Positive emotions and its impact on academic motivation and engagement

Boon Hui Michelle LOW, Ronnel Bornasal KING, Imelda Santos CALEON

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


The broaden-and-build theory (Fredrickson, 1998) postulates that positive emotions can facilitate the building up of important psychological resources. However, this theory has seldom been tested in an educational context and on learning outcomes. According to this theory, it is assumed that the experiencing of positive emotions leads to higher levels of engagement and motivation. A sample of secondary students from Singapore (N=134) answered surveys assessing their emotions, academic motivation, and engagement. Hierarchical regression analyses results revealed that positive and negative emotions were associated with engagement and motivation. More specifically, positive emotions were found to positively predict all forms of engagement (i.e. cognitive, behavioral, and emotional engagement), controlled motivation (i.e. identified regulation and intrinsic motivation) as well as autonomous motivation motivation (i.e. external regulation and introjected regulation). The findings were particularly interesting from a cross-cultural perspective because external and introjected regulation have been found to be maladaptive among Western students. However, these types of motivation may not necessarily be harmful in collectivist contexts. These findings do not only show how useful the broaden-and-build theory is in the Asian educational context but they can potentially be used to encourage future studies that are aimed to promoting students' positive emotions to foster beneficial effects on students' learning outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


Low, M., King, R., & Caleon, I. (2015, June). Positive emotions and its impact on academic motivation and engagement. Paper presented at the Redesigning Pedagogy: Leaders, Values and Citizenship in 21st Century Education, held in conjunction with 11th International CitizED Conference and the Arts, Humanities and Literature Conference 2015: Redesigning pedagogy: Leaders, values and citizenship in 21st century education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


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