All posts by Danny Whatmough

About Danny Whatmough

20 years old, doing psychology at Bangor (but you may have guessed that bit).

Closure, end of a journey

Looking back over my last three blogs for Emotion and Motivation I see a passion and genuine interest from myself in the topics I’m writing about, I see the reason I wanted to do this module and because of these things I see myself being intrinsically motivated (Deci & Ryan, 2001).

It’s not just my personal interest that has worked to motivate me intrinsically however, having control and autonomy over what I’m writing about has been shown to positively influence intrinsic motivation (Levesque et al, 2010) and having this autonomy and control each week has increased my motivation as I’ve wrote about different subject areas (Radel et al, 2014). One of the main factors here is argued to be that not only did I control the content, but my approach to said content and what I wanted to get out of each blog was also down to me (Wu, 2003) enhancing my motivation.

The advantages of this intrinsic motivation over the usual extrinsic motivation is argued to be that I will achieve better grades than I otherwise would have been able to achieve (Lin, McKeachie & Kim, 2001) and I have been more easily motivated to complete the work and struggled with doing it less than I otherwise would (Robinson et al, 2012). I am better able to share the information which I have learnt through my blogs (Hung et al, 2011), and I was more likely to succeed in finding the research and completing my aims with each blog (David et al, 2007).

Personally I enjoyed completing the blogs and really appreciated the freedom to research and learn about what I wanted to do; the exploitation of our personal interest creates the strange paradox that not focusing on our grades should actually improve our grades (Lin, McKeachie & Kim, 2001), which is a strong argument for wider spread use of blogs as a teaching method.

I took Emotion and Motivation because of their roles in military psychology and the blogs allowed me to put some research into areas related to that which I otherwise would not have covered, hence my personal interest which helped motivate me (Deci & Ryan, 2001), and my gratitude for the opportunity to do that.

– – – – – References – – – – –

David, P., Song, M., Hayes, A., & Fredin, E. S. (2007). A cyclic model of information seeking in hyperlinked environments: The role of goals, self-efficacy, and intrinsic motivation. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies,65(2), 170-182.

Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (2001). Intrinsic Motivation, Psychology of. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioural Sciences. 7886-7888.

Hung, S. Y., Durcikova, A., Lai, H. M., & Lin, W. M. (2011). The influence of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on individuals’ knowledge sharing behavior.International Journal of Human-Computer Studies69(6), 415-427.

Levesque, C., Copeland, K. J., Pattie, M. D. & Deci, E. (2010) Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation. International Encyclopedia of Education, (3). 618-623.

Lin, Y. G., McKeachie, W. J., & Kim, Y. C. (2001). College student intrinsic and/or extrinsic motivation and learning. Learning and Individual Differences,13(3), 251-258.

Radel, R., Pelletier, L., Baxter, D., Fournier, M., & Sarrazin, P. (2014). The paradoxical effect of controlling context on intrinsic motivation in another activity. Learning and Instruction29, 95-102.

Robinson, L. J., Stevens, L. H., Threapleton, C. J., Vainiute, J., McAllister-Williams, R. H., & Gallagher, P. (2012). Effects of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on attention and memory. Acta psychologica141(2), 243-249.

Wu, X. (2003). Intrinsic motivation and young language learners: The impact of the classroom environment. System31(4), 501-517.

Helping others, but why so?

I think we can universally agree that helping another person is a good thing, something that should be rewarded and gain recognition from others as a commendable action, but in this case what limits our motivation to help one another? Why don’t we leap at the chance to help another when they need it?

Well one of the major factors is that we are motivated to look after our own safety, and so seeing another in trouble, but in a situation that would risk ourselves means we are less likely to help (Burt, Banks & Williams, 2014).

Another argued effect is the bystander effect, having a number of people watching has been argued to cause us to worry about the embarrassment of trying to help but failing (Zoccola et al, 2011) however having an audience has also been stated as a dual-edged blade (Garcia et al, 2009) as in situations where our behaviour will be accountable to us and public self-awareness is raised we are indeed more likely to help (Van Bommel et al, 2012).

On this point the accountability of the victim works to either motivate us to, or motivate us not to help as if the victim is possible to blame for their situation we are motivated not to help them, but if we feel they are not in any way to blame we are more motivated to help (Kogut, 2011).

Looking at a more selfish view it’s been argued that we cannot simply help another unless we are motivated by a feeling that helping them will fulfill some kind of satisfaction within ourselves (Cryder, Loewenstein & Seltman, 2013). It’s also been shown that if being asked specifically for help, and it is labelled as being high priority we are more motivated to help (Lewis et al, 2004) and personal high empathy has been shown to make us more motivated to help as well (Paciello et al, 2013). Exercise has also been shown to increase motivation to help (Sterling & Gaertner, 1984) as the higher arousal promoted bystander action, however this effect was reversed if the scenario was ambiguous and therefore bystanders were less likely to act.

In terms of charity it’s been argued by some that it’s related to envy (Garay & Mori, 2011) as the argument stands that we donate to charity in an attempt to stop those better than us looking so much better than we are, motivated by a desire to knock them down a peg so to speak. Such arguments conflict with others that claim charity donation is motivated by Moral Salience however (Joireman & Duell, 2007) and it’s been shown that advertising awareness charities can have a detrimental effect on motivation to help said charities when awareness is already relatively high (Smith & Schwarz, 2012).

Looking over this there’s a good number of reasons why we do not act to help one another on a regular basis but it appears to be because we have some sort of inbuilt self-preservation that can be overridden by not only self awareness and accountability but our envy and believe that it would make ourselves look better than those we are envious of.

Have a think of scenarios you’ve been in where you could have helped someone, can you remember the reasons why you did/didn’t? Hopefully this blog has helped you understand why people may or may not be motivated to help others, and perhaps the knowledge can be used to encourage more people to help.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.

– – – – – References – – – – –

Burt, C. D., Banks, M. D., & Williams, S. D. (2014). Safety risks associated with helping others. Safety Science62, 136-144.

Cryder, C. E., Loewenstein, G., & Seltman, H. (2013). Goal gradient in helping behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology49(6), 1078-1083.

Garay, J., & Móri, T. F. (2011). Is envy one of the possible evolutionary roots of charity?. Biosystems106(1), 28-35.

Garcia, S. M., Weaver, K., Darley, J. M., & Spence, B. T. (2009). Dual effects of implicit bystanders: Inhibiting vs. facilitating helping behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology19(2), 215-224.

Joireman, J., & Duell, B. (2007). Self-transcendent values moderate the impact of mortality salience on support for charities. Personality and individual differences43(4), 779-789.

Kogut, T. (2011). Someone to blame: When identifying a victim decreases helping. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology47(4), 748-755.

Lewis, C. E., Thompson, L. F., Wuensch, K. L., Grossnickle, W. F., & Cope, J. G. (2004). The impact of recipient list size and priority signs on electronic helping behavior. Computers in human behavior20(5), 633-644.

Paciello, M., Fida, R., Cerniglia, L., Tramontano, C., & Cole, E. (2012). High cost helping scenario: The role of empathy, prosocial reasoning and moral disengagement on helping behavior. Personality and Individual Differences.

Smith, R. W., & Schwarz, N. (2012). When promoting a charity can hurt charitable giving: A metacognitive analysis. Journal of Consumer Psychology,22(4), 558-564.

Sterling, B., & Gaertner, S. L. (1984). The attribution of arousal and emergency helping: A bidirectional process. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,20(6), 586-596.

van Bommel, M., van Prooijen, J. W., Elffers, H., & Van Lange, P. A. (2012). Be aware to care: Public self-awareness leads to a reversal of the bystander effect. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology48(4), 926-930.

Zoccola, P. M., Green, M. C., Karoutsos, E., Katona, S. M., & Sabini, J. (2011). The embarrassed bystander: Embarrassability and the inhibition of helping. Personality and Individual Differences51(8), 925-929.

Morale, what is it?

So when I started I drew a triangle of the 3 topics I wanted to cover; PTSD was blog one, and this week I’m moving onto Morale.

Starting with a definition of Morale:

 “morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose”

(Leighton, 1949).

In a more simplified context then; morale is the motivation to pursue an objective, the will to carry on and the drive to succeed… But in that case what differentiates it from basic motivation?

“An American general defined morale as “when a soldier thinks his army is the best in the world, his regiment the best in the army, his company the best in the regiment, his squad the best in the company, and that he himself is the best blankety-blank soldier man in the outfit.”

(Knickerbocker, 1941)

And there we go, Morale is the positive emotion related to the motivation. Morale captivates not only the motivation to carry on but the emotion that makes you think you can carry on.

In the workplace effects such as individual achievement and have been shown to increase individual morale (Baylor & Ritche, 2002) and having realistic expectations of the workers prevent them losing this drive (Evans, 1997). Equality between workers also aids in individual morale and motivation (Leete, 2000) while at home simple effects such as low numbers of children can affect basic life morale (Hoffman & Youngblade, 1998).

Looking into morale as a concept therefore makes it appear to be the emotional side of motivation; someone can be motivated to do something they are not happy about, but in this case they will be experiencing low morale with negative emotion, however if they are willing and wanting to perform the action they will have a high morale and better motivation (Sennewald, 2011).

 This high morale is argued to be what causes workaholics (Stoeber, Davis & Townly, 2013) as they have high levels of work motivation, and the work motivation results in less exhaustion related to the job (Björklund, Jensen & Lohela-Karlsson, 2013). Not just this but in education it’s been shown that by having better student-teacher relations positive emotions are more common (Anitei & Chraif, 2013) and these emotions should be taken into account when trying to support student motivation to work (Turner, Meyer & Schweinle, 2003).

In conclusion although most of the time when we hear of Morale we think of soldiers or the home-front in wars gone by, it’s an ever present factor but is commonly referred to as ‘work motivation’ or similar when it is discussed in a modern non-military context. The morale is the motivation to work, combined with the positive emotion felt at believing the work can be done, we see it in students, teachers and the health care system.

When you’re doing work for example, when you feel like you’re going to do badly it makes you want to do the work less, but you’re still motivated to do it via extrinsic factors; your grade. But if you believe you can do it and enjoy it, you have better intrinsic motivation and thus better morale as there are positive emotions driving you to complete the work.

– – – – – References – – – – – 

Aniţei, M., & Chraif, M. (2013). A Correlative Study between Perceived Stressors and Positive and Negative Emotions at Young Romanian Students–A Pilot Study. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences76, 39-43.

Baylor, A. L., & Ritchie, D. (2002). What factors facilitate teacher skill, teacher morale, and perceived student learning in technology-using classrooms?.Computers & Education39(4), 395-414.

Björklund, C., Jensen, I., Lohela-Karlsson, M. (2013). Is a change in work motivation related to a change in mental well-being? Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 83(3), 571-580.

Evans, L. (1997). Understanding teacher morale and job satisfaction. Teaching and Teacher Education13(8), 831-845.

Hoffman, L. W., & Youngblade, L. M. (1998). Maternal employment, morale and parenting style: Social class comparisons. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology19(3), 389-413.

Knickerbocker, H. R. (1941). Is tomorrow Hitler’s?: 200 questions on the battle of mankind. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock.

Leighton, A. H. (1949). Human relations in a changing world: Observations on the use of the social sciences.

Leete, L. (2000). Wage equity and employee motivation in nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization43(4), 423-446.

Sennewald, C. (2011) Motivation and Morale. Effective Security Management, (5). 99-108.

Stoeber, J., Davis, C. D., & Townley, J. (2013). Perfectionism and workaholism in employees: The role of work motivation. Personality and Individual Differences.

Turner, J. C., Meyer, D. K., & Schweinle, A. (2003). The importance of emotion in theories of motivation: Empirical, methodological, and theoretical considerations from a goal theory perspective. International Journal of Educational Research39(4), 375-393.

Post Traumatic Stress Discussion

Defined in the DSM-IV-TR as:

“the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threats to one’s physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate…”

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is estimated to have a lifetime prevalence of 6.8% in Adult Americans (Kessler et al. 2010) with 4.8% of serving US and UK military personnel showing strong symptoms of the disorder (Iversen et al. 2009) with around 24% of US war veterans (Blake et al, 1990) and an estimated 22% of British Falkland Veterans (O’Brien and Hughes, 1991). Though figures are difficult to accurately predict due to the crossing symptoms of PTSD and other disorders such as depression and acute stress disorder, it’s not hard to understand why PTSD is a concern for military forces, its usually caused by an experience with death or violence, which they frequently and its prevalence in veterans of conflict it remarkably higher than prevalence in the average population.

The usual thought of PTSD when it comes to symptoms is the re-experiencing of the event by the affected individual, usually an experience of the sensory impressions and emotions during the event, though lacking in a time frame (Ehlers, Hackmann & Michael, 2010) which results in the individual to lose focus on the present, as their memory of past stimuli and emotion is overwriting current stimuli and emotion. Though it has also been argued Trauma need not be present for one to develop the symptoms of PTSD (Scott & Stradling, 2011), however the research stated in these cases it should not be classed as PTSD due to conflict with the description of cause.

This is not the only symptom however as the memories should motivate a change in emotion or action, usually efforts of avoidance toward the subject of the experience, it is a fear of the experience, not anxiety (Lang, Davis & Öhman, 2000). While avoiding a bad memory might sound like a common thing to do, it begs a question, everyone has memories they’d rather not have, so why in PTSD does this motivate avoidance behaviours when usually we tend to ignore our negative memories? Well the cognitive model of PTSD by Ehlers & Clark (2000) attempts to explain this:

Figure 1: Cognitive Model of PTSD (Ehlers & Clark, 2000)
Figure 1: Cognitive Model of PTSD (Ehlers & Clark, 2000) 

As can be seen in the model the avoidant behaviours are not motivated by a want to numb oneself, but rather motivated by a want to gain control over the memory. PTSD is uncontrollable and unpredictable for the individual, as apposed to phobias where you know what will trigger the behaviour and simply avoid that (Foa, Steketee & Rothbaum, 1989); it is human nature to desire control and we are willing to suppress our emotions to do it (Norgaard, 2006). Given the choice between numbed emotion and intense negative emotion, individuals with PTSD are motivated to numb their emotions as there is less negativity in their experiences as a result.

It is also the fear which increases arousal in PTSD, not just while awake but during sleep as well (Woodward, Murburg & Bliwise, 2000).  While it may sound contrasting that PTSD both numbs us and causes increased arousal, it is for similar reasons that they happen, it is fear that triggers our fight or flight response (Selye, 1956). This explains that while avoidance behaviours are motivated by the fear and negative emotion of PTSD, the arousal is actually a forced response from the body due to evolution, there is no motivation to be hyper-vigilant, there is simply no choice.

The DSM-IV-TR finishes by explaining that symptoms should be persistent and last for longer than one month, but hopefully here I have helped explain what causes the intense emotion in PTSD and why those with it feel motivated to develop avoidant, numbing strategies; while their body is forcing them into a state of greater arousal.

Until the next blog that is all from me, hope you’ve not been bored by my writing and maybe understand a little better about why PTSD is so different to average fears and bad memories.


– – – – – Bibliography – – – – –

American Psychiatric Association (Ed.). (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR®. American Psychiatric Pub.

Blake, D.D., Keane, T. M., Wine, P. R., Mora, C., Taylor, K. L., & Lyons, J. A. (1990). Prevalence of PTSD symptoms in combat veterans seeking medical treatment. Journal of Traumatic Stress3(1), 15-27.

Ehlers, A., & Clark, D. M. (2000). A cognitive model of posttraumatic stress disorder. Behaviour research and therapy38(4), 319-345.

Ehlers, A., Hackmann, A., & Michael, T. (2004). Intrusive re‐experiencing in post‐traumatic stress disorder: Phenomenology, theory, and therapy. Memory,12(4), 403-415.

Foa, E. B., Steketee, G., & Rothbaum, B. O. (1989). Behavioral/cognitive conceptualizations of post-traumatic stress disorder. Behavior therapy20(2), 155-176.

Iversen, A. C., van Staden, L., Hughes, J. H., Browne, T., Hull, L., Hall, J., … & Fear, N. T. (2009). The prevalence of common mental disorders and PTSD in the UK military: using data from a clinical interview-based study. BMC psychiatry9(1), 68.

Kessler, R. C., Chiu, W. T., Demler, O., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of general psychiatry62(6), 617.

Lang, P. J., Davis, M., & Öhman, A. (2000). Fear and anxiety: animal models and human cognitive psychophysiology. Journal of affective disorders61(3), 137-159.

Norgaard, K. M. (2006). “People Want to Protect Themselves a Little Bit”: Emotions, Denial, and Social Movement Nonparticipation*. Sociological Inquiry,76(3), 372-396.

O’Brien, L. S., & Hughes, S. J. (1991). Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in Falklands veterans five years after the conflict. The British Journal of Psychiatry159(1), 135-141.

Scott, M. J., & Stradling, S. G. (1994). Post‐traumatic stress disorder without the trauma. British Journal of Clinical Psychology33(1), 71-74.

Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life.

Woodward, S. H., Murburg, M. M., & Bliwise, D. L. (2000). PTSD-related hyperarousal assessed during sleep. Physiology & behavior70(1), 197-203.

Hello and Welcome

Yep, for simples sake I’ve used the same account for each of my Year 3 blogs, however I’m using different addresses for this one.

This one of course being for Emotion and Motivation, I already have an idea of what my blogs will be about, and hopefully you’ll find them as interesting as I do.

At the same time if you have nothing better to do I have a 3rd non-course blog here:

Which I’m using to throw up my ideas and things related to my course blogs that aren’t for the courses themselves, hopefully occasionally I’ll throw something worth looking at on it but it’s nothing you have to read and it relates to my science of education blog as well.

Anyway, until I post blog 1 for Emotion and Motivation, that’s it.

Enjoy your week