Motivation and Emotion

Published by Springer Nature

Online ISSN: 1573-6644


Print ISSN: 0146-7239


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Table 1
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Praise for regret: People value regret above other negative emotions
ArticleFull-text available

April 2008


478 Reads

Colleen Saffrey



What do people think about the emotion of regret? Recent demonstrations of the psychological benefits of regret have been framed against an assumption that most people find regret to be aversive, both when experienced but also when recalled later. Two studies explored lay evaluations of regret experiences, revealing them to be largely favorable rather than unfavorable. Study 1 demonstrated that regret, but not other negative emotions, was dominated by positive more than negative evaluations. In both studies 1 and 2, although participants saw a great deal of benefit from their negative emotions, regret stood out as particularly beneficial. Indeed, in study 2, regret was seen to be the most beneficial of 12 negative emotions on all five functions of: making sense of past experiences, facilitating approach behaviors, facilitating avoidance behaviors, gaining insights into the self, and in preserving social harmony. Moreover, in study 2, individuals made self-serving ascriptions of regret, reporting greater regret experiences for themselves than for others. In short, people value their regrets substantially more than they do other negative emotions.

Table 1 Descriptive statistics of the variables (N = 57)
Table 4 Regression analyses predicting changes in achievement goals by outcome variables
Longitudinal tests on the influence of achievement goals on effort and intrinsic interest in the workplace

September 2013


70 Reads

This study investigates whether four types of achievement goals-mastery-approach, mastery-avoidance, performance-approach, and performance-avoidance-influence effort and intrinsic interest at work. Cross-lagged panel analyses were applied to data from a two-wave survey conducted on 57 newly hired Japanese police officers. The results showed that performance-approach goals had significant positive influences on effort and intrinsic interest. In contrast, performance-avoidance goals had significant negative impacts on the abovementioned two outcome variables. Longitudinal effects were observed when the influence of competence expectancy was controlled. These results highlight the benefits of performance-approach goals and the costs associated with performance-avoidance goals in the workplace.

Achievement motives and emotional processes in children during problem-solving: Two experimental studies of their relation to performance in different achievement goal conditions

December 2011


200 Reads

In two studies, the influence of key emotional and motivational factors on performance in different achievement goal-type situations is examined. In study 1, based on 314 sixth-graders, two types of goal situations were induced; performance and mastery. The goals were examined with respect to important antecedents (e.g., motive dispositions) and several consequences (e.g., performance, satisfaction, pleasant affect, worry, and emotionality). The results showed that the motive to achieve success (M s) produced positive affects, satisfaction, and increased performance, whereas the motive to avoid failure (M f) produced worries and performance reduction. In study 2, based on 331 sixth-graders, three types of goal situations were induced; performance–approach, performance–avoidance, and mastery goals. The findings revealed that the most important single factors positively related to performance were M s and mastery–goal situation. In addition, high M s pupils performed better under mastery condition than under performance condition. Finally, avoidance-goal situation accentuate the negative effects of high M f on performance.

Figure 1. Effects of general goals for action and inaction on delay of gratification 
Figure 2. Effects of general goals for action and inaction on the ability to inhibit a dominant response 
Being Active and Impulsive: The Role of Goals for Action and Inaction in Self-Control

December 2012


276 Reads

Although self-control often requires behavioral inaction (i.e., not eating a piece of cake), the process of inhibiting impulsive behavior is commonly characterized as cognitively active (i.e., actively exerting self-control). Two experiments examined whether motivation for action or inaction facilitates self-control behavior in the presence of tempting stimuli. Experiment 1 used a delay discounting task to assess the ability to delay gratification with respect to money. Experiment 2 used a Go/No-Go task to assess the ability to inhibit a dominant but incorrect motor response to the words "condom" and "sex". The results demonstrate that goals for inaction promote self-control, whereas goals for action promote impulsive behavior. These findings are discussed in light of recent evidence suggesting that goals for action and inaction modulate physiological resources that promote behavioral execution.

Motivating Exercise: The Interactive Effect of General Action Goals and Past Behavior on Physical Activity

September 2012


113 Reads

Although exercise is recognized as a powerful tool to combat obesity, remarkably few US adults pursue adequate amounts of exercise, with one major impediment being a lack of motivation for active behaviors. Recent empirical work has demonstrated that behavior can be guided by goals to be generally active or inactive. In the present paper, an experiment is presented in which participants played or observed a video game, were primed with action or inaction goals, and practiced a stretching exercise for as long as desired. Exposure to environmental action cues led to increased time spent exercising. This effect was moderated by past behavior, such that individuals who had just engaged in an active task (played a videogame) were insensitive to attempts to motivate general action. This suggests that the effectiveness of attempts to motivate activity ("just do it", "be active") hinges on the recent past-behavior of the targeted individuals. An implication of this work is that participation in certain leisure activities, such as playing videogames, may be causally related to a lack of motivation for exercise.

Table 1 Means and standard deviations of all individual variables in the initial and the study sample
Table 4 Fixed effects coefficients (b) for self-protection as control strategy
Table 5 Fixed effects coefficients (b) for disengagement as control strategy
Correlation of self-protection at work and satisfaction with work conditional on work-related opportunity structures
Is it adaptive to disengage from demands of social change? Adjustment to developmental barriers in opportunity-deprived regions

December 2010


162 Reads

This paper investigates how individuals deal with demands of social and economic change in the domains of work and family when opportunities for their mastery are unfavorable. Theoretical considerations and empirical research suggest that with unattainable goals and unmanageable demands motivational disengagement and self-protective cognitions bring about superior outcomes than continued goal striving. Building on research on developmental deadlines, this paper introduces the concept of developmental barriers to address socioeconomic conditions of severely constrained opportunities in certain geographical regions. Mixed-effects methods were used to model cross-level interactions between individual-level compensatory secondary control and regional-level opportunity structures in terms of social indicators for the economic prosperity and family friendliness. Results showed that disengagement was positively associated with general life satisfaction in regions that were economically devastated and has less than average services for families. In regions that were economically well off and family-friendly, the association was negative. Similar results were found for self-protection concerning domain-specific satisfaction with life. These findings suggest that compensatory secondary control can be an adaptive way of mastering a demand when primary control is not possible.

Composition and consistency of the desired affective state: The role of personality and motivation

June 2010


62 Reads

Using longitudinal and experience sampling designs, the consistency and composition, and personality and motivational predictors, of the desired affective state are explored. Findings indicate that, while the desired affect is relatively malleable throughout one semester, it is relatively stable throughout 1 week. Personality and motivations/goals were related to the content of the desired affective state. Extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were related to the content of the desired affective state. In addition, higher-order goals predicted the content of the desired affective state. Our results suggest that the content of the desired affective state may be largely dependent on personality, motivation, and, potentially, an interaction between personality and motivation.

Social comparison processes in neutral and negative mood (with the extra steps associated with positive mood inside the shaded box)
In the presence of ambiguous distinctiveness information, positive mood leads to more positive self-evaluations, across upward and downward comparisons, than does neutral mood (from Experiment 3)
Asymmetric responses to comparisons in positive mood are moderated by cognitive load; responses without mood induction are not. From Experiment 4
RETRACTED ARTICLE: Happiness as alchemy: Positive mood leads to self-serving responses to social comparisons

June 2011


168 Reads

People in a positive mood process information in ways that reinforce and maintain this positive mood. The current studies examine how positive mood influences responses to social comparisons and demonstrates that people in a positive mood interpret ambiguous information about comparison others in self-benefitting ways. Specifically, four experiments demonstrate that compared to negative mood or neutral mood participants, participants in a positive mood engage in effortful re-interpretations of ambiguously similar comparison targets so that they may assimilate to upward comparison targets and contrast from downward comparison targets.

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Implicit Coping and Enhancement Motives Predict Unique Variance in Drinking in Asian Americans

December 2011


110 Reads


Christian S Hendershot





Automatic cognitive processes have been shown to be unique predictors of drinking behavior and can be assessed using implicit measures. Drinking motives (e.g., enhancement and coping motives), which are also predictive of alcohol use, have not been studied using implicit measures. Moreover, in the U.S., implicit measures have been studied in samples largely consisting of Caucasian or White Americans. This study adapted the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to examine automatic analogues of enhancement and coping drinking motives and approach/avoid tendencies in 56 Asian-American undergraduates. Enhancement and coping IATs were correlated with self-reported drinking motives and predicted unique variance in drinking frequency and heavy drinking when controlling for self-reported motives. Approach IAT scores were neither associated with self-reported approach/avoid tendencies nor predictive of drinking behaviors. These findings provide initial support for the unique predictive utility of drinking motives in Asian Americans, an understudied population.

Fig. 1 The relationship between DASS depression scores and change in PEP from baseline to task 
Table 2 Descriptive statistics
Effort Deficits and Depression: The Influence of Anhedonic Depressive Symptoms on Cardiac Autonomic Activity During a Mental Challenge

December 2014


106 Reads

Motivational approaches to depression emphasize the role of dysfunctional motivational dynamics, particularly diminished reward and incentive processes associated with anhedonia. A study examined how anhedonic depressive symptoms, measured continuously across a wide range of severity, influenced the physiological mobilization of effort during a cognitive task. Using motivational intensity theory as a guide, we expected that the diminished incentive value associated with anhedonic depressive symptoms would reduce effort during a "do your best" challenge (also known as an unfixed or self-paced challenge), in which effort is a function of the value of achieving the task's goal. Using impedance cardiography, two cardiac autonomic responses were assessed: pre-ejection period (PEP), a measure of sympathetic activity and our primary measure of interest, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), a measure of parasympathetic activity. As expected, PEP slowed from baseline to task as anhedonic depressive symptoms increased (as measured with the DASS Depression scale), indicating diminished effort-related sympathetic activity. No significant effects appeared for RSA. The findings support motivational intensity theory as a translational model of effort processes in depression and clarify some inconsistent effects of depressive symptoms on effort-related physiology found in past work.

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Motivational Antecedents of Preventive Proactivity in Late Life: Linking Future Orientation and Exercise

December 2006


226 Reads

Future orientation is considered as a motivational antecedent of late-life proactivity. In a panel study of 453 old-old adults, we linked future orientation to exercise, a key component of late-life proactivity. Findings based on hierarchical linear modeling reveal that future orientation at baseline predicts changes in exercise during the subsequent four years. Whereas exercise behavior generally declined over time, future orientation and female gender were associated with smaller decline. These results suggest that future-oriented thinking has a lasting impact on health promotion behavior. Future orientation thus represents a dispositional antecedent of preventive proactivity as proposed in our successful aging model.

Table 3 Manipulation checks and types of envy per condition in study 2
Appraisal patterns of envy and related emotions

June 2012


1,162 Reads

Envy is a frustrating emotion that arises from upward social comparison. Two studies investigated the appraisals that distinguish benign envy (aimed at improving one's own situation) from malicious envy (aimed at pulling down the superior other). Study 1 found that appraisals of deservingness and control potential differentiated both types of envy. We manipulated these appraisals in Study 2 and found that while both did not influence the intensity of envy, they did determine the type of envy that resulted. The more a situation was appraised as undeserved, the more participants experienced malicious envy. Benign envy was experienced more when the situation was not undeserved, and the most when the situation was appraised as both deserved and controllable. The current research also clarifies how the types of envy differ from the related emotions admiration and resentment.

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For Which Side the Bell Tolls: The Laterality of Approach-Avoidance Associative Networks

March 2013


104 Reads

The two hemispheres of the brain appear to play different roles in emotion and/or motivation. A great deal of previous research has examined the valence hypothesis (left hemisphere = positive; right = negative), but an increasing body of work has supported the motivational hypothesis (left hemisphere = approach; right = avoidance) as an alternative. The present investigation (N = 117) sought to provide novel support for the latter perspective. Left versus right hemispheres were briefly activated by neutral lateralized auditory primes. Subsequently, participants categorized approach versus avoidance words as quickly and accurately as possible. Performance in the task revealed that approach-related thoughts were more accessible following left-hemispheric activation, whereas avoidance-related thoughts were more accessible following right-hemispheric activation. The present results are the first to examine such lateralized differences in accessible motivational thoughts, which may underlie more "downstream" manifestations of approach and avoidance motivation such as judgments, decision making, and behavior.

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Positive mood broadens visual attention to positive stimuli

March 2006


495 Reads

In an attempt to investigate the impact of positive emotions on visual attention within the context of Fredrickson's (1998) broaden-and-build model, eye tracking was used in two studies to measure visual attentional preferences of college students (n=58, n=26) to emotional pictures. Half of each sample experienced induced positive mood immediately before viewing slides of three similarly-valenced images, in varying central-peripheral arrays. Attentional breadth was determined by measuring the percentage viewing time to peripheral images as well as by the number of visual saccades participants made per slide. Consistent with Fredrickson's theory, the first study showed that individuals induced into positive mood fixated more on peripheral stimuli than did control participants; however, this only held true for highly-valenced positive stimuli. Participants under induced positive mood also made more frequent saccades for slides of neutral and positive valence. A second study showed that these effects were not simply due to differences in emotional arousal between stimuli. Selective attentional broadening to positive stimuli may act both to facilitate later building of resources as well as to maintain current positive affective states.

Fig. 2 Sample stimuli used in the mental rotation task 
Sample screen environment at the beginning of a trial (a) and toward the end of the same trial (b), after the image of the square had been dragged diagonally across the screen
Sample stimuli used in the mental rotation task
Figure 4 of 4
Sources of avoidance motivation: Valence effects from physical effort and mental rotation

September 2011


61 Reads

When reaching goals, organisms must simultaneously meet the overarching goal of conserving energy. According to the law of least effort, organisms will select the means associated with the least effort. The mechanisms underlying this bias remain unknown. One hypothesis is that organisms come to avoid situations associated with unnecessary effort by generating a negative valence toward the stimuli associated with such situations. Accordingly, merely using a dysfunctional, 'slow' computer mouse causes participants to dislike ambient neutral images (Study 1). In Study 2, nonsense shapes were liked less when associated with effortful processing (135° of mental rotation) versus easier processing (45° of rotation). Complementing 'fluency' effects found in perceptuo-semantic research, valence emerged from action-related processing in a principled fashion. The findings imply that negative valence associations may underlie avoidance motivations, and have practical implications for educational/workplace contexts in which effort and positive affect are conducive to success.

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Approach/Avoidance Motivation, Message Framing, and Health Behavior: Understanding the Congruency Effect

July 2006


667 Reads

Health messages framed to be congruent with individuals' approach/avoidance motivations have been found to be more effective in promoting health behaviors than health messages incongruent with approach/avoidance motivations. This study examines the processes underlying this congruency effect. Participants (undergraduate students, N = 67) completed a measure of approach/avoidance orientation (the BIS/BAS scales) and read either a gain- or loss-framed message promoting dental flossing. Results demonstrated a congruency effect: Participants who read a congruently framed message had greater flossing efficacy, intended to floss more, and used more dental flosses than did the participants who read an incongruent message. Moreover, intention to perform the behavior predicted the congruency effect and self-efficacy mediated participants' intentions to perform the health behavior. Discussion centers on the role of personality factors and situational factors in models of behavior change.

Positive mood is associated with the implicit use of distraction

March 2010


241 Reads

Previous research demonstrates that individuals in a positive mood are differentially distracted by irrelevant information during an ongoing task (Rowe et al. in Proc Natl Acad Sci 104:383-388, 2007). The present study investigated whether susceptibility to distraction shown by individuals in a positive mood results in greater implicit memory for that distraction. Participants performed a similarity-judgment task on pictures that were superimposed with distracting words. When these previously distracting words could be used as solutions on a delayed implicit task administered several minutes later, performance was positively correlated with pleasantness of mood. Individuals in a positive mood are more likely than others to use previously irrelevant information to facilitate performance on a subsequent implicit task, a finding with implications for the relationship between positive mood and creativity.

Fig. 1. Mean duration of cardiovascular reactivity by Film Group in Sample 1 of Study 1. Error bars represent standard errors of the means. 
Fig. 2. Mean duration of cardiovascular reactivity by Film Group in Sample 2 of Study 1. Error bars represent standard errors of the means. 
The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions

December 2000


5,926 Reads

Positive emotions are hypothesized to undo the cardiovascular aftereffects of negative emotions. Study 1 tests this undoing effect. Participants (n = 170) experiencing anxiety-induced cardiovascular reactivity viewed a film that elicited (a) contentment, (b) amusement, (c) neutrality, or (d) sadness. Contentment-eliciting and amusing films produced faster cardiovascular recovery than neutral or sad films did. Participants in Study 2 (n = 185) viewed these same films following a neutral state. Results disconfirm the alternative explanation that the undoing effect reflects a simple replacement process. Findings are contextualized by Fredrickson's broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions (B. L. Fredrickson, 1998).

Table 3 . Predictors of Future Orientation and Fear of Future Terrorism for Three Years Following the September 11 th Attacks (con't) 
Future-Oriented Thinking and Adjustment in a Nationwide Longitudinal Study Following the September 11th Terrorist Attacks

December 2006


199 Reads

We conducted a three-year longitudinal study of the mental and physical health of a national probability sample following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Adjustment over the three years following the attacks was associated with higher levels of future-oriented thinking and lower levels of fear about future terrorism (as measured 1, 2, and 3 years post-9/11), even after adjusting for demographics, lifetime trauma, pre-9/11 mental and physical health, and 9/11-related exposure. Future orientation over the three years post-9/11 was associated with fewer pre-9/11 mental health problems, greater frequency of adulthood trauma, and using active coping strategies in response to the attacks. Fear of future terrorism was associated with greater frequency of adulthood trauma, more television watching immediately after the attacks, and using more planning and religion-based coping strategies immediately following the attacks. Thinking about the future can be a double-edged sword: Worrying about future terrorism may undermine well-being, whereas focusing on future goals may enhance it when coping with stressful events like the September 11th attacks.

Brothers L. The neural basis of primate social communication. Motiv Emot 14: 81-91

June 1990


160 Reads

A sophisticated ability both to generate displays of emotion and to respond to expressive behaviors of other individuals has emerged as a specialization in the course of primate evolution. Studies of the social behavior of nonhuman primates, especially those most related to ourselves, indicate that monkeys and apes are able to interpret social signals so as to assess the motivations of others. Studies of brain activity in monkeys looking at pictures of faces, facial expressions, and body movements, reveal regions of apparent specialized responsiveness to visual social stimuli. The existence of a discrete neural system in humans for cognition which generates a psychological model of others is suggested by patterns of deficit seen in certain neurologic syndromes. Empathy has several components and appears to lie on an evolutionary continuum.

Seventy-five years of motivation measures (1930–2005): A descriptive analysis

June 2007


2,503 Reads

The literature on motivational measures from 1930 to 2005 is reviewed. First, major theoretical models in the area are discussed. Next, a search of PsycINFO is reported for the most frequently employed measures of motivation, with additional support from an SPSP Listserv query of researchers. From this, a diverse group of measures is sorted into various categories, including general scales, context-specific scales (e.g., schooling, work, athletics), and new scales of significance. Then, a descriptive taxonomy of measures in the field of motivation is suggested in order to synthesize ideas about measurement scales. Suggestions are offered for further research in motivational measurement.

A role-playing replication of Schachter and Singer's (1962) study of the cognitive and physiological determinants of emotional state

September 1979


162 Reads

Subjects were given written accounts of Schachter and Singer's (1962) experiment. Each subject read one such description, which depicted one of four treatments (informed/anger, informed/euphoria, uninformed/anger, uninformed/euphoria), and were then asked to take the role of a subject in the original study and to rate (a) their own feelings, (b) the importance of various factors as determinants of these feelings, and (c) their perceptions of the confederate's feelings. The experimental manipulations produced few significant effects on the first of these sets of ratings, while the angereuphoria manipulation had a strong impact on the third set of ratings. These findings support Schachter and Singer's implicit assumptions (a) that the anger and euphoria conditions are not inherently emotional and (b) that the confederate's mood is perceived by subjects in the intended manner. However, subjects' ratings of the importance of various possible causes of their feelings yielded findings that seriously question other assumptions implicit in Schachter and Singer's procedure. It is concluded that further tests of the two-factor theory of emotion should adopt a substantially revised procedure.

To what extent is Goddard's theory about associations and emotionally arousing stimuli?: Comment on Goddard, 1991

September 1991


9 Reads

This comment notes that in arguing for his US-US associative theory of habituation to emotionally arousing stimuli, Goddard (1991) cites, as supportive evidence, experiments that, in fact, are either not associative, or do not involve emotionally arousing (or unconditional) stimuli. Such an overelastic use of these basic terms brings into some question whether Goddard's theory is genuinely testable, i.e., open to refutation through contrary evidence.

Reply to Furedy (1991)

September 1991


13 Reads

Furedy (1991) suggests that Goddard's (1991) US-US associative theory of habituation cites supporting studies that may not involve emotionally arousing stimuli or may not be associative in nature. The difficulty in characterizing a stimulus as emotionally arousing and the issues involved in what constitutes a US-US association are discussed. It is hoped that the Goddard-Furedy interchange might stimulate further empirical research on this issue and some constructive suggestions are offered.

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