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Theories of Motivation, Emotion, and Arousal Essay

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Motivation speaks of the launching, direction, strength, and persistence of human behavior. (Geen, 1994) This means motivation maintains an important role in the normal functioning of all individuals.         Because of this, numerous theories have been developed to achieve a clearer understanding of the mechanisms of the human motivational system.

            One of the more traditional theories of motivation is the arousal theory. This theory sates that an individual is compelled to seek a certain level of arousal in order to continue to feel comfortable.

In this theory, an individual’s specific goals and behavior is not as relevant as his or her drive to maintain a pre-set level of arousal.

            Another theory of motivation is the attribution theory of motivation and emotion. This theory stresses the fact that individual’s are highly motivated by desirable outcomes which make them feel good about themselves. The theory is grounded on the assumption that a person interprets his or her environment in such a way that a positive self-image is maintained.

Thus the amount of effort he or she exerts, the motivation, for a behavior is dependent on his or her attribution for the success or failure of that specific task.

            The fact that the arousal theory views humans as organisms living simply on a homeostatic drive without thought to the cognitive and emotional capacities of man puts it in lesser standing. Also, it is only able to account for internal factors that contribute to behavior. The attribution theory, on the other hand, is an applicable theory even in the field of education where it is able to predict instances wherein a student will most likely persist at a certain academic task. Attribution theory allows for a more holistic view of the individual and his environment. It is a stronger theory as it holds much potential for expansion and furthering of its concepts and because it relates to many other established concepts of psychology.

Stress : Impact and Management

            Stress in lay terms can be used to refer to emotions of anxiety, agitation, unease, tension, pressure, and a generally depressive state created by an individual’s interaction with the environment. In psychological terms, stress indicates a disagreeable emotional and physiological state of arousal as experienced in instances wherein an individual senses a danger or a threat to their well-being. The responses, which can be physiological, emotional, or behavioral in nature, to such situations can also be considered as stress.

            Because of the fact that stress is a natural part of a human’s daily experience, much research has been conducted to study its effects and its management. The most common physiological response to stress is one triggered by the body’s Sympathetic Nervous System, the fight or flight response. This involves an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. The individual’s perspiration also increases.

Also, hearing and vision become more attuned to the environment. Blood is directed away from the extremities and towards the body’s large muscles thus resulting in the sensation of coldness in the hands and feet. Chronic stress can result in experience of headaches and an increased susceptibility to colds. It can result in an increase in cortisol levels which weakens the immune system and leaves the individual more prone to health problems like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, obesity and ulcers.

            The negative effects of stress on the body can be lessened with proper stress management. These often involve using relaxation techniques when experiencing stress such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation, meditation, and learning command of breathing and muscle tension. Being able to anticipate stressful events is also a means of management. Knowing one’s optimal stress levels and the stressors that cause intense reactions are adaptive prevention techniques that may serve more efficiently than established intervention techniques.


Geen, R. (1994). Human motivation: A psychological approach. New York:Wadsworth Publishing.

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