Motivation and Emotion perspective of personality.



Motivation refers to complex reactions consisting of:

  1. Physiological responses such as changes in blood pressure and heart rate;
  2. The subjective feelings which we describe as happiness, anger, sorrow, disgust and so on; and
  3. Expressive reactions that reflect these internal states, such as changes in facial expression or posture. It is simply the reason for an action and that which gives purpose and direction to behavior. Motivation is “WHAT drives you” to behave in a certain way or to take a particular action. It gives you an answer of ”WHY”. ?

Its purppose is to give reason, incentive, enthusiasm, or interest that causes a specific action or certain behavior.

There are various definitions of motivation and some of them can be discussed as follows:-

  • Feldman (2015, pg. 287) defined motivation as “the factors that direct and energize the behavior of humans and other organisms”.
  • Feist and Rosenberg (2015, pg. 397) define motivation as “the urge to move towards one’s goals, to accomplish tasks”.
  • Chamorro- Premuzic (2015, pg. 272) defined motivation as “an internal state, dynamic rather than static in nature, that propels action, directs behavior and is oriented toward satisfying both instincts and cultural needs and goals”.
  • Quick, Nelson and Khandelwal (2013, pg. 172) defined motivation as “the process of arousing and sustaining goal directed behavior”.
  • Nolen-Hoeksema et al (2009, pg. 419) describe motivation as “a condition that energizes behavior and gives it direction”.
  • Morgan et al (1993, pg. 268) define motivation as “the driving and pulling forces which result in persistent behavior directed toward particular goals”.

Three main terms in the context of Motivation.

  • Needs
  • Drives and
  • Incentives

Needs: These are related to the biological states of cellular or bodily deficiencies that lead to drives. For example, individuals need water, food and of course oxygen to survive (Feist and Rosenberg, 2015).

Drives: Feist and Rosenberg define drives as “the perceived states of tension that occur when our bodies are deficient in some need, creating an urge to relieve the tension”. When an individual is hungry he/ she will seek food. Thus the need leads to drive and makes the individual to behave in such a way that the deficiency created is dealt with.

Incentives: This is external or is from the environment (as opposed to drive that are internal) and plays a role in motivating behaviors. It could be an object or an event.

Types of Motivations.

Primary and Secondary Motivation.

The two main types of motivation are primary and secondary motivation. Primary motivation can also be termed as basic motivation and mainly includes the needs related to hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, avoidance of pain and so on. These mainly influence an individual’s behavior at a basic level and these needs are also related to the basic need for preservation of self.

Secondary motivation can be termed as learned motivation and these may differ from individual to individual. They are also related to the priorities and values of the individual.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation.

Extrinsic motivation defined as “motivation that comes from outside the person and usually involves rewards and praises”. The examples of extrinsic motion are reward, praises, money, feedback and so on. These motivators can be applied to let individuals carry out activities that the individual may not do otherwise.

Intrinsic motivation defined as “motivation that comes from within a person and includes the elements of challenge, enjoyment, mastery and autonomy”.

There are four components of intrinsic motivation.

  • Challenge: This is related to the extent to which an individual enjoys the excitement that accompanies a new challenge.
  • Enjoyment: This is related to the pleasure that an individual may obtain from carrying out the task.
  • Mastery: This is related to the sense of pride and accomplishment that an individual may experience when he/ she carries out a difficult task.
  • Autonomy and self determination: The autonomy that an individual enjoys while carrying out the task, that is, the freedom with which the individual can determine what is to be done and how is it to be done.

It plays an important role in enhancing the productivity as well as creativity in the individuals.


Emotion is a reaction consisting of subjective cognitive states, physiological reactions and expressive behaviors. They involve three major components:

  1. Physiological changes within our bodies- shifts in heart rate, blood pressure and so on.
  2. Subjective cognitive states, which is, the personal experience we label as emotions.
  3. Expressive behaviors that is outward signs of these internal reactions.

Emotion is associated with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation. Emotions can be considered as thoughts that you cannot identify. For instance when you feel something, it must be that you are thinking about something unconsciously. We can feel them in our bodies as tingles, hot spots and muscular tension.

Emotions involve cognitive aspects, but the physical sensation is what makes them really different.

There are various definitions of emotion that are discussed as follows:

  • Feist and Rosenberg (2015 defined emotions as “brief, acute changes in consciousness experience and physiology that occur in response to a personally meaningful situation”.
  • As stated by Gerrig and Zimbardo (2006  emotions are “a complex pattern of bodily and mental changes that includes physiological arousal, feelings, cognitive processes, visible expressions (including face and posture) and specific behavioral reactions made in response to a situation perceived as personally significant”.
  • Kosslyn and Rosenberg (2013) also defined emotion as “a psychological state with four components, a positive or negative subjective experience, bodily arousal, the activation of specific mental processes and stored information and characteristic overt behavior”.
  • Feldman (2015,  defined emotion as “feelings that generally have both physiological and cognitive elements and that influence behavior”.

Components of Emotion.

There are six main components of emotion process, these are discussed as follows:

  • Cognitive appraisal: The first component is cognitive appraisal. Here the situation assessed based on the personal meaning. For example, if a cricket team wins, there will be a cognitive appraisal with regard to the personal meaning of the situation, whether this individual supports this team or not. If he/ she supports this team and he/ she is a diehard fan of this team then the situation will be assessed as having personal meaning or is personally significant for the individual.
  • Subjective experience: This is related to the affective state or the feeling tone that is brought by the emotion.
  • Thought and action tendencies: At this stage the individual will display an urge to think in a particular manner or take certain actions. For example, when an individual is angry, he/ she may act in a manner that is aggressive.
  • Internal bodily changes: There are physiological reactions mainly involving the autonomic nervous system. Thus, there could be changes in heart rate or the individual may start perspiring. For example, when a person is angry, he may breath faster.
  • Facial expressions: In this there is movement in the facial landmarks like cheeks, lips, noses and so on. For example, when an individual is happy, he/ she will smile.
  • Response to emotion: This stage or component of emotion related to how an individual copes with and reacts to one’s own emotions.

Any emotion is as a result of these six components.

To check your knowledge about the topic, take this small test given below,

Motivation and emotion perspective MCQ test


Baron, R.A.(2001). Psychology. 5th Edition. Pearson Education, New Delhi, India

Edwards, D. C. (1998). Motivation and Emotion: Evolutionary, Physiological, cognitive, and Social Influences (Vol. 3). SAGE publications.

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