Lazarus Motivational Theory

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According to the American Psychological Association (APA), emotion is “a complex pattern of changes, including physiological arousal, feelings, cognitive processes, and behavioral reactions, made in response to a situation perceived to be personally significant”.[1] This definition implies that emotion is influenced by cognition and physiology. Cognition is the mental processes used to perform a task such as comprehension, reception, use of knowledge and storage, while physiology is the way in which a living organism functions.[2] Negative emotions are emotions that involve an unfavorable judgement of a situation and to avoid or destroy what is perceived as a threat.[3] There are various theories and studies conducted to suggest the interaction…show more content…
Appraisals are evaluations related to how a situation will affect a person’s well-being and Lazarus states that negative emotions are generated if the appraisal assesses a potential threat.[5] Appraisal theory is a theory that people’s personal interpretations of the situation determines their emotional reaction and there are two ways that people cope in stressful situations.One way is the problem-focused coping, where an individual tries to change the situation that is causing them stress. The second method is emotion-focused coping, where an individual tries to cope with the situation by handling their own emotions by escaping, seeking social support, etc. A study that supports this theory is a study conducted by Speisman et al. in 1964.[7] The aim of the study was to investigate whether the manipulation of cognitive appraisal can influence people’s emotional reaction. Speisman conducted a laboratory experiment where four groups of participants were shown an unpleasant silent film about a genital surgery of adolescent boys. The three groups were shown the same film with different soundtracks and group watched the film without any soundtracks as the control. Group one watched the “trauma condition”, where the soundtrack emphasized the pain and mutilation, group two watched the “denial condition” where the soundtrack depicted the boys as being willing to undergo the surgery, and group three watched the “intellectual condition” where the soundtrack gave an anthropological interpretation of the surgery. The participants’ arousal levels were measured by heart rate, galvanic skin response, electrical conductivity of skin and indicator of autonomic arousal. The results from observations and self-reports showed that participants who watched the “trauma condition” reacted more emotionally and showed the highest physiological measures of stress compared to
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