Humanistic Approaches to Positive Growth and Self-Acceptance

Motivation and Emotion


500px-Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needsMotivation: Set of factors that activate, direct, and maintain behavior, usually toward a goal: Specific need of desire, hunger, thirst, or achievement that prompts goal directed behavior

Emotion: Subjective feeling including arousal, cognitions, and expressions: feelings such as fear, joy, or surprise that underlies behavior

Theories and Concepts of Motivation:

  • Motivation and Behavior
  • Theories and Concepts of Emotion
  • Critical Thinking about Motivation and Emotion

Biological Theories:

  • Instinct
  • Drive Reduction
  • Arousal

Perspectives on Motivation:

– Instinct

  • Inborn, unlearned, goal directed behavior that is characteristic of an entire species
  • Human behavior is not easily explained by instincts because:

–Important Human behavior is learned

–Human behavior is rarely inflexible

Drive Reduction Theory DRIVE

  • Internal tensions “push” toward satisfying basic needs
  • State of tension caused by bodily needs
  • Theory is that motivated behavior is an attempt to reduce a drive and return the body to homeostasis
  • Primary Drive: unlearned drive such as hunger based on a physiological state
  • Secondary Drive: learned drive such as ambition

Arousal Theory

  • Motivated to seek an optimal level of arousal for a given moment
  • Yerkes-Dodson Law: there is an optimal level or arousal for best performance on any task
  • The more complex the task, the lower the level of arousal that can be tolerated without interfering with performance


Optimal Level of Arousal:  People seek an optimal level of arousal that maximizes their performance

Psychosocial Theories:

– Incentives

Motivation that results from the “pull” of external environmental stimuli: External stimuli that prompts goal directed behavior, often, we are unaware of the incentive, for example: Aroma of food may cause us to eat even when we are not hungry, advertisements that lead us to buy a product we do not necessarily need

– Cognitive

  • Motivation affected by attributions and expectations:
  • Intrinsic motivation: motivation for a behavior is the behavior itself, example children enjoy playing on the swing set
  • Extrinsic motivation: Behavior is performed in order to obtain a reward or to avoid punishment: cash incentives at work

Bio-Psychosocial Theories:maslow.png

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

  • Interaction of biological, psychological, and social needs; lower motives (physiological andsafety) must be met before higher needs (belonging, self-esteem)

Motivation and Behavior – Hunger and Thirst

Motivation and Behavior – Achievement

  • High need for achievement
  • Prefers moderately difficult tasks
  • Prefers clear goals with competent feedback
  • Competitive
  • Prefers responsibility
  • Persistent
  • More Accomplished


Three Components of Emotion

  • Physiological: Arousal comes from the brain, particularly the limbic and autonomic nervous system
  • Cognitive: Thoughts, values, and expectations
  • Behavioral: Expressions, gestures, and body position


  • Fear
  • Happiness
  • Surprise
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Anticipation
  • Joy
  • Acceptance

Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Motivation:


Intrinsic rewards come from within – no monetary value.

Extrinsic rewards may lower interest and motivation.

Emotional Intelligence (EI): Is the ability to know and manage one’s emotions, empathize, and maintain satisfying relationships.


Bernstein, D.A. & Nash, P.W. (2008). Essentials of psychology (4th ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Feldman, R. (2013). Essentials of understanding psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W. (2012), Personality: classic theories and modern research (5th ed). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.

McGraw-Hill.McGraw Hill Higher Education (2013), The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.

Ryckman, R. M. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

18 thoughts on “Motivation and Emotion

  1. Read and a little surprised , I always thought motivation was connected to our emotions so I’d like to more in detail about this topic to better understand the differences..


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