Emotion and motivation

[2 abstracts]

1. Academic self-handicapping among high-school students  [presentation, ppt, 170 kB]
Šimek D.
Srednja ekonomska šola Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia

In comparison to French and English school systems relatively competitive and achievement-oriented Slovene system offers fewer possibilities for less successful students to maintain positive self-esteem within the system (Kobal in dr., 2003). One of the strategies students employ to protect their self-worth and self-esteem is self-handicapping. Although strategic creation of obstacles to successful performance increases the likelihood of failure, it permits the self-handicapper to externalize poor performance and protect self-worth and self-esteem (Jones in Berglas, 1978). The study aimed at investigating dispositional academic self-handicapping among 747 Slovene secondary-school students (NM=371, NF=377). Using the Academic self-handicapping scale (Midgley et al., 1998) the Slovene participants showed lower level of self-handicapping than the American students (e.g. Thomas and Gadbois, 2007), which may be a reflection of historically higher collectivism and less profound individualism, intertwined with Slovenian teachers' negative attitude toward using competition in the teaching process (Smart et al., 2006). While self-handicapping in academic setting remains stable through the secondary school years, boys showed significantly higher level of self-handicapping than girls; decrease of self-esteem in academic setting is found to represent a bigger threat for boys than for girls (Ferrari, 1991). Higher level of academic self-handicapping was established among students with low academic performance and among those who subjectively overestimated their school performance. Socio-economic status of the family proved less impact on self-handicapping than the quality of interactions within the family: attendants who had a trusted person within the family self-handicapped less then those who did not or had one outside the family, yet no significant differences in academic self-handicapping were observed with regard to formal education of the parents. Self-handicapping can represent the last connection to the school and the possibility for the teachers to channel students' self-worth motivation in a more constructive direction.

2. The relationship between personality traits and accuracy in facial expression judgments  
Šverko D., Težak K., Župan D.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Previous studies found strong associations between personality and emotions, more precisely neuroticism was related to negative emotions and extraversion to positive ones. In these studies personality was mainly conceptualized and assessed according to five-factor theoretical framework, while emotions were assessed in different ways: subjective ratings, autonomic reactions recording (e.g. skin conductance responses) and psychophysiological information recording (e.g. using fMRI). The aim of the present study was to extend the exploration of the associations between personality and emotions by investigating the relationship between Big Five personality model traits and emotion recognition assessed by an objective method. The participants were 236 students from the University of Zagreb who completed personality inventory and were presented 12 pictures of facial expressions selected from Facial Action Coding System Manual (Ekman et al., 2002). The participants’ task was to identify emotions from facial expressions. Each of six following emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust and fear, was represented by two pictures of facial expressions. The results showed that students with higher scores on dimension of agreeableness were more accurate in recognition of positive and negative emotions from facial expressions. Consistent with the findings in the literature, female students were more accurate in emotion recognition from facial expressions than male students.