1.9 Motivation and Emotion  

Syllabus :  Psychological and physiological basis of motivation and emotion; Measurement of motivation and emotion; Effects of motivation and emotion on behaviour; Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation; Factors influencing intrinsic motivation; Emotional competence and the related issues.

Previous Years' Questions  


Q. Explain motivational concepts with reference to homeostatic models. 15 marks [2016]


Q.  Discuss the brain mechanisms underlying hunger motive. 10 marks [2015]

Q.  Distinguish between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Which one is more powerful and  why ? 20 marks [2015]


Q. Discuss the role of various neural and physiological processes in emotional experiences. 10 marks [2014]

Q. What is the role of cognitive factors in determining emotional functioning ? Discuss. 15 marks [2014]


Q. Bring out the role of left and right hemispheres in emotional experience. 15 marks [2013]

Q. What is intrinsic motivation? Why it gets reduced if the person gets external reward for undertaking a task that he or she loves? 20 marks [2013]


Q. Is facial expression of emotion innate or acquired? support your answer with suitable evidence. 12 marks [2012]

Q.  Evaluate various factors which influence intrinsic motivation. 12 marks [2012]

Q. How would you measure emotion of an individual? Discuss the effect of emotion on behavior 20 marks [2012]


Q.  How does arousal theory explain human motivation? 10 marks [2011]

Q. What is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation? Explain with the help of examples. 10 marks [2011]

Q. What are the functions of emotions? 10 marks [2011]


Q.  Discuss the concept of "Need for Achievement" and different methods which have been used to measure it. 30 marks [2010]

Q. Discuss the role of cognition in experiencing emotion in the light of experience studies. 30 marks [2010]


Q. How is emotional competence assessed? Discuss the effects of emotion on behavior. Cite experimental evidence. 20 marks [2009]


Q.  Discuss the contribution of David McClelland in the field of motivation. Discuss the salient feature of conducive environment for enhancement of achievement motivation. 60 marks [2008] (This Q. was in paper-2 in 2008' paper. Don't know why. Probably because the syllabus divisions would have been diff. back then or may be it was treated as an application part)

Motivation : Internal processes that activate, guide and maintain behaviour over time.

Theories of motivation  

#G E D A : 'G & E' are Psychological basis and 'D & A' are the Phsyiological basis or Homeostatic model of motivation.

They are dealt with progressively at appropriate places in the chapter.


Hunger Motive

When someone is hungry, the need for food dominates everything else. It motivates people  to obtain and consume food. Of course we  must eat to live. But, what makes you feel  hungry? Studies have indicated that many  events inside and outside the body may trigger  hunger or inhibit it. The stimuli for hunger  include stomach contractions, which signify  that the stomach is empty, a low concentration  of glucose in the blood, a low level of protein  and the amount of fats stored in the body.  The liver also responds to the lack of bodily  fuel by sending nerve impulses to the brain.  The aroma, taste or   appearance of food may  also result in a desire to eat. It may be noted  that none of these alone gives you the feeling  that you are hungry. All in combination act  with external factors (such as taste, colour,  by observing others eating, and the smell of  food, etc.) to help you understand that you  are hungry. Thus, it can be said that our food  intake is regulated by a complex feeding satiety  system located in the hypothalamus,  liver, and other parts of the body as well as  the external cues available in the environment.  Some physiologists hold that changes in  the metabolic functions of the liver result in a  feeling of hunger. The liver sends a signal to a  part of the brain called hypothalamus.

The  two regions of hypothalamus involved in  hunger are - the lateral hypothalamus (LH) and the ventro-medial hypothalamus (VMH).  LH is considered to be the excitatory area.  Animals eat when this area is stimulated.  When it is damaged, animals stop eating and  die of starvation. The VMH is located in the  middle of the hypothalamus, which is  otherwise known as hunger-controlling area  which inhibits the hunger drive. Now can you  guess about people who overeat and become  obese, and people who eat very little or who  are on a diet?

Thirst Motive

What makes us feel thirsty?

When we are deprived of water  for a period of several hours, the mouth and  throat become dry, which leads to dehydration  of body tissues. Drinking water is necessary  to wet a dry mouth. But a dry mouth does not  always result in water drinking behaviour. In  fact processes within the body itself control  thirst and drinking of water. Water must get  into the tissues sufficiently to remove the  dryness of mouth and throat.

Motivation to drink water is mainly  triggered by the conditions of the body:
When water is lost by bodily fluids,  water leaves the interior of the cells. The  anterior hypothalamus contains nerve cells  called ‘osmoreceptors’, which generate nerve  impulses in case of cell dehydration. These  nerve impulses act as a signal for thirst and  drinking; when thirst is regulated by loss of  water from the osmoreceptors, it is called  cellular-dehydration thirst.

But what  mechanisms stop the drinking of water?

Some  researchers assume that the mechanism  which explains the intake of water is also  responsible for stopping the intake of water.  Others have pointed out that the role of stimuli  resulting from the intake of water in the  stomach must have something to do with  stopping of drinking water. However, the  precise physiological mechanisms underlying  the thirst drive are yet to be understood.

Sex Drive  

Motivation to engage in sexual activity is a very  strong and powerful factor influencing human behaviour.  However, sex is far more than a biological  motive.

Q. How is sex motive different from other primary motives like hunger and thirst ?

It is different from other primary motives (hunger, thirst) in many ways like

(a) sexual activity is not necessary for an  individual’s survival  
(b) homeostasis (the  tendency of the organism as a whole to  maintain constancy or to attempt to restore  equilibrium if constancy is disturbed) is NOT  the goal of sexual activity;
(c) sex drive  develops with age
(d) sexual drive in human beings is primarily stimulated by external stimuli
(e) its expression depends upon cultural learning

In case of lower  animals, it depends on many physiological  conditions; in case of human beings, the sex  drive is very closely regulated biologically,  sometimes it is very difficult to classify sex  purely as a biological drive.

Physiologists suggest that intensity of the  sexual urge is dependent upon chemical  substances circulating in the blood, known  as sex hormones. Studies on animals as well  as human beings have mentioned that sex  hormones secreted by gonads, i.e. testes in  males and the ovaries in females are  responsible for sexual motivation. Sexual  motivation is also influenced by other  endocrine glands, such as adrenal and  pituitary glands.

Drive Theory (DT) aka Homeostatic Basis of Motivation aka Drive Doctrine

A/c to DT, motivation is basically a process in which actions are carried out in order to satisfy biological needs such as food, air, water, sex, physical discomfort. Carrying out these actions helps achieve the state of homeostasis.  A drive is an "excitatory state produced by a homeostatic disturbance".    A/c to DT, drive tends to increase over time and operates on a feedback control system, much like a thermostat.  These drives can either be primary (biological needs like hunger) or secondary (learned needs like money).

Arousal Theory of Motivation  (ATM)

ATM suggests that people are driven to perform actions in order to maintain an optimum level of physiological arousal. This optimum level of arousal varies from one individual to individual.

A/c to ATM, each person has a unique arousal level that is right for them. One of the key assumptions of ATM is that we are motivated to pursue actions that help us maintain an ideal balance. When our arousal levels drop below these individually mandated optimal levels, we seek stimulation to elevate them. e.g., if our levels drop too low we might seek stimulation by going out for a party with friends. If these levels become too elevated and we become overstimulated, we might be motivated to select a relaxing activity such as going for a walk or taking a nap.
ATM shares some commonalities with DT, but instead of focusing on reducing tension, it suggests that we are motivated to maintain an ideal level of arousal.

Optimal arousal levels vary from one person to the next. One person might have very low arousal needs while another individual might require very high levels. The person with low arousal needs might be motivated to pursue simple activities such as watching a movie in order to maintain their arousal levels. The individual with the high arousal needs, on the other hand, might need to seek risky or thrilling activities such as motorcycle racing or skydiving in order to maintain the ideal levels.

Arousal and Performance

Yerkes-Dodson Law: an empirical relationship between arousal and performance, originally developed by psychologists. The law dictates that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When levels of arousal become too high, performance decreases. The process is often illustrated graphically as a bell-shaped curve which increases and then decreases with higher levels of arousal.

Relationship with Glucocorticoids (stress harmones)
A 2007 review of the effects of stress hormones (glucocorticoids, GC) on human cognition revealed that memory performance vs. circulating levels of glucocorticoids does manifest an upside down U shaped curve and the authors noted the resemblance to the Yerkes–Dodson curve. e.g. long-term potentiation (the process of forming LTM) is optimal when glucocorticoid levels are mildly elevated whereas significant decreases of LTP are observed after adrenalectomy (low GC state) or after exogenous glucocorticoid administration (high GC state).

This review also revealed that in order for a situation to induce a stress response, it has to be interpreted as:
- novel, and/or
- unpredictable, and/or
- not controllable by the individual, and/or
- a social evaluative threat (negative social evaluation possibly leading to social rejection).

It has also been shown that elevated levels of glucocorticoids enhance memory for emotionally arousing events but lead more often than not to poor memory for material unrelated to the source of stress/emotional arousal.

Psychological/Psycho-social basis of motivation : GST and ET

Psychosocial Motives/Social Motives

Need for Affiliation (n-Af)

Most of us need company or friend or want to  maintain some form of relationship with  others. Nobody likes to remain alone all the time. As soon as people see some kinds of  similarities among themselves or they like each  other, they form a group. Formation of group  or collectivity is an important feature of human  life. Often people try desperately to get close  to other people, to seek their help, and to  become members of their group. Seeking other  human beings and wanting to be close to them  both physically and psychologically is called  affiliation.

It involves motivation for social  contact. N-Af is aroused when individuals feel threatened or helpless and also  when they are happy. People high on this need  are motivated to seek the company of others  and to maintain friendly relationships with  other people.

Need for Power (nP)

NP is an ability of a person to  produce intended effects on the behaviour and  emotions of another person. The various goals of power motivation are to influence, control,  persuade, lead, and charm others and most  importantly to enhance one’s own reputation  in the eyes of other people.

Q. Discuss the contribution of David McClelland in the field of motivation. (2008)

David McClelland (1975) described four  general ways of expression of the power  motive.

  1. People do things to gain feeling  of power and strength from sources outside  themselves by reading stories about sports  stars or attaching themselves to a popular  figure.
  2. Power can also be felt from  sources within us and may be expressed by  building up the body and mastering urges and  impulses.
  3. People do things as  individuals to have an impact on others. e.g. a person argues, or competes with  another individual in order to have an impact  or influence on that person.
  4. People  do things as members of organisations to have  an impact on others as in the case of the leader  of a political party; the individual may use the  party apparatus to influence others.

However,  for any individual, one of these ways of  expressing power motivation may dominate,  but with age and life experiences, it varies.

Other contributions of McClelland:
His classic study on n-Ach in McClelland ,  1985  in which he analyzed children's stories in 22 diff. cultures w.r.t the degree they showed themes of achievement motivation. He then related these levels of achievement motivation to two measures of economic development :
  1. Avg. income per person in each society (PCI)
  2. Electrical production per year
The major finding was clear : He concluded that n-Ach scores were highly co-related with economic growth. The greater was the emphasis placed on achievements in the children's stories in various nations, the more rapid was economic growth of the country as the children grew up.

Need for Achievement (n-Ach)

Refers to  the desire of a person to meet standards of  excellence.  n-Ach, energises and directs behaviour as  well as influences the perception of situations.  During the formative years of social  development, children acquire achievement  motivation. The sources from which they learn  it, include parents, other role models, and  socio-cultural influences. Persons high in  achievement motivation tend to prefer tasks  that are moderately difficult and challenging

They also have stronger-than-average desire for  feedback on their performance,i.e. to know  how they are doing, so that they can adjust  their goals to meet the challenge.

Need for Curiosity and Exploration (n-CE)

Often people engage in activities without a  clear goal or purpose but they derive some  kind of pleasure out of it. It is a motivational  tendency to act without any specific identifiable goal. The tendency to seek for a  novel experience, gain pleasure by obtaining  information, etc. are signs of curiosity. Hence,  curiosity describes behaviour whose primary  motive appears to remain in the activities  themselves.

What will happen if the sky falls on us?  Questions of this kind (What will happen if…)  stimulate intellectuals to find answers.  Studies show that this curiosity behaviour is  not only limited to human beings, animals too  show the same kind of behaviour. We are  driven to explore the environment by our  curiosity and our need for sensory stimulation.

The need for varied types of sensory stimulations is closely related to curiosity. It  is the basic motive, and exploration and  curiosity are the expressions of it.  Our ignorance about a number of things  around us becomes a powerful motivator to  explore the world. We get easily bored with  repetitive experiences. So we look for  something new.

In the case of infants and small children,  this motive is very dominant. They get  satisfaction from being allowed to explore,  which is reflected in their smiling and  babbling. Children become easily distressed,  when the motive to explore is discouraged.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

# P S B E A : Putting Sunscreen Before Every Afternoon

Goal Setting Theory (GST)

It emphasises on   imp. of cognitive factors w.r.t. our emotions rather than arousal or drives. A/c to  Locke & Latham (1990) , most people realize that they can accomplish much more when they have concrete goals than when they do not. This is the central fact to GST which suggests that motivation can be strongly influenced by goals.

GST was construed after the study conducted by Wood & Locke (1990) in which people performed better when they were provided specific goals than when they were simply told to "do your best".  

Q. "Setting goals can prove to be an effective motivational tool to enhance performance on tasks". Discuss in light of experimental evidences.

Choker & Wallin (1984) study on GST : It provides a powerful substantiation for GST. In the study, when employees in a large manufacturing plant were committed to the goal of increasing compliance with safety regulations (such as wearing hard hats and eye, ear gears, cleaning spills immediately etc.), their performance in this respect improved. Their performance further increased when they were presented feedbacks in form of charts showing how well they were doing. While the safety compliance without any goals was ~ 65 % , it increased to ~ 80 % when a goal of 95 % was set for the employees collectively. It eventually reached 95 % after the employees received performance feedbacks.

Q. How can the process of Goal Setting be made more effective in boosting performance ?

An effective goal setting exercise should have the following  characteristics  :

Criticism of GST  : Although GST   is highly effective in boosting performance but the mechanisms that explain these effects are still somewhat uncertain.

Expectancy Theory (ET)

ET is a cognitive approach to explain motivation. A/c to ET, behaviour is pulled out by incentives such as fame, money, approval of others etc. Thus, while physiological theories such as Drive Theory focus on factors that push (drive) us towards certain actions, ET focuses more on outcomes we wish to attain.

Q. What is meant by the terms 'expectancy', 'instrumentality'   and 'valence' in the context of Expectancy theory of Motivation ?
ET has high relevance in industrial/organisation psychology or 'work motivation'. Research findings such as those of Locke & Latham (1990) indicate that people will work hard at their jobs only when there is presence of the following :

Strengths of ET : Focus on cognitive aspect is more consistent with modern Psychology + ET is widely used in work motivation.

The Motivational Cycle  


Psychologists now use the concept of need to  describe the motivational properties of  behaviour. A need is lack or deficit of some  necessity. The condition of need leads to drive.  A drive is a state of tension or arousal  produced by a need. It energises random  activity. When one of the random activities  leads to a goal, it reduces the drive, and the  organism stops being active. The organism  returns to a balanced state. Thus, the cycle of  motivational events can be presented as shown  in the above fig.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation  

Deci,1975 ; Lepper & Green, 1978 studies on how offering an external reward for an activity that generates intrinsic motivation actually reduces the performance rather than enhancing it.

Self-Handicapping Strategy   to protect Intrinsic Motivation

Factors influencing Intrinsic Motivation

  1. Challenge

We are best motivated when we are working toward personally meaningful goals whose attainment requires activity at a continuously optimal (intermediate) level of difficulty.

  1. Curiosity

Something in the physical environment attracts our attention or there is a discrepancy between present knowledge or skills and what these could be if we engaged in some activity.

  1. Control

We have a basic tendency to want to control what happens to us.

  1. Fantasy

We use mental images of things and situations that are not actually present to stimulate our behavior.

  1. Competition

We feel satisfaction by comparing our performance favorably to that of others.

  1. Cooperation

We feel satisfaction by helping others achieve our goals.

  1. Recognition

We feel satisfaction when others recognize and appreciate our accomplishments.

Frustation and Conflict  

Frustation :  

Conflict :  


They are reactions consisting of subjective cognitive states, physiological reactions, and expressive behaviours  

Izard has proposed a  set of ten basic emotions, i.e. joy, surprise,  anger, disgust, contempt, fear, shame, guilt,  interest, and excitement (#    JAGDIS-CESF) with combinations of  them resulting in other emotional blends.
A/c  Plutchik, there are eight basic or  primary emotions. All other emotions result  from various mixtures of these basic emotions.  He arranged these emotions in four pairs of  opposites, i.e.
  1. joy-sadness
  2. acceptance-disgust
  3. fear-anger
  4. surprise-anticipation.

Evidence  indicates that women experience all the  emotions except anger more intensely than  men. Men are prone to experience high  intensity and frequency of anger. This gender  difference has been attributed to the social  roles attached to men (competitiveness) and  women (affiliation and caring).

Theories of Emotions

  1. Conan-Bard Theory  
  2. James-Lange Theory (facial feedback hypothesis - Sri Sri :P)
  3. Schachter-Singer's 2 factor Theory (Discussed in 'Cognitive basis of emotions' section below)
  4. Opponent Process Theory

Biological Basis of Emotions

Brain parts and their relation to emotions
Part of Brain  
Relation with Emotions
Positive Feelings  
Negative Feelings
Valence of emotions (pleasant or unpleasant)
Arousal (Intensity)

Role of Autonomic Nervous System in experience and expression of emotions  

The ANS is divided into two systems,  sympathetic and parasympathetic. These two  systems function together in a reciprocal  manner. In a stressful situation the  sympathetic system prepares the body to face  the situation. It strengthens the internal  environment of the individual by controlling  the fall in heart rate, blood pressure, blood  sugar, etc. It induces a state of physiological  arousal that prepares the individual for fight  or flight response in order to face the stressful  situation. As the threat is removed the  parasympathetic system gets active and  restores the balance by calming the body. It  restores and conserves energy and brings the  individual back to a normal state.

Though acting in an antagonistic manner,  the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems  are complementary to each other in completing  the process of experience and expression of  emotion.

Cognitive Basis of Emotions

Most psychologists today believe that our  cognitions, i.e. our perceptions, memories,  interpretations are essential ingredients of  emotions.

Schachter-Singer's two-factor theory:   states that emotions have two ingredients:  physical arousal and a cognitive label. They  presumed that our experience of emotion  grows from our awareness of our present  arousal. They also believed that emotions are  physiologically similar. For example, your  heart beats faster when you are excited or  scared or angry. You are physiologically  aroused and look to the external world for  explanation. Thus, in their view an emotional  experience requires a conscious interpretation  of the arousal.

If you are aroused after physical exercise  and someone teases you, the arousal already  caused by the exercise may lead to  provocation. To test this theory, Schachter and  Singer (1962) injected subjects with  epinephrine, a drug that produces high  arousal. Then these subjects were made to  observe the behaviour of others, either in an  euphoric manner (i.e. shooting papers at a waste basket) or in an angry manner (i.e.  stomping out of the room). As predicted, the  euphoric and angry behaviour of others  influenced the cognitive interpretation of the  subjects’ own arousal.

Cultural Basis Emotion

Studies have revealed  that the most basic emotions are inborn and  do not have to be learned. Psychologists largely  have a notion that emotions, especially facial  expressions, have strong biological ties. e.g. children who are visually impaired  from birth and have never observed the smile  or seen another person’s face, still smile or  frown in the same way that children with  normal vision do.

But on comparing different cultures we see  that learning plays an important role in  emotions. This happens in two ways.
  1. cultural learning influences the expression of  emotions more than what is experienced, e.g. some cultures encourage free  emotional expression, whereas other cultures  teach people, through   modeling and  reinforcement, to reveal little of their emotions  in public.
  2. learning has a great deal to do  with the stimuli that produce emotional  reactions. It has been shown that individuals  with excessive fears (phobia) of elevators,  automobiles, and the like learnt these fears through modeling, classical conditioning or  avoidance conditioning.

Expressing Emotions : Cultural Differences

Emotion is an internal  experience not directly observable by others.  Emotions are inferred from verbal and nonverbal  expressions. These verbal and nonverbal  expressions act as the channels of  communication and enable an individual to  express one’s emotions and to understand the  feelings of others.  A felt emotion may  be communicated through other non-verbal  channels as well, for example, gaze behaviour,  gestures, paralanguage, and proximal  behaviour.

The verbal channel of communication is  composed of spoken words as well as other  vocal features of speech like pitch and  loudness of the voice. These non-verbal  aspects of the voice and temporal  characteristics of speech are called  ‘paralanguage’. Other non-verbal channels  include facial expression, kinetic (gesture,  posture, movement of the body) and proximal  (physical distance during face-to-face  interaction) behaviours.

Q. Is facial expression of emotion innate or acquired? support your answer with suitable evidence. [2012]

Facial expression : most common channel of emotional  communication. The amount and kind of  information conveyed by the face is easy to  comprehend as the face is exposed to the full  view of others . Facial expressions  can convey the intensity as well as the  pleasantness or unpleasantness of the  individual’s emotional state. Facial  expressions play an important role in our everyday lives. There has been some research  evidence supporting Darwin’s view that facial  expressions for basic emotions (joy, fear,  anger, disgust, sadness, and surprise) are  inborn and universal.

Bodily movements further facilitate the  communication of emotions. Can you feel the  difference between your body movements  when you feel angry and movements when you  feel shy? Theatre and drama provide an  excellent opportunity to understand the  impact of body movements in communicating emotions. The roles of gestures and proximal
behaviours are also significant. You must have  seen how in Indian classical dances like  Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak
and others, emotions are expressed with the  help of movements of eyes, legs, and fingers.

The dancers are trained rigorously in the  grammar of body movement and non-verbal  communication to express joy, sorrow, love,  anger, and various other forms of emotional  states.

Q. Both expression and experience of emotions  are mediated and modified by culture specific  ‘display rules’ that delimit the conditions  under which an emotion may be expressed  and the intensity with which it is displayed. Explain with the help of suitable examples.
The processes involved in emotions have  been known to be influenced by culture.  Current research has dealt more specifically  with the issue of universality or culture  specificity of emotions. The emotional meaning conveyed  via gestures (body language) varies from  culture to culture. For example, in China, a  hand-clap is an expression of worry or  disappointment, and anger is expressed with  laughter. Silence has also been found to  convey different meanings for different  cultures. For example, in India, deep emotions  are sometimes communicated via silence. This  may convey embarrassment during  communication in Western countries.

Cultural differences have also been found in  the gaze behaviour. It has been observed that  the Latin Americans and the Southern  Europeans direct their gaze to the eyes of the  interactant. Asians, in particular, Indians and  Pakistanis, prefer a peripheral gaze (looking  away from the conversational partner) during  an interaction.
The physical space (proximity)  also divulges different kinds of emotional  meaning during emotional exchanges. The  Americans, for example, do not prefer an  interaction too close; the Oriental Indians  consider a close space comfortable for an  interaction. In fact, the touching behaviour in  physical proximity is considered reflective of  emotional warmth. For example, it was  observed that the Arabs experience alienation  during an interaction with the North  Americans who prefer to be interacted from  outside the olfactory (too close) zone.

Culture and Emotional Labeling
Basic emotions also vary in the extent of  elaboration and categorical labels. The  Tahitian language includes 46 labels for the  English word anger. When asked to label  freely, the North American subjects produced  40 different responses for the facial expression  of anger and 81 different responses for the  facial expression of contempt. The Japanese  produced varied emotional labels for facial  expressions of happiness (10 labels), anger (8  labels), and disgust (6 labels). Ancient Chinese  literature cites seven emotions, namely, joy,  anger, sadness, fear, love, dislike, and liking.  Ancient Indian literature identifies eight such  emotions, namely, love, mirth, energy, wonder,  anger, grief, disgust, and fear. In Western  literature, certain emotions like happiness,  sadness, fear, anger, and disgust are uniformly  treated as basic to human beings. Emotions  like surprise, contempt, shame, and guilt are  not accepted as basic to all.  In brief, it might be said that there are  certain basic emotions that are expressed and  understood by all despite their cultural and  ethnic differences, and there are certain others  that are specific to a particular culture.  

To do   : General Adaptation Syndrome to Emotions