Affective Psychology

Type of instruction


Part of degree program
Typically offered in

Autumn/spring semester

Course description

Aim of the course:
This course aims to provide a summary of motivation, emotion and consciousness in a modern,
integrative framework. The course consists of theoretical and practical blocks. The theoretical
lectures cover the classical theories, evidence and methods on the three main topics. In the
practical block, the basic affective processes of healthy adults are demonstrated, analysed and
discussed, on the basis of the self-experience of the students. The practical block also aims to
develop critical, scientific thinking and presentation skills.

Learning outcome, competences

  • The student who fulfils this course will know the basic phenomena and the main classical and contemporary theories of affective psychology, including pieces of empirical evidence and practical aspects.
  • The student will be familiar with the associations between motivation and emotion, and their influence on psychological functioning, and the alternative theories related to these. She or he identifies the critical points of these theories, and the possibilities to integrate them.
  • The student will be familiar with the main methods of investigating and analysing affective phenomena.


  • The student recognises the affective aspects of psychological phenomena; in her or his own research projects and practice she or he acknowledges and applies the results of affective sciences.
  • The student is committed to the ethical investigation of psychological processes, including motivation, emotion, consciousness, pain, and other phenomena.
  • The student understands that the research methods demonstrated at the affective psychology practicals show educational purposes, and that active participation in these (either as a subject, as an experimenter, or as an observer) is essential to get familiar with scientific methods. She or he accepts that the tutors will use the empirical data collected in the practical seminars to expand databases connected to the given phenomenon in a way that the information on the participants is not identifiable, and that these databases will be used in scientific publications.


  • The student is able to scientifically analyse affective phenomena – especially motivation, emotion, consciousness, pain and sexuality –, and to put them in a theoretical frame.
  • The student is able to identify research questions and hypotheses on affective phenomena, and to associate appropriate empirical methods with the questions or hypotheses.
  • The student is able to collaborate in a cooperative manner, and to carry out individual or group tasks assigned at the practical seminars.

Topics of the course

  • Introduction: the subject of affective psychology; theoretical basis and structure of the course. Areas in the psychology of motivation; its historical backgrounds and main concepts. Motivation research.
  • Systems of primary homeostatic motivation: body temperature, drinking, eating. Empirical investigation of eating habits. Eating and body image disorders.
  • Primary non-homeostatic motivation systems. Sexuality and caretaking behaviour. Sexual development, sexual identity, sex and gender differences.
  • Motive of affiliation and social behaviour.
  • The motivational background of “flight” and “fight”. Theories and research of fear, anxiety, panic and aggression.
  • Pain perception; modulation and therapy of pain.
  • Prosocial motivation. Altruism.
  • Human specific motivation; cognitive needs. Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
  • The nature and components of emotions. The relationship between motivation and emotion.
  • Vegetative arousal and emotion. Expression of emotions, nonverbal communication, lie detection.
  • The emotional experience. The role of cognition and cultural effects in emotions.
  • Emotions in social relationships: attachment, love, happiness.
  • Problem solving.
  • Consciousness, conscious processing, altered states of consciousness.
  • Summary.

Learning activities, learning methods

  • Classroom lectures
  • Practical seminars



Compulsory reading list

Eccleston, C. (2001). Role of psychology in pain management. British Journal of Anaesthesia,
87(1), 144–152.
 Eysenck, M. W., & Keane, M. T. (2000). Cognitive psychology: A student’s handbook (6th edition).
Taylor & Francis.
 Farthing, G. W. (1992). The psychology of consciousness. Upper Saddle River, NJ, etc.: Prentice-
Hall, Inc.
 Franken, R. E. (1998). Human motivation (4th edition). Pacific Grove, etc.: Brooks/Cole
Publishing Company.
 Józsa, E., C Gősiné Greguss, A. C. (2016). Motor control and reaction time (Handout).
 Legge, D., & Barber, P. J. (1976). Information and skill. London: Methuen.
 Ludwig, A. M. (1966). Altered states of consciousness. Archives of general Psychiatry, 15(3), 225–
 Melzack, R. (1999). From the gate to the neuromatrix. Pain, 82, S121–S126.
 Parrott, D. J., Giancola, P. R. (2007) Addressing “The criterion problem” in the assessment
of aggressive behavior: Development of a new taxonomic system. Aggression and Violent
Behavior, 12, 280–299.
 Pinel, J. P. J., Assanand, S., Lehman, D., R. (2000). Hunger, eating, and ill health. American
Psychologist, 55(10), 1105–1116.
 Randall, H. E. & Byers, E. S. (2003) What is sex? Students’ definitions of having sex, sexual
partner, and unfaithful sexual behavior. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 12(2), 87–96.
 Reeve, J. (2009). Understanding motivation and emotion (5th edition). Hoboken: Wiley & Sons.
 Smith, E. E., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Fredrickson, B. L., & Loftus, G. (2009) Atkinson and
Hilgard’s introduction to psychology (15th edition). Thomson Wadsworth.
 Taylor, S. E., Peplau, L. A., & Sears, D. O. (2003) Social psychology (11th edition). Upper Saddle
River, NJ, etc.: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
 Other readings specified by the tutors.

Recommended reading list

 Baron-Cohen, S. (2002). The extreme male brain theory of autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences,
6(6), 248–254.
 Baron‐Cohen, S. (2009). Autism: the empathizing–systemizing (E‐S) theory. Annals of the New
York Academy of Sciences, 1156(1), 68–80.
 Barry, V. W., Baruth, M., Beets, M. W., Durstine, J. L., Liu, J., & Blair, S. N. (2014). Fitness
vs. fatness on all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 56(4), 382–
 Bond, C. F., & DePaulo, B. M. (2006). Accuracy of deception judgments. Personality and Social
Psychology Review, 10(3), 214–234.
 Oatley, K., Keltner, D., & Jenkins, J. M. (2006). Understanding emotions (2nd edition). Malden,
Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell Publishing.
 Panksepp, J. (1998). Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions. New York:
Oxford University Press.
 Sackeim, H. A., Gur, R. C., & Saucy, M. C. (1978). Emotions are expressed more intensely
on the left side of the face. Science, 202(4366), 434–436.
 Stellar, E. (1960) Drive and motivation. In J. Field (Ed.), Handbook of Physiology, Section I.
Neurophysiology, Vol III (pp. 1508–1515). Washington, DC: American Psychological Society.
 Todorov, A., Fiske, S., & Prentice, D. (Eds.). (2011). Social neuroscience: Toward understanding the
underpinnings of the social mind. New York: Oxford University Press.
 Vaitl, D., Birbaumer, N., Gruzelier, J., Jamieson, G. A., Kotchoubey, B., Kübler, A., ... &
Sammer, G. (2005). Psychobiology of altered states of consciousness. Psychological Bulletin,
131(1), 98–127.
 Other readings specified by the tutors.