Autonomy is a very important property for a robot to have, yet implementing it in a robot is far from trivial, particularly when one requires the meaning of autonomy to include self-motivation, instead of mere automaticity. The fact that emotions are considered to be essential to human reasoning and human motivation in particular, suggests that they might play an important role in robot autonomy. The purpose of the work reported here is to know if and how emotions can help a robot in achieving autonomy. Experimental work was done in a simulated robot that adapts to its environment through the use of reinforcement learning. Results suggest that emotions can be useful in dividing the task in smaller manageable problems by focusing attention on the relevant features of the task at any one time.