Ch 7: Motivation and Emotion

About This Chapter

We all have emotions, but few of us know how they're produced in the brain and body. Let's explore theories about how we experience emotion and motivation.

One of psychology's strengths as a discipline is its ability to take our seemingly subjective experiences and break them down into concrete processes. Psychologists who study emotion and motivation exemplify these efforts. We all know what it means subjectively to experience an emotion, or to want to undertake a particular activity - but very few of us can describe what's going on in our minds and bodies to produce these feelings and impulses.

Psychologists approach these questions from many unique viewpoints, which are covered in our video lessons. We'll take a look at psychologists who try to get to the bottom of emotional experience by categorizing emotions. These psychologists try to determine elemental emotions that can be combined to form more complex emotions; they also question whether these emotions are innate or learned from social experience.

In our lesson on theories of emotion, we'll follow psychologists who work on teasing apart our emotions and our bodily responses. There is some evidence to suggest that our emotions are caused by biological reactions; other research suggests that emotion and physical response might occur simultaneously. In a lesson on the fight or flight response, we examine how these questions apply to a single, well-documented phenomenon.

Next come two lessons on the effects of emotion on health and success. We examine what happens when people are stressed by stress and how positive psychology, which studies how happiness and optimism, can make us more likely to take on challenging and rewarding tasks.

Finally, we take a look at how physiological needs are related to motivation. In one lesson, we'll cover hunger and the motivation to eat as an in-depth example of this connection. In another, we'll introduce Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, a theory for explaining how motivation changes depending on the needs we've already fulfilled.

The study of motivation and emotion is a wide and varied field. From watching these videos, we hope you'll get a sense of the scope of the major questions and principles of this branch of psychology. You'll understand how physical experiences and needs affect emotional states, and how emotional states can improve or damage our health and success.

9 Lessons in Chapter 7: Motivation and Emotion
Introduction to Emotions

1. Introduction to Emotions

When railroad worker Phineas Gage's brain was injured in 1848, his emotions completely changed. Find out what parts of the brain affect your emotional intelligence and what made Phineas go from happy-go-lucky guy to crabby curmudgeon.

Categorizing Emotions

2. Categorizing Emotions

Have you ever wondered why you can react to danger before you even really realize it's there? Or why you can recognize an expression of happiness on someone's face, no matter where the person is from? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this lesson about the different types of emotions and how the brain processes them.

Theories of Emotion

3. Theories of Emotion

Have you ever wondered how your emotions are related to your physical reactions? Does your heart beat fast because you're excited, or are you excited because your heart is beating fast? Psychologists have taken a turn at figuring out how our physiological reactions are connected to emotions. Take a look at this lesson for more on the most important theories of emotion.

Fight or Flight Response

4. Fight or Flight Response

A squirrel caught in headlights or the cock that fights to the death? Do you know what makes us choose between freezing, running or fighting back? And what's happening inside of you all the while? This lesson answers all of your fight-or-flight questions.

Stressed by Stress

5. Stressed by Stress

Most people have to deal with stress on a regular basis. But do you know what it's really doing to your body? Learn more about the reasons behind feeling stressed as well as common strategies to not let the stress get to you.

Positive Psychology

6. Positive Psychology

There are folks who see the glass half-full and those who see if half-empty. But it's the same glass, so why does it matter what kind you are? Find out just how big of an impact your answer to this common question can have on how you live your life.

Intro to Motivation

7. Intro to Motivation

Motivation is a word we've all heard: whether we're asked if we're feeling motivated or, even, what our motivations are. Where does the desire to do something come from? This lesson presents and explains three of the main theories on motivation.


8. Hunger

Finding a way to address our hunger is one of the main motivators we have as living beings. But hunger isn't all about your stomach; your brain plays a key role in how you get the message that it's time to refuel. Watch this lesson for details on how hunger works from the brain's perspective.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

9. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Why is it that when some of our needs aren't met, it's almost impossible to concentrate on other ones? Psychologist Abraham Maslow spent his career looking for these answers. Watch this lesson to learn about some of his most important conclusions.

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