Motivation and Emotion (PSYL10147)

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Motivation and Emotion (PSYL10147)


Why do we do what we do, and why do we feel what we feel? At the present time, the study of motivation and emotion is characterized by an enormous breadth of content, several unique methodological and statistical challenges, and meta-theories around which various empirical findings are integrated and organized.

In this course, we will cover the major theoretical perspectives and methodologies related to the scientific study of motivation and emotion. With an emphasis on empirical evidence, we will focus on how emotional states contribute to the expression of motivated goal-directed behaviors, and vice versa. We will examine these processes from a variety of psychological perspectives (e.g., biological, cognitive, developmental, social). This course will provide you with tools for understanding and regulating motivation and emotion, both intra- and interpersonally.

Each week we will explore a different aspect of motivation and emotion and how these processes relate to human psychology. Classes will consist of a mixture of lectures, large and small group discussions, and other activities. Assessments will emphasize independent learning, critical analysis, writing skills, and communication with different audiences.


Lecture Title and Description Recommended Reading (the reading list will be updated throughout the semester)
Lecture 1: Introduction to Motivation and Emotion

In this lecture we will cover the broad significance of motivation and emotion in understanding human psychology, unifying themes in the study of motivation and emotion, and the scientific history of motivation and emotion.

Lecture 1:

Baumeister, R. F. (2016). Toward a general theory of motivation: Problems, challenges, opportunities, and the big picture. Motivation and Emotion, 40, 1-10.

Cofer, C. N., & Appley, M. H. (1964). Motivation in historical perspective. In C. N. Cofer & M. H. Appley (Eds.), Motivation: Theory and research (pp. 19-55). New York, NY: Wiley.

James, W. (1884). What is an emotion? Mind, 9, 188-205.

Lecture 2: The Motivated and Emotional Brain

In this lecture we will discuss the neural basis of motivation and emotion, brain structures involved in motivation and emotion, and hormones.

Lecture 2:

Berridge, K. C. (2004). Motivational concepts in behavioral neuroscience. Physiology and Behavior, 81, 179-209.

Craig, A. D. (2009). How do you feel—now? The anterior insula and human awareness. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 10, 59-70.

Dickerson, S. S., & Kemeny, M. E. (2004). Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 355-391.

Lecture 3: Needs

In this lecture we will cover fundamental physiological and psychological needs, social contexts that encourage need fulfilment, and the basics of regulation.

Lecture 3:

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497-529.

Jang, H., Reeve, J., & Deci E. L. (2010). Engaging students in learning activities: It is not autonomy support or structure but autonomy support and structure. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 588-600.

Pittman, T. S., & Zeigler, K. R. (2007). Basic human needs. In A. W. Kruglanski & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (2nd ed., pp. 473-489). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Lecture 4: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

In this lecture we will discuss incentives and reinforcement, the hidden cost of extrinsic rewards, and internalization and integration.

Lecture 4:

Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 627-668.

Keller, J., & Bless, H. (2008). Flow and regulatory compatibility: An experimental approach to the flow model of intrinsic motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 196-209.

Pavey, L., Greitemeyer, T., & Sparks, P. (2012). “I help because I want to, not because you tell me to”: Empathy increases autonomously motivated helping. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 681-689.

Lecture 5: Implicit Motives

In this lecture we will cover unconscious motivation, acquired social needs, and psychodynamics.

Lecture 5:

Aarts, H., Custers, R., & Marien H. (2008). Preparing and motivating behaviour outside of awareness. Science, 319, 1639.

Weiner, B. (1985). An attributional theory of achievement motivation and emotion. Psychological Review, 92, 548-573.

Westen, D. (1998). The scientific legacy of Sigmund Freud: Toward a psychodynamically informed psychological science. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 333-371.

Lecture 6: Goal Setting and Goal Striving

In this lecture we will discuss goal-related mindsets, goal engagement and disengagement, and cognitive dissonance.

Lecture 6:

Armor, D. A., & Taylor, S. E. (2003). The effects of mindset on behavior: Self-regulation in deliberative and implemental frames of mind. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 86-95.

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, 705-717.

Zajonc, R. B. (2017). The concepts of balance, congruity, and dissonance. In P. Suedfeld (Ed.), Attitude change: The competing views (pp. 63-85). New York, NY: Routledge.

Lecture 7: The Self and Its Endeavors

In this lecture we will cover the self-concept, individual empowerment and mastery, and personal control.

Lecture 7:

Inzlicht, M., Schmeichel, B. J., & Macrae, C. N. (2014). Why self-control seems (but may not be) limited. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18, 127-133.

Markus, H. (1977). Self-schemata and processing information about the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 63-78.

Ozer, E. M., & Bandura, A. (1990). Mechanisms governing empowerment effects: A self-efficacy analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 472-486.

Lecture 8: The Nature of Emotion

In this lecture we will discuss basic emotions, the causes and functions of emotion, and the biological, cognitive, and social aspects of emotion.

Lecture 8:

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

Izard, C. E. (2010). The many meanings/aspects of emotion: Definitions, functions, activation, and regulation. Emotion Review, 2, 363-370.

Rimé, B. (2009). Emotion elicits the social sharing of emotion: Theory and empirical review. Emotion Review, 1, 60-85.

Lecture 9: Complex Emotions and Emotional Processes

In this lecture we will cover cognitively complex emotions, emotional expression and suppression, and the dynamics of emotional experience over time.

Lecture 9:

Gross, J. J. (2002). Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology, 39, 281-291.

Ong, A. D., Zautra, A. J., & Finan, P. H. (2017). Inter- and intra-individual variation in emotional complexity: Methodological considerations and theoretical implications. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 15, 22-26.

Tangney, J. P., Stuewig, J., & Mashek, D. J. (2007). Moral emotions and moral behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 345-372.

Lecture 10: Applying Principles of Motivation and Emotion

In this lecture we will discuss personal growth, holism and well-being, and motivation- and emotion-relevant interventions.

Lecture 10:

Izard, C. E., King, K. A., Trentacosta, C. J., Morgan, J. K., Laurenceau, J.-P., Krauthamer-Ewing, E. S., & Finlon, K. J. (2008). Accelerating the development of emotion competence in Head Start children: Effects on adaptive and maladaptive behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 369-397.

Mattingly, B. A., & Lewandowski, G. W., Jr. (2013). The power of one: Benefits of individual self-expansion. Journal of Positive Psychology, 8, 12-22.

Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069-1081.


Learning Outcomes: 


 Examine motivation and emotion from an empirically-based, scholarly perspective, rather than from an intuitive or speculative perspective based solely on personal experience and observations.
 Understand a number of classical and contemporary theoretical frameworks and methodologies that characterize the scientific study of motivation and emotion.
 Recognize several ways in which motivational and emotional processes occur in daily life and evaluate situations relevant to motivation and emotion and make predictions about behavior.
 Identify critical questions that must be asked if a stronger, more complete, and more integrated science of motivation and emotion is to emerge, and develop an empirical project that could test these questions.
 Apply empirical findings related to motivation and emotion to solve real-world problems.


Additional Information: 


Detailed Assessment Information - 

Provided weekly in class in the form of brief discussion questions and other activities.

Feedback on the mid-term assessment will also feed forward to the final assessment by improving writing skills and understanding of the course material.


Elements Of Summative Assessment (With Weightings) - 

Mini Research Proposal (1000 words; 30%, mid-term)

This assessment requires students to develop a research question related to the science of motivation and emotion and to write a proposal designed to test this question empirically. This assessment involves integration of theoretical and methodological approaches covered in class, and requires students to think independently and analytically.

Applied Project (1000 words plus visual product; 70%, end of course)

This assessment requires students to use their knowledge of the psychology of motivation and emotion to solve a real-world problem of their choice in a 1000-word piece of writing. Students must also create a visual product (e.g., leaflet) to accompany their written component. This assessment involves deep comprehension and synthesis of course content, and requires students to think independently, creatively, and critically.


Relationship Between Assessment and Learning Outcomes - 

The mini research proposal assessment will help students identify major themes in the scientific study of motivation and emotion and translate these themes into novel and empirical research questions (LO 1-4). This assessment may also feed forward in terms of evidence-synthesis skills needed for the final applied project.

The applied project assessment will help students develop a deep understanding of empirical evidence related to the psychology of motivation and emotion and use their knowledge to solve real-world problems (LO 1-5). This assessment will also foster the ability to communicate effectively with different audiences (a necessary skill for many careers).