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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 and Emotion Text Book Chapter[edit]

I have also authoured a text book chapter on Procrastination


This page will chronicle my learning throughout the unit Motivation and Emotion. Motivation and Emotion Scrabble.jpg

Week One[edit]

What causes behaviour? I think that this is probably a question that runs through the minds of many psychology students, and for that matter the whole population. For me, this was probably the reason I started a psychology degree, I wanted to know why people do things. Why do some people have the motivation to train at elite levels, why do others have the motivation to study, why do children (and pets for that matter) insist on being oppositional? This question of why is asked again and again and I am greatly looking forward to having a few answers.

Graduating students.JPG
Dive off!.jpg

Because I have come to this unit with these questions, the aspect of the readings which had the greatest impact on me was the discussion of the processes that energize and direct behaviour. Reeve (2009) states that Motivation is caused by internal and external events. Internal events are those made up of Needs, Cognitions, and Emotions, whilst external events are any sources or stimuli external to the body.

Needs are essential and necessary to life, like food and water. Reeve (2009, p.77) states that when a "need is nurtured and satisfied, wellbeing is maintained and enhanced. If it is neglected or frustrated, the needs thwarting will produce damage that disrupts biological or psycholological well being." He suggets that we therefore need to change our behaviour in order to ensure we maintain our optimal wellbeing. Reeve also states that there are three types of Needs that we have to attend too; Physiological (See Week 3), Psychological and Social Needs. Cognitions consist of thoughts, beliefs and expectations.

Emotions are the phenomena which help us to react adaptively. It is the combination of these internal and external events which I think holds the answer to why.

This quest to understand what motivates behavior has, in turn, created an interest to understand what prevents people from doing things, why can some people be bothered and others not. This is the reason I have chosen to look into procrastination as my text book chapter, and I invite anyone to comment as to what they believe causes them to procrastinate (or give feedback on the page so far) as I believe anecdotal evidence is the origin of many theories.

Week Three[edit]

The Motivated and Emotional Brain[edit]

As Reeve (2009, p.50) states, the brain can be viewed to act in three ways; the Thinking Brain, the Motivated Brain, and the Emotional Brain. I think that it is important to note that there are in fact different aspects to the Brain as I think that many individuals view our brains as simply the control centre for logic and forget that it is our brains which also control our emotional reactions to events, and not (as the romantic might state) the heart. I also find it interesting that we use our minds to problem solve, yet the same organ can also cause us to react completely irrationally, often creating another emotion for us to deal with; embarrassment!

Reeve (2009) also tells us that our reactions to events are not just a reflex to stimuli but a complex interaction between the biochemical’s stimulated by those events and their effect on specific structures within the brain. Theoretically this is easy enough to understand, however I still find it amazing that our brains have so many simultaneous processes occurring at once, yet often it occurs so unconsciously that we cannot even state why we are experiencing a particular emotion.

What I further found interesting about this topic is that the structures of the Brain have been split into Approach (Figure 1) versus Avoidance states (see Table 2). I am unsure whether the term versus, as Reeve (2009, p. 54) puts it, is quite the right term to use as I think that these states can be occurring simultaneously. For example one might be avoiding homework as it creates anxiety, so is being affected by the Amygdala, whilst simultaneously being drawn to the social aspect of being with friends, and therefore also be under the influence of the Septal area. Reeve was perhaps using the term for a lack of a better one, but I think it is important to always be aware that multiple processes are always occurring in the Brain and we cannot simply put it down to one structure, hormone or chemical.

Table 1

Approach Orietated Structures and their Motivational and Emotional States

Brain Structure Associated Motivational or Emotional Experiance
Hypothalamus Pleasurable, regulates feeding, drinking and mating
Medial Forbrain bundle Pleasurable, Reinforcement
Orbitofrontal cortex Processes incentive-related information and options
Septal area Pleasurable, associated with socioability, sexuality
Nuclues accumbens Pleasuable, related to reward
Anterior cingulate cortex Related to Mood and choices
Cerebral Cortex Plans, goals and future intentions
Left Prefrontal cortex Approach Motivational and emotional tendencies
Medial prefrontal cortex responses to learning. Underlies percieved control beliefs and mastery motivation

Note: Adapted from "Understanding Motivation and Emotion" by J. Reeve, 2009, p54. Unites States of America: Wiley.

Table 2

Avoidance Orietated Structures and their Motivational and Emotional States

Avoidance Orietated Structures and their Motivational and Emotional States

Brain Structure Associated Motivational or Emotional Experiance
Right prefrontal cortex Withdraw motivational and emotional tendencies
Amygdala Detecting and responding to threat and danger (fear, anxiety, anger)
Hippocampus Behavioural Inhibition system

Note: Adapted from "Understanding Motivation and Emotion" by J. Reeve, 2009, p54. Unites States of America: Wiley.

Physiological Needs[edit]

I think that Physiological needs are a good place to start when studying motivation and emotion, as I think that as these become salient you cannot focus on anything else (these become the ultimate motivation) until they have been attended too. Which is also the view of Maslow, as can be seen in his hierarchy of needs (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Maslows Heirachy of Needs

A few questions continue to come to mind when I think about Physiological Needs; Are our needs evolutionary and/or socially influenced? And, are our needs and responses to them, universal?

I think that our physiological need for food and water is probably universal in the fact that we need to eat and drink in order to stay alive, however I think that our responses to those needs, and our conscious appraisal of our behaviours is far from universal. For example some people have no problem monitoring their eating habits whilst others develop Binge eating disorders. Some people eat purely because they are hungry; others eat because they are motivated to try multiple flavours (Berry, Beatty & Klesges as cited Reeve, 2009, p. 92).

I think these responses are influenced by both evolutionary and social factors. For example, a study by Pfaffmann as cited Reeve (2009, p. 87) found that whilst we drink tasteless water to achieve homeostasis, we over-drink sweet water and under-drink sour, salty and bitter water. I hypothesise that this is an evolutionary response whereby sweet foods typically indicate nutrients, like those in fruit and vegetables, whereby salty, sour and bitter foods were potentially poisonous. I do wonder whether we would see a further difference if we were to compare participants who commonly still eat from the land and participants from developed countries.

I also believe that we can be socially influenced in how we react to physiological needs, for example as stated above, some people are so motivated by the ‘perfect body image’ that is portrayed by the media that their motivation to be thin overrides their motivation to suppress their need of hunger. For further information on Eating Disorders, their causes and treatments see The Australian Psychological Society

Week Four[edit]

Psychological Needs[edit]

Reeve (2009) states that there are three aspects which must be satisfied in order for psychological growth to be achieved;

Autonomy: Psychological need to experience self-direction and personal endorsement in the initiation and regulation of behaviour.

Competence: A Psychological need to be effective in interactions with the environment, and;

Relatedness: A Psychological need to establish bonds and attachments with others.

He states that satisfying these three needs will lead to engagement in activities.

What I find interesting concerning Autonomy is that it is not actual autonomy which is important but the perceived amount of autonomy. Reeve (2009) states that choice is important, where, one requires a true choice rather than an either-or choice. I would however, have to disagree with this as I think that an either-or can contribute to perceived choice. Thinking anecdotally, children are rarely given a true choice, they instead are usually given a choice between two or three options, for example they are asked what they would like to wear between this and this, not whether they even want to wear anything at all. If it was actual autonomy and choice which was important, I think very few people would ever experience psychological growth.

What was also of interest to me was the ‘Four Essential Ways to Support Autonomy’ as I wonder whether these are taught to teachers. I feel that teachers should take more note of the importance of describing the value, worth and meaning of engaging in uninteresting topics. I feel that this is important, as for me the biggest hurdle I had in high school was trying to engage in topics which I felt had no personal relevance to me or my life (like longitudinal division – we have calculators!)

Regarding competence, the thing that struck me as interesting was that essentially this is something which, unlike the others, can be personally manipulated. Autonomy and Relatedness are essentially situational and environmental aspects, and whilst competence can also depend on the task, I think one can personally increase their perceived competence. I believe that competence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy; if one ensures they begin by completing tasks they are competent at, they will receive positive feedback, increasing their likeliness to feel competent and attempt other, possibly more difficult tasks in the future.

Social Needs[edit]

Reeve (2009, p.175) states that Achievement motivates people to seek “success in competition with a standard of excellence.” He states that it is a combination of competition with the task, self and others, however, I question whether these are all in equal competition. For example, high achievers can still feel that they have not met their personal standard of excellence, regardless as to whether others see them as high achievers and they receive positive feedback from their tasks. Their personal competition appears to be so high that they simply cannot feel that sense of achievement regardless on the task outcome or praise from others. I do wonder whether this may be one contributor to suicide, as there are many stories of those ‘least likely,’ the high achievers who had everything (in the eyes of others). One example is the story of Hannah Modra, which can be viewed at Australian Story "The Girl Least Likely".

I tried to find some research that looked into this apparent discrepancy between personal views of ‘ought-potential’ and their ‘actual-potential,’ as I was interested in seeing whether this has been hypothesized as a possible cause of suicide, however I was unable to find any conclusive research. I am interested as it does seem like a plausible hypothesis that one who cannot feel a sense of achievement, because their personal ought-potential is simply unattainable, would in-turn feel depressed.

If anyone else knows of any research into this area, I would be interested in hearing of them.

Week Five[edit]

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation[edit]

Positive Reinforcement

Tutorial and My University Motivation Profile[edit]

In the tutorial we spoke about the Functionalist theory which states that we can predict satisfaction based on the match between an individual’s motivational profile for why they do something and whether they actually receive the desired outcome.

When talking about the theory it was brought up that motivations for doing things cannot be instantly labelled as either intrinsic or extrinsic as something which may appear extrinsic may be a means to something intrinsic not the end in itself. This is also what I was speaking about in the opposite section. It was stated in the tutorial that students in Survey Research and Design in Psychology have found that the most common motivation for attending university is career, followed by knowledge/learning/skills, social opportunities, altruism, and finally social pressure.

My functionalist profile for my satisfaction at university was as follows (see Figure 2); it is interesting that overall I received a negative 1 as I do generally enjoy the experience of university. However the reason I received a negative is because of my social pressure outcomes and I think the outcome is less than the motivation as I guess I feel that going to university was a recommended option at high school but I don’t feel that pressure anymore, so whilst it was a motivation for me to enrol initially it is not a strong motivation for me to continue.

Motivation profile.png

Figure 2: University Motivation Profile

Reeve (2009, p. 111) states that Intrinsic motivation is the “inherent propensity to engage in one’s interests and to exercise one’s capacities.” Basically, it is doing an activity because one finds it interesting and enjoyable. He states that being intrinsically motivated is advantageous because it increases persistence, creativity, conceptual understanding, optimal functioning and wellbeing (p. 112-113). Extrinsic motivation is said to arise from “environmental incentives and consequences such as food, money, praise, and attention, etc.” (Reeve, 2009, p. 113); you are doing something to get something else that is external (see Table 3). The idea that extrinsic rewards can motivate us to do things is based on the principal of Operant Conditioning (See Also Wikipedia). The basic assumption is that when behaviour is followed by a positive consequence (a reinforcer) we are more likely to repeat the behaviour, and when it is followed by a negative consequence (a punishment) we are less likely to repeat the behaviour. Reeve also goes on to remind us that a reward is not necessarily a reinforcer; a lolly may be a reinforcer to one individual and a punisher to another. He states that in order for a reinforcer to act it must (p. 115);

  1. Decrease drive
  2. Decrease arousal
  3. Increase arousal
  4. Is attractive to the person
  5. Produces pleasurable brain stimulation
  6. Provides an opportunity to do a high frequency behaviour

Superficially, I can see the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, however I do feel that the distinction can be blurred. Say for example, I have to complete an essay which is on a set question which I do not find interesting in the slightest, however I have to complete it for a subject which in general, I do find interesting, and feel a sense of satisfaction in by completing. Is this intrinsic or extrinsic? Reeve (2009, p. 133) states that there are four types of extrinsic motivations which range along a continuum (see Four Types of Extrinsic Motivation Table) so perhaps this example is the Integrated Regulation; “I complete the assignment because I value the satisfaction from the unit as a whole, and this assignment is part of the whole experience.” I would be interesting in hearing where others feel this type of example fits along the continuum.

Reeve also states that there are four reasons why one should not use extrinsic motivators;

  1. They undermine the quality of performance and interferes with the process of learning
  2. They distract attention away from the hard question as to why another person is being asked to complete an uninteresting task
  3. There are better ways to encourage participation
  4. Undermine the individual’s long term capacity for autonomous self-regulation.

I recently came across an article however, that would disagree with the fourth reason. Baumann and Kuhl (2005) found that individuals who are state-orientated actually require extrinsic regulation otherwise competing tendencies emanating from the self cause distraction. The cognitive evaluation theory also disagrees that extrinsic motivators are always wrong, hypothesising that extrinsic motivators can also inform people of competence, which as I stated in the Week 4 posting, can be a self-fulfilling prophecy which can lead to attempts at more challenging tasks.

The extent to which punishers work is also discussed by Reeve (2009, p. 121-122). He states that they are ineffective as the side effects of negative emotionality, impaired relationships, and negative modelling outweigh the positive results. I can understand the basis of this hypothesis when one talks about people who can understand language, as the appropriate behaviour can be explained to them, and then they are praised. But what about animals who cannot understand language? My dog for example is not to jump on the lounges and is praised for sitting on the floor when we are on the lounge, but he also jumps on the lounge, if I were not to rouse on him when he does so, how does he learn that it is not appropriate? He prefers to be on the lounge with us and that alone is more reinforcing than the pats and praise he gets from the sitting on the floor.

Table 3

Four Types of extrinsic Motivation, Illistrated by Different Reasons of "Why I recycle"[edit]

Type of Extrinsic Motivation External Contingency at Stake The Reason I Recycle Is... Illistrative Quotation
External Regulation Incentives, Consequences "to get a consequence." "I recycel to make 5 cents on each can"
Introjected Regulation Avoid guilt, boost self esteem "Becuase I should" "I recycle becuase I ought to, if I am going to feel good (rather than guilty) about myself."
Identified Regulation Valuing, sense of importance "because it is important" "I recycle becuase it is important for a cleaner environment."
Integrated Regulation Value congruence "Because it reflects my values" "I recycle because it reflects and expresses who I am and what I believe."

Note: Adapted from "Understanding Motivation and Emotion," by J. Reeve, 2009, Unites States of America: Wiley

Goal Setting[edit]

SMART Goals[edit]

S Specific: Exactly What is it that you want to achieve?
M Measurable: How will You track Your Progress?
A Achievable: Goals need to be a challenge as the higher the value of the reward, the less likely you will be distracted by alternatives. That being said your goal should be something you can achieve otherwise failure may result in self-defeating prohecies.
R Realistic: Similar to Achievable - Can you realistically see your self completing your goal? - Does it take into account your skills and resources?

Routine: The more often you have to decide between working towards goals and other more pleasurable tasks, the more chance you have of choosing the pleasurable options. If you schedual goals to occur at regular times and places you will not give yourself the opportunity to procrastinate.

T Timely: Set yourself a timeframe in which you will have achieved your goal

Figure 3. Description of each of the components of the 'SMART Goals' Approach to setting goals. Adapted from "Set SMART goals for incentive programs," by M. Resnick, 2009, Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, 43(9), 48-49. '"Set goals the SMART way," by S. S. Roberts, 2007, Diabetes Forecast, 60(5), 43-44. "Procrastinus," by P. Steel, 2009, Retrieved from Procrastinus website: "A 'smart' way to set writing goals," by K. L. Stone, 2008, Writer, 121(9), 8-8.

My first thought when seeing this topic placed after intrinsic and extrinsic motivators is; “are these not counterproductive?” On the one hand we are told not to use extrinsic motivators, yet on the other, set goals in order to get somewhere and achieve something!

Reeve (2009, p. 210) states that when there is a discrepancy between our present state and our ideal state we are cognitively motivated to reduce the dissonance. There are said to be two types of discrepancy; discrepancy reduction and discrepancy creation. Discrepancy reduction occurs when we experience feedback from our environment that our current performance is not living up to our ideal performance. Reeve states that it is “the environment bringing some standard of excellence into our awareness (p. 211). Discrepancy creation is based on a ‘feed forward’ system where one looks forward and proactively sets a challenging goal.

Reeve (2009) states that goals need to be specific (these direct behaviour), and difficult (to energize behaviour). Once our performance is enhanced we then require appropriate feedback which documents our progress. He goes on to state that without feedback our involvement can be emotionally unimportant and uninvolving. This statement resonates strongly with me as I really appreciate it when I am given detailed feedback on my work, as this is how I improve. If all that is given is ‘great work’ and a mark, or ‘needs some improvement’ I get quite annoyed as it does not help me progress; if I know what needed to be done to improve it I probably would have done it before handing it in! As Reeve also states, I think it is also important to remember to give appropriate feedback that is constructive, as criticism usually just results in people ignoring it, or is detrimental to self-esteem and perceived competence.

I am surprised that Reeve does not mention SMART goals as this is a process which is regularly stated in the literature (Resnick, 2009; Roberts, 2007; Stone, 2008) (see Figure 3). SMART is an acronym for ensuring goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. These aspects are mentioned in some respects by Reeve however I feel that the SMART acronym is a more concise way to describe the process of goal setting than used in the text.

Reeve (2009) does mention the need to set short-term goals as long term goals do not produce immediate performance feedback. I think another theory which explains this well is Temporal Motivation Theory (Steel, 2007). This theory describes why goals need to be specific and timely. Basically, the theory is based on time based curves, whereby as the time for a reward draws nearer one’s motivation for a smaller sooner reward will overcome that of a larger later reward. So, if getting a good grade is your main goal, studying will have a higher motivational pull, that is, until a friend asks you to go to them movies on Friday. As the time draws nearer to Friday (and your exam is still a long way off) your motivation to go to the movies becomes stronger than the goal of studying, and you therefore forget your goal to study, and go out. One can however get around this by setting sub-goals as these small, specific goals can allow you to receive sooner reward and feedback (increasing their motivational curve).

Week Six[edit]

Personal Control Beliefs[edit]

Tutorial and Learning Optimism[edit]

In the tutorial we spoke about Seligman’s ABCDE (Adversity, Beliefs, Consequences, Disputation, Energisation) solution for learning optimism. I think it is important to not be overly pessimistic as I think this could be related to depression as one believes that things are always bad and there is nothing they can do about it. However, I also believe being overly optimistic can have its downsides as it is possible that being overly optimistic may be related to addictions like gambling where they believe that the next push of the poker machine button is ‘the one.’


Expectancy is the subjective prediction of how likely it is that an event will occur. Reeve (2009, p.232) states that there are two kinds of expectancies which are important when determining whether someone will act. Efficacy Expectations which is the consideration of personal skills or attributes “Can I do It?” And Outcome Expectations which is the consideration of the outcome of the event/behaviour “Will what I do work.” He states that when an individual thinks that they will be able to do something, and what they will do will have the desired outcome, they will act; he calls this Empowerment.

An individual’s self-efficacy is determined by their personal behaviour and history (outcome of past experiences), vicarious experiences (observing others), verbal persuasion (pep talk), and their physiological state. If you take these things into account you are then able to predict whether someone will be motivated to approach or avoid a task. Evidence to this can be found in the study by Steel (2007) where he found that negative self-efficacy is related to procrastination. I think that it is really important to consider self-efficacy when considering possible success as I think that this is an essential component, for example, you may have the skills or knowledge to complete a task but if you don’t believe you can do it, than I think there is a high chance of failure.

Within this area, an individual’s Mastery belief’s (the extent of perceived control one has over attaining desirable outcomes and preventing aversive ones) is also important. I feel that it is important to distinguish between this and self-efficacy as I think they could be mistaken for the same thing. Where self-efficacy is about skills, mastery beliefs is about locus of causality, so for example, a student might feel that they are capable of writing a HD essay (self-efficacy), however they choose not too because they know that the lecturer only gives HD’s to students they like (mastery beliefs) so there is no point in putting that amount of effort in.

Reeve also talks about the various ways of coping (2009, p.243) when he discusses mastery beliefs. I find understanding the various ways that individuals cope with setbacks particularly interesting and often essential within my work. As a support worker we need to discuss with participants of our program how they cope with challenges and how to de-escalate them when they are becoming frustrated as some find it helpful to talk and work through the problem and for others, this is the worst thing they can do as it continues to work them up.

The Self[edit]

In the tutorial we spoke about all the possible ‘selves’ and then grouped them by their underlying constructs, we came up with the following list:

  • Self-value: Which was made up of self-esteem and self- worth and is basically a positive or negative view of the self
  • Self-concept: How you would describe yourself, “I am…”
  • Self-belief: Which is made up of self-efficacy, self-confidence and self-value, and helps us predict behaviour as it indicates our confidence in our abilities, and;
  • Self-identity: Which has a social aspect as it is based in group membership.

I think that combining all these things is what makes us ‘us;’ it is our self-schema. Reeve (2009, p. 268) states four benefits to having a well-developed self-schema in that it allows easy processing of information, quick retrieval of behavioural evidence, confident predictions of future behaviour, and resists counter-schematic information. I however, think there is an additional reason, especially for individuals who work in caring professions, where if you are able to understand all the components that make yourself up, you are more likely to see clients as also being a combination of selves and experiences, and not just the presenting diagnosis or issue.

Within this chapter Reeve (2009, p. 275) also talks about cognitive dissonance, which is when we receive feedback about the self that is inconsistent with our self-schema, causing a feeling of discomfort. He states that there are four ways to remove the dissonance;

  1. Remove the dissonant belief
  2. Remove the importance of the dissonant belief
  3. Add a new consonant belief, and/or
  4. Increase the importance of the consonant belief

Basically, he states that we are not rational beings, but rather rationalising beings where we need to always explain away our behaviour. I think that this is definitely the case because when I think anecdotally I can recall numerous occasions where I have said “yeah I did that because..,” There is also a rather humorous example of this provided by Vicky Pollard in 'Little Britain.'

Week 9[edit]


Reeve (2009, p. 301) states that emotions are short-lived, feeling arousal, purposive, and explosive phenomena that help us to adapt to the opportunities and challenges we face. Based on that definition, emotions are therefore, one type of motivational force, with some saying that it is in fact the primary motivation force.

Manga emotions-EN.jpg

This chapter is based around five questions;

  1. What is an emotion?
  2. What causes an emotion?
  3. How may emotions are there?
  4. What good are emotions?
  5. What is the difference between emotion and mood?

However in the lecture James asked another five;

  1. How can emotion be measured?
  2. What are the consequences of emotions?
  3. How can emotion be changed?
  4. How and why did emotions evolve?
  5. How do emotions of animals and humans vary?

And I would like to add two more;

  1. How do emotions vary around the world?
  2. Do individual’s ability to control their emotion vary?

What causes an emotion?[edit]

There seems to be much debate about whether emotions are caused by cognitions or are biological reactions to situational events. The Biological perspective works on the presumption that the emotional processing of events is unconscious, and automatic (Reeve, 2009). Panksepp (as cited Reeve, 2009, p. 304-305) states that emotions arise from genetically endowed neural circuits that regulate brain activity, he provides three points of evidence for this view;

  1. Emotional states are often hard to verbalize
  2. Emotional experience can be induced by non-cognitive experience’s such as manipulating facial muscles
  3. emotions can occur in infants and non-human animals.

The cognitive perspective states that if we don’t understand the event we cannot react emotionally (Lazarus as cited Reeve, 2009p. 305). I would have to agree with the two systems approach where the biological and cognitive systems work in synchrony to help us react appropriately. I believe this view as there is convincing evidence for both and I also think there are some emotions that can be elicited through pure biological arousal such as fear whilst others require some form of cognition such as guilt. This is also why, in the tutorial, we arranged our emotions around the central term cognition, with emotions that are more pure physiological arousals towards the outer edges see figure.

How many emotions are there?[edit]

The biological theorists all agree that a small number of basic emotions exist, the basic emotions are universal to all animals, and the basic emotions are products of biology and evolution, however, they disagree with the number of emotions with theories ranging from two to ten. The cognitive theorists argue that several different emotions can arise from the same event as they can be interpreted differently and therefore there is a limitless number of possible emotions.

I think that there are some basic emotions however they can each be along a continuum, for example sad could range from teary to distraught. In the tutorial we organised our emotions into the main emotions of Sad, Fearful, Happy, Angry, Uncertain, Love and Surprised (See Figure 4). We decided to put the emotions around the term ‘cognition’ where the emotions can also be along a continuum from being a reaction to something that has a cognitive basis to something that is a pure physiological reaction (see figure 1). I noticed that the other group also had the emotion of disgust and I think this is another main emotion which we could have added. We also decided that the following are not emotions but rather attitudes; Obnoxious, Indifferent, Apostrophic, Tendentious, Greedy, Alexithymia, and Anomie.

Tutorial and Basic Emotions[edit]

Figure 4: Emotions organised into basic emotions and around the term 'cognition' with emotions towards the outer edges having more of a pure physiological aspect

What good are emotions?[edit]

Reeve (2009) states that emotions have a coping function in that they help us deal with life tasks, and a social function where they help us communicate and relate to others.

Emotions are also what differentiate us from robots. Emotions are the thing that scientists are struggling with the most when trying to program robots so that they act like humans, because of the cognitive view, where we all interpret events differently. However, I believe that in some sense our reactions are socially constructed, even if only those that are socially acceptable. So if there is a socially acceptable way to react to a situation - a right way, than there must also be a wrong way. Therefore, if there is a right and wrong way to react, than perhaps it is possible to program appropriate reactions for at least the main emotions.

What is the difference between emotion and mood?[edit]

Reeve (2009) describes moods as a relatively stable positive or negative affect where emotions emerge from situational events and are usually short lived. I do wonder whether the strength of emotions can vary depending on one’s overall mood. For example will a car crash be evaluated more negatively by a person in a negative affect than a positive affect.

How can emotion be measured?[edit]

I guess that many people are able to say “I am happy” or, that “makes me angry” and therefore self-reporting is a possible option. However, I think that there must be times when emotions are unconscious or at least the reason behind them is unclear. I know that personally I have felt anxious at times and do not know why – which often makes me more anxious! Also, I think that the names of emotions are socially constructed in that as a child when you cry someone asks you why you are sad, and when you are smiling and laughing, people comment on how happy you look. So technically, a child could learn the wrong names to emotions, if for example, when they laugh someone asks why they are sad. Therefore, if one was only to use a self-report it is theoretically possible that they report the wrong emotions.

What are the consequences of emotions?[edit]

I think that having emotions contribute to our psychological wellbeing in that it is nice to feel happy and loved, and more negative emotions can also keep us safe in that fear can elicit the flight or fight response.

How can emotion be changed?[edit]

I feel that there are various ways that emotions to events can be changed, such as using the ideas of learned industriousness and setting up events that will lead to success (see my textbook page on Procrastination for descriptions of these topics) to change the feeling of anxiousness.

How do emotions vary around the world?[edit]

As I stated above, I think that to some extent emotions can be socially constructed, which means that they must vary across cultures.

Do individual’s ability to control their emotion vary?[edit]

I think that an individual’s ability to control their emotions do vary and it is possible to learn to control emotions as this is the desired outcome of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, in that individual’s learn to change their cognitions around events which will ultimately change their emotions and therefore behaviours.

Week 10[edit]

Biological Aspects of Emotions[edit]

Chicks hatching USDA95c1973.jpg

Reeve (2009, p.330) states that five systems are activated when we face a situation of personal significance (see Table 4).

Table 4

Activated Systems When We Face A Significant Event

Automatic Nervous System Heart


Endocrine System Glands


Neural Brain Circuits Limbic Brain Structures
Rate of Neural Firing Neural Activity and Pace of Information Processing
Facial Feedback Discrete patterns of facial feedback

Note: Adapted from "Understanding Motivation and Emotion" by J. Reeve, 2009, p330. Unites States of America: Wiley.

I think that we are all aware that we do feel some of these physiological reactions when we feel emotions, I guess that the question this chapter asks is whether it is a case of the chicken or the egg. Does the emotion lead our bodies to react in particular ways or does our bodily reaction lead us to identify our emotion. James-Lange and a number of other contemporary psychologists believe it was the later; our bodily reaction leads us to identify an emotion. The James-Lang theory is based on two assumptions;

  1. that the body reacts uniquely to different events, and
  2. the body does not react to non-emotion-eliciting events.

Cognitive Aspects of Emotion[edit]

The cognitive aspect of emotion suggests that how we appraise a situation (is the event a potential benefit, harm or threat (Primary Appraisal)), and how we think we will cope with the event (Secondary Appraisal), will determine the emotion we feel. This theory states that without an antecedent cognitive appraisal of the event emotions do not occur; it is the appraisal not the event which causes emotion.


I think that I have to agree with this cognitive aspect to emotion as I do think, that people react differently to different situations, which is also why we added the term ‘cognitive’ when sorting our groups emotions in the tutorial. For example I would be terrified if I came across a snake, however a snake handler would probably appraise the same situation quite differently and possibly feel calm or even interest and joy. This difference in appraisal can be seen in the decision tree provided by Reeve (2009, p. 351). If our emotion was only dependent on our physiological arousal, than it would suggest that as we are both aroused to the same event we would be feeling the same emotion, which is not necessarily the case.

Reeve provides more support for the appraisal theory in his discussion of the social aspects to emotion, stating for example, that it was found that Chinese people interpret ‘love’ differently than Americans. I guess that this answers my question in my previous entry of whether emotions vary around the world, and possibly also provides support for my belief that to some extent emotions are socially constructed.

Week 11[edit]

Personality motivation and emotion[edit]

There are five main personality traits widely accepted in the literature

  1. Neuroticism
  2. Extroversion
  3. Agreeableness
  4. Conscientiousness
  5. Openness

What traits an individual is high in, can affect the way they react to stimuli as well as influence the types of environments they seek out.


Balloons of Happiness.jpg

Reeve (2009, p. 371) states that happiness is associated with extraversion, where happy people are more likely to approach potentially rewarding situations. He states that there are three aspects which contribute to this approach behaviour; sociability, assertiveness and venturesomeness. I think these factors would be considered to be associated to happiness to anyone from anecdotal evidence alone. I think when one thinks of the stereotypically happy person they think of someone with friends, and is comfortable in social situations and is always doing exciting and fun things.



The trait that is most associated with suffering or sadness appears to be neuroticism, which is a predisposition to experience negative affect and feel chronically unhappy and dissatisfied (Reeve, 2009, p.372).



Figure 4. Inverted U of arousal.

An individual’s level of arousal can also contribute to motivation;

  1. Arousal level can be 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 opportunities to increase their arousal
  4. When over aroused we seek out opportunities to reduce our arousal

Although I can theoretically understand the third principle, I am unsure whether this is always the case when I think about my own experience of being bored. When I am really bored I am usually so lethargic, all I will do is complain, I will not try and increase my arousal. I will only try to seek out more stimulating environments when I am moderately bored. I guess this anecdote is also a good example of the inverted-U relationship between arousal level and performance (see Figure 4); I have to be moderately aroused to feel the need to seek a new environment.

Insufficient Stimulation and Underarousal[edit]
Divina proportio F4P^1 tile.svg

I found the discussions of the experiments about sensory deprivation to be particularly interesting as it almost seemed as if the researchers were surprised that most participants could only last 24hours. I get bored lying down and watching television for 24 hours, let alone lying there with nothing to see, touch, or hear. I guess what I also found to be particularly interesting is that the visions that many of the participants had (I found an interesting video of these) do not seem dissimilar to those experienced by people on D-lysergic diethylamide LSD. In hindsight this seems obvious considering LSD works within the sensory systems of the brain (Goodman, 2002), however I guess I just find it interesting that no arousal can have as strong of an effect as a hallucinogenic drug.


Within this chapter Reeve (2009) also discusses control and how this can effect motivation and engagement. He states that someone high in perceived control (expectancy of individuals in their ability to produce positive outcomes) is likely to show high effort, concentrate, persist in the face of failure, and maintain interest and optimism. I think that this is because people high in perceived control ultimately believe that success or failure is up to them and it will therefore contribute to their self-schema. So, in order for them to have a positive self-schema they need to persist until they succeed. Those low in perceived control think that whatever they do will not make a difference anyway so the outcome will not be attributed to them, and therefore may as well give up.


In the tutorial we had a rather interesting (and somewhat heated) discussion about drugs, both psychiatric and illegal, and the use of them. I believe that medications are helpful for people who need them, but I also think that psychological treatments are important. I think that people who are extremely mentally unwell often need medications in order to get to the point where they can focus on how they are thinking to then benefit from things like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I ask anyone to tell someone with depression to just ‘snap out of it’ and ‘change the way they think about things’ and see the reaction they get. I therefore believe that the two things work in conjunction with each other and are both necessary for many individuals.

I find from my own experience working with people with a mental illness that they find that medications help when they are getting quite unwell, where psychological treatments such as increased knowledge on their illness, symptoms, and support networks, and Cognitive Behavioural Thinking helps them stay well and out of hospital.

Prozac pills.jpg


Week 12[edit]

Unconscious Motivation[edit]

Sigmund Freud.jpg

The Psychodynamic perspective of motivation suggests that “motivation and behaviour emerge from biologically endowed and socially acquired impulses that determine our desires, thoughts, feelings and behaviours” (Reeve, 2009, p. 392). The psychodynamic approach has emerged from the traditional Freudian Psychoanalytic theory and the dual-instinct theory. Freud’s Dual instinct theory states that are two instincts; the life instinct (eros), and the death instinct (thanatos). Freud suggested that whilst instinctual drives provide energy for behaviour the ego gives that energy direction.

The contemporary psychodynamic theory is based on four principles (Reeve, 2009, p. 296);

  1. The Unconscious: Much of mental life (thoughts, feelings, and desires) is unconscious
  2. Psychodynamics: Mental processes operate in parallel to each other (people commonly want and fear the same thing simultaneously)
  3. Ego Development: Healthy development involves moving from an immature socially dependent personality to one that is more mature and interdependent with others
  4. Object Relations Theory: Mental representations of self and others form in childhood that guide the person’s later social motivations and relationships

Subliminal Motivation[edit]

Motivation for behaviour can also occur through subliminal stimuli. Subliminal stimuli are stimuli that are below the threshold for us to consciously notice them. These types of stimuli can have an emotional effect on us but do not necessarily motivate us to the extent that they change our behaviour. I find the use of subliminal stimuli really interesting, even if simply just being shown all the advertisements that use it. It appears that whilst the quick ‘flashing’ of the product is no longer used, as it was during films in the sixties, there are still messages throughout advertisements. I found a great youtube clib of this which shows the use of these types of stimuli in print media. It does seem like many advertisements somehow incorporate sex into them, however I wonder whether this is intentional and due to the well known statement “sex sells,” or whether it is simply artists having a laugh and assuming few will notice.

Ego Defence[edit]

Reeve (2009, p. 406) also talks about ego defences within this chapter, stating that individuals with greater ego defence maturity are better adapted to coping with life adjustment. See Figure 5 for a list of the ego defence mechanisms, with sublimation being the most mature down to denial. Although I can see that these could be unconscious, I think that it is possible to learn how to react more appropriately, thereby bringing these defences into the conscious and allowing people to adjust better to their environment. I say this because at work we run psychoeducational groups which aim to keep the participants within our program in ‘optimal health’. These sessions suggest that life’s stressors can push you down but efficient coping mechanisms can reduce the likelihood of individuals falling below the threshold level, and within an optimal health range (see figure 6). I feel that many of our participants usually use immature coping strategies such as denial (they deny they are becoming mentally unwell and may withdraw or turn to illicit substances instead of seeking help) instead of using mature, socially acceptable coping strategies. These groups aim at teaching participants how to identify their early warning signs and their stressors and then asks them to nominate possible socially accepted coping strategies such as going for a walk or seeking help from a trusted other, that they could use in the future. This therefore brings new, more adaptive, coping strategies into their conscious awareness, hopefully providing them with the skills to react more appropriately in the future.

Ego Defences and Descriptions

Ego defence mechanisms.JPG

Figure 5. Ego defences and descriptions in decending order from most mature.

Optimal Health

Optimal health.JPG
Figure 6. Optimal Health. Whilst stressors can push you down towards the danger level and suboptimal health, appropriate coping strategies can keep you within the optimal health range.

Week 13[edit]

Growth Motivation and Positive Psychology[edit]

Holisim states that human beings are best understood as integrated, organised wholes (Reeve, 2009, p. 420). Holism has emerged from humanistic psychology and is about striving toward growth and self-realisation and moving away from simply fulfilling the expectations of others. Positive Psychology is different from humanistic psychology it that it focuses more on hypothesis testing and scientific methods, but still pays strong attention to the proactive building of personal strengths and competencies.


Self-actualisation is described as the inherent striving individuals feel to fulfil their talents, capacities and potentials. Reeve (2009, p. 421) states that there are two fundamental directions that indicate that self-actualisation is a process; Autonomy and Openness to experience. Autonomy is the process of moving away from heteronomy toward a capacity to regulate one’s self. Openness to experience means trying new things and interpreting information which is not ignored, filtered or disturbed due to past experiences.

Am I Self Actualised?

Thinking about this topic and whether or not I would be considered to be in the self actualizing level, led me to look for some assessment/survey that is available. I came across one at the site Coach for Outcomes and although it does not look like an overly scientific website, the questions seemed quite relevant to the topic. I completed the quiz out of interest and received 129 out of 150 which said that I was not within the self-actualising level, however there was no indication of what the cut-offs for each level were, so I am still unsure of what that exactly indicates!

Self-actualisation is the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (see Week Three), and it is suggested that unless the lower needs are met self-actualisation cannot occur. I understand the basis of this theory and think that it holds some definite truths, however I have one trouble in particular about accepting the validity of it, and that is how do you tell if you are self-actualised? I feel that, particularly over the last two years, my physiological, safety, love and belongingness, and esteem needs have generally been satisfied. I have also been happy within my degree and my work, have been doing quite well, and I have remained focused – Does that mean I’m currently self-actualised? If it does, I am somewhat disappointed, not because I want anything in my life to change as at this point in time I am very happy, but I guess the way that it is portrayed to be “at the top of the hierarchy” I guess I just expected the feeling to be somehow more. Perhaps the fact that I cannot definitively state that I am, means that I am not?

The Problem of Evil[edit]

Box 1

Donald Harvey "The Angel of Death": An Unlikely Serial Killer

Donald Harvey was born in Butler County, Ohio, in April 1952. He was well liked by his family and although only having a few friends as a child, his primary school principal remembered him as being clean, well dressed happy and friendly. During the year of 1970, Harvey was working as an orderly at Marymount Hospital, Kentucky when he had an incident with a disagreeable patient. As Harvey was helping, the patient smeared feces on his face which caused Harvey to lose control, ultimately smothering the patient to death. As early as three weeks later Harvey killed again by disconnecting the oxygen supply of an elderly woman. It was not until April 1987 that Harvey was arrested. On the first day alone he admitted to 37 murders, and in the days that followed this number rose to 70.

After several psychiatric tests a spokesperson from the Cincinnati prosecutors office stated

“This man is sane, competent, but is a compulsive killer. He builds up tension in his body, so he kills people.”

Harvey is now incarcerated at Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon, Ohio, where he will remain until his parole hearing in 2047.

Note: Adapted from "Serial Killer: The Stories of History's Most evil Murderers" by B. Innes, 2006. London: Quercus. and "Angel of Death: The Donald Harvey Story " by D. Lohr, from Trutv available

The other aspect of this chapter which I found particularly interesting was the section on “The Problem of Evil.” Reeve (2009, p.439) states that humanistic psychology works on the presumption that human nature is inherently good, and it is the social environment that creates evil (Staub, (1999) describes how evil develops in young people (see figure 7)). This explanation seems quite feasible in describing how many young people come to develop aggression and “evil” tendencies, however I wonder how they would explain a case like Donald Harvey (see box 1). This is a case where a well educated and seemingly adjusted man came to kill 70 people after one incident. I know that this also appears to have been produced by environmental causes as the humanistic theory suggests, but this is only one incident, not a lifetime of cruelty and neglect. I agree that having faeces smeared on your face is a very unpleasant event, however had that happened to me I am quite sure I would not resort to murdering upwards of 70 people. I also know of children brought up in neglecting and horrendous circumstances that have not murdered or harmed others. I believe that there must still be some genetic or chemical makeup which makes some individuals more susceptible to the harmful nature of events such as these where others would react entirely differently.

The Development of an 'Evil' Personality


Figure 7. How children develop an 'evil' personality

Week 14[edit]

Summary and Conclusion[edit]

Motivation saying.jpg

The aspect I have found most beneficial about this unit was gaining a better understanding about how to motivate oneself and others. Within my work I come across many individuals who seem to lack motivation for life because of an illness such as a mood disorder, or because continuous failure has downtrodden their inner motivational resources. I have really benefited from understanding the aspects that combine to create an environment conducive to increasing motivation.

Reeve (2009) states that an individual who is being motivated can react in one of three ways; passively, aggressively, or constructively, and this is something I can definitely agree with, even if just through anecdotal experience. The clients that give our program positive feedback seem to be those that are able to identify goals and allow us to support them in achieving those. The individuals who do not benefit seem to accept the goals of others as they are unable to identify personally meaningful goals which results in them defiantly not taking steps to achieve them, or reacting helplessly and relying on staff to take those steps for them. So as Reeve suggests, those that benefit from the support our program provides, do so because it is enhancing their capacity for personal causation allowing them to change their thoughts and behaviours in future situations.

In terms of how the class was run, I have really enjoyed learning the new information technology skills required to submit online. To be honest, at the beginning of the semester I felt it was just too difficult and took up far too much time learning how to use wiki – it was like another piece of assessment, but I now feel as if I have really achieved something. I found it really rewarding playing around and working out how to do things and feel it is an achievement and skill I will take away with me in the future. I think that by now, at the end of my degree, I can whip out an essay without too much thought or effort but changing the intended audience and delivery method (wiki and screenr) made the assessment far more interesting and allowed for some creativity.

Putting My Knowledge into Practice: A Case Study[edit]

A Physician tells a patient that he needs to loose 40kg or risk a heart attack. The patient understands the need to make a lifestyle change. Though he agrees with the idea, he is nevertheless pessimistic that he will ever take the physician’s advice and make the lifestyle change. Exercise and a healthy diet is just not his thing. In his heart, he doubts that the lifestyle change is really worth the fuss. (Reeve, 2009, p. 457)

Why are they feeling this current motivational experience?

  • This patient’s physiological urge to eat may currently be outweighing his need for a healthy lifestyle.
  • The patient does not seem to fully understand the dire situation he is in and the real beneficial outcomes that will occur if he loses weight (it will make a difference).
  • The patients may have tried to lose weight in the past and failed
  • The patient may be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of weight the physician has told him to lose
  • The patient does not know what to do to achieve this goal

Possible key sources of motivation

  • An increased and in-depth understanding of how changing his lifestyle will benefit him in particular ways as at the moment he does not seem to think that changing his lifestyle will have a great deal of impact (The brain has a great deal to do with motivation)
  • Having a set plan about how to lose weight and change his lifestyle with possibly a support person will create a supportive environment conducive to increasing his motivation (Motivation needs supportive environments to flourish)
  • Having set goals to break down the process my make it seem less overwhelming, it will also allow for successes to be celebrated and may be particularly helpful with increasing the amount of exercise each day (specific, difficult goals allow us to do our best)
  • The “Just 10 minutes” approach may help to get him out of the house and just do a little exercise.
  • Changing the thought patterns of this patient to “I can do it” and “it will work” by allowing some initial small steps to lead to success
The 'weigh' he was -- weightloss at Guantanamo.jpg

Possible course of action

  • Have the patient sit down with a dietician/physician have them explain to him exactly what his situation is and the exact benefits that will come from losing weight.
  • Have the patient join a weight loss club or employ a personal trainer who will work out specific and achievable weight loss goals. Not only will this provide for the patients thinking to change as they will experience success, they will also be provided a supportive and encouraging environment.
  • Have the patient use the “Just 10 minutes” approach to exercise where they are asked to simply start exercising with the goal of doing 10 minutes and see where they go from there. This is beneficial as simply starting can be a big hurdle to overcome (see my textbook chapter on procrastination)
  • Teach the patient how to cook a range of healthy meals so that they can see that eating a healthy diet can still be interesting and tasty.


  1. Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J. (2005). How to Resist Temptation: The Effects of External Control Versus Autonomy Support on Self-Regulatory Dynamics. Journal of Personality, 73, 443-470. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00315.x
  2. Goodman, N. (2002). The serotonergic system and mysticism: Could LSD and nondrug-induced mystical experience share common neural mechanisms? . Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 34(3), 1-10.
  3. Innes, B. (2006). Serial Killer: The stories of history's most evil murderers. London: Quercus.
  4. Lohr, D. Angel of Death: The Donald Harvey Story. Retrieved from Trutv website:
  5. Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding Motivation and Emotion. Unites States of America: Wiley.
  6. Resnick, M. (2009). Set SMART goals for incentive programs. Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, 43(9), 48-49.
  7. Roberts, S. S. (2007). Set Goals The SMART Way. Diabetes Forecast, 60(5), 43-44.
  8. Staub, E. (1999). The roots of evil: Social conditions, culture, personality, and basic human needs. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3(3), 179-192
  9. Steel, P. (2007). The Nature of Procrastination: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review of Quintessential Self-Regulatory Failure. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 65-94. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.133.1.65
  10. Stone, K. L. (2008). A 'smart' way to set writing goals. Writer, 121(9), 8-8.