A Catastrophe Model for Motivation and Emotions: Highlighting the Synergistic Role of Performance-Approach and Performance-Avoidance Goal Orientations

  • Georgios Sideridis
  • Dimitrios Stamovlasis


Mastery and performance type of motivation are crucial to students’ academic behavior, since they might affect their emotion regulation and achievement. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of the above motivational variables on students’ arousal levels under achievement situations. Participants were 70 college students who participated in the study for extra credit. Student’s arousal levels were measured prior to and during stressful in-class presentations with a heart rate-monitoring device. Statistical analyses using multilevel modeling and the cusp catastrophe model indicated that a nonlinear effect took place when moving from the baseline condition to the presentation. Performance-avoidance goal orientations were associated with significantly elevated arousal during the baseline and a significant increase with the onset of the presentation. A cusp catastrophe model with performance-approach and performance-avoidance goal orientations as controls proved superior to its linear counterparts, while mastery type of goals have no contribution to the phenomenon under investigation. The cusp effect offers a better explanation of the emotion deregulation observed under those stressful situations and provides the link to NDS and self-organization theory.


Catastrophe theory Achievement goal theory Motivation Emotions Performance-approach Performance-avoidance Goal Orientations Cusp catastrophe Bifurcation Bimodality Hysteresis Attractor Self-organization 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Medical School, Clinical Research Center, Boston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and EducationAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreecee

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