Summary and Key Terms


Motivation to engage in a given behavior can come from internal and/or external factors. Multiple theories have been put forward regarding motivation. More biologically oriented theories deal with the ways that instincts and the need to maintain bodily homeostasis motivate behavior. Bandura postulated that our sense of self-efficacy motivates behaviors, and there are a number of theories that focus on a variety of social motives. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a model that shows the relationship among multiple motives that range from lower-level physiological needs to the very high level of self-actualization.

Hunger and Eating

Hunger and satiety are highly regulated processes that result in a person maintaining a fairly stable weight that is resistant to change. When more calories are consumed than expended, a person will store excess energy as fat. Being significantly overweight adds substantially to a person’s health risks and problems, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and other medical issues. Sociocultural factors that emphasize thinness as a beauty ideal and a genetic predisposition contribute to the development of eating disorders in many young females, though eating disorders span ages and genders.

Sexual Behavior

The hypothalamus and structures of the limbic system are important in sexual behavior and motivation. There is evidence to suggest that our motivation to engage in sexual behavior and our ability to do so are related, but separate, processes. Alfred Kinsey conducted large-scale survey research that demonstrated the incredible diversity of human sexuality. William Masters and Virginia Johnson observed individuals engaging in sexual behavior in developing their concept of the sexual response cycle. While often confused, sexual orientation and gender identity are related, but distinct, concepts.


Emotions are subjective experiences that consist of physiological arousal and cognitive appraisal. Various theories have been put forward to explain our emotional experiences. The James-Lange theory asserts that emotions arise as a function of physiological arousal. The Cannon-Bard theory maintains that emotional experience occurs simultaneous to and independent of physiological arousal. The Schachter-Singer two-factor theory suggests that physiological arousal receives cognitive labels as a function of the relevant context and that these two factors together result in an emotional experience.

The limbic system is the brain’s emotional circuit, which includes the amygdala and the hippocampus. Both of these structures are implicated in playing a role in normal emotional processing as well as in psychological mood and anxiety disorders. Increased amygdala activity is associated with learning to fear, and it is seen in individuals who are at risk for or suffering from mood disorders. The volume of the hippocampus has been shown to be reduced in individuals suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.

The ability to produce and recognize facial expressions of emotions seems to be universal regardless of cultural background. However, there are cultural display rules which influence how often and under what circumstances various emotions can be expressed. Tone of voice and body language also serve as a means by which we communicate information about our emotional states.

Key Terms

anorexia nervosa
eating disorder characterized by an individual maintaining body weight that is well below average through starvation and/or excessive exercise
bariatric surgery
type of surgery that modifies the gastrointestinal system to reduce the amount of food that can be eaten and/or limiting how much of the digested food can be absorbed
basolateral complex
part of the brain with dense connections with a variety of sensory areas of the brain; it is critical for classical conditioning and attaching emotional value to memory
binge eating disorder
type of eating disorder characterized by binge eating and associated distress
emotional and erotic attractions to both same-sexed individuals and opposite-sexed individuals
body language
emotional expression through body position or movement
bulimia nervosa
type of eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by purging
Cannon-Bard theory of emotion
physiological arousal and emotional experience occur at the same time
central nucleus
part of the brain involved in attention and has connections with the hypothalamus and various brainstem areas to regulate the autonomic nervous and endocrine systems’ activity
cognitive-mediational theory
our emotions are determined by our appraisal of the stimulus
components of emotion
physiological arousal, psychological appraisal, and subjective experience
cultural display rule
one of the culturally specific standards that govern the types and frequencies of emotions that are acceptable
distorted body image
individuals view themselves as overweight even though they are not
drive theory
deviations from homeostasis create physiological needs that result in psychological drive states that direct behavior to meet the need and ultimately bring the system back to homeostasis
subjective state of being often described as feelings
phase of the sexual response cycle that involves sexual arousal
extrinsic motivation
motivation that arises from external factors or rewards
facial feedback hypothesis
facial expressions are capable of influencing our emotions
gender dysphoria
diagnostic category in DSM-5 for individuals who do not identify as the gender associated with their biological sex
gender identity
individual’s sense of being male or female
pattern of behavior in which we regularly engage
emotional and erotic attractions to opposite-sexed individuals
hierarchy of needs
spectrum of needs ranging from basic biological needs to social needs to self-actualization
emotional and erotic attractions to same-sexed individuals
species-specific pattern of behavior that is unlearned
intrinsic motivation
motivation based on internal feelings rather than external rewards
James-Lange theory of emotion
emotions arise from physiological arousal
satiety hormone
metabolic rate
amount of energy that is expended in a given period of time
morbid obesity
adult with a BMI over 40
wants or needs that direct behavior toward some goal
adult with a BMI of 30 or higher
peak phase of the sexual response cycle associated with rhythmic muscle contractions (and ejaculation)
adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9
phase of the sexual response cycle that falls between excitement and orgasm
lie detector test that measures physiological arousal of individuals as they answer a series of questions
refractory period
time immediately following an orgasm during which an individual is incapable of experiencing another orgasm
phase of the sexual response cycle following orgasm during which the body returns to its unaroused state
fullness; satisfaction
Schachter-Singer two-factor theory of emotion
emotions consist of two factors: physiological and cognitive
individual’s belief in his own capabilities or capacities to complete a task
set point theory
assertion that each individual has an ideal body weight, or set point, that is resistant to change
sexual orientation
emotional and erotic attraction to same-sexed individuals, opposite-sexed individuals, or both
sexual response cycle
divided into 4 phases including excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution
transgender hormone therapy
use of hormones to make one’s body look more like the opposite-sex
Yerkes-Dodson law
simple tasks are performed best when arousal levels are relatively high, while complex tasks are best performed when arousal is lower


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Introduction to Psychology Copyright © 2021 by Southern Alberta Institution of Technology (SAIT) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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