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Complete both activities. Answers need to be at least one paragraph.Activity 1: Identify an important life goal that you have for yourself. Revise/restate that goal so that it is as difficult and as specific a goal as you can state it. Life goals are large and can be personal (such as searching for inner peace). Activity 2: Personal Strivings are defined as things you are aiming to accomplish daily and throughout your life. Personal strivings reflect general personality (outgoing, quiet, respected, open, etc), dispositions (your attitudes and beliefs), whereas goals reflect situationally specific objectives. For this activity, students are asked to make a list of your personal strivings for the semester (at least 5) and over the next 5 years (at least 5).
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Mirrors don’t lie. Lately, your mirror has been saying you added a few pounds. It is time
to lose 10 pounds and get back on the road to physical fitness. You want to take action,
but what? when? where? how?
Jogging seems sensible, so you start. At first, jogging is new, even fun, as you enjoy the
outdoors and sense of accomplishment. A week goes by, but you do not lose much
weight. You begin to wonder how much exercise is enough exercise. Another week goes
by, and the pressures of everyday living increase and compete for your time and
attention. Each day, you find it more difficult to find the time and energy to exercise.
After a month of lackluster progress, jogging is history.
Your smartphone has some exercise apps, so you check them out. One keeps track of
how many steps you take during the day, and it displays your stepping through all sorts of
informative graphs and figures. According to the app, fewer than 5,000 steps means you
are sedentary. About 9,000 steps means you are fairly active. To lose weight, you need to
take at least 12,000 steps per day.
Now you have a goal. No longer are you going to “do your best.” Now you are going to
take 12,000 steps per day. You wake up the next day bent on taking those 12,000 steps,
but your schedule and feet protest that 9,000 steps are enough. Because you cannot quite
make it to 12,000 steps, you find yourself devising step-increasing strategies (e.g., take
200 steps around your apartment every few hours, take a lap around the mall prior to
shopping). By the end of the third week, you take the 12,000 steps and feel the warm
glow of accomplishment. After a month, you boldly decide to try for 13,000 steps per
day. You now have a new goal. It will take more effort, more persistence, more focus,
and an improved exercise strategy. But because you achieved your earlier goal and
because your stamina has increased, you feel up to the lifestyle change. Eagerness has
replaced apathy.
Another weight loss program illustrates these same motivational processes. Dieting is just
as ambiguous a task as is exercising—how much can I eat? How many calories is too
many? How do I know whether I am making progress? In order to translate general, longterm dieting goals into specific day-to-day action, this popular weight loss program
recommends that each person consume foods within a daily point range, depending on
the person’s current weight. In this system, all foods have a point value, depending on the
food’s number of calories, grams of fat, and grams of fiber (e.g., two pancakes = 6
points). A daily point goal for a person of 180 pounds might be, for example, between 22
and 27 points. The basic idea is that the person starts each day with a “range of points”
goal. The dieter is to plan his or her food choices to eat at least the minimum number of
points (to maintain metabolism) but no more than the maximum number of points (to lose
weight). Vigorous daily activity (exercise) can increase one’s daily points range. So, the
dieter who takes 12,000 steps can increase the daily points goal to between 28 and 33
points. The idea is to leave behind the idea of a vague, ambiguous diet and, instead, to
focus on a difficult and specific goal, keep track of food points consumed, and achieve
this point goal day after day.
COGNITIVE SPRINGS TO ACTION
Cognitions are mental events. Cognition can be a difficult concept to define (a “messy
construct”; Pajares, 1992, p. 307), as it is an umbrella construct that unites together
mental constructs such as beliefs, expectations, goals, plans, mindsets, judgments, values,
and the self-concept under a single banner that collectively function as causal
determinants to action (Gollwitzer & Bargh, 1996). In this section, we investigate the
following motivational agents in the cognition → action sequence:
Chapter 8

Plans (Carver & Scheier, 1998)

Goals (Locke & Latham, 2002)
Implementation intentions (Gollwitzer, 1999)
Chapter 9


Deliberative versus implementation mindsets (Gollwitzer & Kinney, 1989)

Promotion versus prevention orientations (Higgins, 1997)

Growth versus fixed mindsets (Dweck, 2006)
• Dissonance (Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999)
Chapter 10

Self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986)

Perceived control (Skinner, 1996)

Mastery beliefs (Diener & Dweck, 1978)

Attributions (Weiner, 1986)

Expectancy (Peterson, Maier, & Seligman, 1993)
• Values (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002)
Chapter 11

Self-concept (Markus, 1977)

Possible selves (Oyserman, Bybee, & Terry, 2006)

Identity (Eccles, 2009)

Self-regulation (Zimmerman, 2000)

Self-control (Baumeister & Tierney, 2011)
As we will see, a cognitive mental event such as a goal or an expectancy functions as a
“spring to action,” a moving force that energizes and directs action in purposive ways
(Ames & Ames, 1984).
Throughout this section of the book, cognition is treated as a motivational force. The
basic idea: If you change the contents of your thinking, then you change your
motivational state. This position works fine for all the mental events listed earlier—from
plans and goals to identity and self-control. But “cognition” is a larger construct that also
includes phenomena, generally speaking, such as information processing, decision
making, memory, and problem-solving. When motivation researchers think about the
relation between motivation and cognition, the general position is that cognition operates
in the service of motivation (Baumeister, 2016; Kruglanski et al., 2002). The idea is that
the human brain basically arose out of the need to move around and obtain resources,
such as food. Because we have needs and drives (“I’m hungry, I need food.”), we need to
take action to meet those needs and to satisfy those drives. The incredible informationprocessing organ that is the human brain can really help us figure out how to do that and
how to do it well.
PLANS
The first motivational spring to action studied was the “plan.” Indeed, the contemporary
cognitive study of motivation began in 1960 when a trio of psychologists—George
Miller, Eugene Galanter, and Karl Pribram—investigated how plans motivate behavior.
According to these pioneers, people have mental representations of the ideal states of
their behavior, environmental objects, and events. In other words, people have in mind
what an ideal yoga pose looks like (ideal behavior), what an ideal hotel room would be
(ideal environmental object), and what constitutes an ideal night in the town (ideal event).
People are also aware of the present state of their behavior, environment, and events.
That is, people have the knowledge of their current yoga pose (present behavior), hotel
room (present object), and evening itinerary (present event).
Any mismatch perceived between one’s present state and one’s ideal state instigates an
experience of “incongruity,” which has motivational properties. Suffering incongruity,
people formulate a plan of action to remove that incongruity (Miller, Galanter, &
Pribram, 1960; Newell, Shaw, & Simon, 1958; Powers, 1973). Hence, the essential
motivational process underlying a plan is as follows: People have knowledge of both
their present and ideal states, and any perceived incongruity between the two makes
people uncomfortable enough to formulate and act on a plan of action to remove the
incongruity so that the present state will transform into the ideal state. The incongruity is
the motivational “spring to action,” and the plan directs behavior toward the pursuit of
the ideal state.
The cognitive mechanism by which plans energize and direct behavior is the test–
operate–test–exit (TOTE) model, as illustrated in Figure 8.1 (Miller, Galanter, &
Pribram, 1960). Test means to compare the present state against the ideal. If the present
state and the ideal state are the same (are congruous), nothing happens. A mismatch
between the two (incongruity), however, springs the individual into action. That is, the
mismatch motivates the individual to operate on the environment via a plan of action.
That is, when you look in the mirror to check if your hair looks okay, you “test” or
compare the way your hair presently looks in the mirror against the way you want your
hair ideally to look. If your hair looks okay, you say “fine” and walk away from the
mirror. But if you see a mismatch between your present hair and your ideal hair, then it is
time to “operate” via a plan of action—you comb your hair, take a shower, use hairspray,
or just wear a hat. After a period of action, the person again tests the present state against
the ideal. If the feedback reveals that the incongruity continues to persist, then the person
continues to operate on the environment (T-O-T-O-T-O, and so on). In daily life, T-O-TO-T-O looks like, to continue the bad hair day example: Look in mirror—Comb your
hair—Look in the mirror for feedback—Comb your hair some more—Look in the mirror
again—Comb your hair some more, and so on. As long as the incongruity persists, action
(“operate”) continues. If and when the present matches the ideal, the person exits the
plan.
Figure 8.1 Schematic of the TOTE Model
Consider a second example of the TOTE model. A painter takes an easel to a waterfall,
paints the scenery, compares the canvas to the waterfall, and notices that the two are quite
dissimilar. Because the canvas does not yet show a satisfactory representation of the
waterfall, the painter operates on the painting to reflect on the canvas the ideal picture in
her mind. The painter continually compares (tests) the painting on the canvas to its ideal
in her mind. As long as incongruity persists, the painting continues (T-O-T-O-T-O, and
so on). Only when the actual and ideal paintings match does the painter exit the plan and
cease to paint. The ever-repeated process of comparing the present versus the ideal,
followed by incongruity-reducing behavioral adjustments, is a common feature of
everyday life.
Overcoming bad hair days and painting waterfalls illustrate the moment-to-moment
influence plans have on our motivated behavior—getting started, putting forth effort,
persisting over time, and eventually stopping. Dozens of additional illustrations are
possible, including removing items from a “to-do” list, repairing a broken object until it is
fixed, driving to a destination, revising a term paper, shopping, saving money for a trip,
practicing a skill, developing or refining a technique, mowing the lawn, cleaning a sink
full of dirty dishes, reading this chapter, and so on.
Plans can also be long term. For instance, how satisfied are you currently with the present
state of your career/occupation? Marital status? Capacity to speak a foreign language?
Events happen in life that make us aware of the incongruities that exist between our
present and our ideal states. Our friend, for instance, might get an “ideal” job, an “ideal”
marriage partner, or an “ideal” opportunity to travel or live abroad. When these
incongruities cause enough discomfort to stir us into action (as we say to ourselves, “I
want the ideal state more than I want my present state”), we formulate plans of action and
start down the road that is T-O-T-O-T-O.
Corrective Motivation
The plan → action sequence portrays individuals as:
1 Detecting present–ideal inconsistencies
2 Generating a plan of action to eliminate the incongruity
3 Instigating plan-regulated behavior
4 Monitoring feedback as to the extent of any remaining present–ideal incongruity
Most researchers (Campion & Lord, 1982; Carver & Scheier, 1998), however, no longer
view plans of action as so fixed, static, and mechanical. Rather, plans are adjustable and
subject to revision. Given an incongruity between present and ideal, one’s plan of action
is as likely to change and undergo modification as is one’s behavior.
The emphasis on modifiable plans is important because it presents human beings as
active decision makers who choose one of the following in a given set of circumstances:
Act (“Operate”) to achieve the ideal state or change and revise an ineffective plan (Carver
& Scheier, 1981, 1982). From this point of view, any present–ideal incongruity does not
instigate an automatic, mechanical discrepancy-motivated action sequence. Rather,
incongruity gives rise to a more general “corrective motivation” (Campion & Lord,
1982).
Corrective motivation activates a decision-making process in which the individual
considers many different possible ways for reducing the present–ideal incongruity:
change the plan, change behavior (increase effort), or withdraw from the plan altogether.
That is, plan-directed behavior is a dynamic, flexible process in which corrective
motivation energizes the individual to pursue the most adaptive course. The decision
maker wonders, “What is the problem here? Do I need to work harder and smarter
(operate more), or do I need to rethink the importance and viability of my plan?” Or,
stated differently, the question is, “What is in need of change—my behavior or my
cognition?”
Discrepancy
The more cognitive psychologists worked with “present state vs. ideal state” mismatches
to study plans and corrective motivation, the more they came to see the larger construct
of “discrepancy” as a core motivational construct. The basic idea behind discrepancy (a
synonym for “incongruity”) is straightforward and can be represented by the magnitude
of the arrow below that shows the difference or mismatch between one’s present state and
one’s ideal state.
Present state represents the person’s current status of how life is going. The ideal state
represents how the person wishes life was going. When the present state falls short of the
hoped-for ideal state, a discrepancy is exposed. It is the discrepancy—rather than the
ideal state per se—that has motivational properties. Discrepancy creates the sense of
wanting to change the present state so that it will move closer and closer toward the ideal
state. The motivational question is not so much “What is the ideal state?” as it is “How
much of a discrepancy exists between my present vs. ideal states?” Small discrepancies
carry little motivational punch, while large discrepancies carry much motivational punch.
Here are a dozen everyday illustrations of discrepancies between what currently is
(present state) and what we wish would be (ideal state). For instance, people who are
stuck in traffic (present state) wish they were instead driving without interference (ideal
state), and the awareness of the mismatch creates a want that motivates people to take
action necessary to remove the rather bothersome discrepancy.
Present State
Ideal State
Stuck in traffic
Driving without interference
Poor penmanship
Excellent penmanship
The job you have
The job you want
How skillful you are
How skillful the guy on television is
Empty, blank crossword puzzle
Fully completed crossword puzzle
Current GPA
GPA needed to make the Dean’s List
Messy, cluttered desktop
Clean, well-organized desktop
Suffering a headache
Feeling good and painfree
Not a member of the team
Member of the team
Having 200 more miles to drive
Being there
10 laps to run around the track
0 laps to run
300 unread pages in this book
0 unread pages
When people ask themselves, “What can I do to increase my motivation?” those who
study discrepancy-based motivation have a simple and very practical answer: Basically,
create an ideal state in your mind. Or, more precisely, create an ideal state in your mind
and reflect on the discrepancy that now exists between “what presently is” and “what is
desired.”
Discrepancy, Emotions, and Feelings
Behavior involves getting from here to there. It involves getting from the present state to
the ideal state. But it also matters how quickly or how slowly one gets from here to there.
Because the rate of discrepancy reduction matters, affect or feelings are important
(Carver & Scheier, 2011).
If a person is making a satisfactory rate of progress to reduce a goal discrepancy (e.g., “I
need to be at the bus stop before 2:00 pm and, as I walk, I can tell that I am going to
arrive early and catch the bus”), positive emotion arises. If, however, the same person is
making an unsatisfactory rate of progress toward discrepancy reduction (“I need to be at
the bus stop before 2:00 pm but, as I walk, I can tell that I am going to be late and miss
the bus”), negative emotion arises. Positive emotion (positive feelings) means that you
are doing better at something than you need to be doing; negative emotion (negative
feelings) means that you are doing worse (Carver & Scheier, 1990, 1998). Thus, feelings
such as hope, excitement, eagerness, and enthusiasm signal that you are doing better than
you need to, while emotions such as joy, delight, and bliss signal that you are doing much
better. Similarly, frustration signals that you are doing worse than you need to,
discouragement signals you are doing much worse, sadness signals you are doing much,
much worse, and depression signals that you are doing much, much, much worse than
you need to being doing (Carver & Scheier, 2011). Frustration, irritation, and anxiety
make sense because they energize effort and facilitate discrepancy reduction, but
demotivating sadness, despair, and depression mean that effort is perceived as futile, and
one would be smarter to quit than to persist.
In goal striving, positive emotion is more than just a scorecard to tell you that you are
doing better than you need to, and negative emotion is more than just a scorecard to tell
you that you are doing worse than you need to. Emotions can also energize behavior. If
you are doing worse than you need to be doing, you will not only feel negative emotion
but you will also push harder—you will start running to catch the bus. If your running
gets you back on schedule and you realize that you are now going to be early and catch
the bus, then the successful behavior turns off the negative emotion. Alternatively, if you
are doing better than you need to be doing, then you will probably coast a little—you will
not stop walking to catch the bus, but you may ease back a little and perhaps glance in the
store windows or pause to check your e-mail on your smartphone (Louro, Pieters, &
Zeelenberg, 2007). Thus, emotion, affect, and feelings are not only a rate-of-progress
scorecard, but are also a progress-pushing or easing motivator itself.
Two Types of Discrepancy
Two types of discrepancies exist (Bandura, 1990; Carver & Scheier, 1998). The first
is discrepancy reduction, which is based on the discrepancy-detecting feedback that
underlies plans and corrective motivation. Some aspect of the environment (e.g., a boss,
scholarship opportunity, athletic opponent, a stopwatch) provides feedback about how
well or how poorly current performance matches up with its ideal level. For instance, at
work, the supervisor might tell the salesperson that 10 sales are not enough; 15 sales are
needed. Similarly, a student might read in a brochure that his current 2.0 GPA is not
enough for scholarship eligibility; a GPA of 3.0 is needed. In essence, the environment
brings some standard of excellence (an ideal state) to the person’s awareness and asks,
essentially, “Are you currently performing at this desired level?”
The second type of discrepancy is discrepancy creation. Discrepancy creation is based on
a “feed-forward” system in which the person looks forward and sets a future, higher goal.
The person deliberately and proactively sets a higher goal—an ideal state that does not
yet exist except in the performer’s mind—and does not require feedback from a boss or a
scholarship to impose it. For instance, the salesperson might, for whatever reason, decide
to try for 15 sales in on …
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