Based on what I study and investigate, I have read in recent literature that beliefs and emotions are related to actions in complex ways. As several researchers have stated, the human brain is an emotional brain (Lewis, Haviland-Jones, & Barrett, 2008). Therefore, learning involves thought and emotion (Lewis, 2005). Moreover, it is known that emotion “functions as an amplifier, providing the intensity, urgency, and energy to propel our behavior” in “everything we do” (MacIntyre, 2002a, p. 61). On this occasion, I would like to reflect on how beliefs and emotions tend to influence action, by referring to a difficult session I had this term in the Writing Studio. I have been a consultant for four semesters, but I had never had such a difficult session product of a writer’s emotional state. One would imagine that difficulties in general are associated to the piece of writing, but in this case I think it was the writer’s actions (influenced by his beliefs and situated emotions), that prevented him from being fully involved in the session, which at the same time prevented me from helping him in the way I would have desired.
The writer had anticipated me from the beginning of the session that he was in a hurry because the deadline was that same day. He expressed, as some writers do at some point, that he wanted me to go over his writing “quickly”, by only correcting the mistakes. Moreover and most importantly, he did not even let me make another copy, as he thought it would be a waste of time. I tried to explain to him the philosophy of the Writing Studio, but his anxiety did not even let him listen attentively to what I was saying. This situation clearly explains how beliefs and emotions reflect certain behaviors and ways of acting. And even if I tried to lower his anxiety at different moments during the session, the writer’s behaviors remained the same.
Of course the result was a session full of tensions between his beliefs and my beliefs of what writing and feedback entail, which prevented us from performing in the way we would have wanted. Reflecting on this makes me think that it would be interesting to read more about writers’ emotions during the writing sessions, and what could be done in the Studio in order to enhance positive emotions and try to reduce negative ones.
By Matilde Olivero, PhD in Second Language Acquisition and Instructional Technology