussion that we had today. It is extremely important that we keep culture in mind, particularly when working in a culturally diverse environment and applying these theories in the workplace.
During the short time that I have been undertaking this unit, I have been thinking a lot about human needs, or fundamental drives that help us move forward and experience a meaningful life. If I was to create my own hierarchy of needs, it would be based on the needs hierarchy developed by the 'Lets Get Professional' (LPG) Training group. Firstly, I believe that humans require the need for certainty. I believe in the idea that everyone wants stability about their basic necessities, for example, food, water and shelter. I also believe that when people cannot control their physical circumstances, they seek certainty through a state of mind, such as religious faith or positive outlook. Secondly, I believe that humans need an element of variety in their lives. People often have the desire to change their state of mind, therefore, we seek variety through a number of different means or stimuli. These means or stimuli may include a change of scene, physical activity, entertainment, different foods, etc. Thirdly, I believe that significance is a human need. Everybody needs to feel important in some capacity and people will seek significance by obtaining recognition from others or from themselves. I believe that when people feel insignificant, they make themselves feel significant by getting angry. People that do this may also meet their needs paradoxically, by having others recognise the significance of their insignificance or the size and complexity of their problems. Fourthly, I believe that human beings have a strong need for love and connection. Whether it be a connection with someone or something, for example, a person, a value, a habit or sense of identity. Connection may also take the form of love, or intense engagement, perhaps an aggressive relationship. Lastly, I believe that humans have spiritual needs. I believe that people are not truly satisfied unless their capacities are expanding and we cannot be fulfilled unless we are making a contribution to others, in some way. Overall, I believe that people find ways to meet these needs in positive, negative, or neutral ways, but everyone finds a way to meet them in some way.
I strongly believe that human beings are driven by the same six fundamental needs: the four primary needs (certainty, variety, significance, love/connection) and the two spiritual needs (growth and contribution). What differs among each of us, however, is how we value these needs. For example, if a person driven by certainty and significance, they will most likely seek out situations they can control and where they can feel important, unique or special. If a person values connection and contribution, a person may look for environments where they can express their caring toward people and make a difference. I believe that a person must understand what needs are important to them and how those needs will impact on their life. I believe that understanding your own needs will ultimately lead to self-fulfilment.
Within the workplace, I believe that motivation can come about by changing the nature of the work environment. One model that I am particularly fond of, as it supports my belief, is the Job Characteristic Model (JCM), developed by Hackman and Oldham (1976). The JCM suggests that the way a job is designed can act to increase or decrease effort and the model outlined below is believed to contain five major elements that will increase motivation if they are imbedded in the job role. These are:
1. Skill variety: The degree to which the job requires a variety of different activities so that the employee can use a number of different skills and talents.
2. Task identity: The degree to which the job requires completion of a whole and identifiable piece of work.
3. Task significance: The degree to which the job has a substantial impact on the lives or work of other people.
4. Autonomy: The degree to which the job provides substantial freedom, independence and discretion to the individual scheduling the work and in determining the procedures to be used in carrying it out.
5. Feedback: The degree to which carrying out the work activities required by the job results in the individual obtaining direct and clear information about the effectiveness of his or her performance.
I agree with Hackman and Oldham that jobs that are high on motivating potential must be high in either skill variety, task identity or task significance (all three would be advantageous) and high in both autonomoy and feedback. In my current role, I have the opportunity to work on different tasks, I work independently and I recently won a promotion to a more senior position with higher task significance and I receive regular feedback about my performance. In light of these aspects, I feel motivated at work and I enjoy my job.
Another theory that I strongly believe in is the self-determination theory because when I achieve competence, autonomy and relatedness to others, I feel intrinsically motivated. Undertaking group exercises at work and at uni motivates me purely because I enjoy the experience of learning. I have no trouble getting started or helping others to get motivated. I thoroughly enjoy the learning experience and I always find myself acting as the team co-ordinator / team leader (or something similar) because I find these types of activities very enjoyable.
On a different topic altogether, I feel the need to comment on this Wikiversity thing. Before commencing the unit, I was reading my unit outline and almost had a heart attack when I read that we had to design two Wiki pages! My initial thoughts were that we have spent so many years learning to master the art of the lab report and now we have to write a wiki page! To be completely honest, I am also a bit of a dinosaur and technology isn't my forte. I generally don't do more than I have to when it comes to technology so I had a bit of a freak out. However, I must say that now, after learning the syntax and taking the time out to put this page together, I am really, really enjoying it! I would much rather do this than a lab report, it's much more enjoyable! I am looking forward to writing my text book chapter on Wiki, I can finally be creative and study psychology at the same time!
In regards to my other assignment, the textbook chapter, I have decided to write about aggression in the workplace. Because I work in a HR environment, I thought it would be appropriate for me to choose a topic that relates to my line of work. I always enjoy learning more about these types of issues as it helps me operate more effectively in my workplace and increases my ability to deal with complex people issues. At work, I have been in a position where I have had to deal with aggressive employees so it will be interesting to compare my experiences with the current research.
Self and Goals
Cognitive approaches to motivation often focus on goals - desired outcomes established through social learning. Goals tell a person what needs to be done and how much effort will need to be expended. In 1960, Locke developed the goal theory and proposed that intentions to work towards a goal are a major source of motivation. The core proposition of the goal theory is that conscious goals regulate much of human behaviour and represent desired outcomes that differ in some way from a person's current situation. According to Locke, goals activate old solutions that have worked in the past and encourage efforts to create new solutions if the old ones fail.
Goal setting theory has strongly influenced the link between organisational strategy and performance management systems. Burney and Swanson (2010) suggested that linking individual goals to the direction of the organisation can improve job satisfaction. This is the result employees having a clear understanding of where the organisation is headed and what is expected of them. Addtionally, employees feel committed and engaged as there are incentives and rewards for high performance (Burney & Swanson, 2010).
Learned Helplessness and Learned Optimism
Learned optimism is a theory developed by Martin Seligman (1998) and was based on a reformulation of the learned helplessness model. This new model was formed as explaining individual differences in response to negative events (for example, stressful situations). According to Seligman, people learn helplessness when they find themselves in a situation, which is out of their control. Learned helplessness happens when a person has learns to attribute their failures to the following three factors:
1. Internal (personal) – ‘It’s all my fault, I don’t deserve to have anyone loving me’. 2. Stable (permanent) – ‘It’s always my fault, I’ll never be worthy’. 3. Global (pervasive) – ‘I am such a terrible person and everyone must think so’.
Based on these examples, it is easy to see why someone would feel helpless and out of control! As well as identifying learned helplessness, Seligman also identified learned optimism and established that the differences between human individuals was the way in which they explained situations to themselves. Learned optimism happens when learn to attribute their failures to the following three factors:
1. External (circumstantial) – ‘This problem is just an unfortunate circumstance and is not my fault’. 2. Unstable (temporary) – ‘Things will get better for me’. 3. Explicit (specific) – ‘This situation is bad but the rest of my life is good’.
People that explained their situations as personal, permanent and pervasive became helpless, passive and pessimistic. Pessimists believe that the bad things that happen in life actually last longer and undermine anything you try to do. Optimists on the other hand, use their positive outlook to deal with stressful or potentially negative situations. Optimists see the bad things in life as temporary and as setbacks that have no major bearing over one’s life.
The goal setting theory really got me thinking. Based on my experience in the workplace, I can vouch for the notion that specific goals increase performance and that difficult goals, when accepted, result in a higher performance than easy goals. Of course, it is logical to assume that easier goals will be more likely accepted, however, I believe that once a difficult task is accepted, employees will exert extra effort in order to achieve the goal. In relation to my study, I can also apply this idea because when it comes time to study for an exam, I don't study as hard for the exams that I feel will be easier - I always put more time and energy into the exams that I believe will be more difficult. I have also found that the more specific the goal, the more likely I will be able to achieve it. For example, if my manager was to request that I write five reports in one week, that would be a more effective approach than if he requested me to write as many reports as possible in one week.
One question that I did have was whether employees exert extra effort to achieve their goals if they are involved in the decision making process about what their goals will be? My initial thoughts were yes. After I undertook some research, I found that in some cases, participatively set goals elicited superior performance, while in other cases, individuals performed best when assigned goals by their manager. However, a major advantage of participative goal setting may be in increasing acceptance of the goal itself as a desirable one to achieve. I support this notion as I believe that commitment is extremely important when trying to achieve a goal.
After the discussion that the class had in the first tutorial about theories being culture bound, I also believe that the goal setting theory is culture bound. Based on my reading, the types of goals that are important differ across cultures. Research conducted by Niles (1998) concluded that Australian goals are must more individualistic compared to other countries, such as Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan sample reported that they have some important individual goals, however, their goals were much more orientated towards the family and the group (Niles, 1998). The goal setting theory seems well adapted to Western countries like Australia and the United States because it's ket components align with our cultures.
Out of all the theories of motivation, I truly believe that goal setting is the strongest driver of motivation. Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible - the foundation for success in life. Quite often, people say to me, "Salbo, where do you get your energy? I just don't have the same level of motivation as you!". My usual response is, "you're not lacking motivation, you just have impotent goals!". One of my previous managers was very encouraging when it came to setting and achieving goals. She gave me an exercise to undetake which has helped me a great deal. For all the readers of my e-portfolio, I recommend giving this a crack!
Exercise - Meeting Your Personal Goals
On a piece of paper, write down everything you would like to improve in your life that relates to your own personal growth. For example, how would you like to improve your personal body? What are your goals for your mental and social development? What would you like to learn, for example, to speak another language? Emotionally, what would you like to experience, achieve, or master in your life? Maybe you would like to break patterns of aggression or frustration. Perhaps you want to feel compassion for the people you used to feel anger toward. What about spiritual goals? Do you believe in a higher power, would you like to explore this further?
the key in writing these goals is to write down everything and anything you can imagine without letting your mind stop. They can be short term goals - something you want to accomplish this week, this year - or they can be long term goals, something you want to accomplish between now and the next 20 years. Brainstorm for a period of 5 minutes. Do not stop writing at anytime!
Now that you have got a list of goals for your personal development that you can get excited about, take a minute to give a timeline to each and everyone goal you have written down. At this stage, it is not important to know how you will accomplish these goals. Just give yourself a timeframe in which to operate. Remember that goals are dreams with a deadline! The simple act of deciding when you'll achieve a goal sets conscious and unconscious forces in motion which make your goals a reality. so if you're committed to accomplishing a goal within a year or less, put a one next to it. If you're committed to accomplishing a goal within 3 years, put a three next to it, and so on.
Now choose your single most important one-year goal in this category - a goal that, if you were to accomplish this year, would give you tremendous excitement and make you feel that the year was well invested. Take two minutes to write a paragraph about why you are absolutely committed to achieving this goal within the year.Why is this compelling for you? What will you gain by achieving it? What would you miss out on if you didn't achieve it? Are these reasons strong enough for you to actually follow through? If not, either come up with a better goal, or better reasons.
Through my own personal experience, I learnt that if I have a big enough reason to do something and strong enough supporting reasons, I can always figure out how to achieve the goal. That's the easy bit. Goals alone can inspire, but knowing the deepest reasons why you want to achieve them in the first place can provide you with the long-lasting drive and motivation necessary to persist and achieve.
As previously mentioned, emotions are intense feelings that are directed at someone or something and should not be confused with moods. Moods are feelings that tend to be less intense than emotions and often lack a contextual stimulus. Emotions are reactions to a person or an event. A person will show their emotions when they are hapy about something, angry at someone or afraid of something.
The Basic Emotions
Humans experience many emotions and these include anger, contempt, enthusiasm, envy, fear, frustration, joy, love, disappointment, embarrassment, disgust, happiness, hate, hope, jealousy, pride, surprise and sadness, to name a few. There have been numerous research efforts to limit and define emotions into a fundamental or basic set of emotions (Reeve, 2009). Rene Descartes identified six ‘simple and primitive passions’. These are; wonder, love, hatred, desire, joy and sadness. Descartes argued that the other emotions composed of some of these main six. It now seems that researchers have agreed on six essentially universal emotions; anger, fear, disgust, sadness, joy and interest, with most other emotions falling under one of these six categories (Reeve, 2009).
Facial Expression and Emotion
Some theorists argue that the face is the primary centre of emotion (Tomkins, 1980). In this view, emotions consist of muscular and glandular responses located primarily in the face (Reeve, 2009). According to (Ekman, 1992) facial expressions not only indicate a person’s emotional state, they also influence the physiological and subjective components of the emotion. One problem with this approach is that some emotions are too complex to be easily represented on our faces. Take love, for example. Love is an emotion that humans quite commonly feel, however, it is not easy to express a loving emotion with your face.
The James-Lang Theory
William James (1884) argued that emotion is rooted in bodily experience. The James-Lange theory highlights two assumptions: (1) the body reacts uniquely to different emotion eliciting events, and (2) the body does not react to non-emotion eliciting events (Reeve, 2009). The physical experience of an emotional event leads a person to feel aroused, and the arousal stimulates the subjective experience of, for example, fear. The James-Lange theory proposes that when we experience an event that causes arousal, such as meeting a vicious dog in the street, we do not run because we are afraid, we become afraid because we run.
Positive and Negative Affect
Affect is closely related to emotion and can be defined as the pattern of observable behaviours that express an individual’s emotions (Reeve, 2009). Affect is variable and fluctuates in response to changing emotional states. For example, a depressed person may show very little intensity in their emotional expression. Positive emotions, such as joy and happiness, express a favourable evaluation or feeling. Negative emotions, such as anger of guilt, express the opposite. When emotions are grouped into positive and negative categories, they become mood states because we look at them more generally instead of isolating one particular emotion. For example, ‘excited’ is an example of a specific emotion that represents a high positive affect, while ‘sluggish’ is representative of a low positive effect. Similarly, ‘nervous’ is a pure marker of high negative affect, while ‘relaxed’ is representative of low negative affect. Some emotions, such as ‘contentment’ (a mixture of high positive affect and low negative affect) or ‘sadness’ (a mixture of low positive affect and high negative affect) are in between. Therefore, we can think of positive affect as a mood dimensions consisting of positive emotions such as excitement, satisfaction and cheerfulness at the high end and boredom, sluggish and drowsy at the low end. Negative affect is a mood dimension consisting of emotions such as nervousness, distress and fearful at the high end and relaxed, placid and calm at the low end.
Because emotions feel good or bad and can draw positive or negative responses from other people, people can often learn to control or regulate their emotions early in life (Gross, 1999). However, Reed (2009) argues that some motions clearly just happen to us and we cannot be responsible for our involuntary feelings. Reeve (2009) also argues that a person must be exposed to a positive or negative event in order to feel a positive or negative reaction. Gross (1999) suggested that people can regulate their emotions before of after they occur. Emotional regulation does have important physiological and psychological consequences, including more sympathetic nervous system activity, including increased heart rate (Gross, 1999). According to Richards and Gross (2000), suppression of emotion also interferes with the ability to engage in other tasks, because it essentially keeps the person ‘working overtime’ to keep feelings at bay.
In the first part of today's tutorial we worked in small groups to conduct an emotion Q sort. At the start of the activity, James handed out a list of specific emotions to each group. The group members (myself and three others, were then required to cut the up the emotion words and spread them out on the table. As a group, we discussed and agreed on an organised model for the emotions and began clustering the different emotions under eight primary emotions, love, aggression, fear, joy, interest... I am having trouble remembering the others. After a few more minutes of discussion, we changed our method and split all the emotions into either a positive or negative category. By doing this, we were able to work individually to move the emotions onto the negative side of the table or the positive side of the table. After we had completed this part of the activity, we were then able to determine which of the secondary emotions would cluster under the primary emotions. We probably went the long way but that's ok, we had fun. I really enjoyed this activity, despite not being able define or recognise some of the emotions, but that's all part of learning. It was really interesting to see how the other groups clustered their emotions, most groups took a different approach but generally each group used the same primary emotions.
Voluntarily controlling or regulating emotions is a very interesting topic to me and over the years, I read a lot of books and engaged in much discussion about the ways in which people deal with emotion. Firstly, I believe that people deal with, or regulate their emotions by avoiding them. As humans, we all want to avoid painful emotions, right? I believe that most people try to avoid any situation that may lead to the emotions they fear. For example, if a person fears rejection, they will try to avoid any situation that may lead to rejection. For example, the person will shy away from relationships and they won’t apply for challenging jobs. I have experienced avoidance behaviour in the workplace all too often and I do my best to educate people that avoidance may protect them in the short term, however, in the long term they are only damaging themselves by not allowing themselves to grow and learn how to deal with negative emotions. Rather than avoiding emotions, people must learn to find the hidden, positive meaning in those experiences that we once thought were negative. Secondly, I believe that people attempt to regulate their emotions through denial. In my experience, I have witnessed people try to disassociate from their feelings by saying something like “I’m ok, it didn’t hurt me”. Meanwhile, the person will constantly be thinking about how horrible the negative experience was and how much they have been hurt by it. Experiencing and emotion and then trying to pretend it’s not there only creates more pain in my eyes. Ignoring the powerful messages that our emotions are sending to us will not make things better. Infact, I have done this before and my emotions simply increased and intensified until I got honest with myself! Thirdly, I believe that some people will stop trying to fight and hide their negative emotions and decide to fully indulge in them. Rather than learning the positive message their emotions are trying to give them, people intensify their emotions and make the feeling worse than what it already is! I once overheard a person in my team say to another colleague “You think you’ve problems? Let me tell you about my problems and you won’t think so!” The way I see it is that intensifying emotions can become a part of a person’s identity, a way of seeking significance and priding themselves on being worse off than anyone else. As you can probably imagine, this approach must be avoided at all costs, because it can often be the case where a person constantly invests in feeling bad on a regular basis and they subsequently become trapped. I often explain to my work colleagues that if you want to make your life work, you must make your emotions work for you. It is impossible to avoid or hide from your emotions, nor can you allow them to run your life. Emotions can quite often seem painful in the short term, but I believe that emotions are a gift, a guideline and a support system. If you suppress your emotions and try to drive them out of your life, or if you magnify them and let them take over, then one of life’s precious resources will be squandered. In regards to Reeds (2009) argument that a person must experience a positive or negative event to allow them to experience a positive or negative experience, I completely disagree with this. So many people feel as though they have to wait for certain experiences to occur before in order to feel the emotions they desire. For example, people don’t give themselves permission to fee loved or happy unless a particular event is experienced or a particular set of expectations is met. I strongly believe that a person can feel any way they choose at any moment in time. A person doesn’t need a reason to feel happy, you can just make the decision to feel good, simply because you want to. It’s called power of the mind.
After today's tutorial, I was driving home from uni and I was thinking about which emotion is the most powerful. My answer is fear. Fear has the potential to destroy our psychology and immobilise people from moving forward. All of us experience fear in some context during our lives: fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success (i.e., how can I handle the pressure and continue to deliver at a high level), fear of love (or losing love), fear of being alone, or fear of the unknown. I have felt a combination of these fears over the course of my life! I believe that fear is hard-wired into every human being and nothing we do in our lifetimes will take fear away. I guess the secret is learning how to use fear instead of letting it use us.
Personality, Motivation and Emotion
Happiness and Personality
Reeve (2009) suggests that people have two ‘ emotional set points’ that regulate our happiness and subjective well-being. One set point is for positive emotionality, i.e. happiness, and the other set point is for negative emotionality, i.e. unhappiness. According to Reeve (2009) the status of these set points can be explained by our individual personalities. In general terms, happiness is linked to extroversion and unhappiness is linked to neuroticism. Extroversion and happiness have been linked because extroverted people are thought to be more social, experience the enjoyment of being around other people, have a higher level of social assertiveness and possess a greater capacity to experience positive emotions. On the other hand, people that possess a neurotic personality may have predisposition to experience negative affect, feel more stress, anxiety, fear and irritability (Reeve, 2009). Additionally neurotic personality types have a greater capacity to deal with negative emotions and often harbour their negative thoughts (Reeve, 2009).
Arousal governs alertness, wakefulness and activation (Reeve, 2009). These processes have been recognised as cortical, behavioural and autonomic mechanisms. Therefore the activity of the brain (cortical), skeletal muscular system (behavioural) and autonomic nervous system make up the motivational construct of arousal (Reeve, 2009).
Four principles explain arousal’s contribution 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 under-aroused, 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 over-aroused, 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.
According to Reeve, these four principles can be organised into an inverted U-curve (below) (Yerkes & Dobson, 1908). The U-curve explains the link between arousal and emotional and motivational states. The curve shows that a low level of arousal produces poor performance (lower left). As arousal increases to a moderate level, the quality of a person's performnace will improve. As arousal increases from moderate to high, performance quality will actually decrease (lower right).
Perceived Control and Desire for Control
Perceived control refers to a person’s belief that they can control a situation, in order to produce desired outcomes and avoid negative outcomes (Reeve, 2009). In order for a person to perceive control over a situation, first the person must have determined what they wanted to achieve in the situation and secondly, the situation must be in some way predicable and responsive (Reeve, 2009). People with high levels of perceived control often engage in challenging tasks, set high goals and have set progress plans (Reeve, 2009). Additionally, a person with higher levels of perceived control maintains focus and can effectively monitor their problem solving techniques and seek feedback from others. A high level of performance usually corresponds with high levels of perceived control. Alternatively, a person with low perceived control will often select easier tasks, lack confidence and do not account for potential risks. As a result, people with lower levels of perceived control perform more poorly.
The desire for control refers to a person’s motivation and desire to control the various aspects of their lives (Reeve, 2009). People with high desire for control direct their life events and are determined to influence the outcome of any given situation. They will generally make their own decisions, account for the various outcomes a decision may bring and perform in leadership positions (Reeve, 2009). Alternatively, people with low desired control generally won’t undertake leadership roles and do not enjoy working autonomously.
It seems that most psychologists focus on unpleasant emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety so it’s a nice change to focus on happiness. I was also very happy to read in the textbook that ‘most people are happy’. This makes me happy. I also agree with the idea that the people who ‘get the most breaks’ are not always as happy as the people who don’t and alternatively, some people that experience more negative experiences in their lives may actually be happier people than the people who only experience positive life events (Reeve, 2009). Now I have done a lot of reading on the subject of happiness, believe it or not! In my experience, I have found that personality does have a lot to do with happiness and I agree with the notion that extroverts are generally happier people and the neurotic types, well, what hope do they have, really? However, I also strongly believe that people are governed by their blueprint, or by a personal set of rules that have been shaped by their life experiences and ingrained into their psyche. I believe that these rules will ultimately determine a person’s level of happiness and a person has the ability to alter their rules if they really want to – even the neurotic types!
One day I was talking to one of my friends and I was telling her that I wasn’t happy because things generally weren’t going well in my life. My friend immediately asked me ‘what has to happen for you to feel happy, Salbo?’ I just stared at my friend blankly and I couldn’t answer the question. The truth is that I immediately knew that nothing had to happen to me for me to feel happy. I didn’t really need anything that I didn’t already have and even if I did need something, I could still feel happy if I wanted to! This is why I say that feeling happy has nothing to do with events or people, or money, or cars or anything like that, it is purely a state of mind that we can all achieve within seconds. The problem is that people’s expectations are often too high and if those expectations aren’t met, they become unhappy because their rules have been broken. I firmly believe that if we base our happiness on things we cannot control, like external events, material possessions and the like, we will surely experience unhappiness and pain.
In relation to Yerkes and Dobson’s u-curve, I particularly liked this theory because I can remember that many a time my arousal levels have been so high and my performance has been so very low. This usually happens to me in the most common forms, usually prior to public speaking and job interviews. Although, I must say that I am getting better at controlling my arousal levels by undertaking breathing exercises etc. Again, I think it comes back to being aware of your physiology and your emotional state so you can exercise some control over them.
Positive and Growth Psychology
Positive psychology is a fairly new concept in the world of psychology and it focuses the psychology in a positive light. Like other disciplines of psychology, it uses empirical research to determine the best ways to live your life and what makes life worth living (Reeve, 2009). The subject matter of positive psychology is concerned with well-being, contentment, satisfaction, enjoyment, hope, optimism, meaning, love and passion, to name a few. The philosophical roots of positive psychology can be traced back to Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, as well as Islamic and Athenian teaching and other ancient scholars, philosophers, and spiritual leaders (Molony, & Henwood, 2010). In the search for a comprehensive understanding of positive psychological well-being, Seligman set out to define and classify positive traits in people that could be examined, researched, diagnosed, and possibly used as interventions. The core virtues that the researchers identified are listed below.
1. Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal; examples include bravery, perseverance, and authenticity.
2. Justice: Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life; examples include fairness, leadership, and citizenship or teamwork.
3. Humanity: Interpersonal strengths that involve "tending and befriending" others; examples include love and kindness.
4. Temperance: Strengths that protect against excess; examples include forgiveness, humility, prudence, and self-control.
5. Wisdom: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge; examples include creativity, curiosity, judgment, and perspective.
6. Transcendence: Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and thereby provide meaning; examples include gratitude, hope, and spirituality.
It has been suggested that these behaviours are sustainable and strong because they each relate to solving problems that are associated with survival (Molony, & Hernwood). These particular traits may also help amplify people's strengths (Reeve, 2009).
Encouraging Growth and Self Actualisation
According to Maslow (1971), there are 6 factors that encourage growth and self-actualisation.
1. Make Growth Choices
See life as a series of choices, forever a choice toward progression and growth versus regression and fear. The progression growth choice is a movement towards self-actualisation, whereas the regression fear choice is a movement away from self-actualisation.
2. Be Honest
Dare to be different, unpopular, non-comformist. Be honest rather than not, especially when in doubt. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences of those choices.
3. Situationally Position Yourself at Peak Experiences
Set up conditions to make peak experiences more likely. Get rid of false notions and illusions. Find out what you are not good at, and learn what your potential is by learning what your potentials are not. Use your intelligence (if you have any).
4. Give Up Defensiveness
Identify defenses and find the courage to give them up. Instead of using fantasies to prop up the self and keep anxiety at bay, drop the indulgent fantasy and get to work on developing the skills needed to be the sort of person you dream of.
5. Let the Self Emerge
Perceive within yourself and see and hear the innate impulse voices. Shut out the noises of the world. Instead of only looking to others to tell you who to become, also listen to your own personal interests and aspirations of who you want to become.
6. Be Open to Experience
Experience fully, vividly, selflessly with full concentration and total absorption. Experience without self-consciousness, defenses, or shyness. Be spontaneous, original, and open to experience. In other words, stop and smell the roses.
Source: Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding Motivation and Emotion (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Congruence and Incongruence
Congruence and incongruence describe the extend to which in individual denies or rejects their personal values, beliefs and abilities (Reeve, 2009). Being incongruent means experiencing a difference between the real self and the self that is seen by others. An individual can quite easily perceive themselves as being a certain way, but in reality, their true persona is actually different. Reeve (2009) states that conflict between experience-expression reveals incongruence; harmony between experience-expression reveals congruence.
Reflection and Summary
I honestly believe that Maslow hit the nail on the head. I completely agree with all the points noted above in relation to self-actualisation and congruency. I believe very strongly that life is about choices and the choices we make will determine our destiny. This is why we must be honest, we must be true to our core so we can be confidently accountable for our own actions and stand up for what we believe is right. There is no point in trying to pretend to be something that you're not. A person can waste so many years of their precious life not really understanding who they are and what really drives and motivates them. I will, however, further expand on Maslow's point about letting your true self emerge because I believe that the only way to do this is to understand your own values. People must get clear about what is most important in to them and make a final decision to live according to these values, no matter what! The only way a person will reach the highest point of self-actualisation is if they live by their highest ideals, consistently, and in accordance with what they believe life is truly about. I'm sorry if I have gone on off on a tangent here, however, I am very passionate about this area of psychology and it's great to read something that I connect with so strongly. I have found that during the course of my studies I haven't been able to relate to many of the theories, possibly because I don't believe in them or they are too removed from reality. Maslow's summary, however, makes sense to me and I personally try to follow these principles.
Overall, I think that Motivation and Emotion was a very worthwhile unit and I thoroughly enjoyed learning the subject matter and meeting the people in my class. I am also glad that I was given the opportunity to write this e-portfolio. Not only has it given me the confidence to write an assignment in a more technical fashion, I have learnt a great deal about other people by being given the opportunity to read their e-portfolios. It was great to work with such a diverse group of people and I enjoyed observing different attitudes and behaviours during the process. I have learnt a great deal from this experience.
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