AP Psych Chapter 08: Motivation and Emotion


Defining Motivation

Motivation refers to the various physiological and psychological factors that cause us to act in a specific way at a particular time.

Three characteristics of motivation:

  1. Energized or engaged in some activity
  2. Direct your energies towards reaching a specific goal
  3. Have differing intensities of feelings about reaching that goal

Extrinsic motivation involves engaging in certain activities or behaviors that either reduce biological needs or help us obtain incentives or external rewards.


Theories on Motivation

Instinct Approaches to Motivation

  • Instincts are the biologically determined and innate patterns of behavior that exist in both people and animals.
  • Instinct approach is an approach to motivation that assumes people are governed by instincts similar to those of animals.  Eventually there were over 6,000 identified instincts to explain every kind of human motivation.  This theory just labeled instincts and didn’t explain why they occurred.
  • Fixed action pattern is an innate biological force that predisposes an organism to behave in a fixed way in the presence of a specific environmental condition.

Drive Reduction Theory of Motivation

  • Need is a requirement of some material (such as food or water) that is essential for survival of the organism.
  • Drive is a psychological tension and physical arousal arising when there is a need that motivates the organism to act in order to fulfill the need and reduce the tension.
  • Drive-reduction theory is an approach to motivation that assumes behavior arises from physiological needs that cause internal drives to push the organism to satisfy the need and reduce tension and arousal.
  • Primary drives are those drives that involve needs of the body such as hunger and thirst.
  • Acquired (secondary) drives are those drives that are learned through experience or conditioning, such as the need for money or social approval.
  • Homeostasis is the tendency of the body to maintain a steady state.

Three Types of Needs

  • Need for achievement (nAch) is a need that involves a strong desire to succeed in attaining goals, not only realistic ones but also challenging ones.
  • Need for affiliation (nAff) is the need for friendly social interactions and relationships with others.
  • Need for power (nPow) is the need to have control or influence over others.

Arousal Approach to Motivation

  • Stimulus motive is a motive that appears to be unlearned but causes an increase in stimulation, such as curiosity.
  • Arousal theory is theory of motivation in which people are said to have an optimal (best or ideal) level of tension that they seek to maintain by increasing or decreasing stimulation.
  • Yerkes-Dodson law is a rule stating performance is related to arousal; moderate levels of arousal lead to better performance than do levels of arousal that are too low or too high.  This effect varies with the difficulty of the task: easy tasks require a high-moderate level while more difficult tasks require a low-moderate level.
  • Sensation seeker is someone who needs more arousal than the average person.

Incentive Approaches to Motivation

  • Incentives are things that attract or lure people into action.
  • Incentive approaches are theories of motivation in which behavior is explained as a response to the external stimulus and its rewarding properties.
  • Expectancy-value theories are incentive theories that assume the actions of humans cannot be predicted or fully understood without understanding the beliefs, values, and the importance that a person attaches to those beliefs and values at any given moment in time.

Self-Determination Theory of Motivation

  • Self-determination theory (SDT) is a theory of human motivation in which the social context of an action has an effect on the type of motivation existing for the action.
  • Intrinsic motivation is a type of motivation in which a person performs an action because the act itself is rewarding or satisfying in some internal manner. People are motivated by the fact they love what they are doing and are not in it for any type of material reward.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an ascending order in which biological needs are placed at the bottom and social needs at the top.  This hierarchy indicates that we satisfy our biological needs before we satisfy our social needs.  Founded by Abraham Maslow, the father of humanistic approach.

  1. Physiological needs – food, water, sex, and sleep.
  2. Safety needs – protection from harm.
  3. Love and belongingness – affiliation with others and acceptance by others.
  4. Esteem needs – achievement, competency, gaining approval and recognition.
  5. Self-actualization – fulfillment of one’s unique potential.  Very few people ever achieve this and even if they do then it isn’t for very long.

Advantage of Maslow’s hierarchy

  • It integrates biological and social needs into a single framework and sets up a system of priorities for satisfying various needs.

Disadvantage of Maslow’s hierarchy

  • Difficult to verify whether his particular order of needs is accurate or how to assess some of his needs (especially self-actualization).
  • People give different priorities to different needs.

Peak experiences according to Maslow, times in a person’s life during which self-actualization is temporarily achieved.


Hunger: Bodily Causes

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to control the levels of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the body by reducing the level of glucose in the bloodstream.

Glucagons are hormones that are secreted by the pancreas to control the levels of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the body by increasing the level of glucose in the bloodstream.

Calorie is a measure of how much energy food contains.

Weight set point/ideal weight is the particular level of weight that the body tries to maintain.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the rate at which the body burns energy when the organism is resting.  As a human gets older their metabolic rates slow down.


Hunger: Hunger Factors

Biological hunger factors come from physiological changes in blood chemistry and signals from digestive organs that provide feedback to the brain, which, in turn, triggers us to eat or stop eating.

  • Leptin is a hormone that, when released into the bloodstream, signals the hypothalamus that the body has had enough food and reduces the appetite while increasing the feeling of being full.

Psychosocial hunger factor come from learned associations between food and other stimuli, such as snacking while watching television; socio-cultural influences such as to be thin; and various personality problems, such as depression, dislike of body image, or low self-esteem.

  • It can also include cultural customs, food preferences, and the idea of “comfort” food.
  • Some people may respond to the anticipation of eating by producing an insulin response, increasing the risk of obesity.
  • Learned associations means we often eat not because we’re hungry but because it’s “lunchtime,” or because food smells good, or because our friends are eating.

Genetic hunger factors come from inherited instructions found in our gene.

  • These instructions determine the number of fat cells or metabolic rates of burning off the body’s fuel, which push us towards being normal, overweight, or underweight.


Eating Problems

Obesity is a condition in which the body weight of a person is 20 percent or more over the ideal body weight for that person’s height (actual percentages vary across definitions).

Anorexia nervosa is a condition in which a person reduces eating to the point that a weight loss of 15 percent below the ideal body weight or more occurs.

Bulimia is a condition in which a person develops a cycle of “binging” or overeating enormous amounts of food at one sitting, and “purging” or deliberately vomiting after eating.


Sexual Behavior Three Factors

Genetic sex factors are inherited instructions for the development of sexual organs, the secretion of sex hormones, and the wiring of the neural circuits that control sexual reflexes.

Biological sex factors are the action of sex hormones, which are involved in secondary sexual characteristics (facial hair, breasts), sexual motivation (more so in animals than in humans), and development of ova and sperm.

Psychological sex factors play a role in developing a sexual or gender identity, gender role, and sexual orientation.


Sexual Behavior

Gender identity (aka sexual identity) refers to the individual’s subjective experience and feelings of being either a male or female.  How the individual is treated upon birth helps towards establishing a sexual identity that meets that societies expectation.

Gender roles (aka sex roles) refer to traditional or stereotypic behaviors, attitudes, and personality traits that society designates as masculine or feminine.  Greatly influence how we think and behave.  Starts between the ages of 3-4 which clothing, toys, etc.

  • Boys are taught to be competitive and play sports.
  • Girls are taught to focus on emotions, physical appearance, and share personal experiences.

Sexual orientation (sexual preference) refers to either a person is sexually attracted to his/her own sex or the opposite or both.

  • Homosexual orientation is sexually attraction and arousal by a person of the same sex.
  • Bisexual orientation is sexually attraction and arousal by a person of either sex.
  • Heterosexual orientation is sexually attraction and arousal by a person of the opposite sexual.



Defining Emotion

Emotion is the “feeling” aspect of consciousness, characterized by a certain physical arousal, a certain behavior that reveals the emotion to the outside world, and an inner awareness of feelings.

  • When a person has an emotional response, there is an arousal in the sympathetic system.  Within the brain, the amygdala is most connected to emotion.  Positive feelings are associated with the left frontal lobes while negative feelings are associated with the right side.

Facial Expressions

  • Adults are better able to identify the emotions connected to facial expressions than children.
  • Emotion is understood through facial expressions.  It is very difficult to judge emotion solely on body language.
  • Facial expressions can vary across cultures but certain expressions do appear to be universal.  Darwin believed that facial expressions were a product of evolution.  Even children blind from birth produce appropriate facial expressions for particular situations.
  • The seven types of facial expressions: anger, fear, disgust, happiness, surprise, sadness, and contempt.
  • Display rules are learned ways of controlling displays of emotion in social settings.  Cultural rules for displaying emotion.  For example, Japanese people generally do not express their emotions publicly.  Another example, American boys are taught not to talk about their feelings while with girls it is encouraged.
  • Labeling an emotion is referred to as the “cognitive element.”


Theories on Emotion

Common Sense Theory of Emotion

  • Common Sense Theory of Emotion states a stimulus leads to an emotion, which then leads to bodily arousal.  For example: I felt angry (emotion), so I yelled at him (behavior).  Theory accepted by Freud.

(cause)         (effect)
emotion → behavior

James-Lange Theory of Emotion

  • James-Lange Theory of Emotion is a theory in which a physiological reaction leads to the labeling of an emotion.  This theory challenges the Common Sense Theory and was partially developed by William James.  For example: I yelled at him (behavior), which really got my adrenaline pumped up (physiological arousal), and this intensified my anger (emotion).

(cause)                                                   (effect)
emotion → physiological arousal → behavior

Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion

  • Cannon-Bard theory of emotion is a theory in which the physiological reaction and the emotion are assumed to occur at the same time.

Cognitive Arousal Theory of Emotion

  • Cognitive arousal theory is a theory of emotion in which both the physical arousal and the labeling of that arousal based on cues from the environment must occur before the emotion is experienced.  It is the leading contemporary approach.
  • Schachter verified that putting people into frustrating situations, or having someone else model an emotion could intensify the emotional experiences reported by the subjects.

Cognitive Mediational Theory

  • Cognitive-mediational theory is a theory of emotion in which a stimulus must be interpreted (appraised) by a person in order to result in a physical response and an emotional reaction.


Schacter and Singer’s Study of Emotion

Participants who were exposed to the “angry” man interpreted their physical arousal as anger

Participants who were exposed to the “happy” man interpreted their physical arousal as happiness.


Facial Feedback Hypothesis

Facial feedback hypothesis is a theory of emotion that assumes that facial expressions provide feedback to the brain concerning the emotion being expressed, which in turn causes and intensifies the emotion.


Positive Psychology Movement

Positive psychology movement is a viewpoint that recommends shifting the focus of psychology away from the negative aspects to a more positive focus on strengths, well-being, and the pursuit of happiness.