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and Emotion
Little Big Man
ou might never guess it if you happened to be sitting behind him in a movie theater, but Danny Woodhead, at
5feet 8 inches tall, is a professional football player—a wide receiver, sometimes running back, and kick returner for
the New England Patriots. Claiming to tip the scales at 200 pounds, Woodhead is a little guy by NFL standards. But
he has always been a little guy with a big dream: to play in the NFL.
A native Nebraskan, Woodhead enrolled at Chadron State College, where he was the rst student in school history
to receive a full athletic scholarship. Despite breaking a slew of college rushing records, Woodhead was not drafted
into the NFL. Still, he never lost sight of his goal. Signed by the New York Jets, he spent his rookie season sidelined
by injury and was eventually cut from the team. When the New England Patriots signed Woodhead, observers won-
dered whether the crafty Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick was perhaps looking to gain secrets from the Jets’ playbook.
Whatever the case, Woodhead has proved to be an invaluable member of the Patriots’ squad. Just as he had dreamed,
he is a successful NFL player, having even caught a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLVI (in what turned out to be a
losing New England effort against the New York Giants).
Asked about his career, Woodhead remarked, “People always ask me ‘If you could change anything, what would
itbe?’ and I always say: I wouldn’t change anything. It’s all been part of my journey” (Araton, 2012). Considering
Woodhead’s commitment to his life’s dream, we might wonder why he stuck to his goal with such tenacity. We might
ask why he ever imagined that he would make it to the NFL. When we ask why a person chooses to do something—
or not to do it—we are asking about motivation.
The terms motivation and emotion come from the Latin word movere, which means “to move.” Motivation and emo-
tion are the “go” of human life, providing the steam that propels us to overcome obstacles and to accomplish the
great and little things we do every day. Our emotions often defi ne for us what we really want: We feel joy or sorrow
depending on how events infl uence our most cherished life dreams.
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Theories of Motivation // 325
This chapter examines the ways psychologists study motivation and emotion. We rst
review some general approaches to motivation and consider two important physiological
sources of motivation: hunger and sex. We then examine motivation as it applies to daily
life. Finally, we turn to the topic of emotion and take a close look at psychologists’
approaches to such emotions as anger, gratitude, and happiness.
Motivation is the force that moves people to
behave, think, and feel the way they do. Moti-
vated behavior is energized, directed, and sus-
tained. Psychologists have proposed a variety
of theories about why organisms are motivated
to do what they do. In this section we explore
some of the main theoretical approaches to
The Evolutionary
In the early history of psychology, the evolu-
tionary approach emphasized the role of
instincts in motivation. Ethology —the study of
animal behavior—also has described motiva-
tion from an evolutionary perspective.
An instinct is an innate (unlearned) biological pattern of behavior that is assumed to
be universal throughout a species. Generally, an instinct is set in motion by a “sign
stimulus”—something in the environment that turns on a xed pattern of behavior.
Instincts may explain a great deal of nonhuman animal behavior. In addition, some
human behavior is instinctive. For example, you might recall the discussion of infant
re exes in Chapter 8. Babies do not have to learn to suck; they instinctively do it
when something is placed in their mouth. So, for infants, an object touching the
lips is a sign stimulus. After infancy, though, it is hard to think of speci c
behaviors that all human beings engage in when presented with a particular
According to evolutionary psychologists, the motivations for sex, aggression,
achievement, and other behaviors are rooted in our evolutionary past (Bolhuis
& others, 2011; Buss, 2012), and we can understand similarities among members
of the human species through these shared evolutionary roots. Because evolutionary
approaches emphasize the passing on of one’s genes, these theories focus on domains
of life that are especially relevant to reproduction. For example, evolutionary theorists
note that in terms of romantic partners, across many cultures, men prefer younger women
to older women, and women prefer men who have resources (Buss, 2012). In general,
however, most human behavior is far too complex to be explained on the basis of instinct.
The force that
moves people to
behave, think,
and feel the way
they do.
An innate
biological pattern
of behavior that
is assumed to be
universal through-
out a species.
Theories of Motivation
Used by permission of CartoonStock,
You mi ght t hi nk t hat
some st i mul i pr ovide a st r ong
case f or i nst i nct i v e r esponses.
Do e s n t e v e r y o n e r e s p o n d t o
chocol at e wi t h t he behav i or
of e at i ng? Not so f ast some
peopl e don t even l i ke
chocol at e!
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326 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
Indeed, it would hardly seem adaptive for humans to have a xed
action pattern that is invariably set in motion by a particular sig-
nal in the environment. To understand human behavior, psychol-
ogists have developed a variety of other approaches, as we now
Drive Reduction Theory
Another way to think about motivation is through the constructs
of drive and need. A drive is an aroused state that occurs because
of a physiological need. You can think of a drive as a psychologi-
cal itch that requires scratching. A need i s a d e p r i v a t i o n t h a t e n e r -
gizes the drive to eliminate or reduce the deprivation. Generally,
psychologists think of needs as underlying our drives. You may
have a need for water; the drive that accompanies that need is your
feeling of being thirsty. Usually but not always, needs and drives
are closely associated. For example, when your body needs food,
your hunger drive will probably be aroused. An hour after you have
eaten a hamburger, your body might still need essential nutrients
(thus you need food), but your hunger drive might have subsided.
The following example should reinforce that drive pertains to
a psychological state whereas need involves a physiological state,
and that drives do not always follow from needs. If you are
deprived of oxygen because of a gas leak, you may feel light-
headed but may not realize that your condition is the result of a
gas leak that is creating a need for air. Because you do not per-
ceive it, your need for air fails to create a drive for oxygen that might lead you to open
a window. Moreover, drives sometimes seem to come out of nowhere. Imagine, for
instance, having eaten a ne meal and feeling full to the point of not wanting another
single bite—until the waiter wheels over the dessert cart. Suddenly you feel ready to
tackle the double chocolate oblivion, despite your lack of hunger.
Drive reduction theory explains that as a drive becomes stronger, we are motivated
to reduce it. The goal of drive reduction is homeostasis , the body’s tendency to maintain
an equilibrium, or steady state. Literally hundreds of biological states in our bodies must
be maintained within a certain range: temperature, blood sugar level, potassium and
sodium levels, oxygenation, and so on. When you dive into an icy swimming pool, your
body uses energy to maintain its normal temperature. When you walk out of an air-
conditioned room into the heat of a summer day, your body releases excess heat by
sweating. These physiological changes occur automatically to keep your body in an
optimal state of functioning.
Most psychologists believe that drive reduction theory does not provide a comprehensive
framework for understanding motivation because people often behave in ways that increase
rather than reduce a drive. For example, when dieting, you might choose to skip meals,
but this tactic can increase your hunger drive rather than reduce it. Similarly, many other
things that you might opt to do involve increasing (not decreasing) tensions—for example,
taking a challenging course in school, raising a family, and working at a dif cult job.
Optimum Arousal Theory
W h e n p s y c h o l o g i s t s t a l k a b o u t a r o u s a l , t h e y a r e g e n e r a l l y r e f e r r i n g t o a p e r s o n s f e e l -
ings of being alert and engaged. When we are very excited, our arousal levels are high.
When we are bored, they are low. You have probably noticed that motivation in uences
An aroused state
that occurs be-
cause of a physi-
ological need.
A deprivation
that energizes
the drive to elimi-
nate or reduce
the deprivation.
The body’s tendency to
maintain an equilibrium, or
steady state.
Human newborns display behavioral refl exes such as
holding on to a rope so that they can be lifted. In
our evolutionary past, this gripping refl ex appeared in
primates, allowing an infant to cling to its mother’s
hair while she moved about.
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Hunger and Sex // 327
Overlearning is a crucial part of the training regimen
by which the elite Navy SEALS prepare for missions,
such as the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s
compound in Pakistan and the al Qaeda leader’s
eventual death.
arousal levels. Sometimes you can want something (for exam-
ple, to do well on a test) so much that you feel overmotivated”
and anxious. On the other hand, you might be so unmotivated
for a task (such as doing dishes) that you can hardly force
yourself to complete it.
E a r l y i n t h e t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y , t w o p s y c h o l o g i s t s d e s c r i b e d
how arousal can in uence performance. According to their for-
mulation, now known as the Yerkes-Dodson law , performance
is best under conditions of moderate arousal rather than either
low or high arousal. At the low end of arousal, you may be too
lethargic to perform tasks well; at the high end, you may not be
able to concentrate. Think about how aroused you were the last
time you took a test. If your arousal was too high, you might
have felt too nervous to concentrate, and your performance likely
suffered. If it was too low, you may not have worked fast enough
to nish the test. Also think about performance in sports. Being
too aroused usually harms athletes’ performance; a thumping
heart and rapid breathing have accompanied many golfers’ missed
putts. However, if athletes’ arousal is too low, they may not con-
centrate well on the task at hand.
The relationship between arousal and performance is one rea-
son that individuals who have to perform well under stressful
conditions (such as EMTs and lifeguards) are trained to overlearn
important procedures so that they do not require much thought.
With this extra learning, when these individuals are under condi-
tions of high arousal, they can rely on automatic pilot to do what
needs to be done.
The psychologi-
cal principle
stating that
performance is
best under con-
ditions of moder-
ate arousal rather
than either low
orhigh arousal.
1. The force that moves people to behave,
think, and feel the way they do is
A. emotion.
B. instinct.
C. need.
D. motivation.
2. Natalie will be taking an exam today.
According to the Yerkes-Dodson law, the
condition that will allow Natalie to
score highest on the exam is
A. no anxiety.
B. moderate anxiety.
C. high anxiety.
D. high relaxation.
3. Which of the following statements is
A. Instincts have little to do with
animal behavior.
B. Instincts are learned patterns of
C. Instincts direct most aspects of
human behavior.
D. Instincts are innate and biological.
A P P L Y I T ! 4. Jared is a star basketball
player on his school’s team. In a crucial
game, the score is tied with just a few
seconds left on the clock, and Jared finds
himself at the free-throw line preparing to
shoot the winning baskets. The opponents’
coach calls a time-out to “ice” Jared’s
nerves. Finally, as Jared steps up to the
line, the rival team’s students scream and
jump around in an attempt to psych Jared
out. His heart racing, Jared sinks both
baskets, and his team wins. Which of the
following is most likely true of this
A. The opposing team’s coach and student
fans know that low arousal leads to poor
B. Jared has practiced free throws so many
times that he can land them even when
he is highly aroused.
C. Jared is showing the effects of very high
arousal on performance.
D. Jared is generally a sluggish person, and
his performance is helped by his low
levels of arousal.
S o m e o f t h e i n uence of motivation in our lives is tied to physiological needs. Two
behaviors that are central to the survival of our species are eating and sex. In this section
we examine the motivational processes underlying these behaviors.
Hunger and Sex
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328 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
The Biology
of Hunger
Yo u k n o w y o u a r e h u n g r y w h e n y o u r s t o m a c h
growls and you feel those familiar hunger pangs.
What role do such signals play in hunger?
G A S T R I C S I G N A L S In 1912, Walter
Cannon and A. L. Washburn conducted an
experiment that revealed a close association
between stomach contractions and hunger (Fig-
ure 9.1). As part of the procedure, a partially
in ated balloon was passed through a tube
inserted in Washburn’s mouth and pushed down
into his stomach. A machine that measures air
pressure was connected to the balloon to mon-
itor Washburn’s stomach contractions. Every
time Washburn reported hunger pangs, his
stomach was also contracting. Sure enough, a
growling stomach needs food. The stomach
tells the brain not only how full it is but also
how much nutrient is present, which is why
rich food stops hunger faster than the same
amount of water. The hormone cholecystokinin
(CCK) helps start the digestion of food, travels
to the brain through the bloodstream, and signals us to stop eating (Moss & others, 2012).
Hunger involves a lot more than an empty stomach, however.
B L O O D C H E M I S T R Y Three key chemical substances play a role in hunger, eating,
and satiety (the state of feeling full): glucose, insulin, and leptin.
Glucose ( b l o o d s u g a r ) i s a n i m p o r t a n t f a c t o r i n h u n g e r , p r o b a b l y b e c a u s e t h e b r a i n
critically depends on sugar for energy. One set of sugar receptors, located in the brain
itself, triggers hunger when sugar levels fall too low. Another set of sugar receptors is
in the liver, which stores excess sugar and releases it into the blood when needed. The
sugar receptors in the liver signal the brain when its sugar supply falls, and this signal
also can make you hungry.
The hormone insulin also plays a role in glucose control (Hansen & others, 2012).
When we eat complex carbohydrates such as bread and pasta, insulin levels go up and
fall off gradually. When we consume simple sugars such as candy, insulin levels rise and
then fall sharply—the all-too-familiar “sugar low” (Rodin, 1984). Blood glucose levels
are affected by complex carbohydrates and simple sugars in similar ways, so we are more
likely to eat within the next several hours after eating simple sugars than after eating
complex carbohydrates.
The chemical substance leptin (from the Greek word leptos, meaning “thin”), released
by fat cells, decreases food intake and increases energy expenditure or metabolism
(Mantzoros & others, 2011). Leptin’s functions were discovered in a strain of genetically
obese mice, called ob mice (Pelleymounter & others, 1995). Because of a genetic muta-
tion, the fat cells of ob mice cannot produce leptin. The ob mouse has a low metabolism,
overeats, and gets extremely fat. Leptin appears to act as an anti-obesity hormone
(Procaccini, Jirillo, & Matarese, 2012; Vong & others, 2011). If ob mice are given daily
injections of leptin, their metabolic rate increases, and they become more active, eat less,
and lose weight. Figure 9.2 shows an untreated ob mouse and an ob mouse that has
received injections of leptin.
In humans, leptin concentrations have been linked with weight, body fat, and weight
loss in response to dieting (Lee & Bishop, 2011; Lopez & Knudson, 2012). Scientists
FIGURE 9.1 Cannon and Washburn’s Classic Experiment
on Hunger In this experiment, the researchers demonstrated that stomach
contractions, which were detected by the stomach balloon, accompany a persons
hunger feelings, which were indicated by pressing the key. Line A in the chart
records increases and decreases in the volume of the balloon in the participant’s
stomach. Line B records the passage of time. Line C records the participant’s
manual signals of feelings of hunger. Line D records a reading from the belt
around the participant’s waist to detect movements of the abdominal wall and
ensure that such movements are not the cause of changes in stomach volume.
Hunger and Nutrients
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Hunger and Sex // 329
continue to explore the possibility that dis-
orders in the production and uptake of
leptin may explain human obesity (Carnell
& others, 2012; Kissileff & others, 2012).
B R A I N P R O C E S S E S Chapter 2
described the central role of the hypo-
thalamus in regulating important body
functions, including hunger. More spe-
ci cally, activity in two areas of the
hypothalamus contributes to our under-
standing of hunger. The lateral hypothal-
amus is involved in stimulating eating.
When an electrical current is passed
through this area in a well-fed animal, the
animal begins to eat. If this part of the
hypothalamus is destroyed, even a starv-
ing animal will show no interest in food.
The ventromedial hypothalamus is involved
in reducing hunger and restricting eating.
When this area of an animals brain is stimulated, the animal stops eating. When the area
is destroyed, the animal eats profusely and quickly becomes obese.
A l t h o u g h t h e l a t e r a l a n d v e n t r o m e d i a l h y p o t h a l a m u s e s b o t h i n uence hunger, there is
much more to the brain’s role in determining hunger than these on/off centers in the
hypothalamus. Neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers that convey information
from neuron to neuron) and neural circuits (clusters of neurons that often involve
different parts of the brain) also function in hunger (Marston & others, 2011).
Leptin in uences eating by inhibiting the production of a neurotransmitter in the
hypothalamus that induces eating. The neurotransmitter serotonin is partly respon-
sible for the satiating effect of CCK, and serotonin antagonists have been used to
treat obesity in humans (Halford & others, 2011; Zhao, Goldberg, & Vaccarino, 2012).
G i v e n t h a t t h e b r a i n a n d b o d y a r e e l e g a n t l y w i r e d t o r e g u l a t e e a t i n g
behavior, why do so many people in the United States overeat and suf-
fer the effects of overeating? Sixty percent of Americans are overweight,
and one-third are considered obese (dangerously overweight) (Centers
for Disease Control & Prevention, 2009). The National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) projected that 86 percent of
Americans will be overweight or obese by 2030 if current weight trends
continue (Beydoun & Wang, 2009). A recent international comparison
of 33 developed countries revealed that the United States had the high-
est percentage of obese adults (OECD, 2010).
Being obese or overweight raises one’s risk for a variety of health
problems, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (Grundy,
2012; Roos, Quax, & Jukema, 2012). Currently, the number of people
considered overweight around the world is 20 percent higher than the
number suffering from hunger. Overweight and obesity are global
health problems.
W h y s o m a n y p e o p l e o v e r e a t t o t h e p o i n t o f o b e s i t y i s a m o t i v a t i o n a l
puzzle, because it involves eating when one is not in need of nutrition.
As is the case with much behavior, in eating, biological, cognitive, and
sociocultural factors interact in diverse ways in different individuals,
making it dif cult to point to a speci c cause (Adler & Stewart, 2009).
FIGURE 9.2 Leptin and Obesity The ob mouse on the left is untreated;
the one on the right has been given injections of leptin.
The Wor l d Heal t h
Or g a n i z a t i o n h a s us e d t h e
gl obes i t y
to refer to
the worldwide problem of
obesi t y.
Used by permission of CartoonStock,
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330 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
T H E B I O L O G Y O F O B E S I T Y Obesity clearly has a genetic component. After the
discovery of the ob gene in mice, researchers found a similar gene in humans. Some
individuals do inherit a tendency to be overweight (Almen & others, 2012). Only 10per-
cent of children who do not have obese parents become obese themselves, whereas
40 percent of children who have one obese parent become obese, and 70 percent of
children who have two obese parents become obese. Identical human twins have similar
weights, even when they are reared apart (Maes, Neal, & Eaves, 1997).
A n o t h e r f a c t o r i n w e i g h t i s set point , the weight maintained when the individual
makes no effort to gain or lose weight. Set point is determined in part by the amount of
stored fat in the body (Speakman & others, 2011). Fat is stored in ad i pose cells, or fat
cells. When these cells are lled, you do not get hungry. When people gain weight
because of genetic predisposition, childhood eating patterns, or adult overeating—their
fat-cell number increases, and they might not be able to get rid of extra ones. A normal-
weight individual has 10 to 20 billion fat cells. An obese individual can have up to
100 billion fat cells (Fried, 2008). Consequently, an obese individual has to eat more
tofeel satis ed.
P S Y C H O L O G I C A L F A C T O R S I N H U N G E R A N D O B E S I T Y Psychologists
used to think that obesity stemmed from factors such as unhappiness and external food
cues. These ideas make some sense; drowning one’s sorrows in chocolate or eating some
cookies just because they are there seems common enough to explain overeating. How-
ever, a number of factors are more important than emotional state and external stimuli
(Rodin, 1984).
Time and place affect our eating (Jaeger & others, 2011). Learned associations of
food with a particular place and time are characteristic of many organisms
(Fiese, Foley, & Spagnola, 2006). If it is noon, we are likely to feel hungry
even if we ate a big breakfast. We also associate eating with certain
places. Many people link watching television with eating and feel
uncomfortable if they are not eating something while watching TV.
From an evolutionary framework, human taste preferences
developed at a time when reliable food sources were scarce.
Our earliest ancestors probably developed a preference for
sweets and fatty foods because ripe fruit, a concentrated source
of sugar (and calories), was accessible and because high-fat foods carried much-needed
calories. Today many people still have a taste for such foods, but unlike our ancestors’
ripe fruit (containing sugar plus vitamins and minerals), the soft drinks and candy bars
we snack on ll us with nutrient-free calories. Furthermore, in modern life we rarely
require the calorie counts that our ancestors needed to survive.
Dieting is a continuing obsession in the United States. However, even if we are trying
to lose weight, we must eat to survive. For our species to survive, we also have to have
sex. Like hunger, sex has a strong physiological basis, as well as cognitive and socio-
cultural components.
The Biology of Sex
What brain areas are involved in sex? What role do hormones play in sexual motivation?
What is the nature of the human sexual response pattern? This section answers these
central questions about the biology of sex.
Motivation for sexual behavior is centered in the hypothalamus (Salu, 2011). However,
like many other areas of motivation, brain functioning related to sex radiates outward to
connect with a wide range of other brain areas in both the limbic system and the cerebral
cortex (Kuhn & Gallinat, 2011).
set point
The weight maintained
when the individual makes
no effort to gain or lose
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Hunger and Sex // 331
R e s e a r c h e r s h a v e s h o w n t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f t h e h y p o t h a l a m u s i n s e x u a l a c t i v i t y b y e l e c -
trically stimulating or surgically removing it. Electrical stimulation of certain hypothalamic
areas increases sexual behavior while surgical removal of some hypothalamic areas inhib-
its sexual behavior. Electrical stimulation of the hypothalamus in a male can lead to as
many as 20 ejaculations in an hour. The limbic system, which runs through the hypo-
thalamus, also seems to be involved in sexual behavior. Its electrical stimulation can
produce penile erection in males and orgasm in females.
In humans, the temporal lobes of the neocortex (located on the sides of the brain)
play an important role in moderating sexual arousal and directing it to an appropriate
goal object (Carroll, 2013). Temporal lobe damage in male cats has been shown to impair
the animals’ ability to select an appropriate partner. The tomcats with temporal lobe
damage try to copulate with everything in sight, including teddy bears, chairs—and even
researchers! Temporal lobe damage in humans also has been associated with changes in
sexual activity (Mendez & others, 2000).
The brain tissues that produce sexual feelings and behaviors are activated by various
neurotransmitters in conjunction with sex hormones. Like scratching an itch, sexual moti-
vation also is characterized by a basic urge-reward-relief cycle. That means that we become
sexually aroused, feel a strong urge to engage in sexual behavior, engage in that behavior,
and then experience a rewarding sensation, followed by feelings of calm relief. The moti-
vation for sex is generated by excitatory neurotransmitters (Hull & Dominguez, 2006). The
intense reward of orgasm is caused by a massive rush of dopamine, and the deep feeling
of relaxation that follows is linked with the hormone oxytocin (Magon & Kaira, 2011).
S E X H O R M O N E S The two main classes of sex hormones are estrogens and
androgens. Estrogens , the class of sex hormones that predominate in females,
are produced mainly by the ovaries. Androgens , such as testosterone, the class
of sex hormones that predominates in males, are produced by the testes in
males and by the adrenal glands in both males and females. For men, higher
androgen levels are associated with sexual motivation and orgasm frequency
(Thiessen, 2002). Research suggests that increasing testosterone in women
increases sex drive and the frequency of satisfying sexual experiences (Braunstein,
2007), although it may carry a heightened risk for breast cancer.
T H E H U M A N S E X U A L R E S P O N S E P A T T E R N W h a t p h y s i o l o g i c a l c h a n g e s
do humans experience during sexual activity? To answer this question, William Masters
and Virginia Johnson (1966) carefully observed and measured the physiological responses
of 382 female and 312 male volunteers as they masturbated or had sexual intercourse.
Masters and Johnson identi ed a human sexual response pattern consisting of four
phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.
The excitement phase begins the process of erotic responsiveness. It lasts from several
minutes to several hours, depending on the nature of the sex play involved. Engorgement
of blood vessels and increased blood ow in genital areas and muscle tension character-
ize the excitement phase. The most obvious signs of response in this phase are lubrica-
tion of the vagina and partial erection of the penis.
The second phase of the human sexual response, the plateau phase, is a continuation
and heightening of the arousal begun in the excitement phase. The increases in breathing,
pulse rate, and blood pressure that occurred during the excitement phase become more
intense, penile erection and vaginal lubrication are more complete, and orgasm is closer.
The third phase of the human sexual response cycle is orgasm , which involves an
explosive discharge of neuromuscular tension and an intensely pleasurable feeling. How
long does orgasm last? Some individuals sense that time is standing still when it takes
place, but in fact orgasm lasts for only about 3 to 15 seconds.
F o l l o w i n g o r g a s m , t h e i n d i v i d u a l e n t e r s t h e resolution phase, in which blood vessels
return to their normal state. A sex difference in this phase is that females may be stim-
ulated to orgasm again without delay. Males enter a refractory period during which they
cannot have another orgasm.
The class of sex
hormones that
predominate in
females, pro-
duced mainly by
the ovaries.
The class of sex
hormones that
predominate in
males, produced
by the testes in
males and by the
adrenal glands in
both males and
human sexual response
According to Masters and
Johnson, the characteristic
sequence of physiological
changes that humans expe-
rience during sexual activity,
consisting of four phases:
excitement, plateau,
orgasm, and resolution.
On e s u b s t a n c e t h at i s
known t o decr eas e t es t ost er one
is black licorice. Some researchers
have par t i ci pan t s eat bl ack
licorice as a way t o manipulat e
testosterone levels.
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332 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
C o g n i t i v e a n d S e n s o r y /
Perceptual Factors in Sexuality
From experience, we know that our cognitive world plays an important
role in our sexuality (Kelly, 2006). We might be sexually attracted to
someone but understand that we must inhibit our sexual urges until
the relationship has time to develop. We have the cognitive capac-
ity to think about the importance of respecting our partners and not
taking sexual advantage of someone. We also have the cognitive
capacity to generate sexual images—to become sexually aroused just by
thinking about erotic images (Hall, Hogue, & Guo, 2011).
Sexual motivation is in uenced by sexual scripts, stereotyped patterns
of expectancies for how people should behave sexually (Ross & Cole-
man, 2011). We carry these scripts with us in our memories. Typically,
women and men have different sexual scripts (Fagen & Anderson, 2011).
Women tend to link sexual intercourse with love more than men do, and
men are more likely to emphasize sexual conquest. Some sexual scripts
involve a double standard, such as, for example, judging that it is okay
for male but not female adolescents to have sex or for women to bear the
blame if they become pregnant.
Cognitive interpretation of sexual activity also involves our perceptions of
the individual with whom we are having sex and his or her perceptions of us
(Alvarez & Garcia-Marques, 2011). We imbue our sexual acts with perceptual
questions, such as is he loyal to me and what will our future relationship be
like? Amid the wash of hormones in sexual activity is the cognitive ability to
control, reason about, and try to make sense of the activity.
Sensation and perception are also involved in sexual behavior. The sensory system
of touch usually predominates during sexual intimacy, but vision also plays a powerful role
for some individuals. In general, women are more aroused by touch; men, by what they see.
Cultural Factors in Sexuality
T h e i n uence of culture on sexuality was demonstrated dramatically in a classic analysis
by John Messenger (1971) of the people living on the small island of Inis Beag off the
coast of Ireland. They knew nothing about tongue kissing or hand stimulation of the penis,
and they detested nudity. For both females and males, premarital sex was out of the ques-
tion. Men avoided most sexual experiences because they believed that sexual intercourse
reduced their energy level and was bad for their health. Under these repressive conditions,
sexual intercourse occurred only at night, taking place as quickly as possible. As you
might suspect, female orgasm was rare in this culture (Messenger, 1971).
In contrast, around the same time that Messenger was studying the people of Inis
Beag, Donald Marshall (1971) was studying the Mangaian culture in the South Paci c.
In Mangaia, young boys were taught about masturbation and encouraged to engage in it
as much as they liked. At age 13, the boys underwent a ritual, initiating them into sexual
manhood. First, their elders instructed them about sexual strategies, including how to aid
their female partner in having orgasms. Two weeks later, the boy had intercourse with
an experienced woman who helped him hold back from ejaculation until she experienced
orgasm with him. By the end of adolescence, Mangaians had sex nearly every day.
Mangaian women reported a high frequency of orgasm.
One way that societies teach youth about sex and sexuality is through formal
education. Although many topics associated with sex and sexuality spur contro-
versy, most people concerned with sex education share two relatively uncon-
troversial goals: to encourage the very young to delay sexual activity and to
reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Thi s d i f f er ence i n sexual
scr ipt s mi ght expl ain why er ot i c
ma g a z i n e s a n d mo v i e s a r e d i r e c t e d
mo r e t o w a r d me n t h a n w o me n .
Wh a t a r e s o m e a s p e c t s
of your own cul t ur e t hat
influence your sexual behavior?
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Hunger and Sex // 333
S E X E D U C A T I O N I N T H E O R Y Despite a general consensus about the goals of
sex education, there are many different opinions on how to achieve them. One form of sex
education is the abstinence-only approach, which has become increasingly common in the
United States over the past three decades. According to federal guidelines (Family and Youth
Services Bureau, 2004), abstinence-only educational programs must emphasize that any
sexual behavior outside marriage is harmful to individuals of any age. In addition, instructors
can present contraceptives and condoms only in terms of their failure rates. Abstinence-only
sex education promotes the notion that abstinence is the only effective way to avoid preg-
nancy and sexually transmitted infections (Family and Youth Services Bureau, 2004).
An alternative method is comprehensive sex education. This option involves providing
students with comprehensive knowledge about sexual behavior, birth control, and the use
of condoms in protecting against sexually transmitted infections, while encouraging them
to delay sexual activity and practice abstinence.
Which approach to sex education most effectively delays sexual activity and prevents
teen pregnancy? Research strongly indicates that comprehensive sex education outstrips
abstinence-only programs in achieving these goals (Kraft & others, 2012). Two research
reviews found that abstinence-only programs do not delay the initiation of sexual inter-
course and do not reduce HIV-risk behaviors (Kirby, 2008; Kirby, Laris, & Rolleri, 2007;
Underhill, Montgomery, & Operario, 2007). Further, a recent U.S. study of all 50 states
revealed that a policy of abstinence-only sex education was related to a higher incidence
of adolescent pregnancy (Stanger-Hall & Hall, 2011).
A number of leading experts on adolescent sexuality now conclude that sex education
programs that emphasize contraceptive knowledge do not increase the incidence of sex-
ual intercourse and are more likely to reduce the risk of adolescent pregnancy and sex-
ually transmitted infections than abstinence-only programs (Constantine, 2008; Hampton,
2008; Hyde & DeLamater, 2011). An additional key concern with abstinence-only edu-
cation is that it often includes negative and even misleading information about the effec-
tiveness of condoms, leading adolescents to be less likely to use them when they do have
sex. Some sex education programs are starting to include an “abstinence-plus sexuality”
approach that promotes abstinence as well as condom and contraceptive use (Markham
& others, 2012; Realini & others, 2010).
S E X E D U C A T I O N I N P R A C T I C E I n m a n y U . S . c o m m u n i t i e s , e d u c a t i o n a l p r a c -
tices have not caught up with the research ndings. Indeed, inadequate knowledge about
contraception, coupled with inconsistent use of effective contraceptives, has given Americans
a dubious distinction: The United States has one of the highest rates of adolescent preg-
nancy and childbearing in the developed world, with as many as one-third of young women
under the age of 20 becoming pregnant (Guttmacher Institute, 2010). Comparatively speak-
ing, U.S. teen birth rates are over twice those of Great Britain, three times those of Canada,
and at least four times the rates in France, Sweden, Germany, and Japan (Figure 9.3).
Although American adolescents are no more sexually active than their counterparts in
countries such as France and Sweden, their birth rate is much higher—perhaps because,
compared to these other nations, the United States has less comprehensive sex education
and less availability and use of condoms. Clearly, education and prevention are crucial to
progress in reducing pregnancy among adolescents (Kaneshanathan & others, 2012).
Despite the negative comparisons of the United States with many other developed countries,
there have been some encouraging trends. The U.S. adolescent birth rate fell 8 percent
from 2007 to 2009, reaching a record low in 2009 (Ventura & Hamilton, 2011).
Sexual Behavior and Orientation
In the United States, varying sexual behaviors and attitudes re ect the country’s diverse
multicultural population, and Americans collectively fall somewhere in the middle of a
continuum going from repressive to liberal. We are more conservative in our sexual
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334 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
habits than was once thought. However, we are somewhat more open-minded regarding
sexual orientation than a century ago.
I n t h i s d i s c u s s i o n , w e rst de ne sexual behavior and examine the frequencies of
different sexual practices while noting the dif culties associated with doing research in
these areas. We then turn to the factors that play a role in determining sexual orientation.
D E F I N I N G S E X U A L B E H A V I O R What constitutes sexual behavior—what we
commonly refer to as “sex”? Most people might answer that question with “vaginal
intercourse, but what about other sexual behaviors, such as anal sex and oral sex? If
someone has engaged in these practices, is he or she still a “virgin”? If your signi cant
other reported to you that he or she had recently engaged in oral sex with another person,
would you consider that sexual in delity? What if he or she spent an hour sexting an
attractive friend? These are the kinds of questions that come up in trying to de ne
sexual behavior (Medley-Rath, 2007).
O n e p o s s i b i l i t y i s t o d e ne sex as activities that are involved in reproduction and
fertilization. By this interpretation, many gay men and women are virgins, as are ado-
lescents who engage exclusively in, say, oral sex. Further, from this point of view, too,
masturbation would not be a sexual behavior.
Another approach is to de ne sexual behavior by the arousal and sexual response that
occur when the behavior is performed. Though broader, this de nition still might leave
out individuals who themselves might say that they are engaged in sexual behavior. For
instance, if a person is unable to experience sexual arousal but performs oral sex on a
partner, has that person engaged in sexual behavior? Alternatively, we might broaden the
de nition a great deal and de ne sexual behaviors to include behaviors that are speci c
to each individual and that are pleasurable in a particular way—one that is unusually
intimate and personal.
0 25 50 75 100 125 150 200 225 250175
Teen births per 1,000 women
United States
Sri Lanka
United Kingdom
China, Netherlands,
and Swit zerland
South Korea
North Korea
FIGURE 9.3 Teen
Birth Rates Across
Several Countries
Comprehensive sex education
isone reason for the differences
in teen birth rates from country
to country. What other factors
might be at work?
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Hunger and Sex // 335
15 16
Age (years)
17 18 19
FIGURE 9.4 Percentage of U.S. 15- to 19-Year-Old Boys
and Girls Who Report Engaging in Oral Sex Is it “really sex”? This
gure shows the percentage of young people under the age of 20 who report
having engaged in oral sex.
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics (2002).
Non-Cohabiting Cohabiting (Married)
Women Women
A few times
a year
A few times
a month
2–3 times
a week
4 or more
times a week
5% 7%
Confusion over what counts as sex can lead
to potentially risky behavior. For example, as
Figure 9.4 shows, oral sex has become rela-
tively common during the teen years (National
Center for Health Statistics, 2002). For many
adolescents, oral sex appears to be a recre-
ational activity, and because many individuals
under age 20 do not view the practice as sex,
they believe that it is a safe alternative to inter-
course (Song & Halpern-Felsher, 2010).
When people in the United States engage in
sexual behavior, what do they do, and how
often? Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues con-
ducted the earliest research on this topic in
1948. Kinsey is widely recognized as a pioneer
who brought scienti c attention to sexual
behavior. He was interested in studying sex objectively, without concern about guilt or
shame. He collected data wherever he could nd it, interviewing anyone willing to dis-
cuss the intimate details of his or her sex life.
T h e Kinsey Reports, p u b l i s h e d i n t w o v o l u m e s , p r e s e n t e d h i s ndings for men
(Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948) and women (Kinsey, Martin, & Pomeroy, 1953).
Among the data that shocked his readers were Kinsey’s estimates of the frequency
of bisexuality in men (nearly 12 percent) and women (7 percent) and his estimate
that at least 50 percent of married men had been sexually unfaithful. Although
acknowledged for initiating the scienti c study of sexual behavior, Kinsey’s work
was limited by the lack of representative samples.
Not until 1994 were more accurate data obtained from a well-designed, com-
prehensive study of U.S. sexual patterns. Robert Michael and his colleagues (1994)
interviewed nearly 3,500 randomly selected people from 18 to 50 years of age. Although
17 percent of the men and 3 percent of the women said they had had sex with at least
21 partners, the overall impression from the survey was that for most Americans, mar-
riage and monogamy rule sexual behavior. Married couples reported having sex most
often and were the most likely to have orgasms when they did. Figure 9.5 shows the
FIGURE 9.5 The
1994 Sex in America
Survey Percentages show
non-cohabiting and cohabiting
(married) males’ and females’
responses to the question
“How often have you had sex
in the past year?”
Recal l f r om Cha pt er 1
the importance of having
a r epr es ent at i ve s ampl e.
Kinsey’ s r esear ch incl uded
onl y t hose who wer e wi l l i ng
to talk about their sex
livesa biased sample.
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336 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
frequency of sex for married and non-cohabiting individuals in the year before the survey
was taken. Nearly 75 percent of the married men and 85 percent of the married women
indicated that they had never been unfaithful. More recent surveys have shown similar
results. For instance, in 2004 ABC polled a nationally representative sample and found
that individuals in committed relationships had more sex than singles, and the vast major-
ity reported themselves as sexually faithful (ABC News, 2004).
A recent national study of sexual behavior in the United States among adults 25 to
44 years of age found that 98 percent of the women and 97 percent of the men said that
they had ever engaged in vaginal intercourse (Chandra & others, 2011). Also in this
study, 89 percent of the women and 90 percent of the men reported that they ever had
oral sex with an opposite-sex partner, and 36 percent of the women and 44 percent of
the men stated that they ever had anal sex with an opposite-sex partner.
A recent study comprising a representative sample of nearly 3,000 Swedes examined
the frequency of different sexual behaviors in the previous month (Brody & Costa, 2009).
The results showed that on average, men reported having vaginal intercourse 5 times and
masturbating 4.5 times in the previous month. On average, women reported having vag-
inal intercourse about 5 times but masturbated less than 2 times during the previous
month. For both men and women, oral sex occurred approximately 2 times and anal sex
less than once (Brody & Costa, 2009).
Sexual attitudes and sexual behaviors are areas for which a good deal of research
has focused on differences between the sexes. However, many of the relevant studies
have relied on self-reports of sexual behaviors, so the observed differences may have
more to do with contrasting societal expectations for the two sexes than with actual
differences in behavior. A recent meta-analysis revealed that for the following factors,
stronger sex differences in sexuality were found: Men engaged in more masturbation,
viewed more pornography, reported engaging in more casual sex, and had more per-
missive attitudes about casual sex than did women (Petersen & Hyde, 2010). Recent
studies have called into question many of the established differences between males
and females in the domain of sexual behavior. To explore this research, see Challenge
Your Thinking.
Compared to men, women tend to show more changes in their sexual patterns and
sexual desires over their lifetime (Baumeister, 2000; Baumeister & Stillman, 2006;
D i a m o n d , 2 0 0 8 , 2 0 1 3 ) . W o m e n a r e m o r e l i k e l y t h a n m e n , f o r i n s t a n c e , t o h a v e h a d
sexual experiences with same- and opposite-sex partners, even if they identify them-
selves strongly as heterosexual or lesbian (Santtila & others, 2008). In contrast, male
sexual interest may be more limited to particular targets of attraction. One study com-
pared the sexual arousal of heterosexual women, lesbian women, heterosexual men, and
homosexual men while they watched erotic lms of various sexual acts featuring male
and female actors or bonobo apes. The lms included scenes of sexual activity between
same- and opposite-sex human partners and between opposite-sex bonobos, and scenes
of men and women masturbating alone or engaging in aerobic exercise while naked.
Sexual arousal was measured physiologically by monitoring the sex organs of men and
women for indicators of arousal. Both heterosexual women and lesbian women were
aroused by all of the lms showing sexual activity (including those featuring the
b o n o b o s ) . H o w e v e r , g a y m e n w e r e a r o u s e d o n l y b y t h e lms that included men, and
heterosexual men were aroused only by the lms that included women (Chivers, Seto,
& Blanchard, 2007).
S E X U A L O R I E N T A T I O N Sex is clearly an important and powerful motivation, but
we might also wonder about the related issue of the direction of a persons sexual feelings.
An individual’s sexual orientation refers to the direction of his or her erotic interests. A
person who identi es himself or herself as heterosexual is generally sexually attracted to
members of the opposite sex. Someone who identi es himself or herself as homosexual is
generally sexually attracted to members of the same sex.
Today, sexual orientation is commonly viewed as a continuum from exclusive male–
female relations to exclusive same-sex relations (B. M. King, 2012). Some individuals
sexual orientation
The direction of an individu-
al’s erotic interests, today
viewed as a continuum from
exclusive male–female rela-
tions to exclusive same-sex
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Hunger and Sex // 337
n a classic study, Russell Clark and
Elaine Hat eld (1989) sent ve men
and ve women experimenters to a col-
lege campus with a mission. They were to
approach members of the opposite sex
whom they found quite attractive and say,
“I have been noticing you around campus.
I nd you very attractive.” Then they were
toask one of three questions:
“Would you like to go out with me?”
“Would you like to go to my apartment
with me?”
“Would you like to go to bed with me?”
The independent variables in this study
were the sex of the person approached and
the type of question asked. The dependent
variable was whether that person said yes
or no to the question. The results showed
no differences between men and women in
their answers to the “going out” question—
about half of each sex said yes. However,
dramatic sex differences emerged for the
other two questions. Nearly 70 percent of
men said yes to the “apartment” question,
while most women said no. Finally, with regard to the “bed” ques-
tion, 75 percent of the men said yes, but none of the women did.
For many years, this study was recognized as supporting the predic-
tions that men are more interested in casual sex compared to
women and that women are choosier than men.
If you think about this study long enough, though, you might see
that there is a third variable, or a confound, in the study design. As
described in Chapter 1, a confound in an experiment is a variable,
other than the independent variable, that systematically differs
across the groups and that might explain the identi ed effects. In
Clark and Hat elds study, one of the independent variables was
the sex of the person approached. Terri Conley (2011) noted that
although men and women in the study differed in their willingness
to say yes to a proposal for casual sex, they were responding to
proposers who systematically differed in terms of their sex as well:
Women were always approached by men, and men were always ap-
proached by women. Isn’t it possible, Conley asked, that the sex of
the person doing the asking might have in uenced whether those
who were approached said yes to the proposal?
In a series of clever studies, Conley (2011) demonstrated that
the proposer’s characteristics in uence whether the approached
person accepts or rejects a proposal for casual sex. For instance,
Conley found that both men and women rated a male stranger as
potentially more dangerous than a female stranger. Would women
be so choosy if they were approached by a familiar person rather
than a stranger? Conley discovered that
women were more likely to report that they
would say yes to casual sex if it was offered
by a familiar person, such as an attractive
friend, or by a celebrity, such as Johnny
Depp. She also found that bisexual women
were more likely to say they would engage
in casual sex with a female, but not a male,
who approached them.
Other established gender differences in
sexuality have also begun to fall by the way-
side. For instance, men often report having
more sex partners than women. In a study
using a fake lie detector test (called the bo-
gus pipeline), however, this difference dis-
appeared when men and women thought
that the researchers could tell if they were
lying (Alexander & Fisher, 2003). Do men at
least think about having sex more often
than women do? In another study, under-
graduate participants kept tallies of how
many times they thought about sex, food,
and sleep for a week (Fisher, Moore, &
Pittenger, 2012). Men did report thinking
about sex more than women did. However,
men also thought about food and sleep
more than their female counterparts did. The researchers con-
cluded that men may be more focused than women on their own
physical needs.
Similarly, “everybody knows” that men are more interested in
physical attractiveness and that women are more interested in
status when it comes to selecting romantic partners, right? In one
study, Paul Eastwick and Eli Finkel (2008) set up a series of speed-
dating events to examine these assumed differences. Although
before-the-event ratings of desirable characteristics in romantic
partners followed the stereotypi-
cal patterns, men and women
valued appearance and status
equally in their selections in the
actual speed-dating events.
This emerging evidence cau-
tions us to bear in mind that
large differences may result
from societal expectations that
may in uence the accuracy of
self-reports (Conley & others,
2011). Even research that con-
rms what people think they
know must be held up to
How Different Are Men and Women
When It Comes to Sex?
What Do You Think?
Why did it evidently take
solong for someone to
pointout the third variable
problem in the Clark and
Hat eld study?
About which other topics
doyou think research
participants may be likely to
lie? Why?
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338 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
self-identify as bise x ual, m e a n i n g t h a t t h e y a r e s e x u a l l y a t t r a c t e d t o
people of both sexes. Despite the widespread use of labels such as
“homosexual,” “gay,“lesbian,and “bisexual,some researchers argue
that they are misleading. Because a person’s erotic attractions may be
uid, these commentators say, references to a construct such as a xed
sexual orientation ignores the potential exibility of human sexual
attraction and behavior (Diamond, 2008, 2013).
I t i s d i f cult to know precisely how many gays, lesbians, and bisex-
uals there are in the world, partly because fears of discrimination may
prevent individuals from answering honestly on surveys. Estimates of
the frequency of homosexuality range from 2 percent to 10 percent of
the population and are typically higher for men than women (Zietsch &
others, 2008). A national survey revealed that the percentage of Amer-
icans who identify themselves as heterosexual was 90 percent for men
and women (Mosher, Chandra, & Jones, 2005). Approximately 4.1per-
cent reported themselves as homosexual or bisexual—essentially, 5 mil-
lion Americans between the ages of 18 and 44. In another U.S. survey
of 25- to 44-year-olds, twice as many women (12 percent) reported
ever having same-sex contact in their lifetime compared with men
(5.8percent) (Chandra & others, 2011).
R e s e a r c h s h o w s t h a t g a y a n d l e s b i a n i n d i v i d u a l s a r e s i m i l a r t o t h e i r
heterosexual counterparts in many ways. Regardless of their sexual
orientation, all people have similar physiological responses during
sexual arousal and seem to be aroused by the same types of tactile stimulation. Investi-
gators typically nd no differences among lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and heterosexuals
in a wide range of attitudes, behaviors, and psychological adjustment (Allen &
Diamond, 2012). Many gender differences that appear in heterosexual relation-
ships occur in same-sex relationships (Fingerhut & Peplau, 2013; Peplau &
Fingerhut, 2007).
What explains a person’s sexual orientation? Speculation about this ques-
tion has been extensive (Hock, 2012). Scientists have learned about factors
that do not p r e d i c t s e x u a l o r i e n t a t i o n . F i r s t , b e i n g r e a r e d b y a g a y p a r e n t d o e s
not increase the chances of being gay (Patterson & Farr, 2012). In fact, the vast
majority of gay individuals have heterosexual parents. Nor does a particular
parenting style relate to the emergence of homosexuality (Bell, Weinberg, &
Hammersmith, 1981). Think about it for a moment: Any theory of sexual orientation
must be able to explain not only homosexuality but also heterosexuality. G i v e n t h e
many different ways in which parents interact with their children and the fact that
the vast majority of people are heterosexual, it seems unlikely that the emergence
of heterosexuality is explained by particular parenting strategies. Furthermore, the
fact that most homosexual and bisexual individuals have heterosexual parents con-
tradicts the in uence of observational learning or modeling in the development of
sexual orientation. Further, same-sex sexual experience or experimentation in child-
hood does not predict eventual adult homosexuality (Bailey, 2003; Bogaert, 2000).
Researchers have examined genes as a factor in sexual orientation by using twins to
estimate the heritability of sexual orientation. Recall from Chapter 7 that heritability is
a statistic that indicates the extent to which observed differences in a given characteris-
tic can be explained based on differences in genes. Recently, a study of nearly 4,000
twins in Sweden demonstrated that the heritability of same-sex sexual behavior was about
35 percent in men and 19 percent in women (Langstrom & others, 2010). These herita-
bility estimates suggest that although genes play a role in sexual orientation, genes are
not as strong an in uence as they are for other characteristics, such as intelligence.
Genetic explanations for homosexuality present a puzzle for evolutionary psycholo-
gists. How can a characteristic that seems to decrease a person’s likelihood of reproduc-
ing be passed down genetically? One possibility is that some of the same genes that
contribute to homosexuality may also lead to reproductive success for heterosexual
An individual’s sexual orientation is most likely
determined by a combination of genetic,
hormonal, cognitive, and environmental
Hom os ex ual beh av i or has
been obser ved i n near l y 1, 5 0 0
speci es of ani mals, i ncl uding r at s,
nonhuman pr i mat es , ost r i ches,
goat s , guppi es , dol phi ns , and f r ui t
flies (Bagemihl, 1999; Sommer
and Vasey, 2 0 0 6 ) .
Es s en t i al l y , gay men ar e
qui t e s i mi l ar t o het er os ex ual
me n , a n d l e s b i a n s a r e q u i t e
simi lar t o het er osexual
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Hunger and Sex // 339
individuals who possess them (Iemmola
& Ciani, 2009). Research has examined
twin pairs in which one twin is hetero-
sexual and the other homosexual (Zietsch
& others, 2008). Heterosexual twins of
homosexual individuals are likely to pos-
sess attractive qualities (such as, for men,
being caring and gentle; and for women,
being assertive and sexually open) and to
have more sex partners than heterosexual
individuals with heterosexual twins (Zietsch
& others, 2008).
Clearly, much remains to be explained
about the determination of sexual orienta-
tion. Similar to many other psychological
characteristics, an individual’s sexual ori-
entation most likely depends on a combi-
nation of genetic, hormonal, cognitive,
and environmental factors (Langstrom &
others, 2010). Most experts believe that
no one factor alone causes sexual orientation and that the relative weight of each factor
can vary from one individual to the next.
Whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, a person cannot be talked out of his or
her sexual orientation. Homosexuality is present in all cultures, regardless of whether a
culture is accepting or intolerant. Research tells us that whether one is homosexual, het-
erosexual, or bisexual, sexual orientation is not a choice but an integral part of the func-
tioning human being and his or her sense of self (Katz, 1995; Worthington & others, 2008).
A v a i l a b l e e v i d e n c e s u g g e s t s t h a t g a y a n d l e s b i a n h o u s e h o l d s e x i s t i n 9 9 p e r c e n t o f
counties throughout the United States, and approximately one in four of these households
includes children (O’Barr, 2006). Children reared by gay men and lesbian women tend
to be as well adjusted as those from heterosexual households, are no more likely to be
homosexual themselves, and are no less likely to be accepted by their peers (Patterson,
2012a; Patterson & Farr, 2012).
In the United States, gay marriage and gay parenting have generated strong contro-
versy, especially in political election years. In addressing the central issues in the debate,
psychologists rely on scienti c evidence. Based on the research reviewed above, the
American Psychological Association issued a press release supporting gay marriage and
opposing discrimination against gay men and lesbian women in matters such as parent-
ing, adoption, and child custody (American Psychological Association, 2004).
Same-sex marriage is a contentious social issue in the United States.
1. Obesity
A. does not have a genetic component.
B. is linked to good health.
C. is associated with the body’s set
D. has most recently decreased in the
United States.
2. The brain structure(s) primarily involved
in motivation for sexual behavior is(are)
A. hypothalamus.
B. temporal lobes.
C. hippocampus.
D. medulla.
3. Research indicates that one factor that
can predict a person’s sexual orientation is
A. the parenting style with which he or
she grew up.
B. having a homosexual parent.
C. having a heterosexual parent.
D. genetic background.
A P P L Y I T ! 4. A small town’s school
board is considering what type of sex
education program to adopt for the high
school. A number of individuals have ex-
pressed concern that giving students infor-
mation about contraception will send the
message that it is okay to engage in sexual
activity. Which of the following reflects the
research relevant to this issue?
A. Students who are given information
about contraception generally have sex
earlier and more frequently than
individuals who are not given this
B. Students who are given abstinence-only
education are least likely to engage in
sex at all.
C. Sex education in schools has shown
norelationship to adolescent sexual
D. Students who are given comprehensive
information about contraception are less
likely to become pregnant during adoles-
cence and are not more likely to engage
in sexual activity.
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340 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
Beyond Hunger and Sex:
Motivation in Everyday Life
Love and Belongingness
FIGURE 9.6 Maslows Hierarchy of
Needs Abraham Maslow developed the hierarchy
of human needs to show that we have to satisfy basic
physiological needs before we can satisfy other, higher
Food and sex are crucial to human survival. Surviving is not all we do, however.
Think about the wide range of human actions and achievements reported in the
news—everything from a mans donation of his kidney to the rise of a woman who
grew up in poverty to be the CEO of a major corporation. Such behavior is not eas-
ily explained by motivational approaches that focus on physiological needs. Today
psychologists appreciate the role of the goals that people set for themselves in moti-
vation. In this section, we explore the ways that psychologists explain the processes
underlying everyday human behavior.
Maslows Hierarchy of Human Needs
Humanistic theorist Abraham Maslow (1954, 1971) proposed a hierarchy of needs
(Figure 9.6) that must be satis ed in the following sequence: physiological
needs, safety, love and belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. The
strongest needs are at the base of the hierarchy (physiological), and the weak-
est are at the top (self-actualization). According to this hierarchy, people are
motivated to satisfy their need for food rst and to satisfy their need for
safety before their need for love. If we think of our needs as calls for action,
hunger and safety needs shout loudly, while the need for self-actualization
beckons with a whisper. Maslow asserted that each lower need in the hier-
archy comes from a de ciency, such as being hungry, afraid, or lonely, and
that we see the higher-level needs in a person who is relatively sated in these
basic needs. Such an individual can turn his or her attention to the ful llment of
a higher calling, achieving a sense of meaning by contributing something
of lasting value to the world.
Self-actualization , the highest and most elusive of Maslow’s
needs, is the motivation to develop one’s full potential as a human
being. According to Maslow, self-actualization is possible only
after the other needs in the hierarchy are met.
Maslow cautions that most people stop
moving up the hierarchy after they have
developed a high level of esteem and
thus do not become self-actualized. We
will return to Maslow’s notion of self-
actualization in Chapter 10.
Recently, psychologists have
been conducting research on the
motivations of people who want
to impact the world through
horrifying behavior—through
acts of violence intended to
instill abject fear in others.
These provocative studies on the
motivations of terrorists are the
subject of the Intersection.
The idea that human motives are hierarchi-
cally arranged is appealing; however, Maslow’s
ordering of the needs is debatable. Some people,
for example, might seek greatness in a career to
achieve self-esteem while putting on hold their needs
hierarchy of needs
Maslow’s theory
that human
needs must be
satisfi ed in the
following se-
quence: physi-
ological needs,
safety, love and
esteem, and self-
The motivation
to develop one’s
full potential as a
human being—
the highest and
most elusive of
Maslow’s pro-
posed needs.
Maslow l at er added
self -
as a need even
hi gher t han sel f - ac t ual i zat i on. Sel f -
transcendence involves a level of
ex per i ence t hat i s beyond t he s el f ,
including spirit ualit y, compassion,
and mor al i t y. What ot her needs
do you t hi nk M as l ow l ef t out
of hi s or i gi nal hi er ar chy?
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Beyond Hunger and Sex: Motivation in Everyday Life // 341
mong the most psychologically
puzzling acts of terrorism are
suicide attacks such as those
perpetrated by individuals who
strap deadly bombs to their own bodies
to be detonated in public places, as well
as the actions of the individuals who
carried out the attacks on September
11, 2001. Such acts involve not only the
slaughter of sometimes massive num-
bers of innocent people but also the
perpetrators’ own deaths. The motiva-
tions that characterize suicide bombers
have been described as a “fatal cock-
tail” (Crenshaw, 2007) of complex moti-
vational forces (Bloom, 2005). Is it possible to clarify the
motivations of suicide attackers as a step toward preventing
these horri c acts?
Terrorist groups might claim that the motivation for their violent
tactics is to promote social change. In contrast, in uential individ-
uals throughout history, among them Mahatma Gandhi and
Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr., have advocated nonviolence as the key
to successful social change. From this perspective, individuals
who desire lasting change can best achieve their goals by staging
peaceful protests, hunger strikes, or boycotts. How can we
understand the motivational dynamics that separate those who
embrace violent versus nonviolent tactics?
Getting inside the mind of a suicide attacker is a challenge. Af-
ter all, the individual cannot be questioned after the fact. However,
a rich source of evidence is provided by farewell letters, wills, and
video messages left by suicide attackers to explain their actions.
The very existence of these documents provides an important clue
to the motivations that underlie suicide bombings, suggesting the
attackers’ desire to become public martyrs who will be remem-
bered after their demise (Kruglanski & others, 2009).
Social psychologist Arie Kruglanski and his colleagues have
sought to identify the goals of suicide bombers (Kruglanski, 2009;
Kruglanski, Gelfand, & Gunaratna, 2012; Kruglanski & Orehek,
2011; Kruglanski, Sharvit, & Fishman, 2011). The researchers
have concluded from their work (funded by the Department of
Homeland Security) that a key goal energizes the many motives of
suicide bombers: the quest for personal signi cance. But how can
we make sense of people who strive for such signi cance by kill-
ing not only others but also themselves in the process?
To understand the paradox of ending one’s own life as a
means of ensuring personal signi cance, recall terror manage-
ment theory (TMT) from Chapter 8. TMT holds that when reminded
of our own mortality, we are more likely to strongly endorse a cul-
tural worldview. By committing to a culturally supported ideology,
we gain a sense that our life has mattered (Cohen & Solomon,
2011). These motivations are thought to
be common to all human beings: We all
want to feel as if our life has meaning in
ways that will outlive us.
Kruglanski and his colleagues (2009)
suggest that individuals who perpetrate
suicidal acts of terrorism have been radi-
calized by real-life reminders of their own
mortality. Prior to committing suicide
bombings, for example, many of the per-
petrators had experienced the loss of a
loved one, often as a result of violence.
The experience of loss was a common
catalyst or turning point: Individuals who
had not previously been especially stri-
dent in their beliefs became more extreme in their views and in
their endorsement of cultural values after the killing of a family
member (Spekhard & Akhmedova, 2005). Encounters with trau-
matic loss may lead individuals to shift to more extreme ideologi-
cal views and to more collectivistic (versus individualistic) ways of
achieving a legacy in the world (Kruglanski & others, 2009).
A close examination of over 300 farewell videos made by suicide
bombers supports this idea (Kruglanski & others, 2009). The re-
searchers found that the most common justi cation for the bomb-
ers’ acts was the importance of an ideology or a worldview. Other
common themes were a sense of alienation, deprivation, and hu-
miliation and a feeling that one’s group had been treated unfairly.
Kruglanski and his colleagues suggest that individuals who sense
for a prolonged period of time that they do not have any signi -
cance in the world are motivated to enhance their importance by
perpetrating suicidal acts of terror in the name of personal ideol-
ogy. In this way, bizarre acts of suicidal terror can be seen to spring
from the common human longing for signi cance—for mattering
With respect to counterterrorism efforts, this research sug-
gests that removing groups’ ability to perpetrate terrorist acts will
go only so far—if we block one way, motivated individuals will nd
another. A superior strategy might target the factors that lead indi-
viduals to the goal of attaining personal signi cance through a
horri c act of suicide. Speci cally, the
researchers propose that counterter-
rorism measures be directed at
decreasing alienation, minimizing
civilian deaths in military operations,
and demonstrating respect for oth-
ers’ cultural customs. These strate-
gies, they argue, may help to reduce
feelings of lost signi cance and to
prevent violent attempts to reinstate
that signi cance.
Motivation and Social Psychology:
What Motivates Suicide Bombers?
How do a suicide
bomber’s motives compare
to those of a soldier who
dies for a cause?
What does this research
imply for an incident such
as the inadvertent burning
of religious texts?
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342 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
for love and belongingness. Certainly history is full of examples of individuals who, in
the most dif cult circumstances, were still able to perform acts of kindness that seem to
come from higher-level needs. Research demonstrates that poor individuals are more
likely than wealthy individuals to give generously to others (Piff & others, 2010).
Perhaps Maslow’s greatest contribution to our understanding of motivation is that he
asked the key question about motivation for modern people: How can we explain what
humans do, once their bellies are full? That is, how do we explain the “why” of human
behavior when survival is not the most pressing need? This is the kind of questioning
that inspired self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002).
Self-Determination Theory
Building from Maslow’s humanistic approach, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan (2000)
have explored the role of motivation in optimal human functioning from a perspective
that emphasizes particular kinds of needs as factors in psychological and physical well-
being. Their self-determination theory a s s e r t s t h a t t h e r e a r e t h r e e b a s i c o r g a n i s m i c
needs: competence, relatedness, and autonomy. These psychological needs are innate and
exist in every person. They are basic to human growth and functioning, just as water,
soil, and sunshine are necessary for plant growth. This metaphor is especially apt, because
once we plant a seed, all it requires to thrive and grow is a supportive environment.
Similarly, self-determination theory holds that all of us have the capacity for growth and
ful llment in us, ready to emerge if given the right context.
From the perspective of self-determination theory, these organismic needs do not arise
from de cits. Self-determination theory is not a drive reduction theory. Like Maslow,
Deci and Ryan argue that these needs concern personal growth, not the lling of de -
ciencies (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2009). Let’s exam-
ine each of these needs in depth.
T h e rst organismic need described by self-determination
theory, competence, is met when we feel that we are able to bring
about desired outcomes (Reis & others, 2000). Competence moti-
vation involves self-ef cacy (the belief that you have the compe-
tence to accomplish a given goal or task) and mastery (the sense
that you can gain skills and overcome obstacles). Competence is
also related to expectancies for success. One domain in which
competence needs may be met is in the realm of achievement.
Some individuals are highly motivated to succeed and spend con-
siderable effort striving to excel.
T h e s e c o n d o r g a n i s m i c n e e d d e s c r i b e d b y s e l f - d e t e r m i n a t i o n
theory is relatedness— t h e n e e d t o e n g a g e i n w a r m r e l a t i o n s w i t h
other people. Some psychologists have proposed that the need to
belong is the strongest human motivator (Baumeister & Leary,
2000). The need for relatedness is re ected in the importance of
parents’ nurturing children’s development, the intimate moments
of sharing private thoughts in friendship, the uncomfortable feel-
ings we have when we are lonely, and the powerful attraction we
have for someone else when we are in love.
The third need proposed by self-determination theory is
autonomy —the sense that we are in control of our own life.
Autonomy means being independent and self-reliant, and it is a
key aspect of feeling that one’s behavior is self-motivated and
emerging from genuine interest (Weinstein, Deci, & Ryan, 2011).
Of course, many of the behaviors we engage in may feel like
things we are forced to do, but a sense of autonomy is strongly
related to well-being (Sheldon & others, 2005). Kennon Sheldon
self-determination theory
Deci and Ryan’s theory as-
serting that all humans have
three basic, innate organis-
mic needs: competence,
relatedness, and autonomy.
Paralympics competitors command powerful self-
determination. Paralympic sprinting and long-jump
medalist Kelly Cartwright says, “To advance in life
you need to believe in yourself and you need to set
goals for yourself. Push yourself, because you can
achieve anything in life if you put your mind to it”
(Paralympic Movement, 2012).
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Beyond Hunger and Sex: Motivation in Everyday Life // 343
and colleagues (2005) have found that age relates to the experience of autonomy. For
example, older Americans feel more autonomous than younger Americans when paying
taxes, voting, and tipping.
Research on the role of motivation in well-being supports the idea that progress on
goals that serve the three organismic needs is strongly related to well-being (Park &
others, 2012; Sheldon & Elliot, 1998). Further, valuing more extrinsic qualities—such
as money, prestige, and physical appearance—over these organismic concerns is associ-
ated with lowered well-being, lowered self-actualization, and physical illness (Kasser &
Ryan, 1996; Kasser & others, 2004).
Like any theory, self-determination theory has ignited some controversies. One impor-
tant issue is the extent to which the three needs are universal. Cultures vary in how
strongly they promote the needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy. Many West-
ern cultures—among them, the United States, Canada, and western European countries—
are termed individualistic because they emphasize individual achievement, independence,
and self-reliance. In contrast, many Eastern cultures—such as China, Japan, and Korea—
are called collectivistic because they stress af liation, cooperation, and interdependence
(Triandis, 2000). However, cross-cultural evidence suggests that the needs emphasized
by self-determination theory are likely to be valued in both Western and Eastern cultures
(Sheldon & others, 2001).
S e l f - d e t e r m i n a t i o n t h e o r y m a i n t a i n s t h a t o n e o f t h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t a s p e c t s o f h e a l t h y
motivation is the sense that we do the things we do because we have freely chosen to
do them. When we can choose our behaviors and feel ownership over those choices, we
are likely to experience heightened ful llment (Blumenfeld, Kempler, & Krajcik, 2006).
When our behaviors follow from the needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness,
we experience intrinsic motivation. When our behavior serves needs for other values,
such as prestige, money, or approval, our behavior is extrinsically motivated (Deci &
Ryan, 1994; Ryan & Deci, 2000, 2001, 2009). We examine this important distinction
between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation next.
Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Motivation
O n e w a y p s y c h o l o g i s t s u n d e r s t a n d t h e w h y o f o u r g o a l s i s b y d i s t i n g u i s h i n g b e t w e e n
intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is based on internal factors such
as organismic needs (competence, relatedness, and autonomy), as well as curiosity, chal-
lenge, and fun. When we are intrinsically motivated, we engage in a behavior because
we enjoy it. Extrinsic motivation involves external incentives such as rewards and pun-
ishments. When we are extrinsically motivated, we engage in a behavior for some exter-
nal payoff or to avoid an external punishment. Some students
study hard because they are internally motivated to put forth
considerable effort and achieve high quality in their work
(intrinsic motivation). Other students study hard because
they want to make good grades or avoid parental disap-
proval (extrinsic motivation).
I f s o m e o n e i s p r o d u c i n g s h o d d y w o r k , s e e m s b o r e d , o r
has a negative attitude, offering an external incentive may
improve motivation. There are times, though, when external
rewards can diminish intrinsic motivation. The problem with
using a reward as an incentive is that individuals may per-
ceive that the reward rather than their own motivation caused
their achievement behavior. Many psychologists believe that
intrinsic motivation has more positive outcomes than extrin-
sic motivation (Blumenfeld, Kempler, & Krajcik, 2006;
Patell, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008; Ryan & Deci, 2009).
They argue that intrinsic motivation is more likely to produce
intrinsic motivation
Motivation based on inter-
nal factors such as organis-
mic needs (competence,
relatedness, and autonomy),
as well as curiosity, chal-
lenge, and fun.
Motivation that
involves external
incentives such
as rewards and
“Mr. Frimley, sir, can I have a word about the
motivational artwork . . .”
Used by permission of CartoonStock,
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344 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
competent behavior and mastery. Indeed, research comparisons often reveal that people
whose motivation is intrinsic show more interest, excitement, and con dence in what they
are doing than those whose motivation is extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation often results in
improved performance, persistence, creativity, and self-esteem (Ryan & Deci, 2009).
Some psychologists stress that many very successful individuals are both intrinsically
motivated (they have high personal standards of achievement and emphasize personal
effort) and extrinsically motivated (they are strongly competitive). For the most part,
however, psychologists believe that intrinsic motivation is the key to achievement
(Blumenfeld, Kempler, & Krajcik, 2006), although elite athletes such as Olympic team
members, as well as individuals who are highly successful in the business world, may
be motivated by both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Indeed, many of us might think of
the ideal occupation as one in which we get paid well (an extrinsic reward) for doing
the very thing we love to do (intrinsic motivation).
Self-Regulation: The Successful
Pursuit of Goals
T o d a y m a n y p s y c h o l o g i s t s a p p r o a c h m o t i v a t i o n b y a s k i n g a b o u t g o a l s a n d v a l u e s a n d
seeking to understand how these motivational forces shape behavior. Psychologists have
referred to goals by various names, including personal pr o jects, best possible selves, life
tasks, a n d personal strivings ( K i n g , 2 0 0 8 ) . A l l o f t h e s e t e r m s r e ect the goals a person
is trying to accomplish in everyday life. Self-generated goals can range from trivial mat-
ters (such as letting a bad haircut grow out) to life tasks (such as becoming a good parent).
Goal approaches to motivation include self-regulation , the process by which an organ-
ism effortfully controls behavior in order to pursue important objectives (Carver &
Scheier, 2000). A key aspect of self-regulation is getting feedback about how we are
doing in our goal pursuits (Winne, 2011). Our daily mood has been proposed as a way
that we may receive this feedback—that is, we feel good or bad depending on how we
are doing in the areas of life we value. Note that the role of mood in self-regulation
means that we cannot be happy all the time. To pursue our goals effectively, we have to
be open to the bad news that might occasionally come our way (King, 2008).
Putting our personal goals into action is a potentially complex process that involves
setting goals, planning for their implementation, and monitoring our progress. Individu-
als’ success improves when they set goals that are speci c and moderately challenging
(Bandura, 1997; Schunk, 2011). A fuzzy, nonspeci c goal is “I want to be successful.
A concrete, speci c goal is “I want to have a 3.5 average at the end of the semester.
You can set both long-term and short-term goals. When you set long-term goals, such
as “I want to be a clinical psychologist,make sure that you also create short-term goals
as steps along the way, such as “I want to get an A on my next psychology test.Make
commitments in manageable chunks. Planning how to reach a goal and monitoring prog-
ress toward the goal are critical aspects of achievement. Researchers have found that
high-achieving individuals monitor their own learning and systematically evaluate their
progress toward their goals more than low-achieving individuals do (Schunk, 2011;
Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011).
Even as we keep our nose to the grindstone in pursuing short-term goals, it is also
important to have a sense of the big picture. Dedication to a long-term dream or per-
sonal mission can enhance the experience of purpose in life. In his book The Path to
Purpose: Helping Our Children Find Their Calling in Life, William Damon (2008)
describes how purpose is a missing ingredient in many adolescents and emerging
adults’ achievement orientation and career success. For Damon, purpose is an intention
to accomplish a goal that is meaningful to oneself and to contribute something to the
world. Finding purpose involves answering such questions as Why am I doing this?
Why does it matter? Why is it important for me and the world beyond me? Why do I
strive to accomplish this end?” (Damon, 2008, pp. 33–34). While short-term goals can
The process by which an
organism effortfully controls
behavior in order to pursue
important objectives.
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Emotion // 345
provide a sense of accomplishment, attaching these goals to a future dream can allow
individuals to experience a sense of meaning and to maintain their efforts in the face
of short-term failure (Houser-Marko & Sheldon, 2008).
1. Rank-order the following needs accord-
ing to Maslow’s hierarchy: hunger, self-
esteem, social relationships, safety.
A. Social relationships must be fulfi lled
rst, followed by hunger, safety, and
nally self-esteem.
B. Self-esteem must be fulfi lled fi rst,
followed by social relationships,
safety, and hunger.
C. Hunger must be fulfi lled fi rst, fol-
lowed by safety, social relationships,
and fi nally self-esteem.
D. Safety must be fulfi lled fi rst,
followed by hunger, social relation-
ships, and fi nally self-esteem.
2. According to self-determination theory,
self-efficacy is most related to the need for
A. autonomy.
B. relatedness.
C. competence.
D. self-actualization.
3. Of the following, the individual who will
likely perform best is someone with
A. high extrinsic motivation.
B. low extrinsic motivation.
C. high intrinsic motivation.
D. low intrinsic motivation.
APPLY IT! 4. Kim cannot wait to play
with her new Xbox. Unfortunately, she has an
exam tomorrow and needs to study instead of
trying out her new game. Which strategy
should help Kim do well on the exam?
A. Kim should put the new game cartridge
up on her bookshelf as a reminder that
she can have fun soon if she studies.
B. Kim should allow herself to look the
game over and maybe even play a little
before settling down to study.
C. Kim should put the game away where
she cannot even see it or think about it.
She will then be able to study without
D. Kim should play with the game for as long
as she likes, to get it out of her system.
Motivation and emotion are closely linked. We can feel happy or sad depending on how
events in uence the likelihood of our getting the things we want in life. Sometimes our
emotions take us by surprise and give us a reality check about what we really want. We
might think, for example, that we have lost interest in our romantic partner
until that person initiates a breakup. Suddenly, we realize how much he or
she really means to us. Anyone who has watched an awards show on televi-
sion surely knows the link between motivation and emotion. Strolling in on
the red carpet, the celebrities stress how honored they are to be nominated;
but behind the Hollywood smiles is the longing to win. When the announce-
ment is made, And the Oscar goes to . . . ,the cameras zoom in to catch
a glimpse of real emotion: the winner’s face lighting up with joy and, of
course, the moment of disappointment for the others.
Emotions are certainly complex. The body, the mind, and the face play
key roles in emotion, although psychologists debate which of these compo-
nents is most signi cant in emotion and how they mix to produce emotional
experiences (Davidson, Scherer, & Goldsmith, 2002; Kalat & Shiota, 2012).
For our purposes, emotion is feeling, or affect, t h a t c a n i n v o l v e p h y s i o l o g i c a l
arousal (such as a fast heartbeat), conscious experience (thinking about being
in love with someone), and behavioral expression (a smile or grimace).
Biological Factors in Emotion
A f r i e n d w h o m y o u h a v e b e e n c o u n s e l i n g a b o u t a l i f e p r o b l e m c a l l s y o u t o
say, “We need to talk.” As the time of your friend’s visit approaches, you get
nervous. What could be going on? You feel burdened—you have a lot of work
to do, and you do not have time for a talk session. You also worry that she
might be angry or disappointed about something you have done. When she
arrives with a gift-wrapped package and a big smile, your nerves give way to
relief. She announces, “I wanted to give you this present to say thanks for all
Feeling, or affect,
that can involve
arousal (such as
afast heartbeat),
conscious experi-
ence (thinking
about being in
love with some-
one), and behav-
ioral expression
(a smile or
Octavia Spencer displayed a range of
emotions, from surprise to joy to
gratitude, when she won the Academy
Award for Best Supporting Actress for
the fi lm The Help in 2012.
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346 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
your help over the last few weeks.” Your heart warms, and you feel a strong sense of your
enduring bond with her. As you moved through the emotions of worry, relief, and joy,
your body changed. Indeed, the body is a crucial part of our emotional experience.
A R O U S A L Recall from Chapter 2 that the autonomic nervous system (ANS) takes
messages to and from the body’s internal organs, monitoring such processes as breathing,
heart rate, and digestion. The ANS is divided into the sympathetic and the parasympa-
thetic nervous systems (Figure 9.7). The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is involved
in the body’s arousal; it is responsible for a rapid reaction to a stressor, sometimes
referred to as the ght-or- ight response. The SNS immediately causes an increase in
blood pressure, a faster heart rate, more rapid breathing for greater oxygen intake, and
more ef cient blood ow to the brain and major muscle groups. All of these changes
prepare us for action. At the same time, the body stops digesting food, because it is not
necessary for immediate action (which could explain why just before an exam, students
usually are not hungry).
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) calms the body. Whereas the sympathetic
nervous system prepares the individual for ghting or running away, the parasympathetic
nervous system promotes relaxation and healing. When the PNS is activated, heart rate
and blood pressure drop, stomach activity and food digestion increase, and breathing
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems evolved to improve the human
species’ likelihood for survival, but it does not take a life-threatening situation to activate
them. Emotions such as anger and fear are associated with elevated SNS activity as
exempli ed in heightened blood pressure and heart rate. States of happiness and content-
ment also activate the SNS to a lesser extent.
M E A S U R I N G A R O U S A L B e c a u s e a r o u s a l i n c l u d e s a p h y s i o l o g i c a l r e s p o n s e ,
researchers have been intrigued by how to measure it accurately. One aspect of emotional
arousal is skin conductance level (SCL) response, a rise in the skin’s electrical conductiv-
ity when sweat gland activity increases. A sweaty palm conducts electricity better than
a dry palm, and this difference provides the basis for SCL, which produces an index of
arousal that has been used in many studies of emotion.
Sym pathetic Nervous System
Parasym pathetic Nervous System
Blood flow
to brain
Pupils of
Adrenal gland
Increases; stress
hormones released
Decreases; stress
hormones inhibited
FIGURE 9.7 The
Autonomic Nervous
System and Its Role in
Arousing and Calming
the Body The two parts
of the autonomic nervous
system work in different ways.
The sympathetic nervous
system arouses the body in
reaction to a stressor, evoking
the ght-or- ight response. In
contrast, the parasympathetic
nervous system calms the
body, promoting relaxation and
healing. Remember, the latter
system functions to “rest and
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Emotion // 347
Another measure of arousal is the polygraph or lie detector, a machine examiners
use to try to determine whether someone is lying. The polygraph monitors changes in
the body—heart rate, breathing, and SCL—thought to be in uenced by emotional states.
I n a t y p i c a l p o l y g r a p h t e s t , t h e e x a m i n e r a s k s t h e i n d i v i d u a l a n u m b e r o f n e u t r a l
questions and several key, less neutral questions. If the individual’s heart rate, breathing,
and SCL responses increase substantially when the key questions are asked, the indi-
vidual is assumed to be lying (Grubin, 2010). Lying also has been linked with certain
emotional facial expressions (Porter & ten Brinke, 2008; ten Brinke & others, 2012;
Warren, Schertler, & Bull, 2009).
How accurate is the lie detector? Although it measures the degree of arousal to a
series of questions, no one has found a unique physiological response to telling lies
(Lykken, 1987, 2001; Seymour & others, 2000). Heart rate and breathing can increase
for reasons other than lying, and this effect can make it dif cult to interpret the
physiological indicators of arousal. Accurately identifying truth or deception is
linked with the skill of both the examiner and the individual being examined. Body
movements and the presence of certain drugs in the person’s system can interfere
with the polygraph’s accuracy. Sometimes the mere presence of the polygraph and
the individual’s belief that it is accurate in detecting deception trigger a confession of
guilt. Police may use the polygraph in this way to get a suspect to confess. However, in
too many instances it has been misused and misrepresented. Experts argue that the poly-
graph errs just under 50 percent of the time, especially as it cannot distinguish between
such feelings as anxiety and guilt (Iacono & Lykken, 1997).
The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 restricts polygraph testing outside
government agencies, and most courts do not accept the results of lie detectors. However,
some psychologists defend the polygraph’s use, saying that polygraph results are as
sound as other admissible forms of evidence, such as hair ber analysis (Grubin &
Madsen, 2006; Honts, 1998). The majority of psychologists, though, argue against the
polygraph’s use because of its inability to tell who is lying and who is not (Iacono &
Lykken, 1997; Lykken, 1998; Saxe, 1998; Steinbrook, 1992).
P H Y S I O L O G I C A L T H E O R I E S O F E M O T I O N Imagine that you are on a
picnic in the country. Suddenly, a bull runs across the eld toward you. Why are you
Common sense tells you that you are trembling and eeing from the bull because
you are afraid, but William James (1950) and Carl Lange (1922) said emotion works
in the opposite way. According to the James-Lange theory , emotion results from
physiological states triggered by stimuli in the environment. Essentially, the theory
proposes that after the initial perception of a stimulus, the experience of the emotion
results from the perception of one’s own physiological changes (changes in heart rate,
breathing, and sweating patterns, for example). In the case of the charging bull, you see
the bull approaching and you run away. Your aroused body then sends sensory messages
to your brain, at which point emotion is perceived. You do not run away because you
are afraid; rather, you are afraid because you are running away.
Walter Cannon (1927) presented an alternative physiologically based theory of emo-
tion. To understand it, imagine the bull and the picnic once again. Seeing the bull
approaching causes your brain’s thalamus simultaneously to (1) stimulate your autonomic
nervous system to produce the physiological changes involved in emotion (increased
heart rate, rapid breathing) and (2) send messages to your cerebral cortex, where the
experience of emotion is perceived. Philip Bard (1934) supported this analysis, and the
theory became known as the Cannon-Bard theory —the proposition that emotion and
physiological reactions occur simultaneously. In the Cannon-Bard theory, the body plays
a less important role than in the James-Lange theory.
N E U R A L C I R C U I T S A N D N E U R O T R A N S M I T T E R S Contemporary researchers
are keenly interested in charting the neural circuitry of emotions and in discovering the
role of neurotransmitters (Amano & others, 2011; Lovheim, 2012). The focus of much
A machine, commonly called
a lie detector, that monitors
changes in the body, used to
try to determine whether
someone is lying.
The theory that
emotion results
from physiologi-
cal states
triggered by
stimuli in the
Cannon-Bard theory
The proposition that emotion
and physiological reactions
occur simultaneously.
Thi s i s t he key —i f a
test confuses anxiety and
gui l t , how can i t di s t i ngui s h
bet ween a ner vous per son
and a l i ar ?
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348 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
of their work has been on the amygdala, the almond-shaped structure in the limbic sys-
tem that we considered in Chapter 2. The amygdala houses circuits that are activated
when we experience negative emotions.
R e s e a r c h b y J o s e p h L e D o u x a n d h i s c o l l e a g u e s h a s i n v e s t i g a t e d t h e n e u r a l c i r c u i t r y
of one particular emotion: fear (Johansen & others, 2012; LeDoux, 1996, 2002, 2008,
2012; Sotres-Bayon & others, 2009). The amygdala plays a central role in fear. When
the amygdala determines that danger is present, it shifts into high gear, marshaling the
brain’s resources in an effort to protect the organism from harm. This fear system evolved
to detect and respond to predators and other types of natural dangers that threaten survival
or territory.
The brain circuitry that involves the emotion of fear can follow two pathways:
a direct pathway from the thalamus to the amygdala or an indirect pathway from
the thalamus through the sensory cortex to the amygdala (Figure 9.8). The direct
pathway does not convey detailed information about the stimulus, but it has
the advantage of speed—and speed clearly is an important characteristic of
information for an organism facing a threat to its survival. The indirect path-
way carries nerve impulses from the sensory organs (eyes and ears, for
example) to the thalamus (recall that the thalamus is a relay station for
incoming sensory stimuli); from the thalamus, the nerve impulses travel to
the sensory cortex, which then sends appropriate signals to the amygdala.
Recall from Chapter 6 that the amygdala is linked with emotional mem-
ories. LeDoux and his colleagues say that the amygdala hardly ever forgets
(Debiec & LeDoux, 2006; Duvarci, Nader, & LeDoux, 2008; LeDoux, 2000,
2001, 2008, 2012). This quality is useful, because once we learn that something
is dangerous, we do not have to relearn it. However, we pay a penalty for this
ability. Many people carry fears and anxieties around with them that they would
like to get rid of but cannot seem to shake. We will look at such fears when we
explore phobias in Chapter 12. Part of the reason fears are so dif cult to change is that
the amygdala is well connected to the cerebral cortex, in which thinking and decision
making primarily occur (Linnman & others, 2012). The amygdala is in a much better
position to in uence the cerebral cortex than the other way around, because it sends more
connections to the cerebral cortex than it gets back. This may explain why it is so hard
to control our emotions, and why, once fear is learned, it is so hard to erase.
T h e a m y g d a l a n o t o n l y i s i n v o l v e d i n n e g a t i v e e m o t i o n s b u t a l s o a p p e a r s t o p a r t i c i p a t e
in positive emotions. Research reviews have concluded that various regions of the limbic
Visual thalamus
Visual thalamus
Visual thalamus
FIGURE 9.8 Direct
and Indirect Brain
Pathways in the
Emotion of Fear
Information about fear can
follow two pathways in the
brain when an individual sees
a snake. The direct pathway
(broken arrow) conveys
information rapidly from the
thalamus to the amygdala. The
indirect pathway (solid arrows)
transmits information more
slowly from the thalamus to
the sensory cortex (here, the
visual cortex) and then to the
The amygd al a s abi l i t y
to respond quickly to threatening
st i mul i i s adapt i ve. Thi nk about
ear l y humans , f aci ng a wor l d f i l l ed
wi t h t hr eat eni n g pr ed at or s.
Member s of our speci es who had
to encounter a hungry tiger more
than once before learning to avoid
it probably didn’t survive t o
reproduce. So, we have our great -
gr eat - gr eat - gr eat - gr eat - gr eat -
gr eat gr andpar ent s t o t hank
for our amygdala.
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Emotion // 349
system, including the amygdala, are involved in the experience of positive emotions
(Burgdorf & Panksepp, 2006; Koepp & others, 2009). The neurotransmitter dopamine is
especially active in the limbic system during positive emotions.
R e s e a r c h e r s a r e a l s o nding that the cerebral hemispheres may be involved in
understanding emotion. Richard Davidson and his colleagues have shown that the cere-
bral hemispheres work differently in positive and negative emotions (Davidson, 2000;
Davidson & Begley, 2012; Davidson, Shackman, & Pizzagalli, 2002; Light & others,
2009, 2011; Reuter-Lorenz & Davidson, 1981; Urry & others, 2004). Recall that research
we reviewed in Chapter 2 suggests that people who show relatively more left than right
prefrontal activation tend to be happier. Researchers are also intrigued by the roles that
neurotransmitters play in the neural pathways of emotions. Endorphins and dopamine
are involved in positive emotions such as happiness (Koepp & others, 2009), and nor-
epinephrine functions in regulating arousal (Berridge & Kringelbach, 2008; Greeson &
others, 2009).
Cognitive Factors in Emotion
Does emotion depend on the tides of the mind? Are we happy only when we think we
are happy? Cognitive theories of emotion center on the premise that emotion always has
a cognitive component (Derryberry & Reed, 2002; Frijda, 2007; Johnson-Laird, Mancini,
& Gangemi, 2006). Thinking is said to be responsible for feelings of love and hate, joy
and sadness. While cognitive theorists do recognize the role of the brain and body in
emotion, they give cognitive processes the main credit for these responses.
T H E T W O - F A C T O R T H E O R Y O F E M O T I O N I n t h e two-factor theory of
emotion developed by Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer (1962), emotion is deter-
mined by two factors: physiological arousal and cognitive labeling. Schachter and Singer
argued that we look to the external world for an explanation of why we are aroused. We
interpret external cues and label the emotion. For example, if you feel good after some-
one has made a pleasant comment to you, you might label the emotion “happy.If you
feel bad after you have done something wrong, you may label the feeling “guilty.
To test their theory of emotion, Schachter and Singer (1962) injected volunteer par-
ticipants with epinephrine, a drug that produces high arousal. After participants received
the drug, they observed someone else behave in either a euphoric way (shooting papers
at a wastebasket) or an angry way (stomping out of the room). As predicted, the euphoric
and angry behavior in uenced the participants’ cognitive interpretation of their own
arousal. When they were with a happy person, they rated themselves as happy; when
they were with an angry person, they said they were angry. This effect occurred, however,
only when the participants were not told about the true effects of the injection. When
they were told that the drug would increase their heart rate and make them jittery, they
had no reason to attribute their own arousal to the other person.
In general, research supports the belief that misinterpreted arousal intensi es emo-
tional experiences (Leventhal & Tomarken, 1986). Imagine that you are late for class on
an important exam day. You sprint across campus, arriving just in time for the test. As
you look over the questions, your heart is racing, your breathing is fast, and you feel
sweaty. Are you nervous about the test or just recovering from your run to the classroom?
The two-factor theory suggests that you just might mistake your bodily sensations as
indications that you are scared of the test.
T H E P R I M A C Y D E B A T E : C O G N I T I O N O R E M O T I O N ? Which comes rst,
thinking or feeling? Fans of vintage episodes of TV’s Star Trek may recognize this theme
from the frequent arguments between Mr. Spock, the logical Vulcan, and Bones, the
emotional doctor on the Enterprise . In the 1980s and 1990s, two eminent psychologists,
Richard Lazarus (1922–2002) and Robert Zajonc (whose name sounds like the word
science ), debated the question of which is central, cognition or emotion.
two-factor theory of emotion
Schachter and Singer’s
theory that emotion is
determined by two factors:
physiological arousal and
cognitive labeling.
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350 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
Lazarus (1991) argued for the primacy of thinking—he believed cognitive activity to
be a precondition for emotion. Lazarus said that we cognitively appraise ourselves and
our social circumstances. These appraisals—which include values, goals, commitments,
beliefs, and expectations—determine our emotions. People may feel happy because they
have a deep religious commitment, angry because they did not get the raise they antici-
pated, or fearful because they expect to fail an exam. Zajonc (1984) disagreed with
Lazarus. Emotions are primary, he said, and our thoughts are a result of them. Zajonc
famously argued that “preferences need no inferences, meaning that the way we feel
about something on a “gut level” requires no thought.
Which of the two psychologists is right? Both are likely correct. Lazarus talked mainly
about a cluster of related events that occur over a period of time, whereas Zajonc
described single events or a simple preference for one stimulus over another. Lazarus
was concerned with love over the course of months and years, a sense of value to the
community, and plans for retirement; Zajonc spoke about a car accident, an encounter
with a snake, and a preference for ice cream rather than spinach.
Some of our emotional reactions are virtually instantaneous and probably do not
involve cognitive appraisal, such as shrieking upon detecting a snake. Other emotional
circumstances, especially long-term feelings such as a depressed mood or anger toward
a friend, are more likely to involve cognitive appraisal. Indeed, the direct and indirect
brain pathways described earlier support the idea that some of our emotional reactions
do not involve deliberate thinking, whereas others do (LeDoux, 2001, 2012).
Behavioral Factors in Emotion
Remember that our de nition of emotion includes not only physiological and cognitive
components but also a behavioral component. The behavioral component can be verbal
or nonverbal. Verbally, a person might show love for someone by professing it in words
or might display anger by saying nasty things. Nonverbally, a person might smile, frown,
show a fearful expression, look down, or slouch.
T h e m o s t i n t e r e s t i n t h e b e h a v i o r a l d i m e n s i o n o f e m o t i o n h a s f o c u s e d o n t h e n o n v e r b a l
behavior of facial expressions (Sacco & Hugenberg, 2009). Emotion researchers have been
intrigued by people’s ability to detect emotion from a person’s facial expression (Perkins
& others, 2012; Tanaka & others, 2012). In a typical research study, participants, when
shown photographs like those in Figure 9.9, are usually able to identify six emotions:
happiness, anger, sadness, surprise, disgust, and fear (Ekman & O’Sullivan, 1991).
Might our facial expressions not only re ect our emotions but also in uence
them? According to the facial feedback hypothesis , facial expressions can in u-
ence emotions as well as re ect them (Davis, Senghas, & Ochsner, 2009). In
this view, facial muscles send signals to the brain that help us to recognize the
emotion we are experiencing (Keillor & others, 2002). For example, we feel
happier when we smile and sadder when we frown.
S u p p o r t f o r t h e f a c i a l f e e d b a c k h y p o t h e s i s c o m e s f r o m a n e x p e r i m e n t b y P a u l E k m a n
and his colleagues (1983). In this study, professional actors moved their facial muscles
in very precise ways, such as raising their eyebrows and pulling them together, raising
their upper eyelids, and stretching their lips horizontally back to their ears (you might
want to try this yourself ). They were asked to hold their expression for 10 seconds, dur-
ing which time the researchers measured their heart rate and body temperature. When
the actors moved facial muscles in the ways described, they showed a rise in heart
rate and a steady body temperature—physiological reactions that characterize
fear. When they made an angry facial expression (with a penetrating stare, brows
drawn together and downward, and lips pressed together or opened and pushed
forward), their heart rate and body temperature both increased. The facial feed-
back hypothesis provides support for the James-Lange theory of emotion dis-
cussed earlier—namely, that emotional experiences can be generated by changes
in and awareness of our own bodily states.
facial feedback
The idea that
facial expressions
can infl uence
emotions as well
as refl ect them.
Cons i d er what t hi s
mi g h t me a n f o r s o me o n e w h o i s
forced to wear a smile at work
al l t he t i me, such as a f l i ght
at t endant or wai t er .
Thi s d escr i pt i on f i t s
wi t h St an i sl avski s met hod
act i ng, whi ch s uggest s t hat
to feel a particular emotion, an
act or s houl d i mi t at e t he
beh avi or of someon e
feeling that emotion.
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Emotion // 351
Sociocultural Factors in Emotion
Are the facial expressions that are associated with different emotions largely innate, or
do they vary across cultures? Are there gender variations in emotion? Answering these
questions requires a look at research ndings on sociocultural in uences in emotions.
C U L T U R E A N D T H E E X P R E S S I O N O F E M O T I O N In The Expression of
the Emotions in Man and An i mals, Charles Darwin stated that the facial expressions of
human beings are innate, not learned; are the same in all cultures around the world; and
have evolved from the emotions of animals (1872/1965). Today psychologists still believe
that emotions, especially facial expressions of emotion, have strong biological ties
(Gelder & others, 2006; Peleg & others, 2006). For example, children who are blind
from birth and have never observed the smile or frown on another person’s face smile
or frown in the same way that children with normal vision do. If emotions and facial
expressions that go with them are unlearned, then they should be the same the world
over. Is that in fact the case?
Extensive research has examined the universality of facial expressions and the ability
of people from different cultures accurately to label the emotion that lies behind facial
expressions. Paul Ekman’s careful observations reveal that the many faces of emotion do
not differ signi cantly from one culture to another (Ekman, 1980, 1996, 2003). For
example, Ekman and his colleague (Ekman & Friesen, 1969) photographed people
expressing emotions such as happiness, fear, surprise, disgust, and grief. When they
FIGURE 9.9 Recognizing
Emotions in Facial Expressions
Look at the six photographs and determine
the emotion re ected in each of the faces.
> First, without reading ahead, label
each picture with the emotion you think
it shows. > Second, match the pictures
to each of the following emotions: anger,
happiness, surprise, disgust, sadness, and
fear. > Okay, the right answers for that
second exercise are (top) happiness, an-
ger, sadness; (bottom) surprise, disgust,
fear. How does this analysis change your
views of the universal quality of facial
expressions of emotion?
Expressing Emotions
Across Cultures
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352 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
showed the photographs to people from the United
States, Chile, Japan, Brazil, and Borneo (an Indonesian
island in the western Paci c), the participants, across the
various cultures, recognized the emotions the faces were
meant to show (Ekman & Friesen, 1969). Another study
focused on the way the Fore tribe, an isolated Stone Age
culture in New Guinea, matched descriptions of emo-
tions with facial expressions (Ekman & Friesen, 1971).
Before Ekman’s visit, most of the Fore had never seen
a Caucasian face. Ekman’s team showed them photo-
graphs of people’s faces expressing emotions such as
fear, happiness, anger, and surprise. Then they read sto-
ries about people in emotional situations and asked the
Fore to pick out the face that matched the story. The
Fore were able to match the descriptions of emotions
with the facial expressions in the photographs. Figure
9.10 shows the similarity of facial expressions of emo-
tions by persons in New Guinea and the United States.
Whereas facial expressions of basic emotions appear
to be universal, display rules for emotion vary (Fischer,
2006; Fok & others, 2008). Display rules are sociocul-
tural standards that determine when, where, and how
emotions should be expressed. For example, although
happiness is a universally expressed emotion, when,
where, and how people display it may vary from one
culture to another. The same is true for other emotions,
such as fear, sadness, and anger. Members of the Utku
culture in Alaska, for example, discourage anger by cul-
tivating acceptance and by dissociating themselves from
any display of anger. If an unexpected snowstorm ham-
pers a trip, the Utku do not express frustration but accept
the storm and build an igloo. The importance of display
rules is especially evident when we evaluate the emo-
tional expression of another. Does that grieving husband
on a morning talk show seem appropriately distraught over his wife’s murder? Or might
he be a suspect?
Like facial expressions, some other nonverbal signals appear to be universal indicators
of certain emotions. For example, regardless of where they live, when people are
depressed, their emotional state shows not only in their sad facial expressions but also
in their slow body movements, downturned heads, and slumped posture. Many nonverbal
signals of emotion, though, vary from one culture to another (Mesquita, 2002). For
example, male-to-male kissing is commonplace in Yemen but uncommon in the United
States. The “thumbs up” sign, which in most cultures means either that everything is
okay or that one wants to hitch a ride, is an insult in Greece, similar to a raised third
nger in the United States—a cultural difference to keep in mind if you nd yourself
backpacking through Greece.
G E N D E R I N F L U E N C E S Unless you have been isolated on a mountaintop, you
probably know the stereotype about gender and emotion: She is emotional; he is not.
This stereotype is a powerful and pervasive image in U.S. culture (Shields, 1991).
Does research on emotional experiences support this stereotype? Researchers have
found that men and women are often more alike in the way they experience emotion
than the stereotype would lead us to believe. Women and men often use the same facial
expressions, adopt the same language, and describe their emotional experiences similarly
when they keep diaries about their experiences. For many emotional experiences,
researchers do not nd gender differences—both sexes are equally likely to experience
display rules
standards that
determine when,
where, and how
emotions should
be expressed.
FIGURE 9.10 Emotional Expressions in the
United States and New Guinea (Top) Two women from the
United States. (Bottom) Two men from the Fore tribe in New Guinea.
Notice the similarity in their expressions of disgust and happiness.
Psychologists believe that the facial expression of emotion is virtually
the same in all cultures.
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Emotion // 353
Expressing Ourselves Online:
The Psychology of Emoticons
omputer science professor Scott Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University noticed that people
using an online message board were getting into confl icts because it was diffi cult to com-
municate when they were just kidding. He posted the suggestion that they use the symbol :-)
toexpress humor—and the emoticon was born (Fahlman, 2003). In today’s world of e-mail and
instant messaging, it is hard to imagine a time without emoticons. We use emoticons to express
avariety of feelings, from joy :D to sadness :-( to silliness ;P to great shock and dismay : - O.
Psychologists are examining the place of emoticons in human communication. Emoticons are a
form of computer-mediated communication. They allow us to compensate for the loss of information
from other expressive channels, such as vocal tone and facial expression. Emoticons seem to work
by capturing attention and conveying emotions and attitudes (Derks, Bos, & von Grumbkow, 2008;
Lo, 2008). People use emoticons as they do other displays of emotions, such as laughter, often at
the end of the statement they are trying to clarify (Provine, Spencer, & Mandell, 2007).
Women use emoticons more than men do (Wolf, 2000). Men, especially when they are in all-
male groups, employ emoticons infrequently. In mixed-sex groups, however, men’s emoticon use
increases drastically (Wolf, 2000). Moreover, just as culture infl uences emotional expressions, it has
infl uenced emoticons as well. For instance, East Asian emoticons are less likely to be presented
sideways, so that a Japanese student might convey her level of exhaustion with (-.-)Zzzzzz rather
than 1-)Zzzzzz. Even with emoticons, display rules can be important. A Japanese student express-
ing a thumbs up d(^
^)b might encounter an American who thinks he is saying he has big ears.
Emoticons reveal a unique aspect of computer-mediated communication. Consider that when
people communicated by writing letters (an art that would seem to share the limitations of e-mail
and texting), they did not use smileys and frownies to explain their feelings. In
effect, computer-mediated communication such as instant mes-
saging might be considered a blend of spoken conversation
and the written word (Tagliamonte & Denis, 2008). As text-
ing and IMing have become more common, it is no won-
der that humans have come up with a way to inject
emotional meanings into their online discourse.
Emoticons powerfully demonstrate how crucial emo-
tions are to our communications with one another.
love, jealousy, anxiety in new social situations, anger when they are insulted, grief when
close relationships end, and embarrassment when they make mistakes in public (Tavris
& Wade, 1984).
When we go beyond stereotypes and consider some speci c emotional experiences,
contexts in which emotion is displayed, and certain beliefs about emotion, gender does
matter in understanding emotion (Brannon, 1999; Brody, 1999; Shields, 1991). Research
has shown that women are more accurate at recognizing the emotional content of faces,
especially when the task is made challenging by showing the faces for a very short time
(Hall & Matsumoto, 2004), and this nding suggests a gender difference in emotional
intelligence (mentioned in Chapter 7). Women also report that they experience emotions
for a longer period than men (Birditt & Fingerman, 2003).
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354 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
I t i s i m p o r t a n t t o k e e p i n m i n d t h a t b o t h w o m e n a n d m e n a r e c e r t a i n l y a w a r e o f t h e
gender-speci c expectations for emotional behavior (Blakemore, Berenbaum, & Liben,
2009). Indeed, men who embrace a stereotypically masculine gender identity are more
likely to report that they are less emotional (Jakupcak & others, 2003). Gender differences
in emotion are much more tied to social context than to biological sex (Brody, 1999).
Classifying Emotions
There are more than 200 words for emotions in the English language, indicating their
complexity and variety. Not surprisingly, psychologists have created ways to classify
emotions—to summarize these many emotions along various dimensions (Izard, 2009),
including their valence and arousal.
V A L E N C E The valence of an emotion refers to whether it feels pleasant or unpleas-
ant. You probably are not surprised to know that happiness, joy, pleasure, and content-
ment are positively valenced emotions. In contrast, sadness, anger, worry, and feeling
upset are negatively valenced emotions. Research has shown that emotions tend to go
together based on their valence, so that if someone is sad, he or she is also likely to be
angry or worried, and if a person is happy, he or she is also likely to be feeling con dent,
joyful, and content (Watson, 2001).
We can classify many emotional states on the basis of valence. Indeed, according to
some experts in emotion (Watson, 2001), there are two broad dimensions of emotional
experience: negative affect and positive affect. Negative affect refers to emotions such
as anger, guilt, and sadness. Positive affect refers to emotions such as joy, happiness,
and interest. Although it seems essential to consider the valence of emotions as a way
to classify them, valence does not fully capture all that we need to know about emotional
states. The joy a person experiences at the birth of a child and the mild high at nding
a $5 bill are both positive states, but they clearly differ in important ways.
A R O U S A L L E V E L The arousal level of
an emotion is the degree to which the emotion
is re ected in an individual’s being active,
engaged, or excited versus being more passive,
relatively disengaged, or calm. Positive and
negative emotions can be high or low in
arousal. Ecstasy and excitement are examples
of high-arousal positive emotions, whereas
contentment and tranquility are low-arousal
positive emotions. Examples of high-arousal
negative emotions are rage, fury, and panic,
while irritation and boredom represent low-
arousal negative emotions.
Valence and arousal level are independent
dimensions that together describe a vast num-
ber of emotional states. Using these dimen-
sions, we can effectively create a wheel of
mood states (Figure 9.11). The illustration
shows what psychologists call a circumplex
model of mood (Posner, Russell, & Peterson,
2005). A circumplex is a type of graph that
creates a circle from two independent dimen-
sions. Using the two dimensions of valence
and arousal level, we can arrange emotional
states in an organized fashion.
negative affect
Negative emotions such as
anger, guilt, and sadness.
positive affect
Positive emotions
such as joy,
happiness, and
FIGURE 9.11 A Circumplex Model of Mood Using the
dimensions of valence and arousal, this wheel-like gure shows a variety of
emotional states. > Find upset and sad on the circumplex. According
to the circumplex, these emotions differ primarily on the dimension of
arousal. Which is higher on arousal? Do you agree with the placement of
these emotions? Explain. > According to the circumplex, which emotion is
the exact opposite of serene ? > Where would you place the following
em o tions: embarrassed, proud, worried, angry?
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Emotion // 355
Recall from Chapter 7 that some
psychologists believe that the ability
to identify and regulate one’s
emotions is a kind of intelligence.
Emotionally intelligent people are
also thought to be better at reading
the emotional expressions of others.
Do a web search for emotional
intelligence tests and take some
online quizzes, or just try this one
ei_quiz/. Do you think you are
emotionally intelligent? Does your
performance on the test seem to
refl ect your actual experience? What
is your opinion of the test you tried?
Is there information on the site for
its validity and reliability?
Adaptive Functions of Emotions
In considering the functions of emotions, it is fairly easy to come up
with a good reason for us to have emotions such as fear and anger.
Negative emotions carry direct and immediate adaptive bene ts in
situations that threaten survival. Negative emotions indicate clearly that
something is wrong and that we must take action. Positive emotions
do not signal a problem. So, what is the adaptive function of positive
C o n f r o n t i n g t h i s q u e s t i o n , B a r b a r a F r e d r i c k s o n p r o p o s e d t h e
broaden-and-build model o f p o s i t i v e e m o t i o n ( F r e d r i c k s o n , 1 9 9 8 ,
2001, 2006, 2009). She argues that the function of positive emotions
lies in their effects on our attention and our ability to build resources.
The broaden-and-build model begins with the in uence of positive
emotions on cognitive processing.
Positive moods, such as contentment and humor, have been shown
to broaden ourattentional focus; they allow us to see the forest for
the trees. As a result, when in a good mood, we may be more disposed to think out-
side the box—to see unusual possibilities that escaped us before. In addition, a good
mood, Fredrickson says, gives us a chance to build resources—to make friends, to
exercise to promote ourhealth, to branch out in new ways. These activities allow us
to build up strengths that we can use when we encounter life’s dif culties (Kok,
Catalino, & Fredrickson, 2008). For example, joy broadens people by creating the
urge to play, push the limits, and be creative. Interest broadens people by creating the
motivation to explore, absorb new information and experiences, and expand the self
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Positive emotions facilitate “approach”
behavior (Otake & others, 2006; Watson, 2001), meaning that when we are feeling
good,we are more likely to go after the rewards we want and to face our problems
head on.
Positive emotions might play an important role in the ability of resilient individuals
to cope successfully with life’s challenges. As described in Chapter 8, resilience is asso-
ciated with the capacity to thrive during dif cult times (Masten, 2006, 2009). Resilience
refers to the ability to bounce back from negative experiences, to be exible and adapt-
able when things are not going well. Resilient individuals might be thought of as
tall trees that have the ability to bend but do not break in response to strong
winds. In contrast, people who lack resilience might be characterized as more
brittle—more likely to snap or break in the face of adversity (Block &
Kremen, 1996).
Resilient individuals are zestful, optimistic, and energetic in their approach
to life (Block & Kremen, 1996). They cultivate positive emotion through the
use of humor (Segerstrom, 2006). Michelle Tugade, Barbara Fredrickson,
and Lisa Feldman Barrett (2004) found that the superior coping of resilient
individuals came from their ability to use positive emotions to spring back
from negative emotional experiences. Using measures of cardiovascular
activity, the researchers discovered that resilient individuals were better able
to regulate their responses to stressful situations (for instance, being told they
were about to give an important speech) by strategically experiencing posi-
tive emotion.
R e s i l i e n t i n d i v i d u a l s s e e m t o s h o w a k i n d o f e m o t i o n a l w i s d o m ; t h e y
capitalize on the power of positive emotions to reverse the stress of negative
feelings. This skill has been demonstrated in response to a speci c stressful
event: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In one study, resilient
individuals were found to be less likely to fall prey to depression after 9/11,
and this capacity to ourish in the face of the crisis was a result of their atten-
tion to positive emotions (Fredrickson & others, 2003).
model of positive
emotion, stating
that the function
of positive emo-
tions lies in their
effects on an in-
dividual’s atten-
tion and ability to
build resources.
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356 // CHAPTER 9 // Motivation and Emotion
1. The James-Lange theory of emotion
states that
A. emotion happens fi rst, followed by
physiological reactions.
B. physiological reactions happen fi rst,
followed by emotion.
C. physiological reactions and emotion
happen simultaneously.
D. the body plays a minimal role in
2. In the case of fearful stimuli, indirect
neural pathways go first to the thalamus
A. then to the hypothalamus, followed
by the amygdala.
B. then to the sensory cortex, followed
by the amygdala.
C. then to the hippocampus.
D. then to the hypothalamus, followed by
the sensory cortex, and fi nally the
3. The facial feedback hypothesis is consis-
tent with the theory of emotion known as
A. the James-Lange theory.
B. the Cannon-Bard theory.
C. direct theory.
D. indirect theory.
APPLY IT! 4. Seymour is talking to his
friend about his sadness over his recent
breakup with his girlfriend. His girlfriend
cheated on him, but Seymour was willing to
forgive her. She was not interested, though,
and broke things off. As Seymour talks, his
friend notices that Seymour is clenching his
teeth, making fists, and generally getting
angry. The friend says, “You know, you
sound more angry than sad.” Why might
Seymour have confused anger and sadness?
A. Sadness and anger are similar in terms
of their arousal level.
B. Seymour’s friend is probably wrong given
that sadness produces the same facial
expression as anger.
C. Because he is a man, Seymour probably
does not understand emotion very well.
D. Sadness and anger have the same va-
lence, so someone who is feeling sad is
likely to also feel angry. Seymour is
probably feeling both of these negative
Motivation and Emotion:
The Pursuit of Happiness
Motivation is about what people want, and a quick scan of the best-seller list or the
self-help section of any bookstore would seem to indicate that one thing people want
very much is to be happy or happier. Can people get happier? Let’s consider the
Biological Factors in Happiness
As we have seen, the brain is certainly at work in the experience of positive emotions.
Genes also play a role. For instance, research on the heritability of well-being has
tended to show that a substantial proportion of well-being differences among people
can be explained by genetic differences. The heritability estimates for happiness range
from 50 to 80 percent (Lykken, 1999). Remember from Chapter 7 that heritability is
a statistic that describes characteristics of a group, that heritability estimates can vary
across groups and over time, and that even highly heritable characteristics can be
in uenced by experience. Thus, a person is not nec-
essarily doomed to an unhappy life, even if the per-
son knows that he or she has particularly miserable
Recall the concept of set point in our discussion
of weight. There may also be a happiness set point,
a person’s general level of happiness when the indi-
vidual is not trying to increase happiness (Sheldon &
Lyubomirsky, 2007, 2012). Like our weight, our hap-
piness levels may uctuate around this set point. In
trying to increase happiness, we must consider the
role of this powerful starting spot that is likely the
result of genetic factors and personal dispositions.
Given these potential biological limitations, other
factors also complicate the pursuit of happiness,
including the