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Week 1: Introduction[edit]

14th August 2010


Prior to doing any reading for this unit, and knowing that part of our assessment was to create a reflective journal, I thought it was important to first think about what I thought motivation and emotion encompassed. For me motivation and emotion are two powerful forces that exist within each one of us. Influenced by both internal and external factors they appear to guide our behaviour whilst at the same time influencing each other. For example, our emotions appear to influence our motivation levels;

  • high excitement over this unit = higher levels of motivation to study and learn; or
  • intense anger often fueling our behaviour and motivation to vent.

Together they appear to have a somewhat dyadic relationship, with the ability to shape our personality and perception, through their capacity to influence our behaviour, and our desire and ability to learn.

On a personal note it will also be interesting to hopefully gain a greater awareness and clarity around why we as humans can have such varying degrees of motivation and emotional expression from one day to the next. Why do my motivation levels vary, and my emotions seemingly create different internal environments, that then propel me to act with such varying degrees of predictability and emotional clarity?

I found the quote below in an old Psychology textbook of mine. It struck a chord with me, so I thought I’d share it:

Our emotions and motivations are not always obvious; they may confuse us, or compel us to do things that surprise us”.
(Kosslyn & Rosenberg, 2004, p. 390).

22nd August 2010

Studying motivation and emotion allows us the opportunity to gain a better insight into human behaviour and individual differences. The introduction lays down a framework for a better understanding of how and why different behaviours occur, and outlines the direct impact that motivation and emotions (including our thoughts, feelings and dreams) has on behaviour.

This however, is really the million dollar question, and as the text outlines, is somewhat subjective. How do we accurately measure motivation and emotions? and What gives behaviour its ‘energy and direction’? The introduction suggests that the strength and appearance of motivation can be depicted through behaviour, engagement, cognition/physiology and self reporting, and that both internal (needs, cognitions and emotions) and external events ultimately influence behavioural expression (Reeve, 2009).

In short, one could conclude that motivation essentially involves goal directed behaviour that is ultimately driven by our own individual needs, interests and desires.

As Chapter 2 outlines, the psychology of motivation is characterised by theoretical diversity, where throughout the years, the concept of motivation has altered and matured. The ‘grand theories’ such as will, instinct and drive have been replaced by a more holistic approach, where behaviour is now viewed as being influenced by multiple neuro-biological and environmental causes (Reeve, 2009).

Kosslyn, S. M., & Rosenberg, R. S. (2004). Psychology: The brain, the person, the world. (2nd ed.). Boston, Pearson.

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

Week 2: Using Wikiversity[edit]

I have spent several hours this week trying to understand the 'ins and outs' of Wikiversity. After attending this weeks lecture I have attempted to apply the principles that James outlined and create some sort of user page for myself. (As you can see I have had limited success).

However I am very motivated to conquer my personal doubts and limited IT knowledge, and master Wiki by the end of the term. Thanks James for introducing me to a new source of learning and communication.

Week 2: Tutorial 1 - Introduction[edit]

Today we had our first tutorial, starting off with an icebreaker and the opportunity to all get to know each other a little better. I found the ice breaking exercises good as I didn't know many of the other people in my group, except by face. We then broke off into smaller groups to discuss and define the terms motivation and emotion.

Our group defined motivation as: An internal, individual drive that influences our ability to set goals and influence our overall behaviour. On reflection this was probably not the most comprehensive definition, but we were all so busy chatting and getting to know one another that we didn't really give it a lot of thought.

I have chosen to do my Textbook Chapter on Emotion and Sleep. I am motivated to explore this topic because I believe the vital role that sleep plays in the maintenance of our overall health and wellbeing is often disregarded in our society and the consequences of long term sleep deprivation, trivialized. I am looking forward to investigating the impact that sleep has on our emotional health and stability, and the intrinsic role that it plays in cognitive and physiological functioning.

Similarly our definition for emotion was: A fluid and short lived psychological state that expresses our internal feelings.

After sharing our definitions we then came back together as one group to collectively share our thoughts and feelings on the subjects at hand.

I guess the big questions I came away with were why each and every one of us is so different in the way we express our emotions and react to different situations? I often wonder why my levels of motivation and drive can be so fluid from one day to the next and why my emotional reaction to a situation can change in the blink of an eye. Does it all come down to our genetic make up or does our life experiences and physiological state play an intrinsic role? I think it is probably a combination of all these factors and explains why a goal that might seem so important to me at one point in time can seem so insignificant the next. Life can turn on a dime, and as I get older I gain more clarity around what is really important to me, and that in itself is hugely motivational.

We also spent a bit of time discussing what area we might like to focus on for our textbook chapter. All the topic sound so interesting, it is hard to pick a topic. I think I will do mine on Emotion and Sleep though as I think the role that sleep plays in our lives is somewhat under valued.

Week 3: The Brain & Physiological Needs[edit]

I have always found neurobiology and its relationship with human behaviour particularly interesting. It just amazes me how such a small structure as the brain can be so complex, and have such unyielding control over not only our bodily functioning but also our perception, memory, reasoning, emotions etc etc etc.

In Chapter 3 it was particularly interesting to learn more about how specific brain structures and biochemical agents (neurotransmitters and hormones) are intrinsically linked to different motivational and emotional states. As outlined in Reeve (2009), the prefrontal cortex and more specifically the sensitivity of either the right or left prefrontal lobes, can affect an individuals preference to either avoidance or approach orientated behaviour, and subsequently different personality dimension. Similarly the impact that neurotransmitters, and in particular dopamine has on both stimulating and suppressing various structures is always of interest to me. As outlined in the text, dopamine plays an important role in generating positive feelings and subsequently greatly influences our motivational and emotional states. Through its ability to generate feelings of pleasure seeking incentives and rewards, dopamine acts as a precursor for motivated and goal-directed behaviour and positive emotional states. This correlation between dopamine and motivated action (goal-directed approach response) is of particular interest to me, as I have watched my father, over the past 15 years, become increasingly paralysised physically, emotionally and mentally by Parkinson Disease. I have witnessed one of the most vital, goal-orientated, energetic and positive people I have ever had the pleasure to know, deteriorate to the point where it is now only his eyes that dance with any sort of expression, pleasure and excitement, which usually only occurs when he sees his family and friends. I guess this ray of light is due the 'dopamine-dependent history of pleasure' (Reeves, p64). What a hideous disease it is but it does highlight the crucial role that the brain and specific neurotransmitters play in the expression of our motivation and emotions. For more information on Parkinson Disease a good staring reference is World Parkinson Disease Association.

Our physiological needs (thirst, hunger and sex) are vital to human existence, although I would have to argue that sex, although highly pleasurable, is not so much of an essential need but more a desire for intimacy and maybe a bit of stress relief. Unless satisfied, our physiological needs permeate our consciousness and can have a profound impact on our physical and psychological welbeing, as outlined in Hull's Drive Theory (Reeve, 2009). However what I find particularly interesting about our physiological needs, is how the external environment and learnt patterns of behaviour appear to be able to influence our motivation to forfill them. Why for example do some people eat to live, while other live to eat. I think that the answer to this lies somewhere in the emotional connection we learn to associate with our physiological needs. If we have learnt through observation and or personal experience to comfort ourselves with food, we are more likely to overeat to fill an emotional void rather than an innate physiological need.

However I think society also plays a role in how we respond to our physiological needs. Our social need to belong and be a connected member within our immediate environment, I believe has the potential to motivate us to sometimes ignore our physiological needs. For example Eating Disorders which are characterised by a severe disruption in eating behaviours can psychologically supersede our need to satisfy hunger because of a desire to meet societal expectations (DSM-IV-TR, 2000).

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Rev. ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

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

Week 4: Psychological and Social Needs[edit]

Psychological Needs

I was initially somewhat surprised by the content of this weeks readings, in the sense that it did not encapsulate my basic assumptions around what psychological needs and motivation entailed.

In Chapter 6, Reeves (2009) discusses the the Self-determination Theory which incorporates three psychological needs (Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness) that are positioned as being the key motivational predictors for psychological wellbeing and subsequently individual performance. Described as an Organismic Theory, emphasising an interactive relationship between the individual and the environment, the Self-determination Theory suggests that the degree to which our psychological need for autonomy, competence and relatedness are met, influences our level of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which in turn determines our life choices, goals, affect and overall wellbeing.

As a macro-theory of motivation, autonomy, competence and relatedness offer a thought provoking approach to motivation that also emphasises the importance of social connectedness and human engagement:

  • The psychological need for autonomy, appears to incorporate the innate need in all of us to make our own life choices, and allows us the freedom to express those choices independently of others. However this need has the potential to be stifled by controlling and unsupportive external factors (ie; relationships, work environment) which then has the capacity to inhibit our motivation to learn, create, develop and flourish as individuals. I think of my four year old son as I write this, who is inherently strong willed, determined and hell bent on always having his own way and controlling the environment in which he lives. (I don't know where it gets it from)! Whilst for the most part I think his innate need to think independently and voice his opinion is admirable, it can be extremely frustrating at times and my own need to control the situation, whilst at the same time not stifle his creative and independent spirit, becomes a real battle of wills and an internal battle to control my temper. How much choice and autonomy do you give any child and does my need to control the situation stem from my own psychological need to be autonomous and in control?
  • Competence appears to originate from our innate need to positively interact with the world around us and achieve our best. I think our desire to be and appear competent is a strong motivational force that controls our innately competitive nature (whether we want to admit it or not), and our need for positive feedback from our social environment.
  • I personally feel that relatedness is the most powerful and intrinsically embedded of the psychological needs outlined within the Self-determination Theory. Without interpersonal relationships our ability to learn and develop our own self-concept and self-awareness would be hindered (Crisp & Rhiannon, 2010). Our ability to form emotional bonds and relationships with others gives us the opportunity to meet our need for intimacy and possess a sense of belonging, that I believe are essential for personal health and growth.

Finally, while I think there is a lot of merit to the Self-determination Theory, I wonder whether it could be considered a culturally universal theory. While many of the human psychological needs that are outlined (ie; volition, choice, emotional bonds and attachment) appear to be ubiquitous, it could be argued that some are not. In cultures that value collectivism, feelings of autonomy and personal development may not be considered essential psychological needs, and therefore this model of motivation and psychological needs, in some ways could be seen as somewhat inadequate.

Social Needs

Chapter 7 of Understanding Motivation and Emotion (Reeve, 2009), looks at social needs in terms of being acquired, rather than innate psychological needs, that are learnt as a result of our life experiences. They include social needs such as achievement, affiliation, intimacy and power, all of which aid in the nurturing and fulfillment of our more basic and intrinsic biological and psychological needs. While this approach makes sense to me on one level, I disagree with it in part. While we might not need achievement, affiliation, intimacy and power for our survival, there is on some level, in each of us, a need to express them. They may either be suppressed or encouraged throughout our life, but they exist within each one of us and are outwardly expressed in different ways. Is it possible that the social needs outlined are more inherent and intuitive in nature? For example I believe that we all have an inbuilt desire to achieve and or experience intimacy on some level but it is whether we have learnt to either approach or avoid such needs, alongside the value that has been placed on them, that affects their expression.

Our motivation to either approach or avoid any of these social needs are also situationally based and relate to our personal level of self confidence and self esteem at any given stage in our life. The Atkinson's Model of Achievement Motivation suggests that our tendency to either approach or avoid situations is dependent upon our perceived likelihood of success, which then feeds into our personal perception of competence. I had previously never really given a lot of thought to why people are sometimes motivated to avoid because I had always subconsciously thought of avoidance as indicating a lack of motivation.

Overall I thought that this weeks readings were interesting and personally thought provoking.It is always interesting to add a new dimension to ones thinking and analysis of our own and others behaviour, especially when it involves reaching a new level of clarity as to our emotive needs and the corresponding ways in which they are expressed.

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

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

Week 4: Tutorial 2 - Needs[edit]

We spent most of this weeks tutorial discussing our textbook chapter outlines within the small groups that we had formed in the previous tutorial. I found the feedback really helpful and I feel like I now have a clear image of how I am going to set out my chapter.

In the time left, we discussed the humanistic mechanisms associated with our basic needs (thirst, hunger etc). While I think Maslow's hierarchy of needs has a certain amount of merit, I think the boundaries that distinguish each level from each other should be more flexible. Do all of our physiological needs need to be satisfied before we can feel a sense of safety, love and belonging? I don't think that they do and what is actually meant by self-actualisation? Do any of us ever know when we are supposedly self-actualised? I know that my physiological needs are currently being met, and that I feel safe, loved and have a reasonably good self-esteem, but do I feel that I have reached the top of Maslow's mountain peak... I'm not so sure. Maybe self-actualisation is an individual experience that is different for each of us.

We didn't really get to talk about any of the other topics outlined for discussion in the tutorial handout, but I have reflected on these topics in body of my E-portfolio.

Week 5: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation and Goal Setting[edit]

Intrinsic Motivation can be defined as the desire to spontaneously engage in activities that will promote personal growth and satisfy different psychological needs such as; autonomy, competence and relatedness (Reeve, 2009). Described by Reeve as a 'natural' motivation, it promotes:

  • Persistence: the higher the intrinsic motivation the greater the level of persistence
  • Creativity, which is enhanced when intrinsic motivation is high.
  • Conceptual Understanding, which embodies flexible thinking and imaginative learning
  • Optimal Functioning and Well-being, which promotes feelings of psychological health and well-being

Extrinsic Motivation on the other hand is externally regulated and fueled by environmental benefits and the promise of more tangible incentives, consequences and rewards (Reeve, 2009).

I liken to to a more selfish type of motivation, because it is based on receiving a concrete reward such as money, praise and attention. Ones motivation is based on a contrived reinforcement - a reward or incentive that is of value to that person.

In discussing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation the question arises around, what happens when extrinsic reinforcement is suddenly given for an activity that was already intrinsically motivated - What is the hidden cost of rewards? Leeper, Gree and Nibett (1973), found it decreased intrinsic motivation, while Amabile, Hennessey and Grossman (1986) found that extrinsic reward did not effect intrinsic motivation (as cited in Powell, Symbaluk, & Honey, 2009). In a meta-analysis by Cameron and Pierce (1994) (as cited in Powell, Symbaluk, & Honey, 2009), external rewards were only found to negatively impact on intrinsic motivation when; reward was expected, the reward was tangible or when a reward was given for performing the act, no matter how well it was performed. However verbal rewards were found to increase intrinsic motivation, I guess because verbal rewards are more likely to boost feelings of self-esteem for a job well done (Powell, Symbaluk, & Honey, 2009).

As I read this chapter the comparison that comes to my mind is how much a shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation has positively impacted on my performance at university. Over 20 years ago now, I started and completed my first 2 years of a BA in Psychology, only to drop out because I was so unmotivated at the time to complete it. Whilst I wanted a career in psychology, the incentives were predominantly extrinsically motivated and I wasn't sufficiently intrinsically motivated enough to stick at it. I wanted the rewards then and there, and my ability at the time to look at the big picture was clouded by the need for instant reinforcement. So now, over 20 years on, I am intrinsically motivated to complete this degree to the very best of my ability - any extrinsic reward that I may or may not get, irrelevant. My levels of intrinsic motivation is so high - come hell or high water (as my Nana would say), I will get through it. I am now so proud of myself for sticking at it, while trying to work and raise a family at the same time, no external reward is even remotely necessary. But I guess it just wasn't the right time for me back then as my motivation was different. I appreciate it all so much more now and the sense of autonomy, self-satisfaction and competence it has given me, far outweighs the sheer hard work and sleep deprivation, of trying to juggle so many things.

The second part of this weeks readings/ lecture, focused on Goal Setting. As outlined in Reeve (2009), goal setting and goal striving is a dynamic process that helps people maintain motivation until the set goal is reached. Described through the TOTE unit, individuals tend to Test, Operate, and keep re-testing goal orientated behaviours until congruency is reached, and they can exit the program of goal setting, because the goal has been obtained. For me the goal of finishing my degree has been made easy because along the way I have received positive feedback from my family and lecturers over my performance, which in turn has acted as a reinforcer, to continue to strive towards my goals. However whilst the feedback has been great, once again it has been my level of intrinsic motivation that has allowed me to achieve my short term goals (getting through each semester), and inching my way closer to obtaining the long term goal of finishing this degree. For me this highlights the fact that while goal setting is important, without sufficient motivation, no amount of goal setting will enable you to achieve your goals.

Powell, R. A., Symbaluk, D., & Honey, P. L. (2009). Introduction to learning and Behaviour. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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

Week 6: Personal Control Beliefs and the Self[edit]

Personal Control Beliefs

The individual ability to exert personal control is a product of 2 main types of personal expectations: efficacy and outcome.

Efficacy expectation is measured by our own personal belief about whether we can competently undertake a particular course of action, while outcome expectation on the other hand, is determining whether a particular course of action will work (Reeve, 2009).

Similarly, I think personal control is also a bi-product of the internal dialogue we have with ourselves. If we believe we can do something the chances of achieving it is greatly increased. It is our self-efficacy - our belief in our own abilities that in turn effects our capacity to successfully cope with different situations. If we are self-efficacious we are more likely to feel empowered to act with control and conviction, which in turn effects our motivation and self-concept. In short it is the potentially vicious cycle of self-belief that determines success.

According to Reeve (2009), self-efficacy is determined by; individual personal behaviour and past history, verbal persuasion and our own internal physiological states. If we believe we can achieve something our motivation to engage in an activity (approach it) will increase, just like the expectation of failure (negative self-belief), predicts avoidance.

One of my favorite sayings is: It is not what you are that holds you back.... It's what you think you are not.

One hand handstand.jpg

How true I think this is - the power of positive self talk and the belief that 'we have what it takes' to find success in our chosen area. I think part of the reason why it took me over 20 years to return to university to redo this degree was because I didn't believe I could do it. I continually kept doubting myself and my abilities and it wasn't until probably the second year in and a few good results, that my self-efficacy rose to a point where I now believe I actually can do it. It doesn't matter whether you have all the skills in the world, if you don't believe in yourself and your capabilities, your chance of success are minimal.

Similarly, Learned Helplessness is the belief that we have no control over life events and has the potential to dominate out thought processes (Reeve, 2009). As the name suggests, learned helplessness is a learnt psychological state that can effect our desire to approach or avoid life, influencing our motivational orientation and our self-efficacy. According to the Reactance Theory, if we perceive a lack of controlability, helplessness will be maintained - a psychological state that can then become reinforcing if efforts to gain personal control fails.

The Self

Thought to be one of the distinguishing features between humans and other animals, is our ability to use reflective thought (Crisp & Turner, 2010). To think reflectively we must have some level of self-awareness, or a concept of self that then enables self-comparison. Reeve (2009) identifies 4 main problems concerned with self; self concept, self-identity within the context of society, agency (the development of personal potential) and self-regulation. It is through these constructs that we are then able to generate motivation for self-enhancement, via our own cognitions, relationships with others, self-monitoring and the intrinsic striving from within (Reeve, 2010).

Thought to develop from around 18 months of age, self-awareness to me is a continuous, psychological process that evolves and develops with age and maturity. Said to be a product of our self-schemas (how we expect ourself to think, feel and behave, based on previous experience) (Reeve, 2009), our self-concept is an amalgamation of our self-schemas that influence our motivation and future behaviours, as a result of the self that we consistently see ourself as being, and who we'd like to be (possible self). But in my mind this is where so much of society has got it wrong. I think too much emphasis and pressure is put on us, from a very early age, to often strive to be something that we're not, and if we're totally honest, don't often really want to be. Don't get me wrong, I think it is really important that we actively try to be the best that we can be, but at what cost. Along the way too many of us stop being happy and content with who we are right in this moment (warts and all). We may not be perfect, or our 'ideal self', but what actually is perfection, and does reaching it mean we will be happier. Too much of our private self-worth is tied up in our social/ public identity, where value judgments are made on what and who we are publicly. It is this type of mind set that I think has the potential to be extremely damaging, especially to the young and vulnerable, and I think is part of the reason why the rates of depression, suicide etc have escalated in recent years. Why can't we all just be content with what God gave us, rather than striving for a perfection that is too often unattainable.

However in saying all that, as Reeve (2009) suggests, it is important to set personal goals (personal striving) - but not at the cost of our emotional well-being. This process of personal striving needs to be actively monitored and self-regulated so that feelings of cognitive dissonance is limited and the striving to become our possible self doesn't overshadow who we truly are.

Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R, N. (2010). Essential social psychology (2nd ed.). London: Sage.

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

Week 6: Tutorial 3 - Self and Goals[edit]

This week in our tutorial we were asked to consider our motivation for attending university. The possible resons that we considered included:

  • Career
  • Self-exploration/ learning
  • Social opportunities
  • Altruism
  • Social/ family pressure
  • rejection of alternatives

We were then asked to complete a questionnaire to see how intrinsically or extrinsically motivated we are. As I expected and have discussed in this weeks e-portfolio entry, I am intrinsically motivated to attend university, and am very satisfied with my university experience thus far, as my score reflected.

We also discussed the Functionalist Theory (Clary & Synder), a multi-dimensional model of motivation which primarily looks at volunteer motivation. It suggests that the satisfaction we experience is a function of our own motivation and the extent to which the job forfills them. Obviously the more satisfied with an experience we are, the more motivated we will be to stay in that position - hence my reason and motivation to stay at university.

Week 9: Nature of Emotion[edit]

As Fehr & Russel (1984) rightly suggests, we all know what emotion is until we are asked to define it. What a complex and multifaceted subject it is. For me the nature of emotion becomes a more complex entity the more I read about it and try to understand it. Emotions obviously play a vital role in our life because without them we would be colourless, inanimate beings. It appears to me that individual emotional expression helps us to separate ourselves from each other because we all see, interpret and express our emotions differently. Emotions add to our individual uniqueness, helping us through its verbal and physical expression.

Manga emotions-EN.jpg

As Reeve (2009) suggests emotions are subjective experiences that can be interpreted as having 4 main dimensions: feelings, bodily arousal, senses of purpose and social-expression. I think this model of emotion is quite thorough and thought provoking, as it appears to sum up the complex nature of emotions and the ways in which they can be influenced and expressed. However in broader terms I think emotions could also be defined as a mix of physiological arousal, conscious experience (thoughts and feelings) and our expressive behaviours.

The questions surrounding what actually causes emotions appears to be quite an ambiguous construct that could be dependent upon the emotion being expressed at the time, as well as other internal and external factors. According to the James Lang Theory, the experience of an emotion stems from our awareness of our physiological responses to emotion-arousing stimuli (Myers, 2007). In contrast however the Cannon-Bard Theory suggests that physiological arousal and an emotional experience occur together (Myer, 2007). In my mind however, what actually causes emotional responses is the synchronized interplay of both biological and cognitive factors, as the 2-systems view suggests (Reeve, 2009). I think this is the most plausible explanation because, for me personally, I believe that there is a genetic element involved in emotional expression that is then also influenced by learnt behaviour, as well as environmental factors such as diet, exercise and cultural expectations. Like my mother, I often see myself emotionally expressing myself in ways that are similar to her and likewise, am now starting to see my daughter also express herself in very similar ways. Has my mother, daughter and I all learnt to cognitively appraise situations in similar ways that then generates similar emotional expression, or is it just biological similarities, or a combination of both. I think the later is the most likely explanation; a complex and indefinable interplay of both cognition and biology.

This then leads us to another complex question: What is an emotion and how many are there (Reeve,2009)? He suggests that there are 6 basic emotions; 4 negative (fear, anger, disgust and sadness) and 2 positive (joy and interest). For me the most surprising of these is Interest. I had never really considered Interest to be an emotion, but rather a state of being that exists on a continuum, that is then influenced by other emotions and life events. But then, I guess like many of the other suggested emotions outlined in our text and discussed in our tutorial groups, it is somewhat interpretational and dependent upon what you define emotion as, in its simplest form. As to how many emotions there are and if there are core and or secondary emotions, the jury is still out.

What the differences are between emotion and mood is another interesting proposal put forth this week. As outlines in Reeve (2009), there appears to be 3 main distinguishing features; differing antecedents, action-specificity and time frames. Whilst all are seemingly valid points of analysis, what I found most interesting was the distinction made between everyday mood and emotion. Viewed as an affective state of being, mood appears to be more perennial than emotional expression although I would have to disagree with the statement that emotions are rare in daily experiences. Maybe I'm just 'overly emotional' but it is not uncommon for me to experience a range of different emotions on any given day, while still maintaining a reasonably consistent affective state. I may be emotionally reactive but I get over it pretty quickly and generally don't let a negative experience effect my overall mood. Similarly, whilst I agree that mood can influence cognition's, I think cognition's can also influence one's overall mood and the way we interpret and perceive situations. If you think the 'glass is 1/2 full', you are much more likely to have a positive affect than if you see and interpret events with an attitude that stems from a 'glass is 1/2 empty' perspective.

I think positive affect and subsequently positive psychology is a fascinating area of research that is intrinsically linked to our emotional and physical health and welbeing. Like emotional intelligence I think its importance and impact on our self expression and everyday livelihood is under rated in our society and are areas I would like to explore in a a lot more detail.

Fehr, B., & Russell, J. A. (1984). Concept of emotion viewed from a prototype perspective. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 113,464-486.

Myers, D. G. (2007). Psychology (8th ed.). New York: Worth.

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

Week 10: Aspects of Emotion[edit]

An extension of last weeks readings, this week continues to explore whether emotion is caused by biological, cognitive and or social-cultural factors.

From the contemporary, biological perspective I think that the role that different brain areas and specific neural circuits play in emotional expression is particularly interesting. As I have read about and witnessed first hand, key neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, definitely play a key role in emotional expression. My father who has Parkinson's Disease (caused by an inadequate supple of the neurotransmitter Dopamine), has become increasingly emotionless as a result of the disease. He now wears what is referred to as a 'Parkinson's Face'; a mask of no expression and a very limited capacity to exhibit any emotions.

However, that is not to say that other theories don't also have their place in the emotions debate. I think that the Differential Emotions Theory (Izard, 1991), which also incorporates the importance of neural activity, proposes some very valid points. Izard suggests that each emotion has its own unique feeling , facial expression, purpose and role in neural firing, although I'm not sure whether I agree with the 10 core emotions that he lists.

On that score I agree with Ekman's (1992) viewpoint that some of Izards emotions could be better described as either moods, attitudes, personality traits or a disorder. In particular, and especially after participating in this weeks tutorial, I think that some secondary emotions are a combination of other core emotions, for example, as the text suggests, that romantic love is a combination of interest, joy and sexual drive. However, overall I believe that the biological perspective of emotion does propose some very valid points, especially when you look at other findings that suggest that facial expressions and emotions match across culture.

Figure 1. Some of the more universal emotions displayed by humans.

However despite these findings, cognition's also appear to play a key role in emotion. As outlined in the text, the way an individual appraises life events can impact on emotional expression. In line with my comments from last week, I believe that a lot of our emotional expression is dependent upon the way we choice to interpret a situation. Do we adopt a glass is 1/2 full attitude (positive) or the glass is 1/2 empty attitude (negative). It is the way we appraise it that then has the potential to evoke either positive or negative emotions, which in turn impacts on the way we engage or disengage from an object or event. Likewise, do our emotional responses to an event impact, or spill over into other subsequent events? Palace (1995) found that intense arousal, as a result of an intense argument, intensified sexual passion, indicating that intense emotions such as anger, fear and sexual arousal has the capacity to spill from one emotion to another.

Similarly I think that our emotional appraisal of situations expands and alters with life experiences and an understanding of self. For many people, with age, comes a certain degree of emotional intelligence, where as a result, we become better able to differentiate between and predict our own and other peoples emotional states, and equally importantly, the situations that evoke them. However in saying that I think that some people are just born with a higher degree of emotional intelligence, making it then an innate ability, that is not so much learnt, but fine tuned, depending on the individual.

Finally the social and cultural aspects of emotionality were discussed. Although it appears apparent that we universally share a consistent facial language, research and personal observations seem to suggest that we differ culturally in the way we express emotions. In a study by Triandis (1994), Japanese people were found to be less socially expressive in the presence of others compared to other cultures. Similarly individualistic cultures such as USA, Australia and Western Europe were also found to exhibit more intense and prolonged displays of emotion compared to Collectivist cultures (Carrol & Russell, 1996).

As highlighted in Reeve (2009), there appears to be 3 main aspects of social and cultural emotion; prior emotional knowledge, the cultural expectations around how emotions should be expressed and emotional management. All 3 of these aspects appear to be learnt behaviours, indicating that like most psychological events, emotions need to be analysised from an integrated, bio-psych-social perspective.

Ekman, P. (1992). An argument for basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 6, 169-200.

Izard, C. E. (1991). The psychology of emotion. New York, Plenum Press.

Palace, E. M. (1995). Modification of dysfunctional patterns of sexual response through autonomic arousal and false physiological feedback. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63,604-615.

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

Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and social behaviour. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Week 10: Tutorial 4 - Emotions[edit]

This weeks tutorial exercise of composing a Emotion Q-sort proved to be an interesting exercise. Prior to this tutorial I hadn't really thought about how many different emotions the human species is capable of expressing, nor had I even heard of some of them. Our group categorized the list of emotions under the 6 basic emotions discussed in Reeve (2009); fear, anger, disgust, sadness, joy and interest. This proved to be more difficult that I imagined as many of them didn't seem to fit into any of basic emotional categories we decided on. As discussed by Ekman (1992) we found that many of the emotions were not singular units but rather an umbrella term that described a whole range of emotional states and feelings. For example; the basic emotion joy encompassed other emotions such as happiness, amusement, humor, comfort and delight; a positive emotion that has the ability to facilitate good health, energetic involvement and positive social interactions. In the end several of the emotions were sorting into a mid category, falling somewhere in between 2 or 3 of the 6 basic emotions we listed. As a group we concluded that many of the emotional states that we were given better described a particular mood or attitude and didn't make it into our emotional Q-sort.

Figure 1: 4 of the core we used to categorise in the tutorial Q-sort.

During this weeks tutorial we also completed a PANAS (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule). Similar in structure to some of the Personality Inventories I have examined, it was interesting to see how positive and negative emotional states can be constructed and interpreted.

Finally James demonstrated how to use some of the tools of Wiki. This was extremely helpful given my total lack of knowledge in this area and my struggle to create an interesting and visually pleasing Textbook Chapter.

Fragile Emotion cropped.jpg

Week 11: Personality, Motivation and Emotion[edit]

The first thing that came to my mind when I started to read this weeks chapter was - 'What is Happiness'. The chapter starts by asking : Are you happy or unhappy? I think happiness is very subjective and dependent upon your physiological and psychological state of health and welbeing. What might make me happy one day, may seem somewhat insignificant at another point in time. If I'm well rested and feeling physically and psychologically healthy and content, my outlook is more positive and subsequently I will view life events from a more positive/happier perspective.

As outlined in Reeve (2009), happiness appears to be relatively stable on the continuum of ones life, where each of us have a happiness set point. However some people might suggest that it is our interpretation of life events that evokes feelings of happiness. For example, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy maintains that we can learn to be happier through the way in which we view situations, independent of our level of extroversion and neuroticism (Beevers & Miller, 2005).

Reeve (2009) suggests that extroverts tend to be happier than introverts because they tend to seek out social interaction which ultimately results in a more positive affective state. However does that mean that introverts can't be just as happy? Some people are happier if left to their own devises, and I question whether that has anything to do with our capacity to experience positive emotions more intensely as Gray's Behavioural Activation System (BAS) suggests. (as cited in Maltby, Day, & Macaskill, 2007). According to Gray (1970), personality and things that we desire results from the interaction of two neurological systems in the brain, the Behavioural Approach System (BAS) and the Behavioural Inhibition System (BIS). The BAS system causes sensitivity to potentially rewards and subsequently creates the desire to seek them out. It gives us the motivation to approach thereby prompting extroversion and a greater capacity to experience happiness or positive emotions. The second system, the BIS, prompts sensitivity to punishment and potential danger, creating an internal environment that encourages avoidant behaviours. Gray proposed that people with high levels of BAS tended to be impulsive while higher levels of BIS encouraged anxiety and fear (as cited in (as cited in Maltby, Day, & Macaskill, 2007)

According to Costa and McCrae (1980) (as cited in Maltby, Day, & Macaskill, 2007), the five super traits of personality (the Big 5) are Openness, Consciousnesses, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Similar to Gray's model Costa and McCrae theorised that individuals who score high in Extroversion tend to be happier and score highly in energy, optimism and sociability. At the opposite end of the spectrum people who are highly Neurotic (emotionally unstable and volatile), tend to score lower in terms of happiness, according to the Global measure of Happiness (Costa & McCrae, 1980, as cited in Reeve, 2009).It suggests that people who score high in Neuroticism tend to be more sensitive to negative affective states (anxiety and fear) and subsequently avoid situations that may be potentially harmful. Subsequently these people, according to Gray (1970) have strong BIS and exhibit avoidant-orientated behaviours which have the propensity to result in depression and hostility (Reeve, 2009).

Baby love.jpg

Alongside happiness, Reeve identified arousal and control as the three main motivational principles related to personality. As Reeve's suggests, arousal is predominantly a function of the environment, where less stimulating or arousing stimuli = poorer performance levels and evokes boredom and restlessness and high arousal = high performance, as illustrated with the Inverted U curve diagram (Figure 2). But is this always the case? What I found particularly interesting however is the fine line that appears to exist between under and over arousal; the middle point suggested as equaling optimal performance levels, which varies individually. Going on my own personal experience I think that the point of optimal/ moderate arousal can vary depending on other variables that are operating within the context of ones life, and is very much influenced by our physical health as well. As we get older and accumulate life experiences, our ability to deal with stress and other highly arousing stimuli increases and we become more able to control our emotions and channel them accordingly. But is that also dependent on our personality type? ... I'm not sure... I guess all any of us can do is live our own personal truths and be honest about how we feel.


Figure 2. Inverted U of arousal.

Also very interesting was Heron's sensory deprivation study (as cited in Reeve, 2009), which found that when humans are exposed to no stimulation at all the brain will start to generate its own stimulation... How truly amazing the brain is, highlighting the vital role that environmental stimuli and our interaction (communication and touch) is for our existence.

Linked to arousal, sensation seeking is another personality dimension associated with extroversion. Whilst I agree with this in part (having two children on opposite ends of the sensation seeking scale), I think other facets can also play a significant role in our desire to seek out arousing situations and take risks ie: drug taking/ sexual appetite. I have met a lot of people that have chosen to engage in highly risky behaviours not so much as a bi-product of their personality but for pure escapism..... to escape the horror of physical and emotional abuse with the intention of becoming numb, not aroused.

Like arousal and sensation seeking tendencies, control (perceived and desired) is another dimension of personality that can have emotional consequences. Perceived control involves our need to initiate and regulate our behaviours in order to achieve the outcomes we desire (Reeve, 2009). The level of desire we have directly influences the amount of engagement/ effort we put in, which in turn influences our emotions and our perceived level of control. It has a cyclical effect, each influencing the other and generating a corresponding outcome. If we have low perceived control learned helplessness often results, adversely effecting our ability and desire to learn. If we perceive we have no control we are less likely to try and attain it/ desire it, subsequently creating an environment for laziness, blame and self pity.

Beevers, C. G., & Miller, I. W. (2005). Unlinking negative cognition and symptoms of depression: Evidence of a specific treatment effect for cognitive therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 68-77.

Maltby, J., Day, L., & Macaskill, A. (2007). Personality, individual differences and intelligence. Essex, England: Pearson.

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

Week 12: Unconscious Motivation[edit]

Born out of Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory and the Dual -Instinct Theory, the Psychodynamic perspective suggests that, "motivation and behaviour emerge from biologically endowed and socially acquired impulses that determine our desires, thoughts, feelings and behaviours" (Reeve, 2009, p392).

Based on four main principles; the Unconscious, Psychodynamics, Ego Development and Object Relations Theory, the psychodynamic theory offers a more contemporary view of human behaviour and unconscious motivations.

The Unconscious

Although many people may not agree with Freud's underlying theory of the unconscious and its processes it is now widely accepted that much of our mental life occurs outside of our awareness (Reeve, 2009). Out of all of Freud's unconscious processes I think dreaming is the most interesting. He proposed that dreams allowed the individual to satisfy their unconscious desires and express inner conflict, recent research suggesting that this theory may not be so far from the truth. Dreaming has been found to aid in the relief of emotional trauma and has been linked to more positive mood states, following REM sleep, a sleep stage where 75% of dreams have been found to occur (Hobson, Pace-Schott, & Stickgold, 2000). These findings suggest that the process of dreaming is linked to emotional health and may indeed play a key role in resolving unconscious tension.


The basic idea behind psychodynamics appears to be that our thoughts and feelings (which ultimately motivate us and guide our emotions), are often in conflict. If this is true I guess it is these states of conflict that then give rise to approach/avoidant behaviours, emotional turmoil and indecision, and overall the unpredictable nature of human behaviour.

Ego Development

As discussed in Reeve (2009), ego development involves the maturation process/ evolution of personality development and involves moving from immaturity and dependence, to maturity, independence and social freedom and self-expression. However I question whether all the ego defense mechanisms listed in Reeve (2009), are unconsciously driven. To me a lot of the Freudian ideology is somehow an attempt to 'pass the buck', and not take responsibility for our own actions and personal growth, development and health. For ego development to occur (personal maturity), I think a certain amount of self-awareness and conscious decision making must also be involved. We all need to take responsibility for the actions we choose and I think sometimes it is too easy to blame our own or others actions on immaturity and inexperience.

Object Relation Theory

I think that there is a lot of truth to this theory, that as we grow from infancy, we develop mental representations of ourselves and others (Reeve, 2009). What came to my mind when I was reading this section was the need for us, and especially in early childhood, to form secure and loving attachments with at least one other person. Research suggests that when children are deprived of being able to form positive relationships, and subsequently their ability to construct mental representations of the self, others and relationships, negative social, emotional, cognitive and developmental outcomes are likely (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NICHD, 1997). I think our mental schema of ourself (which to a large degree is probably unconscious), does effect our ability to have a healthy and positive relationship. Too often negative representations get in the way of happiness, where it is far too easy sometimes to unconsciously project our own insecurities and self-loathing onto others and have feelings of unworthiness.

Hobson, J., Pace-Schott, E., & Stickgold, R. (2000). Dreaming and the brain: Towards a cognitive neuroscience of conscious states. Behavioural Brain Science, 23, 793-842.

NICHD Early Child Care research Network. (1997). The effect of infant childcare on infant-mother attachment security. Child Development, 68, 860-879.

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

Week 12: Tutorial 5 - Personality, Motivation and Emotion[edit]

Fortunately for me James was very patient and generous with his time during this tutorial and he spent most of the time answering questions on things regarding our Textbook Chapter and the submission process. I am pleased to now say that I feel like I am finally getting the hang of Wikiversity and can honestly say I have enjoyed the process. While initially daunting, it actually becomes quite addictive and I found myself surprisingly motivated to learn the Wiki processes (although I still have a long way to go). I have really enjoyed the interactive nature of this unit and the opportunity to learn a new program, the only frustrating thing being a lack of time to master all the processes and include some of the things I would have like to have in our assessments. It has been a long time coming but I have also finally learnt how to use PowerPoint (Yeah), not that my multi-media presentation will win any awards, but it was fun to fiddle around with it and finally learn how to do it.

Adventure-Island Rage-3.jpg

Anyway in the short amount of time we had left after question time, the 4 of us in the tutorial did a Personality Quiz and revisited the Big 5 personality traits. As I mentioned in my E-portfolio I am not sure whether we have a set point for key emotions (happiness/unhappiness) that is then mapped through our personality. I think that there are too many other variables that have the potential to have a long reaching impact on our emotional expression. If we have never been shown or experienced love and happiness how can we have a set point for it. I'm not so sure.

We also quickly looked at the Sensation Seeking Scale, of which there are 4 main factors; Thrill and adventure seeking, Experience seeking, Disinhibition and Boredom susceptibility (Zuckerman, 1971). Whilst this scale appears to be a good instrument for detecting individual differences across the 4 domains, I think that our desire to seek out adventure etc would vary depending on our age and life stage. Things I would have and did do 20 years ago I wouldn't do now because I now have too many responsibilities and people that depend on me , to take unnecessary risks, no matter how much I might want to.

Week 12: Growth and Positive Psychology[edit]

Derived from humanistic psychology, Holisim looks at the whole person, encouraging growth and self-realisation and minimising the need to meet the expectation of others (Reeve, 2009).

Similar to humanistic psychology, positive psychology seeks to explore the actions that need to be taken in order to experience health, optimism and resilience. More scientifically rigorous that humanistic psychology, it relies on empirical research to examine the mental health and individual strengths of people, encouraging self exploration and the development of each persons strengths, with the view of reaching ones full potential (Reeve, 2009).

As discussed in Week 3, self-actualisation is referred to as, "an underlying flow of movement towards constructive fulfillment of its inherent possibilities' (Roger, 1980, as cited in Reeve, 2009, p421). This description sounds very poetic and for me congers up the image of a little stream running through the mountains, but what does self-actualisation actually mean? If all my needs are met (in accordance with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs), does that mean I am self-actualised? Somehow I don't think I am, as I think there is more too it than morality, creativity, acceptance etc. For me self-actualisation means being completely at one with oneself, and totally accepting of all others. Maybe someone like the Dali Lama. Anyway, according to Reeve (2009), autonomy and openness characterise self-actualisation, and while I don't disagree with either of these characteristics, I think there is somehow more to self-actualisation than that.

What I find particularly interesting is the actualising tendency of the emergence of self and conditions of worth. It reminds me of the immense responsibility I have as a mother, to encourage and guide my children into becoming whole, confident and self-satisfied individuals. More than anything I hope that my children will emerge into adulthood with a deep acceptance of who they are, with positive conditions of self-worth and an unconditional positive regard, not only for themselves, but for others as well.

Now to the 'Problem of Evil'. I fundamentally believe that all of us are born good and it is only through life circumstances, environmental influences and unresolved inner conflict and discontent that some people do evil things. Maybe when people are brought up with no feelings of self-worth, they feel the need to validate their own feelings of inner turmoil and pain by inflicting the same onto others. I don't believe that some people are born with malevolent personalities (act in ways that promote evil), it is more likely as Reeve (2009) points out, that it emerges as a result of 'sickness in our culture', that then has the propensity to evoke evil and hatred in some people. Far from being self-actualised, using evil as a motivational force must be a terrible existence to lead, and far from what I think God intended.

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

Week 13: Tutorial 6 - Growth Psychology[edit]

Tonight was our last tutorial for this unit and despite the poor turn out (4 plus James) I found this tutorial probably the most interesting.

We began by discussing whether each of us felt that evil resides in all of us or whether it is a by-product of the environment in which we live. As I mentioned in last weeks journal entry I believe that we are all born inherently good, some of us maybe with a predisposition that may be more inclined towards evil tendencies. As parents I believe we need to nurture the strengths within our children and channel less desirable temperaments in a positive way.

We also compared Maslow's theory of self-actualisation with Roger's view on a fully functioning person. A study by Maslow found that people that he considered to be self-actualised commonly possessed many of the following characteristics:

  • Priority of values like truth, love and happiness
  • Internal control (that falls in line with the self-determination theory)
  • High involvement, productivity and happiness
  • High quality interpersonal relationships

While there appears to be some overlap between the self-actualised person and Roger's fully functioning person, the later comes from a more therapeutic perspective, suggesting that personal growth and development is an ongoing process. I find Rogers perspective much more realistic and plausible. Personal growth and development is an ongoing, salient process, that alters as we mature and experience various life events and challenges. As he suggests, I believe that it is vital that we remain open to experience so that we can experience rich, full lives and have the ability to freely choose our life choices and avoid incongruency. However both Rogers and Maslow emphasised the concept of self-realisation and the importance of a healthy self concept. They believed that emphasis needed to be placed on getting to know oneself through processes such as self-reflection, for self-growth to be possible. I fundamentally agree with this as it is only through self-discovery that we can facilitate healing and growth and gain a better overall understanding of human nature and behaviour.

As Anais Nin, the famous author once said: We do not see things as they really are. We see things as we are.

Finally we also discussed the sense of meaning and coherence and completed a Sense of Meaning - Orientation to Like Questionnaire (SOC13), developed by Aaron Antonovsky. My scores on comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness all fell within the average mean scores of UC students, which I believe to be pretty accurate. Prior to the tutorial I hadn't heard of either Aaron Antonovsky or Frankl Viktor, both of whose life story's and theory's I think I would like to investigate a bit more.

Week 13: Summary and Conclusion[edit]

Well I can honestly say that I have really enjoyed this unit on Motivation and Emotion. However like many of the other psychology subjects I have completed I found it a little frustrating because there never seems to be enough hours in the day or weeks in the semester to really absorb the contents of the unit. However I think that I have not only expanded my knowledge around the subjects, but have also begun to think more laterally and critically about why all of us as individuals behave in different ways, what are the factors that cause it and why our behaviours have the propensity to vary in intensity so much.

I think that it is through examining what motivates us that we can gain better insight into human behaviour and individual differences. Throughout this unit it became increasingly clear that a dyadic relationship exists between motivation and emotion, that is influenced by multiple neuro-biological and environmental causes. The areas that I found particularly interesting were the chapters on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, personal control and the self. I think that the amount of human diversity that exists between the ways we are all intrinsically and extrinsically motivated extremely interesting, especially in the way levels of motivation can vary so much from day to day and depending on the focus of interest. For me my shift from being extrinsically to intrinsically motivated about studying has evolved as I have matured; the chapter on personal control beliefs and the self, consolidating my understanding of why and how that evolution has occurred.

I think I enjoyed the chapters on emotion the most interesting however, allowing me to gain more clarity around why our emotions can vary so much and how they are intrinsically linked to our motivation levels and our health and well-being.

Collectively however I think I have become more aware of the need to look at individuals more holistically, recognising that behaviours vary depending not only on the environment, but the contingencies that surround it. For me it has become increasingly apparent that we are all works in progress; agents of both the external and internal factors that combine to shape our lives, influencing our levels of motivation and emotion in ways that are not always truly apparent or understood.

I really like the painting shown above. To me it illustrates both direction and energy, and the emotive colour and unpredictability of human behaviour.