Motivation as a positiveaffective variable in L2The affective domain of humannature is not easy to be captured in the scientific framework (is not easy to be studied scientifically). It is that changeableand complex part of human beings that is primarily opposed to logic andreasoning. Nevertheless, the deep understanding of this domain can enhance andaccelerate improvements in many social spheres of human lives. For instance, itcan positively transform a language learning process into an effective andsuccessful one by meeting personal needs and requirements throughindividualized learning. Numerous research and attempts have been made to getthe insight of and clarify the issue.
Some of the researchers yielded positiveresults, some of them not less than controversial. Taking into account itsimportance and dimension, this area in spite of a significant interest on thepart of theorists and practitioners is still considered to be understudied andrequires further investigation. The affective domain is theemotional side of human behavior, and it may be juxtaposed to the cognitiveside (Brown, 2007, p.143). Even linguists in the field of human cognition such asErnest Hilgard, noted that “purely cognitive theories of learning will be rejectedunless a role is assigned to affectivity” (1963, p.267). Many other theoristsfollowed the same lead, for example, Noels, Pelletier, and Vallerand agree,”In fact, affective variables, such as attitude, orientations, anxiety,and motivation, have been shown to be at least as important as languageaptitude for predicting L2 achievement” (2000, p.35).
Indeed, theaffective side of each learner can determine his/her success or failure inacquiring second or third languages by influencing his/her future behavior. Popham(2011, p.233) elaborates more on this issue:”The reason such affective variables as students’ attitudes, interests,and values are important to us is that those variables typically influencefuture behavior. The reason we want to promote positive attitudes towardslearning is because students who have positive attitudes towards learning todaywill be inclined to pursue learning in the future.
The affective status ofstudents lets us see how students are predisposed to behave subsequently”(cited in Dehbozorgi, 2012).Even though there are manyrespected scientists among those who are in favor of the importance of theaffective domain in language learning, there is neither mutual understandingnor an unanimous agreement among all of the theorists who work in the targetfield. A great deal of studies that were targeted at personality variables haveproduced mixed results leading to even further doubts. But one can question the validityof the results as the relations between variables were not consistent. Lalondeand Gardner (1984, p.224) provide us with a list of relevant studies onaffective variables. These were on empathy (see, for example, Guiora &Acton, 1979), anxiety (for a review see Scovel, 1978), creativity (Chastain,1975), field dependence/independence (Hansen & Stanfield, 1981; Naiman etal.
, 1978) and deliberateness and emotionality (Oskarsson, 1975). And they havenoticed that the researchers often include in their studies a number of differentpersonality variables simultaneously, without consistent relationship betweenthem. “Based on such research,” according to Lalonde and Gardner, “there islittle reason to conclude that personality variables are directly implicated toany great extent in second language acquisition” (1984, p.224).
This conclusionis reinforced by a study conducted by Leino (1972) who found that whereas a reasoningtype of verbal ability accounted for 35% of the variance in English achievement,personality variables as a group accounted for only an additional 7%.As the author of this article hasstated before, the affective domain is not easy to be captured scientifically.And one of the clear causes for the above-mentioned irrelevant conclusions isthe fact that such variables are difficult to measure in an objective waythrough self-reports and tests that are often used for this purpose and are notefficient for discernible reasons.
One must approach the issue through multiplemethods as interviews, observations and indirect measures as Campbell and Fiskedid in 1959 and take into consideration cultural differences.