On the Role of Specific Emotions in Autonomous and Controlled Motivated Behaviour



In the present study, we study the effect of four specific emotions (i.e. happiness, relaxation, depression, and anxiety) on autonomous and controlled motivated behaviour. Drawing on the componential approach to emotions, we argue that because different emotions have a different action readiness—the readiness to engage with the environment—they also have a different impact on autonomous and controlled motivated behaviour. To test this hypothesis, we performed two studies. In the first one, 50 participants took part in an experience sampling study in which they reported their emotions (happiness, relaxation, depression, and anxiety) and autonomous and controlled motivated behaviour 10 times a day for 7 consecutive days. In the second study, 217 students participated in a lab experiment in which we studied the effect of induced anxiety, depression, happiness, and relaxation on autonomous motivated behaviour. The results showed how specific emotions predict autonomous motivated behaviour and that the relationship between the different emotions and autonomous motivated behaviour depends on the emotion under study. By doing so, we demonstrated the important role of emotions in the elicitation of autonomous motivated behaviour. Copyright © 2014 European Association of Personality Psychology