Motivation and emotion/Lectures/Introduction

Lecture 01: Introduction
This is the first lecture for the motivation and emotion unit of study.



This lecture:



Unit overview

  • Unit description
  • Learning outcomes
  • Graduate attributes
  • Flexible delivery
  • Schedule
  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Textbook
  • Websites
  • Drop-in
  • Discussion
  • Assessment
  • Key dates

Introduction to motivation and emotion

  • Motivational science
  • Key questions
  • Scientific process
  • Theoretical frameworks
  • Unifying themes

Key questions


The key questions that underlie psychological study of motivation and emotion are:

Why do we do
what we do?

Why do we feel

the way we feel?

The practical, applied problems are:

How can we change
what we do?

How can we change

what we feel?


Etymology: The terms "motivation" and "emotion" have a common root in the Latin verb "movere" (to move).

The terms "motivation" and "emotion" have their roots in the Latin verb "movere" which means "to move". More specifically:

  • "motivation" is derived from "motivus" which refers to the action of moving or being moved. This evolved to "motivare" which means "to set in motion" or "to stimulate". In the context of psychology and behaviour, "motivation" refers to the processes that initiate, direct, and sustain goal-directed behavior. It is the driving force that pushes individuals to take action and achieve their objectives.
  • "emotion" comes from "emotus" which means "moved" or "agitated." Emotions are complex psychological states characterised by feelings, physiological responses, and behavioral expressions. Emotions are often triggered by internal or external events and can significantly influence behavior and decision-making.

Therefore, both motivation and emotion are linked to the idea of movement or being moved, but represent different aspects of human experiences and behaviour. Motivation is the driving force behind goal-oriented actions, while emotion is the affective states and responses to stimuli that often influence behavior and decision-making.

What is motivation?

Common understanding

The everyday, layperson understanding of "motivation" is that it involves using will-power and self-discipline to focus and channel one's attention and efforts towards achieving challenging short- or long-term goals such as working out or studying.

For example, what do you think of this motivational video? The ultimate motivational clip - Rise and shine! (YouTube) (3:24 mins):

What are your favourite motivational quotes, books, podcasts, or videos?

Psychological understanding

In contrast, psychological science considers ALL behaviour to be motivated, including:

  • mundane behaviour (e.g., drinking and eating)
  • less "desirable" behaviours (e.g., avoidance, procrastination, nose-picking etc.)
  • "non-behaviour" (i.e., choosing not to do something is also a motivated behaviour)
  • approach-based goal-directed behaviours (e.g., training for a marathon)

Motivation is complex:

  • Multiple people engaged in the SAME behaviour (e.g., a workout) may have DIFFERENT motivations (e.g., fitness, emotion regulation, social engagement).
  • We each have MULTIPLE motivations in any moment, but only our DOMINANT motivation gets acted upon.

What is your definition of motivation?

What is emotion?



  • are dynamic e.g.,
  • help us adapt to our environment

Emotional intelligence means tuning into, self-regulating, and making effective use of emotion.

What is your definition of emotion?

Take-home messages

  • This unit seeks to understand and apply psychological theory and research about motivation and emotion.
  • Motivation refers to the processes that give behaviour its energy, direction, and persistence.
  • Emotions help us to adapt by functioning as motivators, providing feedback about our behaviour, and helping us to communicate our needs to others.


  1. Unit outline
  2. Chapter 01: Introduction (Reeve, 2018)



See also