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Chapter 11

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Camie Condon

Motivation and Emotion Text Study Notes Chapter 11 – Goal-Congruent (Positive) Emotions  Goal congruent emotions are those that facilitate and sustain the attainment of personal goals  Happiness is a prime example of a positive emotion o Lazarus defines happiness as making reasonable progress toward the realization of a goal o According to Lazarus, emotions such as happiness represent a person- environment interaction o The motion of happiness is our cognitive evaluation of that interaction Happiness  Subjective well-being (SWB), a measure that assesses, through a series of questions, how people evaluate their lives both affectively and cognitively  Studies of people who are characterized by high SWB experience the following: o (1) many positive emotions o (2) few negative emotions o (3) a tendency to be involved in interesting activities, and o (4) satisfaction with their lives  Research has found that people high in SWB have many desirable qualities o They participate in more community organizations, are more liked by others, are less likely to get divorced, tend to live slightly longer, perform better at work, and earn higher incomes  A central feature of SWB is feelings of gratitude Three Myths About the Origins of Happiness 1. The Myth That Life is Difficulty and Few People are Happy  916 surveys of more than 1.1 million people in 45 nations represents most of the world o Overall, people are quite happy 2. The Myth That Money Makes People Happy  Money is what provides the basics of life – such things as food, shelter, and clothing  Once the basic necessities of life have been satisfied, increasing income does not lead to greater happiness  Studies have shown that people who hold such aspirations (American Dream) tend to experience a lowered sense of well-being and poorer mental health  Studies of people who have suddenly become wealthy shows that such good luck does elevate feelings of happiness but that those feelings are short lived 3. The Myth That We Cannot Become Happier  Although it is acknowledged that on the average there is good evidence for a set-point interpretation of happiness, there are often marked individual differences o For example, marital satisfaction o There is clear evidence that changes in marital status can have not only immediate implications for feelings of subjective well-being but long-term implications as well The Biological Component  Studies of twins adopted into different households indicate that about half of the variance in subjective well-being in American society is the result of heritability  Researchers have found that happiness is positively related to good social relationships  The links to good social relationships also make sense in terms of Buck’s suggestion that there are two forms of positive affect: selfish affect and social affect  Positive emotions have been linked to an active left prefrontal cortex, and negative emotions have been linked to the right prefrontal cortex  Buck has suggested that the positive/negative distinction should be replaced by a prosocial/selfish distinction  Accordingly, the left hemisphere would be viewed as prosocial and the right hemisphere as selfish Happiness as an Adaptive Behaviour  Buss has identified eight basic wishes or goals that people have  These wishes or goals indicate that people (at least certain people) have a desire for good health, want professional success, are interested in helping friends and relatives, wish to achieve intimacy, want to experience feelings of confidence that would help them to succeed, want to experience the satisfying taste that comes from high-quality food, want to be secure and safe, and want to have the resources to attain these things  Buss has suggested that these wishes or goals are consistent with an evolutionary analysis of what is in our best interests The Learned and Cognitive Components The Conquest of Fear  Most animals have an innate fear of fire, something that appears to have been hardwired in most animals because it is important for survival o That our ancestors were able to conquer the fear of fire is therefore a remarkable feat o By learning to conquer this fear, our ancestors were able to do many things  One fascinating feature is that the human brain more or less constantly analyzes our environment for threats to our survival  The main system that is responsible for this is the amygdala o Were it not for the cortex, especially the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala would likely put us in a state of fight or flight many times throughout the day o But it doesn’t o The reason is that the cortex has the capacity to inhibit or block the signals that come from the amygdala to activate the fight-flight response The Ability to Make Plans  The prefrontal cortex does a lot more than just make decisions about when we are or are not threatened  The prefrontal cortex has also been implicated in the ability to create and manipulate images  At a functional level, that means we can reflect on an outcome and make plans for the future  As a result of learning to conquer fear and make plans, our ancestors were less under the direction of the fight-flight response o Thus, they likely came to experience positive emotions more of the time o In other words, the emotion of happiness likely provided the incentive to think and plan  The ability to make plans makes it possible for humans to self-regulate  Happiness results, on the one hand, from making use of self-regulatory processes which ensure that we avoid pain and, on the other hand, from making use of self-regulatory processes which help us achieve goals Why Did Humans Evolve a Large Prefrontal Cortex in the First Place?  In broad terms, it can be argued that it was adaptive for our ancestors to become sensitized to potential threats  Fear, in short, evolved to help them survive  Both the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex emerged to deal with the same problem – threats to our survival o As such, they likely evolved together The Motivation for Creating Plans  Various theorists have argued that positive emotions are responsible for self-interest and for our personal survival o Thus, the pursuit of happiness is a universal quality of humans  Researchers have suggested that humans are strongly motivated, because of the need for group survival, to ensure that information is passed along to subsequent generations o In other words, this isn’t simply altruism at work; it is prosocial affect, which, like selfish affect, is at the heart of human survival and human evolution  Researchers have suggested that each succeeding generation refines the knowledge it has been given and then passes that knowledge to the next generation o The motivation underlying this process is “shared fate”  Because of humans large brains and because they learned how to communicate rather complex ideas, humans developed the capacity to pass along chunks of cultural information that are important for the survival of future generations The Flow Experience and Happiness  Csikszentmihalyi  There are several common characteristics of the flow experience o First, people who experience flow are completely aware of everything they are doing  They completely understand the steps that are involved and cab progress even though they don’t always know where they are going o Second, they are able to get immediate feedback  They know that at each step they are going in the right direction or making the right choices o Third, they feel that their abilities match the task before them  They are neither anxious nor bored but, rather, feel completely challenged  He points out that happiness is not something that is experienced during flow but rather occurs most strongly when people have finished a flow activity  People in the flow experience seem to be totally free of fear and anxiety  Humans, it can be argued, experience flow because they have a prefrontal cortex that allows them to manage fear and anxiety, on the one hand, and manipulate images, on the other hand  How does one achieve flow? o It is achieved by allowing oneself to become completely absorbed in an activity, be it an athletic activity, an artistic activity, or an intellectual activity Happiness and Coping  The word coping is often used in connection with the word stress  Coping was coined to capture the idea that sometimes the best that we can do is make reasonable progress toward dealing with external demands as well as goals  Myers and Deiner identified four main qualities linked to feelings of happiness: extraversion, optimism, self-esteem, and personal control o Three of these – optimism, self-esteem, and personal control – are closely linked with the tendency to engage in coping responses o When people are optimistic, they believe that good things are going to happen o Self-esteem reflects self confidence and has a long history of being linked to coping and success o Personal control is a belief that one can muster the resources that one needs The Biological Component  One learning occurs, the chemical output changes radically  There tends to be a dramatic decrease in the output of such chemicals as epinephrine, and arousal drops dramatically  One chemical that tends to remain high is norepinephrine, which has been linked to making adaptive behaviours and has been implicated in the activation of the reward pathways of the brain  When positive affect is triggered, often as a result of successful coping, a new style of thinking emerges o This thinking or cognitive style has been described as “broad, flexible cognitive organization and ability to integrate diverse material”, a style that has been linked to increases in brain dopamine levels The Learned/Cognitive Component Self-Efficacy Theory  What many psychologists have come to believe is that animals develop some kinds of generalized belief or expectation such that if they were able to cope in one situation, they can cope in another situation  In humans, we have called these feelings of personal control, self-esteem, and optimism  Bandura has referred to such beliefs as feelings of self-efficacy  According to Bandura’s theory, whether or not one copes effectively is determined by self-efficacy beliefs o Among other things, self-efficacy beliefs affect whether people think in self- enhancing or self-debilitating ways, how they motivate themselves, whether or not they persist in the face of difficulties, and their susceptibility to stress and depression  Bandura argues that when humans are faced with an obstacle or difficulty, they are inclined to activate plans by setting goals for themselves that will take them out of that situation or remove the obstacle o The degree to which they do this is posited to be linked to their feelings of self- efficacy Broaden-and-Build Theory  Many theories have suggested that positive affect and positive emotions facilitate approach behaviour or continued behaviour o From this perspective, positive affect is highly adaptive in that it motivates and rewards behaviours that lead the individual to explore novel objects, people, or situations  The broaden-and-build theory hypothesizes that positive emotions broaden peoples momentary thought-action repertoires, widening the number of thoughts and actions that come to mind o The theory suggests not only that there is a momentary increase in thought-action repertoires, widening the number of thoughts and actions that come to mind o The theory suggests not only that there is a momentary increase in thought-action repertoires but also that these thought-action repertoires are added to existing repertoires o As a result, ones personal resources increase whenever positive emotions are activated o Studies have shown that over time, people who are more positive develop more adaptive response repertoires by engaging in exploratory behaviours that give them more accurate and better knowledge of the environment, whereas people who are more negative fail to engage in such exploratory behaviours and thus fail to do such things as correct false impressions o According to the theory, triggering positive emotions is an effective way of undoing negative emotions The Question of Uncertainty and Coping Happiness from Confronting Fear and Uncertainty; Developing a Bias for Action  One thing that characterizes our daily interactions with the environment is the lack of certainty in how we should deal with a new situation  When there is no certainty, ones survival is threatened  To survive, people need to know about their environment and ho to effectively interact with that environment, a process that psychologists simply call coping  Uncertainty is a cognitive state in which we are unable to fully understand something or to fully know the outcome of an act  Researchers have found that uncertainty leads to high arousal, which can lead to the narrowing of attention  Gilovich and Medvec suggested that acts of omission refer to not living up to our potential, whereas acts of commission refer to not being prepared o These feelings have collectively been referred to as feelings of regret o Although acts of commission generally affect us immediately and can dominate our attention (not being prepared for a speech, for exa
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