Motivation and Emotion


     I.               Definitions of Motivation and Emotion

Motivation refers to those factors that activate behavior and give it direction. Emotions are positive or negative feelings, generally in reaction to stimuli, that are accompanied by physiological arousal and related behavior.


   II.               Primary Motives: Biological Needs

A.  Homeostasis: Biological Thermostats

      Homeostasis refers to a process by which internal body mechanisms sense biological imbalances and stimulate actions to restore the proper balance.

B.   Hunger: The Regulation of Food intake

1.      Biological Regulation of Hunger

            The biological control center of hunger is the hypothalamus.

2.      Body Weight and the “Set Point”

Scientists have hypothesized that each of us has a different “set point” for body fat that determines when the ventromedial hypothalamus will initiate actions to reduce eating and increase metabolism.

3.      Specific Hungers

            Animals that have been deprived of protein, a specific vitamin, or fat will tend to eat greater quantities of foods containing that element when given a choice.

4.      Psychological Factors in Hunger

            Learning, emotions, and incentives all play roles in hunger.

C.   Thirst: The Regulation of Water Intake

1.      Biological Regulation of Thirst

                        A “drink” center and a “stop drinking” center are located in different sections of the hypothalamus.

2.      Psychological Factors in Thirst

                        The role of psychological factors in drinking (with the exception of beverages containing alcohol or stimulants) does not appear to be as large as in hunger.


III.               Psychological Motives

Psychological motives are motives not directly related to the biological survival of the individual or the species.

A.  Stimulus Motivation: Seeking Novel Stimulation

      We, and other animals, have an apparently inborn motive to seek new or changed experiences.

1.      Optimal Arousal Theory

            The optimal arousal theory refers to the apparent human need for a comfortable level of stimulation.


2.      Arousal and Performance: The Yerkes-Dodson Law

            The Yerkes-Dodson law states that effective performance is more likely if the level of arousal is suitable for the activity.

B.   Affiliation Motivation

      Affiliation motivation refers to the need to be with other people.

C.   Achievement motivation

      Achievement motivation refers to the psychological need for success in competitive situations.

D.  Solomon’s Opponent-Process Theory of Acquired Motives

      Solomon’s theory is based on the concepts of affective contrast and affective habituation.

E.   Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

      Intrinsic motivation is stimulated by the inherent nature of the activity; extrinsic motivation is stimulated by external rewards.

F.   Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

According to Maslow, lower-order needs must be met before higher-order needs will operate. Maslow believed that the highest need was for self-actualization. Most of us achieve full self-actualization.


IV.               Emotions

Psychologists have trouble agreeing on a standard definition of “emotion.”

A.  Three Theories of Emotion

1.      James-Lange Theory

            The James-Lange theory suggests that an emotional stimulus produces a bodily reaction, which then produces an emotional feeling.

2.      Cannon-Bard Theory

            The Cannon-Bard theory states that an emotional stimulus simultaneously produces both the emotional experience and the physiological arousal.

3.      Cognitive Theory

            Cognitive theory suggests there are two steps in the cognitive interpretation of emotion: the interpretation of incoming stimuli from the environment and the interpretation of stimuli from the body resulting from autonomic arousal.

B.   The Physiology of Emotion and Lie detectors

      In a lie-detector test, an individual is asked questions about a crime while physiological measurements are taken that indicate sympathetic arousal of the autonomic nervous system.

C.   Role of Learning and Culture in Emotions

      Many psychologists believe that the most basic emotions are inborn, but comparisons of different cultures reveal that learning plays an important role.

D.     The Pursuit of Happiness

      This section addresses those factors that can lead to increased happiness, and answers specific questions about what makes people happy and what does not.

E.   Human Diversity: Cultural Differences in Happiness

      It is clear that the citizens of some countries are much happier than citizens of other countries.


  V.               Aggression: Emotional and Motivational Aspects

Humans are an exceptionally aggressive species.

A.  Freud’s Instinct Theory: The Release of Aggressive Energy

      Freud suggested that all animals, including humans, are born with potent aggressive instincts that must be released in some way.

B.   Frustration-Aggression Theory

      The frustration-aggression theory states that aggression is a natural reaction to the frustration of important motives.

C.   Social Learning theory

      The social learning theory states that people are aggressive only if they have learned that it is to their benefit to be aggressive.

D.  Cognitive Theory of Aggression

      The cognitive theory of aggression attempts to explain both aggression between individual people and the continual wars between nations,