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Crystal Clear app kfm home.png This user is a participant in the Motivation and emotion unit, 2010.
See also: Textbook
Writer1.gif This page is an e-portfolio. Also see other participants' pages.

About Me[edit]

My name is Wendy and I'm an undergraduate student at University of Canberra in my last semester of a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Below is an "e-portfolio" which outlines my learning journey through the unit Motivation and Emotion.


Week One[edit]

Introduction to motivation and emotion[edit]

I’ve started this blog as part of an assignment which requires me to keep a reflective e-portfolio which shares my learning experiences throughout the unit (Motivation and Emotion). I’ve never been very good at reflecting, so I’m hoping I’ll learn a thing of two and will finally understand the benefits behind it! My first impressions of this unit, before attending any classes were the same as every other unit I’ve had over the last two and a half years – this is going to be hard! And after attending the first lecture, that was definitely confirmed. Whilst sitting through the lecture, I had a range of thoughts running wild in my mind. “How will I get all of this done?? Gulp! Oh my goodness! A video?!” I also couldn’t wait to share all of these thoughts with my peers. Just as I had expected, they had similar thoughts. On the plus side; there’s no exam for this unit, which is definitely a good thing for me as exams are usually where I perform the worst. So I guess this gave me both feelings of relief and motivation to do really well.

Motivation and emotion are experienced by all individuals and is related to many aspects of life

We all experience motivation and emotion, whether it’s related to our work life, education, family or intimate relationships. Since these topics are relevant to so many aspects of our lives, I was particularly interested in gaining an understanding of how these two things come about. For example, where does our behaviour come from? What causes behaviour like gambling in some people, but not others? What causes some people to be more “in touch” with their emotions?

Week one of this unit required us to read two chapters from “Understanding Motivation and Emotion” by John Marshall Reeve. The first chapter focussed primarily on motivation. One thing I learned which basically “sets the scene” for motivation is that motivation is primarily concerned with the processes that provide behaviour with energy and direction (Reeve, 2009). Overall, a motive is an internal process made of up needs – cognitions – and emotions (Reeve, 2009).

I particularly enjoyed reading about motivation being a dynamic process. Motivation strength indeed does change for me. At times I have no motivation to complete my readings for uni where I’ll have endless amounts of motivation to socialise ...I know I’m not alone here!

Reeve (2009) put it nicely – “It’s helpful to think of motivation as a constantly flowing river of needs, cognitions and emotions”.

For centuries, as far back as Aristotle and Socrates we have been asking the same question about motivation and where behaviour stems from. Chapter two covered the historical concepts of motivation. This was an area I was unfamiliar with, however it was interesting to learn about how and when the major theories of motivation were developed and the rise and decline of such theories. During week one we were also asked to consider a topic for the textbook chapter assignment. Without hesitation I was immediately drawn to emotion in children, particularly the development of emotion and emotion in children on the Autism Spectrum. Pervasive developmental disorders such as Autism have become an interest of mine over the last year and I am looking forward to somehow incorporate this topic in to my chapter. If anybody else shares this area of interest you may be interested in reading a novel written by Mark Haddon, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night” which gives the reader a first person glimpse inside the life of a boy with Autism.


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons Publications

Week Two[edit]

Assessment skills and wikiversity[edit]

Wikiversity logo

Week two covered a detailed overview of the assessments and a run-down on how to manage a Wikiversity page. Both of these discussions were of great use to me. I think it’s great to have a lecturer who takes the time to go through each part of the assessments and ensures that we all understand what’s required of us. It definitely made a lot of issues more clear, especially since the first week left me a little concerned! This was most definitely the case with the multimedia assessment. I was relieved to find out I don’t actually have to film myself, and just my voice! It also doesn’t seem too difficult to get a hang of and I’ll be giving it a go on Screenr, an instant screen cast recorder.

The Wikiversity information was also of great help, as this is an area I lack skill in! Although, I think I’ll need to fine-tune these skills in the upcoming tutorial this week as I’m still having a little difficulty and am keen to get my Wikiversity page looking good.

Apart from borrowing a few library books and searching a couple of articles, I haven’t yet made any progress on my text book chapter. I’m hoping to make a move on this before the end of this weekend! I’m starting to worry that I won’t find enough information on my topic. But I’m sure after a few more attempts I’ll find what I need. I do hope so, because it’s a topic I’m very interested in. I will hopefully have more to say on this next week

Week Three[edit]

The motivated and emotional brain[edit]

Week three covered the brain in relation to motivation and emotion and physiological needs. I find the brain very interesting, and enjoyed learning more about how particular parts of the brain function in terms of motivation. From both the readings and lecture this week I have learnt a lot. The brain is the centre of motivation and emotion. It generates cravings, needs, desires and pleasure, and all emotions. The brain is also strongly wired to motivation and emotion. In relation to motivation and emotion, we can think of the brain with the following three aspects;

  1. Thinking brain: cognitive and intellectual functions. “What task it is doing”
  2. Motivated brain:“Whether you want to do it”
  3. Emotional brain: “What your mood is while doing it”

(Reeve, 2009)

There are three general principles that guide research on the motivated and the emotional brain.

  1. Specific brain structures generate specific motivations. For example, stimulation of one part of the hypothalamus generates hunger of satiety. In contrast, damage to one brain structure (due to an accident or surgery) can remove capacity to experience motivation states.
  2. Biochemical agents stimulate specific brain structures. Brain structures have receptor sites on them that give them the potential to be stimulated. These biochemical agents are neurotransmitters and hormones.
  3. Day-to-day events stir biochemical agents into action. For example, hunger results in an increase in the hormone ghrelin and sleep deprivation results in an increase in ghrelin and a decrease in leptin.

(Reeve, 2009)

The brain;

The following is a brief breakdown of motivational and emotional states associated with certain brain structures. I found information in the text book and lecture about the brain structures particularly interesting.

  • Hypothalamus; pleasurable feelings associated with feeding, drinking and mating
  • Medial forebrain bundle; pleasure, reinforcement
  • Orbitofrontal cortex; help people make choices between options.
  • Amygdala; detects and responds to threat and danger. The amygdala is also important in the learning of new emotional associations.
  • Septo-hippocampal circuit; forecasts the emotion associated with upcoming events in terms of both anticipated pleasure and anticipated anxiety.
  • Anterior cingulated cortex; involved in the control of day-to-day mood, volition, and making choices.
  • Reticular formation; plays a key role in arousal and in the process of awakening the brain’s motivational and emotional concerns.

One way we can know which particular motivational and emotional states are associated with particular brain structures is through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) which is a detailed electronic photograph of a structure of the brain. An fMRI detects changes in blood oxygenation caused by brain activity. I find this fascinating!

Neurotransmitters and hormones[edit]

Four transmitters relevant to motivation are; dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and endorphin. Another aspect of this week’s learning I found particularly interesting was dopamine and dopamine release. Dopamine release generates good feelings. Dopamine release triggers an emotional positivity, and the resulting positive affect produces enhanced functioning, such as creativity and insightful problem solving. Overall, dopamine release explains the biology of incentives, reward, motivated action, addictions and liking versus wanting.

The essential hormones for motivation, emotion and behaviour are cortisol, testosterone and oxytocin. I have always found oxytocins interesting, and how it generates a bond between a new mother and her baby. Oxytocin also motivates seeking counsel, support and nurturance of others during times of distress.

Physiological needs[edit]

This image depicts Maslow's hierarchy of needs where physiological needs are met first, and an individual then works their way up towards self actualisation

A need is any condition within an individual that is essential and necessary for life, growth and well-being. When such needs are nurtured, well-being is maintained and enhanced. In contrast, if these needs are neglected or frustrated the needs thwarting will produce damage that disrupts biological or psychological well-being.

Certain types of needs exist. These include physiological needs, psychological needs and social needs. Physiological needs that are inherent within the workings or biological systems include; thirst, hunger and sex.

Abraham Maslow explains needs quite well and is renowned for his hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow attempted to combine a large body of research related to human motivation (Huitt, 2007). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that human needs can be organised hierarchically (Neill, 2010). The physiological needs (such as breathing, hunger etc) come first. The psychological needs (such as self esteem) are then pursued. An individual then works their way up fulfilling needs towards self actualisation.

Maslow's basic position is that as one becomes more self-actualized and self-transcendent, one becomes more wise (develops wisdom) and automatically knows what to do in a wide variety of situations (Huitt, 2007). A detailed image of Maslow's hierarchy can be found to the right.

Tutorial One[edit]

Tutorials also started for my class this week. I really quite enjoyed the class and found it beneficial. I even enjoyed the ice breaker activity, which isn’t something that I often enjoy! It was good to do something a little different, and something that we could all relate to, and have a laugh about. Who would have thought ordering the class in terms of thumb size would be a good icebreaker! I don’t usually enjoy icebreakers, so this was great for a change. After the icebreaker activities, the class split up in to groups of four to five students, which would become a “mentor group” for completing our assessments. In our peer groups, we all came up with our own definitions of both motivation and emotion, and then put together a group definition which was reported back to the class.

I think forming small mentor groups is a great idea, and the discussions generated by the tutor were of great help in terms of getting our heads around the text book chapter assessment. Overall, it was a great tutorial!


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons Publications

Huitt, W. (2007). Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University

Week Four[edit]

Psychological and social needs[edit]

Week four covered psychological and social needs.

In the lecture, a psychological need is defined as an inherent source of motivation that generates the desire to interact with the environment so as to advance personal growth, social development, and psychological well-being. Reeve (2009) states that a psychological need motivate exploration and challenge-seeking, thus they are understood as growth needs. The need for this does not go away.

Organismic approach to motivation; acknowledge that environments are constantly changing, and thus, organisms need flexibility to adjust to and adapt to those changes (Reeve, 2009). Two assumptions are held; that people are inherently active (they are always involved in goal-directed activities), and person-environment dialectic.

Psychological needs;

There are three fundamental psychological needs, and generally, if all three are satisfied you should have positive psychological growth.

Relatedness is the psychological need to establish close emotional bonds with others
  1. Autonomy; the psychological need to experience self-direction and personal endorsement in the initiation and regulation of one’s behaviour. Essentially, we desire choice and decision-making flexibility when deciding what to do in our lives. The conundrum of choice: not all choices are the same and not all choices actually promote autonomy.” Either-or” choice offerings can lead a person to feel pressured in to making a choice. Whereas, “True choice over people’s actions” enhance a sense of need-satisfying autonomy and enhance creativity.
  2. Competence; A psychological need to be effective in interactions with the environment. It seems that competence is something that we all desire. Reeve (2009) suggests that we desire competence within school, work, in relationships, and during recreation and sports. Thus, we all want to develop skills to improve our competencies.
  3. Relatedness; Is essentially social belonging. It is a psychological need to establish close emotional bonds and attachments with other people. This is something we all want, and certainly something that I can relate to. I agree that the desire to form close emotional bonds is innate.

Social needs;

Quasi-needs; situationally induced wants that create tense energy to engage in behaviour capable of reducing the built-up tension. They affect how we think, feel and act. For example, when we receive a bill in the mail, we have a need for money. However, once we get the money to pay for the bill, we no longer have this need. Hence, whenever an individual satisfies the demand/pressure, the quasi –need disappears.

Social needs; an acquired psychological process that grows out of one’s socialisation history that activates emotional responses to a particular need-relevant incentive. People acquire social needs through experience, development and socialisation.

There are four social needs;

  1. Achievement; doing something well to show personal competence
  2. Affiliation; opportunity to please others and gain their approval
  3. Intimacy; warm, secure relationships
  4. Power; having impact on others.


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons Publications

Week Five[edit]

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and goal setting[edit]

Week five covered intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and goal setting. I found the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation chapter especially interesting, as it got me thinking about how both types influence the way in which we approach and engage in various activities.

Intrinsic motivation is the inherent desire to engage one’s interests and to exercise and develop one’s capacities. When individuals are intrinsically motivated, they act out of interest, “for the fun of it” (Reeve, 2009). In contrast, extrinsic motivation arises from environmental incentives and consequences such as food, money, praise and attention (Reeve, 2009). Essentially, the main element of extrinsic motivation is the desire to gain attractive consequences. Intrinsic motivation could best be an explanation to why people volunteer personal time to charities. It seems that intrinsic motivation has a lot to do with the reward that an individual feels within themselves when engaging in an interest, which is what volunteering time for a charity is all about. After all, volunteer work is unpaid, so it couldn’t be extrinsically driven. Reeve (2009) mentioned that intrinsic motivation involves autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Reeve (2009) states that certain activities allow a person to feel of these things; feeling free, effective or emotionally close. The concept of intrinsic motivation in relation to charity work resonates with me, as I spend a lot of time throughout the year volunteering for a children’s charity. After thinking about my reasons or motivations for volunteering, I discovered that maybe there’s more to it than just the “it’s fun” or “I enjoy it elements”. Maybe I am seeking autonomy, competence and relatedness; they certainly would all be met through volunteer work. I also found the benefits of intrinsic motivation quite interesting. Reeve (2009) states that intrinsic motivation can lead to persistence, creativity, conceptual understanding and high quality learning, and optimal functioning and well being. I think that an individual who is motivated by the enjoyment and satisfaction of work (such as volunteering), all of these benefits and overall well being.

Although I have primarily discussed intrinsic motivation as a positive thing, I can also see extrinsic motivation being a good thing for certain instances. The use of incentives, consequences and rewards for example can have a wide range of benefits in particular situations. This somewhat ties in to the Learning unit which I am also enrolled in. I am currently researching and reading about studies which have used incentives and rewards to modify undesired behaviour. For example, Corby, Roll, Ledgerwood and Schuster (2000) found the use of reinforcers to be effective in reducing smoking in adolescents by increasing the overall number of abstinences and consecutive abstinences. The chapter on goal setting was also especially relevant to my life as a student. According to Reeve (2009) a goal is whatever an individual is striving to accomplish. Reeve (2009) states that individuals with goals generally outperform those with goals. This is known as goal-performance discrepancy. Reeve (2009) discussed a study where elementary-grade students performed sit-ups for two minutes. Some students set a goal for themselves as to how many sit-ups they would complete throughout the two minutes, while others simple completed the sit-ups without a set goal. It was found that the goal-setting students completed significantly more sit-ups than the non-goal students. I found this concept really interesting! Interesting because it’s true I guess. Like many students I’m sure, I have a lot of trouble finding motivation to begin assessment tasks and keep on top of my readings. However, when I make a list of “things to do” before the end of a week, I generally find that I get more done. I think it’s the satisfaction of accomplishment I feel when I tick items off the list. However I think it’s important to put realistic goals and time frames on such lists, otherwise it will become difficult to reach certain goals. After reading about goal-performance discrepancy, I tried to apply it to another aspect in my life. I've started swimming every week, and this week I set myself a goal of swimming one kilometre. Last week I didn't set myself any particular goal, and I ended up hopping out long before even getting close to one kilometre. However this week I swam far beyond one kilometre! Maybe this could be because I am getting stronger each time I come, or simply the fact that I thought about it before beginning. But I really do feel that setting specific goals generates motivation to succeed.

Tutorial two[edit]

During week five I attended my second tutorial. Again I was impressed with how it was run. We ran through all the topics which were covered for needs and the brain. It was good to go over them again as there was quite a lot of content. We then got into our mentor groups, welcomed a new member, and discussed our draft textbook chapter plans. Mine wasn’t 100% done at the time; however it was good to get some input from my peers. That night I went home and fixed it up a little and added more sections to it and finally put it on to Wikiversity. I feel like I made a lot of progress this week which is a relief!


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons Publications

Corby, A. E., Roll, M. J., Ledgerwood, M. D., & Schuster, R. C. (2000). Contingency management interventions for treating the substance abuse of adolescents; a feasibility study. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 8, 371-376. doi: 10.1037//1064-1297.8.3.371

Week Seven[edit]

Tutorial Three[edit]

There was no lecture this week, giving us some extra time to work on our textbook capter which was great!

During tutorials this week we individually completed the Learned Optimism test designed by Seligman. The test asked you to choose between two options (A or B), which made it quite difficult in some cases. There were a few questions where neither reflected my choice, however you had to choose. I didn't think my result reflected my true level of optimism/pessimism as I receieved quite a pessimistic score! The class discussed their scores and what they thought of the test. It was generally considered tat the test was quite dated.

Learned Optimism test click this link to try the Learned Optimism test for yourself.

Week Eight[edit]

"Class-free" week

Week Nine[edit]

Nature of Emotion[edit]

This week’s content covered the nature of emotion. The following four questions were addressed;

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

To begin, the most appropriate question when discussing the nature of emotion would be to ask would be “what is an emotion?” This is a relatively difficult question to answer. Thinking back to the first tutorial of this unit, we were asked to individually define emotion and report back to a small group. We all came up with similar definitions, however each of has at least one aspect that uniquely contributed to the overall definition of emotion. I think we can all identify feelings such as sadness, anger and happiness as emotions, however emotion and the constructs behind emotion is much more complex. Reeve (2009) agrees that emotion is difficult to define. I think this is probably because we all define experience emotion differently. Reeve (2009) argues that emotion is a psychological construct that unites and coordinates the four following aspects considered the four components of emotion;

  1. Feelings ; subjective experiences, phenomenological awareness, cognition
  2. Bodily arousal; you can’t experience an emotion without a physiological marker, for example increased heart rate, blood pressure
  3. Social-expressive; how emotions are physically expressed in public
  4. Sense of purpose; how emotion is connected to motivation. How emotions guides and energises behaviour.

Overall, Reeve (2009) defines an emotion as a short lived-feeling-purposive-expressive phenomenon that help us adapt to the opportunities and challenges we face during important life events.

What causes an emotion? This question could create quite a lengthy discussion. Essentially, many things cause emotion. Numerous viewpoints have been discussed in relation to this question; for example biological, psychoevoluntionary, developmental, cognitive, psychoanalytical, biological and sociological (Reeve. 2009). However, what causes emotion is largely centred on one debate: biology versus cognition. What this debate asks whether emotions are primarily biological or primarily a cognitive experience (Reeve, 2009). The biological approach states that emotions emanate from a causal biological core (Reeve, 2009). While in contrast, the cognitive approach states that emotions should emanate from causal mental events.

How many emotions are there?

The biological perspective asserts there are 2 to 10 basic emotions, while the cognitive perspective considers the number of emotions to be far more diverse

In regards to this question, I agree with Reeve (2009) and the notion that the answer to this question will depend on one’s perspective. Again, the biological and cognitive perspectives come in to play. According to the biological perspective, we possess somewhere between 2 and 10 basic emotions. While according to the cognitive perspective, we possess a far richer and diverse emotional range than just basic emotions.

What good are emotions? I found this question most interesting when considering its answer. Emotions are evident in every day life. As human beings, we are interested in others’ emotions and are constantly expressing our own. In addition, emotions are related to the many stresses, challenges and joys we experience in life. Hence, emotions should assist in dealing with such situations. Reeve (2009) agrees that emotions serve as effective coping skills when dealing with various life stresses. For instance, the emotion of sadness can be triggered by the loss of a valued person, the emotional behaviour would involve crying for help, and the function of emotion would result in a reunion (Reeve, 2009). I agree with this idea, however maybe not this specific example. I consider sadness to be a coping mechanism for any emotional or traumatic stress in life, as it allows you to vent and work through the situations. I certainly feel much better after a big cry during hard times. Furthermore, emotions are considered effective social mechanisms. Most importantly, emotions communicate how we are feeling to others. Most of the time we don’t need to ask how others are feeling, it is simply evident through the various ways emotion is expressed, such as facial expression or body language.

What is the relationship between emotion and mood? Emotions and mood arise from different causes. Emotions come about from significant life events and from appraisals of their significance to our well-being. In contrast, moods come about from processes that are nonspecific and are often unknown (Reeve, 2009). Further, emotions are specific experiences; mood is related to general affect.

Relationship between motivation and emotion Emotions relate to motivation in two ways. First, emotions are one type of motive, as emotions energise and direct behaviour (Reeve, 2009). Basically, emotions guide you towards and steer you away from engaging in a particular behaviour. The emotions you experience are motivational agents themselves. Anger for example energises subjective, physiological, hormonal and muscular resources to achieve a particular goal, like overcoming an obstacle (Reeve, 2009). Second, emotions serve as an ongoing “readout” organisation which indicates how well or how inadequately an individual


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons Publications

Week Ten[edit]

Aspects of Emotion[edit]

Week ten covered aspects of emotion. Three primary aspects were discussed; biological, cognitive and socials and cultural aspects. Overall, the biological perspective of emotion argues that physiological states come first, then emotion. This is the essential thought of how individuals make sense of biological states with emotional states. This fits nicely with the James-Lange theory of emotion, one of the strongest viewpoints of emotions, the suggestion that bodily changes do not follow the emotional experience; instead, that emotional experience follows and depends on our bodily responses and changes (Reeve, 2009). Stimulus --> Bodily reaction --> Emotion.

In some ways more than others I can agree and relate to this viewpoint. The textbook uses the example of the physiological responses to a sudden cold shower – increased heart rate, quickened breath and widened eyes, ultimately causing shock. In this instance, James Lange’s theory suggests that the emotional experience is a person’s way of making sense of each different pattern of bodily reaction. Thus, if the bodily changes did not occur, the emotion of shock would not occur. I do agree with this example, it’s quite obvious really – if an individual did not experience the sudden shower, the emotion of shock simply wouldn’t have been experienced. However, for emotions such as embarrassment I don’t see how this theory applies. For instance, when I feel embarrassment, my face instantly turns red to the point that I feel flushed and hot. Here, the emotion definitely comes first before the physiological reaction. However, maybe I feel more embarrassment because of the physiological reaction of blushing?? Now I’ve just confused myself!

a boy expressing the emotion of joy

In contrast, I agree and find the differential emotions theory quite interesting. This theory focuses on the following principles.

  • Ten emotions constitute the principal motivation system for human beings
  • Unique feeling: each emotion has its own unique subjective, phenomenological quality
  • Unique expression: each emotion has its own unique facial-expressive pattern
  • Unique neural activity: each emotion has its own specific rate of neural firing that activates it
  • Unique purpose/motivation: each emotion generate distinctive motivational properties and serves adaptive functions

The ten primary emotions included in the differential emotions theory include: interest – joy – surprise – fear – anger – disgust – distress – contempt – shame – guilt.

I particularly found interesting the last point of this theory that these 10 chief emotions act as motivation systems that prepare an individual for acting in adaptive ways (Reeve, 2009). Each of these emotions carries very distinct patterns of behaviour. For instance, the emotion of sadness provides an individual with an organised heuristic to deal with life difficulties or problems, where fear or anger could assist when dealing with confrontation. The facial feedback hypothesis, another biological aspect I found quite interesting, states that the subjective aspects of emotion arise from feeling produced by;

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

It seems hard to believe, which is why many who are introduced to this hypothesis are sceptical. However, quite a lot of literature suggests that this phenomenon does occur. For instance, Nelson (2008) talks the simple acts of smiling and laughing as a treatment for depression. A treatment discussed by Cliff Kuhn M.D. (Nelson, 2008) focuses on the fact that the “natural medicine of humour” is enough to help ease anxiety and depression. Smiling is thought to be effective by changing your psychological and physiological state.

Nelson (2008) provides a list of activities that individuals can do themselves to increase smiling throughout their day;

  • Stretch your smile muscles each morning while you brush your teeth
  • Practice saying everything with a smile, like Gary Cooper told the bad guy in The Virginian
  • Surround yourself with as many personal props or cues that stimulate your thoughts to smile
  • Develop an internal "smile file" of images and thoughts which you can recall at any time, regardless of your circumstances

Overall, this was an interesting website if you have time to have a look.

Following the biological aspects of emotion, cognitive and socio cultural aspects were discussed. On the whole, I found the biological aspects more interesting, which is usually not the case for me. What I understand and gained from the cognitive aspects of emotion are as follows;

The predominant features of the cognitive aspects of emotion include appraisals, emotional knowledge and attributions. The general notion of appraisals in relation to emotion is that without appraisals, emotion simply would not occur. So, an appraisal itself causes an emotion not the event.

Situation (life event) --> Appraisal (Good or bad) --> Emotion (Liking or disliking)--> Action (Approach vs. withdrawal). Arnold’s Appraisal Theory of Emotion

Emotion knowledge is about what you know about emotions. For example, words that allows you to identify and label them. In addition, a person’s is the number of emotion he or she can distinguish or identify – this seems to grow and you grow older and encounter more life experiences. Attributions are the causal explanation to explain why an outcome occurred (Reeve, 2009). In relation to emotion, the attributional theory of emotion formulated by Bernard Weiner focuses on post-outcome attributions to explain when and why people experience pride, gratitude, or hope following positive outcomes and guilt, shame, anger, and pity following negative outcomes (Reeve, 2009). The social and cultural aspect of emotion focuses on emotion knowledge, expression management and emotion management. I can relate particularly to the emotion knowledge feature; that other people and cultures generally instruct us about the causes of our emotions. Emotions are social events; individuals share narratives of the emotional aspect of their day-to-day lives. I encounter this quite a lot, from both perspectives. I am going through something difficult, or just want to vent about something I will find a good friend to do this with, and vice versa. This helps you and others to interpret and deal with your emotions.


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons Publications

Nelson, A. (2008). Fake it till you make it: can smiling improve mental state? Retrieved from:

Tutorial four[edit]

Emotions exercise

During tutorials this week we split in to small groups and participated in a Q-sort exercise. The task was to sort approximately 150 emotions in to categories. This was a relatively difficult exercise as first, as we all have different definitions of what cetgorises an emotion. In the end, we came up with the following categories; sad, anger, fearful, surprise, interest, happy and disgust.

Q-sort exercise

Week Eleven[edit]

Personality, motivation and emotion[edit]

Week eleven covered personality in relation to motivation and emotion. The lecture opened with a proposed question; why do people have different motivational and emotional states even when in the same situation? Could this be the result of certain personality traits? Do personality traits cause people to react differently to different situations? Do personality traits cause people to approach or avoid certain situations? I definitely agree with all of these situations. Take the example of a party. Some people have the time of their lives at parties, while others experience anxiety at the thought of the social interaction at parties. Certain personality traits could be responsible for such behaviour. However, other factors could also contribute to our emotional rections in similar situations.

According to the "Big 5" (NEOAC) personality traits are thought in particular to influence a person's motivational and emotional behaviour. The lecture this week outlined that extraverts tend to have a greater sociability, social dominance and venturesomeness compared to introverts. Further, Neurotics tend to have a greater capacity to experience negative emotions, are generally eager to avoid punishing situations.

Individuals high in sensation seeking enjoy adventurous and exciting experiences such as sky diing

One personality characteristic that is not included in the "Big 5" is sensation seeking. I found the concept of sensation seeking quite interesting. Sensation seeking is the personality characteristic connected to arousal and reactivity (Reeve, 2009). Someone high in sensation seeking prefers a continual external supply of brain stimulation, becomes bored with routine, and is constantly searching for ways to increase arousal through exciting experiences (Reeve, 2009). One example of a sensation seeking would be a person who enjoys adventurous activities such as sky diving or bungy jumping, and regularly takes part in them. In contrast, a person low in sensation seeking prefers less brain stimulation and tolerates routine relatively well (Reeve, 2009). When considering these defintions, I would rate myself as a low sensation seeker. I do enjoy adventurous activities at times - I've been skydiving and it was great! - however I don't think I could regularly partake in activities such as skydiving. I imagine I would become exhausted quite quickly. The lecture also brought up the notion that sensation seeking could hekp to explain some problem behaviours, such as risk taking, gambling, drug use and fast driving.

Another aspect of this week's content that I found really interesting was arousal, particularly the study conducted by Heron investigating the effects of sensory deprivation. In this study, participants were to stay in an unchanging environment, with time out for meals and bathroom breaks. In relation to sensory, participants wore cotton gloves with long cardboard forearm cuffs. Essentially, there was zero stimulation throughout the entire study. The majority of participants lasted around 2 to 3 days in the study, with the longest being 6 days. Interestingly, cognitive ability was impaired fro some time after the study and some participants reported hearing sounds and hallucinations. Results from this study indicate that the human brain and nerous syste, prefer continual to moderate levels of stimulation at all times.


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons Publications

Week Twelve[edit]

Unconscious Motivation[edit]

Week 12 covered unconscious motivation. Unconscious motivation is the concept that motivation can arise from a source that comes from outside of your conscious awareness. This is quite an interesting concept. I was merely interested in this topic simply by the name “unconscious motivation”. Just how much of our unconscious motivates what we do in our daily lives? The notion that individuals have motives and intentions that comes from the outside of their everyday awareness is generally accepted today.

Unconscious motivation is primarily centred on psychodynamic principles rather than the traditional Freudian principles within the psychoanalytic approach. Before beginning it is important to make the distinction between the two approaches. What’s the difference between the psychoanalytic and psychodynamic approaches?

A psychoanalytic approach remains committed to the traditional Freudian principles such as the dual-instinct theory. The dual instinct theory proposes that human beings have two instincts; instinct for life (EROS) involving sex and nurturance and instinct for death (THANATOS) involving aggressions to self and others. In contrast the psychodynamic approach is focused on the study of dynamic unconscious mental processes (Reeve, 2009). There is a strong emphasis on the unconscious. Four postulates define psychodynamic theory;

  1. The unconscious; that much of mental life is unconscious
  2. Psychodynamics; mental processes operate in parallel with one another
  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

(Reeve, 2009: p 396).

Two more highly important aspects of the psychodynamic approach include repression and suppression. Repression is the process of forgetting information and an experience by ways that are unconscious. Suppression is the process of removing a thought from attention by ways that are conscious, intentional and deliberate. Personally, I think repression is quite an accurate representation of unconscious motivation. Repression of uncomfortable or traumatic memories seems to be a common occurrence for many individuals. However, simply repressing such memories doesn’t mean that they won’t continue to influence your behaviour.

Another interesting concept within unconscious motivation is subliminal motivation. Subliminal motivation involves taking in sensory input without being aware, for instance images and smells. Subliminal motivation is thought to have significant emotional effects. Subliminal information was once thought to be effective within advertising (Reeve, 2009). However, it seems that people don’t always act on information subliminally portrayed to them.

Essentially, unconscious mental processes such as prejudice, depression, thought suppression, defence mechanisms, can be studied both inside and outside of the Freudian approach.


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons Publications

Week Thirteen[edit]

Growth Motivation and Positive Psychology[edit]

Week thirteen covered growth motivation and positive psychology. Positive psychology is a new field for me most likely because it is a relatively new field in psychology. However I have found the concepts behind positive psychology quite interesting this semester.

Holism and Positive Psychology

Holism, stemming from earlier works surrounding behaviourism stresses that a human being is best understood as an integrated, organised whole instead of a series of differential parts (Reeve, 2009).

Furthermore, holism stresses “top-down” master motives rather than “bottom-up”, for instance the self and its strivings toward fulfilment.
Positive psychology aims to actualize the potential within everybody

Positive psychology, originally founded by Martin Seligman during the 1990’s, pays particular attention to the proactive building of personal strengths and competencies individuals can have. Furthermore, positive psychology looks in to how individuals can use certain strengths and competencies. Overall, positive psychology aims to make people stronger and more productive seeks to actualize the potential within us. Positive psychology has recently taken off in Australia, with the “Happiness Institute” as a prime example. The Happiness Institute, which readily applies positive psychology principles, has an overall aim of teaching as many people as possible to be happier. Strategies used to enhance happiness through positive psychology include developing and strengthening optimistic thinking, life control, mediation and relaxation skills, personal strengths, healthy living and intimate relationships (The Happiness Institute, 2010).

Self actualization The concept of positive psychology ties neatly in to self actualization, proposed by Maslow within his hierarchy of needs (mentioned earlier in this e-portfolio). According to Reeve (2009: p 241), two vital components of self actualization are the processes of autonomy and openness to experience. Autonomy means moving away from one’s self and to regulate one’s own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours (Reeve, 2009). Openness means receiving information such that is neither repressed, ignored, or filtered, nor distorted by wishes, fears, or past experiences (Reeve, 2009: p 421)


Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons Publications

The Happiness Institute (2010). Retrieved from:

Week Fourteen[edit]

Review and Conclusion[edit]

This week covered a review of the content covered throughout the semester and discussion of our general thoughts about the unit.

Overall, I've found this unit quite interesting. Both motivation and emotion are important aspects of our lives. Motivation in particular is important as it drives us to "do what we do" in every day life. Hence, I found it valuable to learn about the theories and processes behind these aspects.

My own review and feedback[edit]

What has been the single most valuable practical benefit you gained in this course?

Completing the e-portfolio was beneficial in that it helped build my reflecting skills and my ability to voice my thoughts. Although it was difficult to grasp at first, I've enjoyed learning how to make a wikiversity page and Screenr recording. I feel these are interesting and valuable skill to have that will come in handy.

What worked for you?

I really enjoyed putting together the textbook chapter. I thought it was a good idea that we were able to choose our own topics that interested us. It made it a lot easier to put as much effort in as I did.

What didn't work so well for you?

I didn't enjoy reflecting as much. Although this assessment task built my reflecting skills, I found that they took a long time to complete, as as the semester got busier it became harder to produce good quality reflections.

How could this unit be improved?

Similar to other suggestions, I think it would be helpful to complete a "mini course" in wikipedia skills. This would be a great help when completing the textbook chapter assessment task.