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AP Psych



Unit 7

7.0 Unit 7 Overview: Motivation, Emotion, and Personality

3 min readnovember 11, 2020


Mary Valdez


John Mohl


Dalia Savy

From the College Board

👀 Developing Understanding of this Unit

According to the College Board, "Psychologists use theory to categorize and explain different personalities. These explanations have been influenced by the various branches of psychology 🧠 Some psychologists study what motivates us 🏆and/or our emotional responses to experiences to understand our individual differences. Other psychologists seek to understand personality, including why different personalities exist, how they are developed, and if and how they change.
Originating from the psychodynamic perspective, the study of personality involves consideration of behavior and mental processes and how they interact to produce an individual’s personality. A full explanation of personality also involves incorporating humanistic and social-cognitive perspectives from earlier units ⬅️."

🔎 Guiding Questions

  1. What motivates us to think and act the way we do?
  2. Why do some people respond to stress in a healthier way than others?
  3. Why don't psychologists agree?

Contextualizing the Unit

This unit seeks to understand the origins of personality, what makes individual personalities different from one another 👪, the different psychological perspectives of personality, and how personality can change abruptly depending on the situation a person is faced with. At the same time, this unit is studying what motivates our behaviors and emotions, the process of emotions, and how stress and health ❤️ of everyday life pressures can affect us. 
  • Personality:  an individual's characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting
  • Motivation: a need or desire that energizes and directs behavior 
  • Emotion: a response of the whole organism, involving physiological arousal, expressive behavior, and conscious thought.
About 11-15% of the exam is on this unit.

Key Facts

🤓 Psychologists to Know

William James

Main contribution is James-Lange theory, which says physiological arousal comes before emotion. 
The first theory, which was the common sense theory, told us, “we cry because we are sad.” The conscious awareness came first and the feeling followed. Pioneering psychologist William James felt this was backwards; “we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble” Danish Psychologist Carl Lange also proposed the same thing. Thus, it is called the James-Lange theory.  

Image Courtesy of Pixorize .

Alfred Kinsey                         

Zoologist who, along with his colleagues, conducted a study on sexual behavior in 1948, which was the first of its kind. Despite the study’s flaws, misleading findings, and lack of a representative sample, his findings are considered as relevant as those found in surveys given today. His study opened the door for more studies into sexual behavior.

Abraham Maslow

His theory suggests that not all needs are equal. He described a hierarchy of needs that predicts what needs have to be fulfilled first and which follow after. By completing this hierarchy 🔺, we can then fulfill our unique potential as a person. He produced this theory by studying healthy people, who he felt achieved their full potential, and looking at all the things that they had in common. 

Stanley Schachter

His theory suggests that following physiological arousal, people look to their environment 🌳 to determine the exact emotion they are feeling. 

Hans Selye

An endocrinologist who suggested that people experience major trauma in three major stages:
  1. Alarm
  2. Resistance
  3. Exhaustion 

📝 Vocabulary

MotivationDrive-reduction theoryHomeostasisIncentive
Intrinsic Motivation Extrinsic MotivationRichard Lazarus’s appraisal theoryJoseph LeDoux’s theory
Optimal Arousal TheoryYerkes-Dodson LawHierarchy of NeedsGlucose
Set pointBasal metabolic rateSexual response cycleSexual Dysfunction
HormonesAffilation NeedAutonomyEmotion
Common Sense TheoryJames-Lange TheoryCannon-Bard TheoryTwo-factor Theory
PolygraphFacial Feedback EffectStressGeneral Adaptation Syndrome
Tend and befriend responseCoronary Heart DiseaseHomeostasisPsychophysiological Illness

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