Motivation and Emotion Across Cultures

Week 3: Motivation and Emotion Across Cultures

Take a moment to consider your motivation for taking this course or, more broadly, why you are pursuing an education. Perhaps you are curious about different cultures and psychology, or perhaps you had to take this course as part of your degree program. Perhaps you need a degree to fulfill your career ambition or to have more opportunities in your current job or field. Maybe you come from a background where it is expected that you get a college degree or, by contrast, are propelled by the desire to be the first in your family to achieve that milestone. Consider how easy it is to imagine these different motivations, and likely how many other motivators there are. If individuals in one situation are motivated in such a variety of ways, think of the world of potential ways that motivation varies across cultures.

Similarly, cultures have a wide range of standards for experiencing emotions, the other major topic this week. Yet, by definition, emotion can run deep and create assumptions that our way of thinking or feeling is the “correct” way. That is also true of motivation. Despite ample evidence, demonstrated in the simple example of why you and your colleagues are in this course, people tend to view their own ideas about motivation and what motivates them as the most credible ones.

As with differences in views of time that you explored in Week 2, motivation and emotion can be highly charged issues between individuals and groups. To continue exploring cultural influences in our everyday world—and pushing ourselves toward greater cultural sensitivity and critical thinking—this week, we examine cross-cultural perspectives in motivation, behavior, and emotion.

Note: Watch for “Just in Time” links for the Learning Resources, Discussion, and/or Assignment this week. When you see a “Just in Time” link, hover to get helpful tips or other guidance for completing your best coursework.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Analyze motivation from a cultural perspective
  • Differentiate the experience of emotion across cultures
  • Apply concepts of cross-cultural psychology
  • Demonstrate an understanding of cross-cultural perspectives on motivation, behavior, and emotion

Discussion: Motivation, Culture, and the Workforce

Have you ever considered what motivated you? Pause to consider that question as it is key to this Discussion. For example, are you driven by the need for security or by a sense of duty? Do you see recognition or self-actualization? Are you motivated to achieve my inner drives or by external sources like your family? We all have our unique set of motivations, but we don’t always consider the role of culture in shaping them. Our like experiences shape us in many ways, and you have most likely met a number of people with motivations similar to your own and many with very different motivations. When we are dealing with people from different cultural backgrounds there is an increased chance that our motivations will differ. Motivational theory can be applied in many settings, but in this Discussion let’s focus on achievement. This covers what you want to accomplish in work settings, school settings, and with your life in general. As you read this week’s resources, begin to reflect on times and situations when you have found yourself puzzled—or downright frustrated—by the attitudes, priorities, and behavior of other people. They could be co-workers, friends, family, strangers, or classmates. It is always easiest to simply observe what people choose to do, but it can be much more interesting to understand why they do it!

To prepare:

  • Review the reading in Chapter 7 of the course text, focusing on the different motivational theories, behaviors, and applications. Also, review other Week 3 Learning Resources that can help you prepare for this Discussion, including those listed as Optional Resources.
  • Based on the types of motivation discussed in the resources, consider the role of motivation in various cultures. One obvious application has to do with work/life balance and views of success or achievement.  Two people from different cultures could both be highly motivated, and both driven to achieve success but have dramatically different ideas of what success is.  Last week we saw that some cultures are driven to make use of their time to achieve, while others are more focused on relationships.  Perhaps they have different motivations to match their different views of time!
  • It may help you to think of people you have known, observed, or worked with, and consider how they might fit into the motivational styles in your readings. You are welcome to research cultures that interest you and seek information on their motivational styles.

Just like last week, our goal is to generate conversation. Motivation is a big topic that applies to virtually everything you do, so there are many directions to take this discussion! Post one question to the discussion and respond to at least two questions (or responses) posed by your peers.

By Day 3

Post your one question with background to the discussion board.

Put your question in the subject line of your post and put your supporting text in the message area of the post.

Discussion Tips:

  • Questions published earlier in the week get more responses.
  • Support your question with at least one reference (textbook or other scholarly, empirical resources) in the message body.
By Day 5

Respond to at least two peers’ main questions (or their response). Colleague replies do not need to be supported by a reference.

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