Australasian Mathematical Psychology Conference 2019

The diffusion model provides new insights into the field of motivational psychology

Veronika Lerche
Psychological Institute, Heidelberg University
Andreas B. Neubauer
Department for Education and Human Development, DIPF
Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education
Alica Bucher
Heidelberg University
Andreas Voss
Heidelberg University

In motivational psychology often response time tasks are used. Usually, the data are examined using either mean response times or error rates while the application of mathematical models is still very rare in this field. We present data from two studies that focused on the effects of motive frustration on task processing. Going beyond previous studies, we applied the diffusion model (Ratcliff, 1978) to disentangle the different processes involved in the tasks. In our studies, we experimentally manipulated the satisfaction of the achievement motive (Study 1, N = 280) and the affiliation motive (Study 2, N = 84) by giving participants false feedback. This feedback was either negative (to frustrate the respective motive) or positive. Then, in both studies, participants had to complete a binary decision task. In Study 1, individuals higher in fear of failure accumulated information more slowly (drift rate) if given negative performance feedback. Furthermore, in the frustration condition of Study 2, individuals with a lower fear of rejection tried to counteract their negative mood by shifting the starting point to the positive threshold in a mood classification task. However, at the same time, they accumulated negative information faster. Results show that the diffusion model is an interesting method for the field of motivational psychology. It allows to gain further insights into the processes underlying motivational phenomena.