How Motivation & Emotion Are Similar

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The film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, directed by Edgar Wright, is overdramatized however, it does conclude very well that anger and fear are instinctual emotions that are primarily connected with motivation. Motivation and Emotions are distinct constructs however, when dealing with emotions of instincts, namely fear and anger, motivation and emotion have more similarities than differences. Fear is an emotion that one experiences when feeling endangered and drives individuals to follow their instincts to escape or freeze. Anger is a complex emotion that a human individual experiences when feeling insulted which drives one to confront, fight or any other instinct responses. These two negative emotions will be explained more in depth and how they are both linked to motivation.

Anger and fear are portrayed by the character Knives in the movie. Knives who is a young Asian American character in the movie ends up having a romantic relationship with an older male named Scott Pilgrim. She falls head over heels for Scott and loves the idea that he is older and is in a band. Scott unfortunately loses interest and breaks up with Knives, because he falls in love with a girl named Ramona. Knives has cognitive evaluations and experiences emotions of fear after being rejected by Scott due to the fact that she maybe felt that Scott perceived her as being unworthy or unattractive. As time went on in the movie the emotions of fear within knives caused anger due to the fact that she feels like she should not have been rejected or cheated on because she realized that she does have self-worth. This anger that Knives generated caused her to take action and to physically want to fight with Scott. This pop culture reference portrays that Knives being rejected by Scott stemmed instinctive emotions of fear and anger which quickly progressed into avoidance of the situation with Scott to having the motivation to confront and seek revenge with Scott.

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Motivation is the desires, drives, and needs that prompt us to take action or to do something. The cognitive evaluation theory describes that there are two motivation systems: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivators perform for their own achievement and satisfaction. Intrinsic motivators believe they are doing the work for self-fulfillment instead of getting paid or some other extrinsic reason like promotion, feedback or working conditions. Extrinsic motivators are motivated by the pay, acknowledgment, working conditions and feedback. Extrinsic motivators are usually controlled by other people like a boss who persuades them to work harder for promotions and etc (Kopp, 2019).

Emotion is referred to the cognitive evaluations, subjective changes, autonomic and neural arousal, impulses to action and behavior designed to have an effect upon the stimulus that initiated the complex sequence (Shiota & Kalat, 2018). Paul Ekman presented the neurocultural theory of emotion which was the first attempt to express where and how culture can influence universal emotion processes (Shiota & Kalat, 2018). Ekman stated that, “emotion involved with biological features, including autonomic nervous system changes, cognitive biases, and automatic facial expressions generated by an innate and universal facial action program. If conditions are right, then these biological features, as well as consciously felt motivations, lead to prototypical emotional behavior” (as cited in Shiota & Kalat, 2018). This statement emphasizes that emotions are very influential to human individual’s motivation. Based off Knives’ emotions from getting rejected her body responses was to confront her issues on why she was getting dumped. Which means her emotions motivated her to act out.

Motivation and emotion may be different from each other but they are used together when dealing with the emotions of fear and anger. The theorist James Lange proposes that, “every shade of emotion might be associated with a unique profile of changes throughout the body, . . .thus, the difference between one emotion and another like fear reflects real differences in your body's instinctive responses to the eliciting situations to danger to loss” (as cited in Shiota & Kalat, 2018). This concludes, that altogether different emotions like anger and fear which are categorized as negative emotions may result a human individual to have physiological and behavioral changes.

Based off of the basic/discrete emotion model, anger and fear are some of the emotions that serve a distinct adaptive function. Anger and fear are two of the six basic emotions that evolved to handle threats and challenges in the human environment (Shiota & Kalat, 2018). Anger is an emotion which is an intense feeling of annoyance or hostility. Anger is developed when an individual feels insulted or when the individual perceives disrespectfulness from another being or animal which may result in psychological changes and furthermore behavioral changes such as reacting, confronting or fighting with another.

Fear is an unpleasant emotion individuals feel when they are in danger. Fear is an emotion that selects and drives overt defensive action. But the emotion also contains the autonomic changes supporting these behaviors and the conscious experience that accompanies danger (Lebel & R.D, 2017). “A fear response includes heightened visual acuity, attention compelled toward nearby threats, increased fight–flight sympathetic nervous activation preparing the body for physical activity, increased tension in the large skeletal muscles, and an impulse to freeze or run, as well as subjective feelings associated with danger” (Shiota & Kalat, 2018, p.16). This accentuates that fear and anger may be intense feelings and result an individual to have different reactions physiologically and behaviorally. However, these specific emotions anger and fear may be actually being linked to motivation due to the fact that these instinct emotions result an individual to have motivations. For an example Knives was feeling angry and fearful on what to do when her relationship ended with Scott. Her drives was to immediately get revenge and answers by fighting with her ex-boyfriend.

Although anger and fear are different cognitions and behaviors they are both high arousal emotions of negative feelings. Researchers stated that “experiences of negative emotions are generally associated with negative behaviors and outcomes. However, negative emotions such as anger and fear can spark proactive behavior by signaling a need to change the status quo” (Lebel & R.D, 2017). To break this example down: employees who are not satisfied in their jobs and dislike their environments are more likely to be motivated to make change. These individuals might use negative feelings of anger or fear in their workplace to make a difference. They may use anger which compels an individual to be motivated to take action to correct a perceived wrong or to act against the source of blame. The individual may also use fear which compels an individual to be motivated to take safety and leave from either physical or psychological threats. However, as the individual goes about the situation they may use these instinct emotions to help them be proactive and to make an action to fulfill themselves whether it be quitting their jobs or asking for a raise. Anger generates an instinctive behavior associated with approach or fight, whereas fear generates instinctive behavior associated with a tendency to avoid or take flight (Lebel & R.D, 2017).

James-Lange, a theorist of emotion, suggested that instinctive physical reactions are the basis of emotional feelings (Shiota & Kalat, 2018). That being said, emotions like fear and anger include physiological, motivational, and behavioral responses (Shiota & Kalat, 2018). Animals are good examples of portraying how emotions and motivation link together. Emotions like anger and fear can motivate prey to act in a defensive manner. In a study that was performed to compare prey and snake paradigms, researchers found how panic attacks and anticipatory anxiety-like behaviors were portrayed in rodents. For one of the trials they placed a constricting snake in a complex maze with a rodent. Researchers found instinctive fear-induced defensive responses that were evoked by the confrontation between the rodent (House Mouse) and a South American Boa constrictor for 5 min in the polygonal arena of the complex maze. The prey felt threatened by the snake and its instincts showed anxiety/fear-related responses: alertness, inhibitory avoidance, and stretch attend posture. It also showed panic attack-like responses: freezing and oriented escape displayed by prey threatened (Combrias et al., 2017). “Researchers further found that a potential threat can also elicit avoidance, activating the anterior cingulate cortex and amygdaloid complex, resulting in anxiety. Distal threats can cause freezing behavior through the activation of the ventral columns of periaqueductal gray matter, resulting in instinctive fear. Finally, a proximal threat elicits freezing or fight or flight behavior via the activation of dorsal columns of the periaqueductal gray matter, resulting in a generalized panic reaction” (Combrias et al., 2017). Basically the rodents exhibited common anxiety symptoms based off of induced fear. Human individuals can portray similar reactions in their environment when threatened. For an example when Knives got broken by Scott she froze and couldn’t believe that her love life was ended. Knives also tried avoiding her problems by staying away from Scott after getting broken up. These reactions are all based off the emotion fear.

Going back to the pop culture reference of Scott Pilgrim Vs the World. Knives who was rejected by Scott stemmed instinctive emotions of fear and anger which quickly progressed into avoidance of the situation with Scott and motivation to confront and seek revenge with Scott. Knives should know that even though negative emotions seem to help us address threats to adaptive fitness she needed to learn that fighting isn’t a constructive behavior, knives should know that conflict with other people is a major cause of anger and one reason for conflict is poor communication. She should know that anger or fear is not inherently bad. Whether it is helpful or harmful depends on what circumstances arouse it, and how the person expresses the anger or fear (Shiota & Kalat, 2018 ). Instead of Knives fighting Scott she should have used other tactics like evaluating a situation before the individual takes action. Knives could have also seen a therapist for cognitive restructuring and social training. These are two strategies to help manage anger and fear in tactful ways. It’s important to know that anger and fear can be expressed but when the emotion motivates one to harmful actions then the individual should seek help on how to manage to reduce the intensity of people’s emotions.

In conclusion this information should portray that even though motivation and emotions are two separate constructs they do have more similarities than differences. Anger and fear are two emotions that are very similar to motivation. These two instinct emotions can be helpful in creating drives for humans and animals. In the United States under appropriate circumstances small displays of anger can sometimes improve social interaction and increase confidence for that individual (Shiota & Kalat, 2018 ). Small amounts of anger can display healthy boundaries as well. The emotion fear helps us to avoid repeating mistakes we’ve already made. Fear can also be a sign of a healthy life and a willingness to try new adventures (Shiota & Kalat, 2018 ). However, these emotions are only helpful when they are managed well by the human individual.

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How Motivation & Emotion Are Similar. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
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