Back To CoursePsychology: High School
30 chapters | 285 lessons
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Christine is an instructional designer, educator, and writer with a particular interest in the social sciences and American studies.
What if I told you that the purpose of you watching this video lesson today is simply to understand a new topic, and that even if you have to watch it more than once, or take the quiz multiple times, your effort will help you to master this information for later use?
Now, what if I told you that your purpose in watching this video lesson is something else entirely? Instead, I tell you that the number of questions you get right on the quiz the very first time will be compared with other students, only a few of whom will succeed, and that the results will be posted on the website. (Don't worry, that's not actually going to happen!)
This lesson looks at how different motivations, such as learning the information in the first example or competing against others in the second, affect our perceptions. We'll look at the impact on learning and problem solving, as well as how we go about making decisions. You'll also consider where emotions fit into the picture.
In the mid-2000s, educational psychology researchers Bereby-Meyer and Kaplan published a journal article detailing their experiments involving children who were given instructions with two different types of motivation.
They found that when a group of sixth graders was told that the purpose of a task was to learn how to do something, even if they made mistakes, they were able to apply the new information to other tasks later on. In short, they got better at the type of problem solving that they were taught how to do.
However, when a group of students was told instead that the purpose of the activity was to see which students had greater abilities, the students weren't quite as good at applying their new-found knowledge to the similar task. In short, they didn't improve on their problem solving like in the other scenario.
This experiment provides a good example of how being oriented toward a certain type of goal affects how we behave. In other words, what motivates us affects how we perceive situations and how we act, and even how well we learn.
In the experiment I just described, students were told what the motivation was before they began the task. But a person can also have this motivation as a tendency in their own life, a way they are oriented to the world around them.
Those who lean more toward wanting to learn in order to master a topic, even if this means some mistakes along the way, can be described as focused on mastery goals. Those who instead lean toward performing in order to demonstrate that they are capable compared with others can be described as focused more on performance goals. Both types of goals play a role in our lives, but being motivated more by one type might affect how you approach situations, particularly how young people in school settings end up learning.
Think about your own tendencies. Do you worry more about appearing to do poorly than actually retaining what you learn? Or do you try and try again if you don't get something the first time?
Students with mastery goal orientation are more likely to see failure as part of the process of learning, and to see mistakes as inevitable. They often seek out challenges as a result.
Those with greater performance goal orientation are more likely to want praise from others, and to perform easier tasks that they are likely to get the first time, rather than have to make mistakes in order to learn. They may even be more likely to want to cheat on a test since having the answers will ensure the appearance of success.
Your own personal tendencies may also be affected by other factors such as what others around you expect or what's at stake when you take a particular test, for instance.
It's not just young people that are affected by having different motivations. Imagine a woman who goes to her doctor to address a medical condition, like a pain in her hip. The doctor prescribes a medication, but mentions that a rare side effect is that she could experience dizziness.
If the woman hates the slightest thought of getting dizzy, even more than she hates the pain in her hip, she may be resistant to taking that medication even if it's important to her health. Let's say that she tells the doctor she will take it, yet she still easily forgets to stay on her medication schedule. She's not motivated to take it because she fears the potential side effect, and this affects her ability to recall when she is supposed to take the medication.
Her emotions may also play a role in other ways. She may feel worried about how the doctor will perceive her if she reports that she hasn't been taking the medication like she should. This may lead her to avoid the doctor. She could even perceive the pain in her hip as less severe, even if it's still the same as it was before she went to the doctor.
The woman not taking her medication is one example of how emotions and motivation can affect our perception of what's going on around us and influence how well we stick with guidelines for our health, for instance.
Emotions can impact other problematic behaviors, like addictions. For instance, a person who has problems with alcohol may have a relapse when upset or even when there is something to celebrate. Or a person may start smoking again when under a lot of strain and stress, or when around others who are smoking in a group, out of a desire to feel connected to them.
Yet emotions play a role in productive behaviors, too. An employee excited about a project they're working on may be willing to put in extra hours if they're motivated to reach a goal, or a student who loves a certain topic in class may study more than is necessary to get a good grade. As you go about the rest of your day, consider what motivates you to behave the way you do and how emotions also influence what you do next.
This lesson explored how motivation and emotion affect an individual's perceptions. We used the example of students who were given two different reasons why they were supposed to learn a task. Those who were guided toward wanting to learn in order to master a topic were focused on mastery goals, while those told they were performing in order to demonstrate that they are capable compared with others were focused on performance goals.
Emotions also play a role in how we perceive the world around us. These can affect us in situations where we must make decisions about our life and can even influence addictive behaviors.
When you are done, you should be able to:
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Back To CoursePsychology: High School
30 chapters | 285 lessons