Motivation refers to the reasons and needs that drive an individual into action or to behave in certain ways in order to fulfill that need. However, it does not refer as much as to the cause of the behavior but rather what moves the person to behave.
Emotion collectively refer to the state of feeling something, of experiencing intense feelings, it is a psychological term used generally to refer to the different array of sensations and feelings that a person manifests in response to an event, person or memory.
Motivation had always been a topic that is both confusing and fascinating, most theories on motivation have espoused the need angle and other have said that it is the inherent drive of the person towards personal growth (Myers 2000). I believe that motivation is something that is present in all of us and evident in most of the behaviors that man does but it still is not fully understood. However, motivation for me is the underlying force that causes a person to act in certain ways. For example, a worker who has consistently been tardy for the past month must have some problem with regards to her motivation to work. One can argue that a person works because he has to make a living, but despite of that reason, what is it that moves the worker to wake up every morning to go to work, surely to make a living will not be always in the worker’s mind at all times. Motivation actually does not come from something, but rather it is an inherent part of the human psyche, hard wired through years of evolution that enables the person to behave in ways that would be most beneficial to them. Take for example a murder case, the first question is what the motive for the murder is, even if the motive was revenge or anger, it still is beneficial to the one who committed the murder since it diffused the anger and it enabled the person to feel equal
with the one murdered. Thus, motivation is a human aspect that can be influenced and affected by different forces that a person carries as part of his/her personality or something as rational as action plans or by something as volatile as emotions (Myers, 2000).
Emotion is generally how a person feels; it can be joy, sadness, anger, fear or other variations such as hostility, frustration, anxiety etc. Emotion is actually very similar to motivation, in the sense that it can also cause the person to behave in certain ways or to take actions in response to the emotion felt (Keltner & Haidt, 1999). For example, a jilted lover may become extremely sad and angry that it would cause him to spend the whole week crying in his room or wallowing in drunkenness and then seeking out the rival and exacting his anger towards the rival. From the discussion of motivation, the difference between the two concepts is evident, motivation is inherent, and it is the driving force, while emotion causes the behavior more often than not in specific ways to appease the kind of emotion that the individual experienced. Emotion is a strong force in causing people to behave in ways concomitant with the kind of emotion, happiness causes the person to celebrate, sadness to despair and fear to seek safety. In popular media, emotional outbursts are portrayed as something evil and undesirable. It says that being too emotional would not lead to anything positive, instead it would cause the person to think irrationally and thus act in ways that he would later regret (Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth & Wartella, 2003). Emotion is also used by influential groups and the government to tell people how to behave, the most commonly used is fear, wherein the individual is threatened with disease, ill-fate or difficulty so as to prevent them from doing something, like saying that smoking causes cancer effectively uses emotion to stop people from smoking.
Motivation and emotion can bring about social change if used appropriately. It is a fact that motivation drives a person to behave, and emotion also causes the person to behave in certain ways. Thus, by appealing to the emotion of the target population, one can be assured of behavioral action or change. For example, students are motivated to come to class everyday for a greater purpose and that is to earn a degree, if the student losses the motivation or energy to attend class everyday, then one can appeal to her emotions. Of course, most would resort to the use of fear, like “if you are always absent, then I have to fail you”, which can be effective too. But saying “if you keep on missing classes you won’t be able to learn anything and hence you will fail in the exam and that would mean you won’t be able to graduate in the term you are supposed to”. This statement is more effective since it reflects the inherent motive of the student for being in school and would ultimately lead to improved attendance. In terms of social change, environmental conservation is something that every citizen must uphold, if we say that you must conserve water because by the year 2020 we won’t have any water left is an emotional barrage, it may work for some but a more appropriate way is to appeal to both the emotional and the motivation of the individual to live. Such as “every gallon of water we throw away is equal to about an hour of our life”, for we are motivated to preserve life than water. Surely, people would be more conscious of throwing away water hence, social change can be effected.
Anderson, C., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L., Johnson, J., Linz, D., Malamuth,
N. & Wartella, E. (2003). The influence of media violence on youth. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4, 81-110
Keltner, D. & Haidt, J. (1999). Social functions of emotions at four levels of analysis. Cognition
and Emotion, 13, 505-521.
Myers, D. (2000). Psychology 6th ed. New York: Worth Publishers.