Feelings And Emotions Effect On Motivation

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As we move through our daily lives, we experience a range of emotions. Emotions are often labelled as feelings, they represent a subjective, affective state that is comparatively strong and that happens in response to what we encounter. Motivation is viewed as something that stimulates an individual to perform and act in a certain way to reach the desired objective. Some researchers have clarified that emotions are related to motivation in such a way that human beings want to accomplish things that they believe will lead to pleasure, fulfillment and some degree of positive emotion. That said, feelings may be used as a compensation or retribution for a particular driven behavior. An affective experience involves at least two properties: Valence and arousal.

In accordance with other mental content derived from mental state attribution, mental representation of emotion can be represented as negative or positive, which is also known as valence (ranging from feeling pleasant to unpleasant). On the other hand, arousal is a measurement of how intense a felt emotion is, and describes a state of heightened physiological activity (increased brain activity) or enhanced autonomic responses (increased heart rate, respiration rate, muscle tension, sweat). Arousal increases with positive or negative valence. Positive affect includes emotions such as passion, desire, contentment, whereas negative affect includes emotions such as rage, revulsion. Some psychological variables undermine learning, and there are others that facilitate it. Unfortunately, research within Higher Education has historically been concerned with psychological variables that undermine learning, and has paid little attention to psychological variables that promote learning. For example, more than 200 studies have looked at the impact of evaluation/test anxiety on learning (Zeidner, 1998) and only a couple of studies have looked at the effect of positive emotions on learning (e.g., Pekrun, Frenzel, Goetz, & Perry, 2007; Pekrun, Goetz, Titz, & Perry, 2002). In order to begin filling this void, the present study conceptualized and tested a systematic, model of academic performance that explores, at the same time positive-adaptive and negative-maladaptive learning mechanisms and psychological variables underlying learning. The development of such a modeling method is hoped to prevent educational interventions from bias against either negative-adaptive or positive-adaptive psychological variables and define the key focus variables for interventions targeted at increasing students' chances of success in Higher Education. The present research selected academic success as a metric of learning for the following reasons: 1-It is widely accepted as the most suitable indicator of learning, 2-It provides a straightforward comparison of the outcomes of the study with the results of other studies, 3-Standardized tests allow for meaningful comparisons between students (e.g., Anaya, 1999; Bowman, 2010; Gonyea, 2005), 4-It is free from self-report biases. Educational research has repeatedly demonstrated that past academic achievement is the best indicator of potential academic success. The present research therefore explored the influence of psychological factors on prospective academic performance controlling for the effects of past academic performance. Student Approaches to Learning (SAL) Theory (Entwistle, Hanley, & Hounsell,1979) claims that there are three key methods to studying: deep, strategic, and surface.

Deep and strategic approaches to studying are distinguished by an in-depth understanding and review of new information and target-oriented attitudes towards learning, respectively, and are also adaptive and resilient. The surface approach to studying is marked by rote-learning and superficial comprehension of the study content (Entwistle & Peterson, 2004) and is thus insufficient. A research that administered measurement scales derived from SAL theory and other theoretical perspectives found clear convergence between various scales, transcending theoretical discrepancies, and consolidating the definition of the three approaches to studying (Speth & Brown, 2011): The depth approach implies an effort to grasp, personalize and incorporate the information that has been learned with previous knowledge. The strategic approach implies a tendency to integrate from the beginning the information that has been learned with contextual signals, in particular those relating to assessment. The surface approach suggests a propensity to repeat the learning material in a non-selective way without particular intervention and to ignore contextual cues.

As a student, I’ve noticed that my mood has had an impact on how I performed at school. On a good day, when I was feeling cheerful, I experienced longer attention spans and an improved retention of material covered in class. This translated into less effort at home, more time to invest in my hobbies, which made me look forward to the next day. This created a positive feedback loop which was usually, but not always, hard to break. However, on a bad day, when I was feeling anxious and gloomy, I would experience the opposite effects and have seen my performance, inside and outside the classroom, significantly go down. Do emotions affect motivation?


I am the sole participant of this experiment, a first-year student at Concordia university, in the Faculty of Arts and Science, majoring in behavioral neuroscience.


I will be studying on a good day, where my mood is positive, and studying on a bad day, where my mood is negative to see and compare my performance in both cases.

Two quizzes of the same difficulty will be selected. One of them will be taken on a good day, and the other on a bad day. The quizzes will be followed by an online survey containing one standardized questionnaire that has been commonly used in educational studies on university students. The guidelines for the questionnaire were: '[...] Please respond by talking about your current experience and actions when you are engaging in study activities [...].


Two quizzes of the same difficulty will be needed. Furthermore, an online survey containing the standardized questionnaire will also be used.

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On a bad day, when my mood was very negative, processing and analysis of new information was very hard. I was employing the surface studying approach, which is maladaptive. My progress was slower than desired, I was experiencing negative affect. Which then prompted me to score a 62/100 on the quiz taken. And my response in the survey was as follows: “I’m feeling very irritated, my attention span is very short, and I can’t seem to process any new information nor I can complete new tasks”. In contrast, when my progress was faster than desired, I was experiencing positive affect in studying, I viewed my feelings as an indication that the task was fun, so I dedicated more time and attention to studying, my positive mood prolonged my engagement in studying, studying and analysis of new information seemed easy and fast, I was employing the deep studying approach, which is adaptive and which then led me to see my performance significantly go up by scoring a 92/100 on the quiz. My response in the survey was as follows: “I’m feeling cheerful, my attention span is very long, and information processing seems very easy and fast, and completing new tasks felt like a piece of cake.”


The strategic and deep approaches to studying positively correlated with my academic performance, whereas the surface approach to studying negatively correlated with my academic performance.

The findings helped me analyze concomitantly the impact of adaptive-positive and maladaptive-negative structures and processes on my academic performance, and to assess which of them is more influential overall in my academic performance. When I had a positive affect in learning, I was likely to view my feelings as an indication that the task was pleasant, so I was likely to dedicate more time and attention to studying. And when I experienced negative affect in studying, learning seemed completely the opposite, I my feelings indicated that the task at hand was dull, so I was likely to dedicate less time and attention to studying.

The positive affect of studying can be seen as a subjective assessment on one's own academic success, in such a manner that students who show more positive effects in their experiments see themselves as progressing faster than expected.

These findings show that adaptive-positive structures and processes are typically better predictors of academic performance than maladaptive-negative structures and processes. Overall, academic performance tends to be more affected by the prevalence of positivity than by the lack of negativity.


The results of the study should be viewed in the light of four main methodological limitations.

First, the size of the sample is relatively small, limited to one person. The power of the tests is therefore limited, it might not be generalizable. Second, structures and procedures were assessed using self-reporting. Therefore, the subject may offer a more socially appropriate response rather than being honest and the subject might also not be capable of measuring herself correctly.


Despite its shortcomings, the present research advances our knowledge of the association between psychological variables and academic success among university students. The model explained the variance in academic performance depending on the kind of affect (positive/negative) the subject was engaging in. In sum, this research indicates that any initiative intended to enhance academic success should focus on improving adaptive-positive study behavior.

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Feelings And Emotions Effect On Motivation. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/feelings-and-emotions-effect-on-motivation/
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