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Motivation, Emotion and Behavior Theories

Motivation can be defined as the factors encourage an individual to perform a given duty. “Motivation can be categorized into two groups” (Carpenter & Huffman, 2010). The first one is called intrinsic motivation. This occurs in a situation where by a person is having a self drive to perform a given duty, simply because he or she finds it interesting or important. Extrinsic motivation occurs due to external influences that may make a person to behave in a certain a way. For example, when a teacher promises to give a student a prize if he performs well in class then that can act as a source of motivation to that student.

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Emotion can be defined “as the complex psycho physiological experience of an individual’s state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences” (Carpenter & Huffman, 2010). Emotion is also closely linked with the personality, mood and motivation of a person. The manner in which an individual behaves is actually dictated by his state of emotions. For example, an individual who is feeling sad may cry.

However, “if one can have an emotion without a corresponding behavior, then we may consider the behavior not to be essential to the emotion” (Reeve, 2004).Emotion and motivation are linked together in the sense that some of our emotions may motivate us to do something. For example, when I became an international musician I was motivated by the passion I had in music. My passion in singing was developed by the first interesting encounter I had in singing. The positive feelings I had therefore continue to motivate me in singing.

The link between emotion, motivation and behavior is that our emotions may motivate us in performing a given task. Since we are motivated we can pursue something or learn something very quickly. Therefore, both emotion and motivation have an impact on the behavior of a person. For example, a student who feels that physics is very hard and keeps on getting poor grades may not be motivated to study it. Hence, he or she may avoid attending physics classes due lack of motivation.

Theories of Emotion

A lot of studies have been done by psychologists in order to explain how emotions affect the behavior of an individual. The theories of emotion can be discussed as follows.

James Lange theory

“James Lange theory states that an event or stimulus causes a physiological arousal without any interpretation or conscious thought, and you only experience the resulting emotion after interpreting the physical response” (Olson, 2008). This means that a person’s actions in particular case precedes his perception of the situation. The proponents of this theory therefore contend that emotions shape our actions and they can also be used in explaining the behavior of a person. It also means that emotions cannot exist without arousal. For example, as you walk home late in the evening you might hear a sound that may scare you hence you can quickly respond by running a way.

Cannon-Bard Theory

According to this theory, “a particular stimulus induces both a physiological and emotional response simultaneously, and that neither one causes the other” (Carpenter & Huffman, 2010). For example, if you visit a game park and you hear wild animals roaring, you can feel nervous and this can make you tremble and feel scared.

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Schacter-Singer Theory

This theory adopts a cognitive perspective in its explanation of the nature of emotions. According to Schacter and Singer, “physiological arousal can be induced by an incident, but you should explain the causes of the arousal first before labeling the emotion” (Carpenter & Huffman, 2010). For example, a person will definitely feel happy if he or she gets something prestigious.

The Lazarus Theory

This theory was developed from Singer’s theory and it has actually improved its explanation of emotion. According to this theory, a cognitive judgment is normally made during an event. “The outcome of the judgment is always followed by physiological and emotional reactions” (Olson, 2008). For example, if you meet thugs at night, you might think they are going to attack you and this can make you can run away from them.

From the above analysis of emotion theories, I think Lazarus theory is the best because it is based on cognition which makes it better than Singer’s theory. In addition to this, it also recognizes the fact that judgment precedes an action. This is accurate because you cannot do any thing before thinking a bout it. I therefore oppose James Lange theory because it states that an action precedes perception. This is not right since a person can think and act very first in a dangerous situation.

Thinking, Intelligence, and Creativity

Thinking refers to an intellectual process that involves a person’s subjective consciousness. Intelligence refers to the ability of a person to comprehend, learn and communicate effectively (Sternberg, 2003). Creativity is the ability of a person to come up with something unique out his own thoughts. These three elements are linked together as follows. Creativity is closely linked to thinking since it reflects the level of thinking that a person is having. This is because you cannot invent something good before thinking about it properly. Creativity also indicates the level of intelligence of an individual. Therefore, if a person is more intelligent he is likely to be more creative. The modern scientific inventions are good examples of the outcomes of the above described elements.


Carpenter, S., & Huffman, K. (2010). Visualizing psychology. New York: Wiley.

Olson, M. (2008). Introduction to theories of learning. New York: Prentice-Hall.

Reeve, J. (2004). Understanding motivation and emotion. New York: Wiley.

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Sternberg, R. (2003). Wisdom, intelligence, and creativity synthesized. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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