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The Impact of Motivation and Affect on Judgement

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The human body is spectacular for a myriad of reasons; one such particularly interesting reason is a result of the millions of both simple and complexed processes that it carries out on a daily basis. According to the study conducted by researchers at the University of California-San Diego, under Roger Bon, it is posited that, the human brain on a daily basis is loaded with approximately thirty-four gigabytes of information. However, the way in which the information impacts judgement and perception will constantly vary as a result of motivation and affect. Motivation and affect are concepts that are key to the understanding of the brain’s processing systems and as a result of “judgement”. To fully understand what this means the terms must first be operationalized for the purpose of this paper.

As defined by motivation is an internal process that makes a person move toward a goal, it is an impulse that causes a person to act. While, affect is defined as the outward expression of feelings and emotion. It is essentially any facial expression or body movement that indicates emotion. An emotion is “a richer variety of affective states which may be intense and short or long term and which can involve physical manifestations including physiological arousal (Fiske and Taylor). There are five main types of affect; broad, limited, blunted, flat and labile. Affect is useful in communication and making judgements. This is as, it often indicates how people are feeling and their emotional response to a situation or something said. The downfall however is that the affect response is not always a correct representation for the way a person feels about a situation. Judgement however, is a term that refers to the process by which people make their decisions and draw conclusions from their experiences, mental state and information afforded to them about something. The trait is one that can be developed through life experiences and rational thought. Although, the three concepts are interrelated they are also fluid constructs that are constantly changing.

Motivation is the key drive that directs our actions on a day to day basis. It affects how we selectively access beliefs from memory and affects the causal schemas we use to explain things. Motivation also affects how we use heuristics and the amount of effort we put out to make judgments. Motivation can be broken down into two broad categories (internal and external) which can be further viewed and understood through different theories on motivation. Internal (intrinsic) motivation is the one that comes from within an individual to succeed or put effort into a given activity; it is done for personal gratification. External (extrinsic) motivation however is are those that is sparked outside of the individual; it is the type of motivation usually includes the use of rewards and treats (incentives). There are three major components to motivation: activation, persistence, and intensity. Activation encompasses the decision making process (to initiate a behaviour), persistence refers to the maintained effort toward completion of a goal and intensity can be defined as the amount of passion and or focus that is directed towards a particular goal. The theories of motivation speak to the innate drives of human beings. Three key theories are that of Need Satisfaction (Humanism), Situational State (behaviourism) and Cognitions and beliefs (Cognitivist)

Social psychologists distinguish between cold cognition and hot cognition, where the latter involves emotions ties in with personal goals and motivations (Kunda, 1999). The hot aspect of hot cognition is attributed to strong feelings of arousal which as a result processes information in an emotionally charged manner. A decision that are made under hot cognition it is more difficult to be influenced by cool rational thought. Therefore, when thoughts and emotions are intertwined there is a need to develop a balance between cognitive and affective systems of the brain. Cold cognition however, is the opposite of hot cognition (thinks under conditions of low emotion). It is the logical and systematic thought process (rational thought). It requires objectivity, therefore it avoids the use of heuristics (mental shortcuts) when drawing conclusions and making decisions. Although, it was initially unclear researchers have found evidence that postulates that the decision making process works in tangent with emotions and the interaction between thinking and feeling.

The general accuracy of the judgment is not guaranteed however, theorists have put forward theories on how judgement can be affected by cognition (mindsets). Gollwitzer posited that the mindset of an individual can lead to him or her having a different goal. A deliberative mindset leads you to consider relevant information carefully. An implemental mindset is one which directs focus on thoughts and actions required to arrive at an already chosen outcome. While a deliberative mindset requires careful consideration of all of the relevant information. A person’s mood (emotive state) when moods when performing as a source of information is likely to affect judgement. This situation is referred to the mood congruent of judgment. This infers that a person is more likely to respond with a positive answer when in a good mood and negatively when in a bad mood (Sundae 1999). Bower (as cited in Sundae 1999) found that: Network model our brains tend to keep our memories in nodes, which it then connects with associated other memories. Nodes can be semantic (with straightforward meaning) or affective (with emotional meaning). Alike, it was observed that the mood congruence theory effects highlight the outcome of a person’s goal attainment is highly correlated to a person’s affective state. The more positive a person’s affective state is, the higher the chance of success and vice versa. (Johnson and Trotsky 1983).

In conclusion motivation, affect and judgement are all important key concepts that each person deals with for themselves and with others on a daily basis. Though the concepts are all different they interrelate in an almost circular fashion. Motivation can impact affect, judgement or the two at the same time. This circular fluid direction of it applies to all three variables. Kunda in her work had wisely that the effect that motivation had on judgement is not arbitrary in nature. “Our understanding of reality imposes constraints on our ability to draw desired conclusions” (Kunda, 1999). Hot Cognition and cold cognition whether conscious or subconscious, motivation and pre-set goals help to direct our judgement on a minute to minute basis.

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