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Relating specific emotions to intrinsic motivation: On the moderating role of positive and negative emotion differentiation

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Despite the fact that studies on self-determination theory have traditionally disregarded the explicit role of emotions in the motivation eliciting process, research attention for the affective antecedents of motivation is growing. We add to this emerging research field by testing the moderating role of emotion differentiation-individual differences in the extent to which people can differentiate between specific emotions- on the relationship between twelve specific emotions and intrinsic motivation. To this end, we conducted a daily diary study (N572) and an experience sampling study (N534). Results showed that the relationship between enthusiasm, cheerfulness, optimism, contentedness, gloominess, miserableness, uneasiness (in both studies 1 and 2), calmness, relaxation, tenseness, depression, worry (only in Study 1) on one hand and intrinsic motivation on the other hand was moderated by positive emotion differentiation for the positive emotions and by negative emotion differentiation for the negative emotions. Altogether, these findings suggest that for people who are unable to distinguish between different specific positive emotions the relationship between those specific positive emotions and intrinsic motivation is stronger, whereas the relationship between specific negative emotions and intrinsic motivation is weaker for people who are able to distinguish between the different specific negative emotions. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Journal: PLoS ONE
Issue: 12
Volume: 9
Number of pages: 22
Publication year:2014
Keywords:Motivation, self-determination theory, affect, emotions