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Motivation and the Unconscious



In this chapter, Al-Hoorie presents an overview of the role of unconscious motivation and its relationship to conscious motivation. The author reviews some interesting findings from mainstream psychology pointing to the pervasive role of unconscious processes in human motivation. The discussion is then linked to language learning, where comparable findings are found. These findings emerged from various instruments and methodologies, including the Match-Guise Technique, the Implicit Association Test, the Single-Target Association Test, as well as qualitative observation. Directions for future research are finally suggested.
Edited by
Martin Lamb · Kata Csizér
Alastair Henry · Stephen Ryan
The Palgrave Handbook of
Motivation for
Language Learning
ISBN 978-3-030-28379-7 ISBN 978-3-030-28380-3 (eBook)
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Martin Lamb
School of Education
University of Leeds
Leeds, UK
Alastair Henry
Department of Social and Behavioural Studies
University West
Trollhättan, Sweden
Kata Csizér
Faculty of Humanities
Eötvös Loránd University
Budapest, Hungary
Stephen Ryan
School of Culture, Media and Society
Waseda University
Tokyo, Japan
© e Author(s) 2019
M. Lamb et al. (eds.), e Palgrave Handbook of Motivation for Language Learning,
Motivation andtheUnconscious
In 2001, Zoltán Dörnyei predicted that, “[a]lthough such unconscious motives
do not feature strongly in current motivational thinking, it seems clear that
they play a signicant role in our lives and therefore they are likely to be ‘redis-
covered’ before long” (p. 7). is prediction has patently been conrmed.
Historically, in anticipation of the cognitive revolution, Gordon Allport
(1937) argued that there are two primary sources for human motivation:
primitive (unconscious) drives for infants, but for adults motivation is guided
only by more sophisticated (conscious) motives such as interests and attitudes.
After the cognitive revolution, many motivation researchers took for granted
the idea that human motivation is a function of conscious, rational thought.
ey assumed “an agentic, conscious self at the controls, making decisions
about courses of action to take and then guiding behavior along those lines”
(Bargh, Gollwitzer, & Oettingen, 2010, p.288; see also Al-Hoorie, 2015).
Many twentieth-century motivation theories have therefore tended to
revolve around two basic aspects, the desirability of the outcome and its feasi-
bility, along with additional features that are idiosyncratic to each particular
theory. For example, expectancy–value theory (Atkinson, 1957, 1964) with
its contemporary versions (e.g., Wigeld & Eccles, 2000) views the individual
as engaging in a balancing act comparing the perceived likelihood of success
in a given endeavour with its perceived value. Two similar aspects are also
proposed in the theory of planned behaviour (Fishbein & Ajzen, 2010) called
A. H. Al-Hoorie (*)
Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, Jubail, Saudi Arabia
attitudes and perceived behavioural control, respectively. Many other
motivation theories have also elaborated on feasibility and/or desirability. In
terms of feasibility, some theories have emphasized backward evaluations
(attributions; Weiner, 1986, 1992), forward evaluations (self-ecacy;
Bandura, 1997, 2007), ability conceptualizations (incremental vs. entity;
Dweck, 2000; Dweck & Molden, 2005), and feasibility enhancement tech-
niques (goal characteristics; Locke & Latham, 1990, 2002). In terms of desir-
ability, some theories have emphasized whether the activity is valued for its
own sake (intrinsic motivation; Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2002), whether the out-
come would be instrumental to the attainment of further positive conse-
quences (valence; Vroom, 1964), or whether the future would be bright in
general (dispositional optimism; Scheier & Carver, 1987).
In the second language (L2) eld, desirability has also been a central con-
cept (Al-Hoorie, 2018). is includes the motivation to learn a language for
the purpose of aliating with another linguistic community (integrativeness;
Gardner, 1985, 2010, this volume) as well as its cognitive reinterpretation
focusing on visualization (the ideal L2 self; Dörnyei, 2005, 2009; see also
Csizér, this volume). Despite the broad range of these theories and their diver-
gent perspectives, they still share at least one common feature: e role of
unconscious motivation has not been studied systematically, and so people are
assumed to “weight the incentive value of the desired outcome with the expec-
tancy that it would actually occur” (Bargh etal., 2010, p.268).
More recently, the view that motivation is the result of conscious-only pro-
cesses is falling out of fashion. Instead, more interest has been directed toward
a more balanced, dual-process view (e.g., Chaiken & Trope, 1999; Evans &
Frankish, 2009; Sherman, Gawronski, &Trope,2014), according to which
both conscious and unconscious motives play a role in human motivation.
is chapter rst oers a background of unconscious attitudes from main-
stream psychology. It then moves to consider its applicability to L2 learning.
Background onUnconscious Attitudes
Sometimes, we develop preferences not based on much rational thought but
based on values and conceptions adopted from our social environment. We
may for example like, dislike, or even feel strongly disgusted with certain
foods, clothes, behaviours or even abstract views (e.g., religious, political) sim-
ply because of the inuence of cultural socialization processes. We may even
come up with (post hoc) rationalizations to justify a position we have, though
somebody from another cultural background might also come up with alter-
native rationalizations to justify a contradictory position.
A. H. Al-Hoorie
Psychologists have documented attitudes and preferences that, at various
stages in life, do not form on the basis of rational, conscious deliberation. For
example, in-group members generally tend to be favoured over out-group
members. As for infants, research shows that they prefer to look at an indi-
vidual who speaks their language—over someone who speaks a foreign lan-
guage—and accept toys from them (Kinzler, Dupoux, & Spelke, 2007). As
for young children, they demonstrate selective trust in native-accented over
foreign-accented speakers. is eect persists even when neither speaker’s
message is meaningful (Kinzler, Corriveau, & Harris, 2011). Gender also
seems an important factor in forming attitudes and preferences. In one experi-
ment, Shutts, Banaji, and Spelke (2010) showed young boys and girls a video
showing novel objects. In one scene, a boy said, “My name is Kevin. I love
playing with blicket. Blicket is my favourite thing to play with” while a girl
said, “My name is Mary. I love playing with spoodle. Spoodle is my favourite
thing to play with.” In line with the gender of the child in the video, the boys
preferred the blicket while the girls preferred the spoodle—though little fur-
ther information was available to help make this decision. When asked to
explain their preferences, the children did not report awareness of the eect of
gender on their choice. ese results suggest that apparently free choices seem
to be actually inuenced by the social categories one belongs to.
e eect of “us” versus “them” does not disappear with maturity. Adults
are also inuenced to a large extent by their perceptions of in-groups and out-
groups, again without conscious awareness. An illustration of this tendency
comes from the minimal group paradigm by Henri Tajfel and associates
(Tajfel, Billig, Bundy, & Flament, 1971; see also Bourhis, Sachdev, & Gagnon,
1994). A series of studies in this paradigm have demonstrated that individuals
tend to favour in-group members when allocating valuable resources. In fact,
this pattern persists even when
1. all in-group and out-group members are anonymous,
2. the distinction between the two groups is trivial, and
3. allocating more resources to one’s in-group primarily serves to distinguish
it from the out-group at the expense of maximizing the total gain of one’s
in-group—thus making it self-defeating.
e human mind therefore seems to be more complex than a conscious,
straightforward comparison between value and expected outcome. Human
rationality appears more limited than what we might intuitively believe.
In light of the above, attitudes have been classied into two types: explicit
or reective attitudes, and implicit or automatic attitudes (Sherman etal.,
27 Motivation andtheUnconscious
2014). While explicit attitudes are formed through the individual’s rational
thinking, implicit attitudes develop through repeated exposure, a process
sometimes called cultural osmosis (Banaji & Greenwald, 2013; Greenwald &
Nosek, 2009). When explicit and implicit attitudes are not in agreement (e.g.,
proclaiming an egalitarian attitude explicitly, but favouring in-group mem-
bers implicitly) dissociation takes place. An individual may not be aware of the
existence of such explicit–implicit dissociation, though this may still aect
behaviour unconsciously, especially spontaneous behaviour (Fazio, 2001;
Strack & Deutsch, 2004).
Implicit attitudes toward certain groups may lead to real-world conse-
quences. For example, in their report documenting discipline disparities at
schools, Carter, Fine, and Russell (2014) show that school discipline and sus-
pension was disproportionately distributed among students, and was related
to race and sexual orientation. Minorities were sometimes three times more
likely to be disciplined for the same level of misbehaviour as their majority
peers. ese disciplinary procedures can lead to lower school commitment
and academic engagement, physical and mental health disorders, higher rates
of school dropout, and increased contacts with the criminal justice system—
an eect called the school-to-prison pipeline (e.g., Homan, 2014). e argu-
ment here is that it is unlikely that schoolteachers and administrators are
intentionally singling out minorities for harsher disciplinary procedures.
In a more direct investigation of this eect, van den Bergh, Denessen,
Hornstra, Voeten, and Holland (2010) examined the relationship between
teacher’s implicit prejudice (measured with the Implicit Association Test; see
Appendix) and the achievement of minority students. eir results showed
that, indeed, the higher the implicit prejudice of the teacher, the lower the
achievement of his/her minority students (and sometimes the higher the
achievement of majority students). On the other hand, explicit measures of
prejudice failed to exhibit any of these associations.
In higher education, a similar picture emerges. Milkman, Akinola, and
Chugh (2012) conducted a eld experiment on professors from top U.S. uni-
versities to examine racial and gender discrimination. e researchers selected
over 6500 professors and sent each an email purporting to be from a prospec-
tive student requesting a ten-minute meeting to discuss research opportuni-
ties. e researchers varied the name of this ctitious student in order to
represent dierent races and genders. e results showed that when the name
signalled a Caucasian male (compared with names of minorities and females),
the meeting request was granted by faculty members 26% more often.
Caucasians also received more and faster responses. Again, it is unlikely that
these professors were deliberately engaging in discriminatory practices against
A. H. Al-Hoorie
women or minorities; instead, this is more likely because of an unconscious
rather than intentional bias.
In the past few decades, interest in the implicit aspect of human cognition
has grown exponentially in psychology. For example, Payne and Gawronski
(2010) explain that “virtually every intellectual question in social psychology,
and many outside of it, has been shaped by the theories and methods of
implicit social cognition” (p.1). In the Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation,
Ryan and Legate (2012) similarly point out that the notion that the human
mind contains two distinct processes that can have a dierential eect on
motivation is currently by far the single most widely cited area to hold poten-
tial for future motivation research. In fact, the authors argue that this is where
the present-day ‘buzz’ is.
Unconscious Attitudes inL2 Learning
Early Research
In the history of language attitudes research, some scholars recognized that
publicly expressed attitudes might not tell the whole story about an individu-
al’s underlying feelings and beliefs. In a seminal study, Lambert, Hodgson,
Gardner, and Fillenbaum (1960) introduced the matched-guise technique
(MGT) in the hope of uncovering ‘private attitudes’ concerning cross-cultural
dispositions. In the standard MGT, participants listen to audio-recordings of
speakers reading the same, neutral passage in two or more languages (or
accents). e participants are then asked to act as judges of the personality of
each speaker, a procedure akin to how people routinely try to form impres-
sions of a person they listen to on the phone or on the radio. Unbeknownst to
the participants, however, the ‘dierent speakers’ in the MGT are actually one
speaker who is uent in the languages in question. If a participant evaluates
the personality of the speaker dierently when they speak in a dierent lan-
guage, this dierential evaluation is presumed to reect stereotyped character-
istics of the respective language group.
Some interesting results emerged from the early wave of the MGT research.
For example, in the initial study by Lambert etal. (1960), the correlation
between responses to the (indirect) MGT and responses to (direct) attitudinal
questionnaire related to English Canadians versus French Canadians were low
and non-signicant, a nding the researchers attributed to the independence
of the two constructs. Subsequent research showed some intriguing results.
For example, research on French Canadians documented developmental
27 Motivation andtheUnconscious
changes, where French-Canadian children start o evaluating their own group
more favourably but by the age of 12 this pattern reverses (Anisfeld &
Lambert, 1964; Lambert, Frankle, & Tucker, 1966). In addition, research on
sex dierences showed that French-Canadian males favour models from the
English community, but French-Canadian females prefer men from their own
group as if, as Lambert (1967) put it, they are guardians of their culture.
Extending this research to the United Kingdom, Giles (1971) found that
speakers of the Received Pronunciation—a standard accent in England—
were rated as more prestigious (e.g., intelligent, ambitious), while speakers of
Welsh English as more socially attractive (e.g., humorous, good-natured).
ese results suggest that language and accent might factor in how one’s per-
sonality is judged by others. In fact, “even a single vowel or consonant sound,
contrasting with others or with our expectations, can have evaluative reper-
cussions on its utterer” (Giles & Coupland, 1991, p.32).
Nevertheless, interest in the MGT after this early wave has uctuated, and
this may be attributed to two primary reasons (see Garrett, 2010; Garrett,
Coupland, & Williams, 2003; Giles & Coupland, 1991). On the one hand,
critics started to point out potentially problematic aspects of the MGT. For
example, some questioned the comparability of ‘reading’ a passage to the typi-
cal spontaneous conversation people engage in everyday practice, while others
doubted the value of the articially contrived ‘neutral’ content that the MGT
requires by design. On the other hand, although researchers conducted “a very
considerable number of studies” (Garrett etal., 2003, p.57) which amounted
to an “empirical avalanche” (Giles & Coupland, 1991, p.37), the results were
sometimes disappointing. In Garrett etal.’s (2003) words, the results “have
not, arguably, led to the emergence of the cumulative body of knowledge one
might have anticipated. Overall, the results have been inconclusive” (p.67). In
addition, the general climate since the cognitive revolution in psychology may
have been unfavourable to further research into unconscious processes.
Consequently, in the 1990s and the early 2000s, the MGT lost its popularity
(Garrett, 2010), though the past few years have witnessed a renewed interest
in indirect measurement of attitudes (Giles & Rakić, 2014). Kircher (2016)
oers a reader-friendly introduction to how to conduct an MGT experiment
and the considerations that the researcher needs to keep in mind.
Relevance toCurrent L2 Motivation Theories
Adopting an unconscious stand on human motivation does not have to be at
odds with the current frameworks in the eld (Al-Hoorie, 2017). For exam-
A. H. Al-Hoorie
ple, neither possible selves theory nor self-discrepancy theory would preclude
the operation of unconscious processes. In terms of possible selves theory,
Markus and Nurius (1986) discuss the possibility of the unconscious activa-
tion of both positive and negative possible selves (see p.961). In describing
the eects of unconscious activation of possible selves, Oyserman (2013)
similarly asserts that “these eects are automatic and do not require that peo-
ple make a conscious choice as to how to think about themselves” (p.185; see
also Oyserman, 2015, p.44). In a special issue marking the centennial of the
publication of William Jamess (1890) e Principles of Psychology, Markus
(1990) contributed with a paper titled ‘On splitting the universe’, in which
she endorsed Jamess distinction between the conscious and unconscious
aspects of motivation and stressed its relevance today.
Self-discrepancy theory also accommodates unconscious processes: “self-
discrepancy theory does not assume that people are aware of either the avail-
ability or the accessibility of their self-discrepancies. It is clear that the
availability and accessibility of stored social constructs can inuence social
information processing automatically and without awareness” (Higgins,
1987, p.324). Neither do the behavioural consequences have to be conscious
(Higgins, 1989, p.98). In fact, self-discrepancy theory does not assume that
a future self-guide is a stable individual dierence variable (Higgins, 1998,
p.19), but that situational variability can unconsciously induce the motiva-
tional eect independently from the nature of the learner’s self-guides. In one
study, for example, Higgins, Roney, Crowe, and Hymes (1994) used an osten-
sibly unrelated task to activate either the ideal or ought selves of their partici-
pants. Although the participants were not aware that their ideal or ought
selves were activated, this activation was still successful in unconsciously shap-
ing their performance on a subsequent free recall task. In another study
(Higgins, 1998), the promotion function of the ideal self or the prevention
function of the ought self was activated by simply asking the participants to
put in their mouths a sweet or bitter cotton ball, respectively. e results
showed that this procedure also activated the relevant self-guide and success-
fully shaped their performance in the subsequent task unconsciously. If some-
thing as simple as the taste of cotton can activate self-guides, then it is likely
that real-life classroom situations oer a more diverse stimulus repertoire that
can activate self-guides similarly unconsciously. Finally, Gardner’s integrative
motivation also allows for such unconscious conceptualizations (Gardner, this
volume). In Gardner’s (2010) words, integrativeness “is not a conscious deci-
sion on the part of the individual and… individuals may not be aware of it…
e rationale underlying integrative motivation is that emotional factors can
inuence behavior, sometimes in ways that are not even perceived by the indi-
vidual concerned” (pp.223–224).
27 Motivation andtheUnconscious
Recent Research
Drawing from self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002), Henry and
orsen (2018) suggest that satisfaction of the need for relatedness is impor-
tant in order to become motivated to learn the language and to generate
engagement in learning activities. A conducive classroom social climate,
involving mutual respect and teacher’s academic and emotional support, facil-
itates satisfaction of basic psychological needs and consequently higher will-
ingness to communicate (Joe, Hiver, & Al-Hoorie, 2017).
Extending this line of research to unconscious motivation, Henry and
orsen (2018) compared the moments of contact in emerging and in mature
student–teacher relationships. ey report that, while contact has an immedi-
ate eect on student motivation and engagement in emerging relationships,
the eect in mature relationships is less pronounced and involves unconscious
motivational processes. During a moment of contact in mature relationships,
they argue, a process of co-adaptation takes place inuenced by the individual’s
representation of the relationship and its goals. Interpersonal goals become
activated, and they subsequently inuence one’s motivation to achieve these
goals both consciously and unconsciously (Fitzsimons & Bargh, 2003). For
example, in the context of the essay writing activity investigated by Henry and
orsen, they explain that while the activity may initially represent an extrinsic
motive, during a moment of contact perceptions of relatedness are triggered,
thus activating internalization processes and unconscious self-regulation.
On a somewhat longer time-scale, unconscious processes have been argued
to play a central role in directed motivational currents (Dörnyei, Henry, &
Muir, 2016; Henry, this volume). A directed motivational current (DMC)
refers to an intense motivational drive sustained over a period of time. e
characteristic feature of this phenomenon is that it is over and above the nor-
mal level of one’s motivation. As Dörnyei etal. (2016) explain, a DMC derives
its energy in part from behavioural routines that, over time, become so auto-
mated and ecient that the individual does not need to make a conscious
decision to perform them. is is similar to how one brushes their teeth before
going to bed every night without giving it much thought. Dörnyei et al.
(2016) further explain that such unconscious self-regulation allows the indi-
vidual to automatically prepare for goal-directed action and to steer away
from distractors. Obviously, this can be highly useful for an activity like L2
learning(Ibrahim & Al-Hoorie, 2019). “at is, one gets down to learning
not because of any conscious decision to do so, but because these routines
become a smooth, self-evident, and unreected-upon part of the process”
(Dörnyei etal., 2016, p.83).
A. H. Al-Hoorie
On a much longer time-scale, the learner’s attitude toward speakers of the
target language has always been considered an important factor in motivation
(Gardner, 1985, 2010). As Dörnyei (2009) puts it, “it is dicult to imagine
that we can have a vivid and attractive ideal L2 self if the L2 is spoken by a
community that we despise” (p.28). However, investigations into the role of
attitudes toward L2 speakers have primarily relied on conscious self-reports,
such as questionnaires and interviews (Ushioda, 2013). It is possible that an
individual might express positive attitudes explicitly, but at the same time
harbour negative attitudes implicitly (Greenwald & Nosek, 2009).
In a rst attempt to investigate the nature of L2 learners’ implicit attitudes
using the Implicit Association Test (IAT, Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz,
1998; see Appendix), Al-Hoorie (2016a) conducted a preliminary study on
Arab learners of English in the UK.He found that L2 learners who had stron-
ger implicit preference for L2 speakers also expressed stronger aliation with
the L2 group as well as less fear of assimilation and ethnocentric concerns.
ese results suggest that implicit attitudes are related to other attitudinal/
motivational factors.
Building on this study, Al-Hoorie (2016b) conducted a replication study.
e replication study had the following features:
1. Unlike the initial study, the replication study was conducted in a foreign
language context on a sample of learners most of whom had never visited
an English-speaking country. is would show whether implicit attitudes
still operate without direct contact with target language speakers.
2. e implicit test did not target English speakers of a specic country. It
was left open for the participants to resort to their own interpretations of
the ideal ‘L2 speaker’, as this could be dierent from what the researchers
have in mind. Even if the learner’s understanding of L2 speakers is unreal-
istic, it might still constitute a subjective reality inuencing their motivation.
3. e replication study additionally included a measure of L2 academic
achievement. is was intended to nd out whether the results extend to
actual achievement or are limited to self-report measures.
4. e replication study used the ST-IAT, which promises a more direct mea-
sure of implicit attitudes than does the IAT (Wigboldus, Holland, & van
Knippenberg, 2004). is would show whether the results are limited to
one implicit measure or could be obtained using other measures as well.
5. It included another implicit test (related to the L2 course) as an
implicit control.
6. It also included social desirability as an explicit control.
27 Motivation andtheUnconscious
After implementing these features and safeguards, the results showed that
learners with favourable implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers indeed express
more openness to the L2 community as well as achieving signicantly higher
grades in their English class. e two studies were also meta-analysed using
Bayes factors, with the results showing substantial support for these ndings.
ese results suggest that implicit attitudes—and not just explicit atti-
tudes—toward L2 speakers may be relevant to language learning and motiva-
tion. ey also oer preliminary evidence for the construct validity of implicit
attitudes. More specically, implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers were associ-
ated with questionnaire scales related to openness to the L2 community, but
implicit attitudes toward the L2 course did not. is pattern is consistent with
the idea that implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers uniquely tap into group-
related feelings. is in turn suggests that this line of research may hold prom-
ise for future research on language learning motivation.
is chapter has presented an overview of the role of the unconscious dimen-
sion in human attitudes and motivation. It rst highlighted the increasing
importance of this area of investigation in mainstream psychology. It then
moved to the L2 eld to show how unconscious processes are relevant to atti-
tudes and motivation in L2 learning more specically. It seems likely that this
area of investigation has the potential to shed interesting light on the uncon-
scious side of language learning motivation. For example, unconscious pro-
cesses could plausibly play a factor in some controversial issues relevant to
everyday learning and teaching. As an illustration, there is conicting evi-
dence as to whether students prefer native-speaking versus non-native-
speaking teachers (Richardson, 2016). It is possible that a learner’s implicit
attitudes toward nativeness might play a role in their satisfaction with their L2
teacher, or with certain varieties of English (as opposed to English as a lingua
franca). In fact, some research shows some trivial factors, such as body weight,
can play a role in preferences—even if the individual explicitly declares that
such factors are irrelevant to their attitudes and preferences (Caruso, Rahnev,
& Banaji, 2009).
More generally, expanding language motivation research to include implicit
processes would enrich the eld and open up numerous potential pathways.
Motivational psychologists have examined the implicit dimension of many
well-known constructs. Examples include implicit attitudes (Petty, Fazio, &
Briñol, 2009), implicit prejudice and stereotypes (Levinson & Smith, 2012),
A. H. Al-Hoorie
implicit motives (Schultheiss & Brunstein, 2010), implicit self-concept
(Briñol, Petty, & Wheeler, 2006), implicit self-determination (Keatley, Clarke,
Ferguson, & Hagger, 2014), and implicit self-regulation (Koole, McCullough,
Kuhl, & Roelofsma, 2010). It is clear that language motivation researchers
would similarly benet from exploring ‘the other side’ of their constructs as well.
When investigating unconscious phenomena, researchers would inevitably
need to utilize appropriate methodologies, since self-report questionnaires
and interviews that are currently predominant in the L2 motivation eld may
not be very informative (Henry & orsen, 2018; Ushioda, 2013). e risk
in relying on self-report measures does not lie in the possibility that infor-
mants may not be aware of their motives, and consequently reply with “I
dont know”. Instead, the risk is that they may come up with explanations that
seem plausible, but that are actually misleading rationalizations of the actual
motives. Research shows that participants tend to misattribute their motives
to salient and plausible factors in the environment (e.g., Bar-Anan, Wilson, &
Hassin, 2010; Bargh, 1994; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977). To circumvent this
diculty, psychologists have devised a number of indirect instruments that
L2 researchers could use to shed light on unconscious processes (Nosek,
Hawkins, & Frazier, 2011; Petty etal., 2009).
At the same time, we should heed Hulstijns (2015) caution that dividing
processes in a conscious–unconscious dichotomy might be too simplistic to
do justice to the complexity of the human mind. erefore, “the way forward
for psychological theory is to stop pitting conscious against unconscious and
instead gure out how the two work together” (Baumeister, Vohs, &
Masicampo, 2014, p.20; see also Nordgren, Bos, & Dijksterhuis, 2011).
Appendix: TheImplicit Association Test
An important consideration is how to measure an individual’s implicit atti-
tudes if s/he is unaware of them and consequently cannot self-report them.
One possible way is to use the Implicit Association Test (IAT, Greenwald
etal., 1998), which is at present the most widely used measure of implicit
attitudes. e IAT is a computerized reaction-time measure that simply
requires classifying a series of words to the right or left as fast as possible. As
an illustration of how this test works, Fig. 27.1 gives an example of the
Flower–Insect IAT.is test measures how strongly the participant associates
owers and insects with good and bad. In the rst part of the test (Fig.27.1A),
a stimulus appears in the middle of the screen (e.g., Roses) and the participant
has to decide which box this stimulus belongs to and then press one of two
27 Motivation andtheUnconscious
designated buttons on the keyboard. In Fig.27.1A, Roses belongs to Flower,
and so the correct answer is the left box. Afterward, another stimulus appears
(say, Cockroaches) and, again, the participant has to decide which of the four
categories the stimulus belongs to in order to classify it to the correct box. e
stimuli may belong to Flower (e.g., roses, orchids, tulips), Insect (e.g., cock-
roaches, mosquitoes, wasps), Good (e.g., smart, friendly, clean), or to Bad
(e.g., dumb, enemy, dirty).
Note that this is not an attitude test per se. e stimuli are shown to the
participant in advance with their correct categorization and, if they misclassify
a stimulus, they get an error message immediately. e participant’s task is not
to guess (or express their attitude about) the correct response, but to simply
perform the test as fast as possible. Most participants therefore nd the con-
guration in Fig.27.1A very easy to perform and breeze through it.
In the second part of the test (Fig.27.1B), Flower is paired with Bad while
Insect with Good. is part suddenly feels considerably harder. is is because,
in the rst part, Flower and Good form one higher category (e.g., pleasant
things), and Insect and Bad form another category (e.g., unpleasant things).
erefore, the participant in eect classies the stimuli into only two—rather
than four—categories (i.e., simply move all pleasant things to the left and
unpleasant things to the right). In the second part, however, the participant
has to sort the stimuli into the four categories (neither of the two pairs readily
merges into one intuitive category), and so the task requires substantially
more cognitive resources, resulting in slower performance.
is is why the two parts of the test (as in Fig.27.1) are conventionally
described as ‘compatible’ and ‘incompatible’, respectively. Compatible tasks
are those that the researchers expect most participants to nd easier (e.g.,
Fig. 27.1 An illustration of the Flower–Insect IAT.Panel A displays the ‘compatible’
taskwhich most participants find easier to perform; Panel B displays the‘incompatible’
task which most participants find harder.
A. H. Al-Hoorie
Flower–Good), while incompatible tasks are those that participants may nd
harder (e.g., Flower–Bad). is description also hints at why it is called the
Implicit Association Test: implicit because participants nd it hard to antici-
pate which conguration would be more dicult and are usually surprised by
their own results, association because it measures the strength of the associa-
tion of the categories in each pair, and test because it is a test of the partici-
pant’s performance speed. To the extent that categories of interest are paired
with evaluative adjectives (e.g., good, bad), implicit attitudes are inferred
from the response speed in the two parts of the test. e IAT is also exible
and can be easily adapted to measure implicit associations about various social
objects, such as racial prejudice (e.g., White–Good, Black–Bad) and gender
stereotypes (e.g., Male–Work, Female–Home). Further procedural details
about the IAT are found in Lane, Banaji, Nosek, and Greenwald (2007).
Readers can also try out demonstrations of the IAT at www.implicit.
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Positive relationships with teachers are important for students’ second language motivation. However, little is known about how interpersonal interactions stimulate motivated behavior. Drawing on studies of teacher–student relationships, theories from positive psychology, and the psychology of unconscious self-regulation, this case study examines moments of teacher–student interaction and explores influences on students’ engagement and motivation. Observations (N = 15) were carried out in 2 classrooms, and interviews with the focal teacher of this study and her students were conducted. Data were analyzed using a grounded theory ethnography approach. Findings indicate that moments of close personal contact and their influences may differ in emerging and mature teacher–student relationships. While in emerging relationships moments of contact can have immediate influences on engagement and motivation, in mature relationships influences on learning behavior may be less pronounced and involve unconscious motivational processes. The study’s methodological limitations are discussed and proposals are made for future ethnographic and experimental work.
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This article offers a historical analysis of the major themes that the language motivation field has examined in its 60-year history. The discussion starts by briefly reviewing the social-psychological and the situated–cognitive periods. The former was primarily concerned with affective factors in intergroup relations, while the latter with learners in classroom contexts. The second half of the article surveys a number of emerging themes in the field to highlight major findings and potential future directions. These themes include the dynamic, affective, unconscious, and long-term aspects of motivation to learn English and other languages, as well as the implications of the pervasive presence of technology in daily life.
This volume gives an overview of the theory of motivation and applies it to practical skills and strategies, providing new insights into the field of motivational studies and its implications for second-language pedagogy.
I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
This paper reports the first investigation in the second language acquisition field assessing learners’ implicit attitudes using the Implicit Association Test, a computerized reaction-time measure. Examination of the explicit and implicit attitudes of Arab learners of English (N = 365) showed that, particularly for males, implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers are associated with self-reported openness to the L2 group and with strength of correlations among attitudinal and motivational variables. Implicit attitudes also moderated important paths in the L2 Motivational Self System. The paper concludes that implicit attitudes seem to be a meaningful individual difference variable, adding a new dimension to our understanding of language motivation.
This chapter provides an overview of the key features of the matched-guise technique. It explains how to plan and conduct a matched-guise experiment by discussing the choice of an appropriate text, the recording of the experimental stimuli, the design of the evaluation booklet as well as the actual procedure to be followed for the experiment. The chapter explains how to analyze the findings of a matched-guise experiment. It discusses the limitations and the strengths of the technique, and it concludes by elaborating on the use of the technique in combination with other methods as well as more recent developments regarding indirect methods of attitude elicitation. The comparison of the results from the questionnaire and the matched-guise experiment allows for a more nuanced comprehension of the language attitudes held by adolescent Montrealers than any one method could have provided on its own.