[Paleopsych] Reiss and Havercamp: Toward a Comprehensive Assessment of Fundamental Motivation: Factor Structure of the Reiss Profiles

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Wed Jan 26 18:32:00 UTC 2005

Reiss and Havercamp: Toward a Comprehensive Assessment of Fundamental
Motivation: Factor Structure of the Reiss Profiles
Psychological Assessment, Vol 18(2) (1998.6): 97-106

[Reiss is famous for his using factor analysis to determine 16 basic human 
motivations. Here's an early paper on this.]

Reiss, Steven1,2; Havercamp, Susan M.1
1Nisonger Center, Ohio State University.
2Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Steven Reiss,
Nisonger Center, Ohio State University, 1581 Dodd Drive, Columbus, Ohio
43210-1296. Electronic mail may be sent to reiss.7 at osu.edu.

Received Date: July 18, 1997; Revised Date: December 15, 1997; Accepted Date:
January 20, 1998



Two instruments were developed to provide a comprehensive assessment of the 
strength of a person's fundamental end goals and motivational sensitivities. 
One instrument was a self-report inventory for adolescents and adults in 
general, and the other was an informant-rating scale for adolescents and adults 
with mental retardation and development disabilities. Exploratory and 
confirmatory factor analyses and test-retest reliabilities are reported in 7 
studies, with independent samples of participants from diverse geographical 
areas, occupations, and social groups, N = 2,548. Each instrument was found to 
have a 15-factor solution, and the 2 solutions were similar to one another. 
Because the factors assess universal motives that are also seen in animals, a 
genetics-behavior-cognitive model of fundamental motivation is suggested.


According to Reiss and Havercamp's (1996, 1997) sensitivity theory, individual 
differences in motivational needs are the key to predicting human behavior. If 
you want to predict what people will do, find out what they fundamentally 
desire and predict that they will try to get it. It is surprising that this 
idea has not been given greater emphasis in psychology. For example, 
psychologists have not developed standardized instruments suitable for a 
comprehensive assessment of a person's motivational needs. Although there are 
thousands of standardized instruments, none purports to tell us what a person 
wants from life so we might then try to predict what he or she will seek. 
Instead, psychologists try to predict behavior on the basis of personality 
theories, although the link between personality and behavior often is much less 
direct than that between motive and behavior.

Human motives can be divided into two categories called means and end (Reiss, 
in press). The distinction is based on the purposes of the behavior. Means are 
indicated when a person performs an act for instrumental purposes. Examples 
include a professional athlete who is playing ball for a salary and a person 
who is avoiding the dentist to save money. In these examples, the acts of 
playing ball and avoiding the dentist are sought as means of obtaining or 
saving money. In contrast, end purposes are indicated when a person performs a 
behavior for no apparent reason other than its own sake. Examples include a 
child who is playing ball for the fun of it and a person who is taking aspirin 
to reduce pain. In these examples, physical exercise and pain reduction are 
sought for no purpose other than as ends in themselves.

A motivational analysis of many actions may reveal chains of instrumental 
behavior, but eventually there must be an intrinsically reinforcing stimulus (a 
noninstrumental goal) at the end of each chain. For example, a person may take 
a second job for extra income (instrumental motive), desire the extra salary to 
purchase health care (instrumental motive), and desire the health care to 
prolong personal or family survival (end goal). In this example, the person's 
aim is to help his or her family, not to gain or hoard money.

End motives vary in their psychological significance. Some end motives, such as 
thirst, account for relatively little behavior. Except for polydipsia, the 
behavior motivated by thirst shows little variance. Furthermore, thirst is not 
an important motive in understanding alcohol and drinking problems. In 
contrast, hunger accounts for many more behaviors than does thirst. Many 
cultures have rules for the preparation and consumption of food. Furthermore, 
strong or unusual appetites are implicated in eating disorders.

We sought to limit our initial research to those ends that account for the most 
behavior. We defined the term fundamental motive as a universal end goal that 
accounts for psychologically significant behavior. The three criteria for 
fundamental motivation, then, were end goal, universal motivator, and 
psychological significance.

It is surprising that few researchers have attempted to assess comprehensively 
the fundamental end goals of human conduct (Ryff, 1989). The Thematic 
Apperception Test has been used (Murray, 1943), but basic questions about the 
validity of this measure are still unanswered (Zubin, Eron, & Schumer, 1965). 
The Personality Research Form (Jackson, 1984) has many motivational items, but 
it was not intended to assess end motivation, and it is too long (440 items) 
for use in many research studies. There are many excellent anxiety scales, 
anger scales, and self-concept scales, but these consider only one motive per 
instrument and do not permit a comprehensive assessment of what motivates a 
given individual. Researchers have developed various reinforcement checklists 
that have been found to be useful in applied behavior analysis (e.g., Bihm, 
Poindexter, Kienlen, & Smith, 1992). However, these instruments assess 
preferences for specific reinforcers (e.g., preference for M & M's candy) 
rather than preferences for specific reinforcement categories (e.g., desire to 
eat); moreover, few reinforcement surveys have been subjected to psychometric 
evaluation. Zigler (1997) developed a new instrument to assess personality and 
motivation in children with mental retardation and developmental disabilities 
(MR/DD). However, this promising instrument addresses significant motives seen 
in a targeted population and is not intended to provide a comprehensive 
assessment of end motivation.

The purpose of this investigation was to develop two new psychological 
instruments for use in assessing fundamental motivation. One instrument is a 
self-report measure intended for use with anybody who can read and understand 
the items. Because we have a long-standing interest in people with MR/DD, we 
also developed a ratings instrument to assess fundamental motivation in this 
population. Six factor analyses (four exploratory and two confirmatory), with 
six independent samples, are reported in this article. A seventh study 
evaluated test-retest reliabilities with a seventh independent sample. The 
primary reason for reporting both instruments in the same article is to permit 
an assessment of the robustness of factor solutions across methods (self-report 
vs. ratings) and populations (general vs. people with MR/DD).

The Reiss Profiles essentially ask people how much they like activities that 
are to some extent liked by virtually everybody and how much they dislike 
activities that are to some extent disliked by virtually everybody. When we 
first started this research (Reiss & McNally, 1985), some colleagues questioned 
its significance, wondering why we would ask people if they dislike anxiety or 
like sex. Doesn't everybody experience anxiety as a displeasure and sex as a 
pleasure? Our response was that individuals differ in the strength of these 
desires. Although everybody hates anxiety, some hate it more than others (Reiss 
& McNally, 1985; Taylor, 1995). Although nearly everybody likes sex, some 
people crave it, whereas others seek it only rarely. Sensitivity theory holds 
that individual variations in the strength of these motives are important for 
understanding a person's life goals and everyday behavior.

Study 1

We developed a self-report instrument for assessing individual differences in 
fundamental motivation. The first step was to generate a large list of items 
that refer to end purposes. We reviewed a variety of sources to generate ideas 
for items, including Murray's (1938) theory of needs, motivational studies, 
psychopathology articles and books, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 
of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994). In 
total, 25 fundamental motives were identified; however, we subsequently deleted 
thirst, because this motive does not account for much everyday behavior.

Steven Reiss wrote between 8 and 18 items to assess the usual strength of an 
individual's desire for each of 24 motivational domains. For a period of 2 
months, colleagues, relatives, and friends were solicited to review the list 
and suggest additional items. As a consequence, the initial list of items was 
broader than the 24 motivational domains with which we started. Redundant items 
were deleted, and miscellaneous items were added, so that the total list 
included every significant end purpose that was suggested by our colleagues. 
The initial 328-item instrument was named the Reiss Profile of Fundamental 
Goals and Motivational Sensitivities (Reiss Profile).

Every item on the instrument was designed to measure the strength of an 
individual's fundamental desire or fundamental aversion for a specific end 
purpose. The item stems consisted of the phrases "I like," "I enjoy," "I am 
happiest when," "I love," "I try," "I must have," "I hate," "I am proud of," "I 
want," and "is important to me." Examples of items included "I love to eat," 
"Sex is very important to me," "I am happiest when I am physically active," and 
"I love parties." None of the items assessed instrumental motives. For example, 
the scale did not include items such as "Sex is a great way to get to know 
somebody," or "Becoming famous is a great way of gaining acceptance." The 
intent of including only items that refer to end purposes was to assess 
individual differences in the strength of various fundamental motives.



The participants were 401 adolescents and adults sampled from six sources 
(three universities, a high school, a seminar for MR/DD professionals, and a 
church group) in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The demographic data for this Sample 1 
are shown in Table 1. Participants were solicited through friends, relatives, 
and colleagues, who offered no inducements. However, the college students 
completed the instrument in exchange for an educational lecture on the 
underlying theory, which was given immediately after they completed the 

Table 1 Demographic Data for Six Independent Research Sample


The participants completed the instrument individually, anonymously, and 
without consultation from others. In an effort to minimize social desirability 
and the other biasing effects, the participants were instructed not to write 
any identifying information on the response sheets and to return completed 
response sheets in closed envelopes. They were told that research assistants 
would enter their responses into a computer data bank so that nobody could ever 
trace a particular set of responses to a particular individual.

Results and Discussion

We conducted a series of factor analyses using maximum likelihood extraction 
method with oblique direct oblimin rotations. Oblique rotations were used 
because sensitivity theory implies that some fundamental motives are 
intercorrelated, functioning both as end goals and as instrumental means for 
other end goals (e.g., seeking power both for its own sake and as a means of 
obtaining social status.) Twenty-four factors were expected theoretically, and 
the scree plot suggested a 12-factor solution. In accordance with Tucker, 
Koopman, and Linn's (1969) discussion of how to proceed under such 
circumstances, we did not use the eigenvalue > 1 rule. (For eigenvalues, see 
Results and Discussion sections of Studies 3 and 5.) The first factor analysis 
extracted a 10-factor solution, the second extracted an 11-factor solution, and 
so on up to 20 factors. Because the factor loadings for the 20-factor solution 
were very small, we did not do further analyses to extract more than 20 
factors. The 15-factor solution was easiest to interpret, with few items 
loading on multiple factors. The 15 factors were labeled as follows: Power, 
Social Conflict, Food, Physical Activity, Order, Pain, Anxiety, Frustration, 
Sex, Rejection, Social Contact, Vengeance, Curiosity, Independence, and 

One hundred and ten items were retained, all having a .3 or higher loading on 
one of the 15 factors and none having a loading of .3 or higher on more than 
one factor. Key items intended to measure mastery loaded on the factor for 
Curiosity; those intended to measure romantic love loaded on the factor for 
Sex; those intended to measure positive mood loaded on the Social Contact 
factor; those intended to assess desire for attention loaded with desire for 
Power and with items assessing desire for money. Factors were not found for 
help others, positive self-regard, or self-control.

Study 2

This study was intended to provide a preliminary exploration of the factor 
structure of the revised instrument. Two types of revisions were made in the 
Reiss Profile on the basis of the results of Study 1. First, we added 110 new 
items in order to support 15 emerging factors by increasing to eight the number 
of items on each factor. Second, 42 of the 110 retained items were modified. 
The main purpose of the modifications was to increase item variance. Because 
the items ask people how much they like something that is to some extent liked 
by virtually everybody, or dislike something that is to some extent disliked by 
nearly everybody, there was a tendency for universal endorsement and little 
variance. One purpose of this investigation was to find item wordings that 
maximize variance. For example, the item "My personal honor is very important 
to me" was reworded as "My personal honor is foremost in guiding my behavior." 
The reworded item is less likely to be strongly endorsed by an overwhelming 
majority of people.



The participants were 380 adolescents and adults sampled from nine sources in 
mostly Nebraska, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (see Table 1). None of the people 
served as participants in Study 1. The participants represented students from 
two colleges, members of a military reserve unit, direct care staff attending 
an MR/DD workshop, and employees of a McDonald's restaurant. The method of 
recruitment was the same as that described for Study 1.


The procedure was the same as that described for Study 1.

Results and Discussion

The data were submitted to a series of factor analyses using the maximum 
likelihood method of extraction with oblique, direct oblimin rotations. Factor 
solutions were examined extracting 12 to 20 factors. The 17-factor solution was 
easiest to interpret. We labeled the factors as follows: Social Status, 
Vengeance, Physical Exercise, Sex, Order, Family (nurturance), Rejection, 
Independence, Anxiety, Social Contact, Food, Pain, Curiosity, Citizenship, 
Power, Frustration, and Honor. It was interesting that family, not nurturance, 
emerged as a factor. Because animals have instincts to take care of their own, 
as opposed to general desires to nurture plants and animals, perhaps family 
(not nurturance) is the more fundamental motive. Using the same retention rules 
used in Study 1, we kept a total of 113 items. In total, 107 items were 

Study 3

The purpose of this study was to provide an exploratory factor investigation of 
the second revision of the Reiss Profile instrument. The second revision added 
74 items, bringing the new total to 187. One purpose of the revisions was to 
support an emergent Family factor. The other purposes were to support the 
factors that had emerged in the results of Study 2, so that each factor would 
have at least eight items with a .30 loading or higher. In addition, 24 of the 
113 retained items were reworded in an effort to increase item variance.



The participants were 341 adolescents and adults sampled from 14 sources in 
mostly Canada, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (see 
Table 1). The sources included students from required high school English 
classes in a racially mixed school and from two undergraduate colleges, members 
of a church group, mental health professionals employed at a rural community 
health center, legal secretaries working for a large firm, graduate students in 
either dentistry or business, and residents of an urban nursing home. The 
methods of recruitment were the same as those described for Studies 1 and 2, 
except that a $100 contribution was paid to the nursing home resident 
association for its assistance in collecting data. None of the people had 
served as participants in either of the previous two studies.


The procedures were the same as those described for Studies 1 and 2.

Results and Discussion

The data were submitted to a series of exploratory factor analyses using the 
maximum likelihood extraction method with oblique direct oblimin rotations. On 
the basis of the scree plot and the results of Studies 1 and 2, 14 to 17 
factors were extracted. The 15-factor solution was the easiest to interpret; 
this solution accounted for 53% of the variance. The factor labels, 
eigenvalues, percentage variance, and item loadings for this analysis are shown 
in Table 2. The factor correlation matrix revealed largely unrelated factors: 
Of 105 correlations, only 15 exceeded .20 and none exceeded .29.

Table 2 Factor Structure of Reiss Profile (N = 341)

In an effort to reduce the length of the instrument, we combined the factors 
for anxiety sensitivity and pain sensitivity into a single scale for 
sensitivity to aversive sensations. This decision was consistent with the 
factor results and with previous findings that the two sensitivities are 
significantly correlated (e.g., Asmundson & Taylor, 1996). The effort to 
develop a frustration sensitivity factor distinct from sensation sensitivity 
was abandoned. Items were deleted if their factor loading was less than .30. 
Items that loaded .30 or higher on some of the factors were deleted if the 
factor already had eight items that loaded highly. In total, 118 items were 
retained and 69 deleted.

Study 4

The purpose of this study was to confirm the factor results obtained in Study 3 
with a different sample of research participants. Only three new items were 
added, bringing the total to 121 items. All of the new items were intended to 
load on the Independence factor. No items were reworded. Thus, 118 of the 121 
items used in Study 4 also were used in Study 3.



The participants were 398 adolescents and adults sampled from six sources in 
Iowa, Ohio, and Illinois (see Table 1). The sources included high school 
students, students at an undergraduate college, residents of a suburban nursing 
home, members of a church group, professionals attending a seminar on mental 
retardation, and volunteers in a community service organization (Kiwanis Club). 
The methods of recruitment were the same as those described for Study 3. None 
of the people had served as participants in any of the previous three studies.


The procedures were the same as those described for Studies 1, 2, and 3.

Results and Discussion

We performed a confirmatory factor analysis on the interitem correlation matrix 
to test the fit of the 15-factor model using a generalized least squared 
discrepancy function. When the factors were allowed to correlate, the 15-factor 
solution yielded a close fit to the data, root-mean-square error of 
approximation (RMSEA) = .047. This finding provided evidence of a robust factor 
structure and was obtained despite the fact that Sample 4 had a lower 
percentage of young adults (12% vs. 25%) and a higher percentage of people 55 
and older (46% vs. 24%) than Sample 3. The Cronbach's alpha coefficients ranged 
from .74 to .92, with a median of .82. The alpha values for male and female 
participants on each factor were similar to one another. However, future 
research is needed to explore more completely the possibility of gender 
effects. For the Independence scale, the alpha coefficients were used to delete 
one of the three new items. The remaining two new items were added to the six 
previously retained items, bringing the total for this scale to eight items. 
Thus, the final instrument has 15 scales, each with eight items (see Table 2).

Study 5

Many people with MR/DD cannot validly self-report their emotions and desires 
(see Reiss, 1990). Because of our long-standing interest in this population, we 
developed an instrument for rating people with MR/DD, called the Reiss Profile 
of Fundamental Goals and Motivation Sensitivities for Persons With Mental 
Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (Reiss Profile-MR/DD). The 
instrument is intended to be completed by caregivers, teachers, or parents and 
used with anyone whose cognitive ability precludes the use of our self-report 
instrument. The instrument was developed concurrently with the self-report 

Steven Reiss wrote a 157-item inventory intended to assess the following 10 
fundamental motives: Anxiety Sensitivity, Attention, Food, Frustration 
Sensitivity, Help Others, Independence, Order, Physical Exercise, Positive 
Mood, and Social Contact. About two thirds of the items directly referred to 
motives, such as "more than most people, seeks attention," "has a strong sex 
drive," "enjoys learning," "always wants to win," "strong desire for autonomy," 
and "more than most people, enjoys working independently." Some items were 
written to refer to behaviors that strongly implied, but did not explicitly 
state, motives. For example, anxiety sensitivity is indicated by beliefs that 
anxiety has harmful personal consequences (Reiss & McNally, 1985). Because 
raters cannot be expected to know the anxiety sensitivity beliefs of the people 
they are rating, items were selected that are known to be correlated with 
anxiety sensitivity beliefs, such as the presence of many fears (Reiss, 
Peterson, Gursky, & McNally, 1986).

At a national MR/DD conference, we collected ratings on 199 people from the 
professionals and parents attending the conference. Steven Reiss used the 
interitem correlation matrix to develop a 162-item revised instrument. The 
revised instrument included items intended to assess 15 factors (9 of the 10 
fundamental motives assessed by the initial instrument [the positive mood items 
were deleted] plus Curiosity, Morality, Pain, Rejection, Social Contact, and 
Vengeance). The purpose of Study 5 was to explore the revised instrument's 
factor structure with a large heterogenous sample of people with MR/DD.


Participants and raters.

The participants were 515 adults (304 men and 211 women) with MR/DD (see Table 
1). They were recruited from eight community-based service and residential 
agencies located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ontario, 
Illinois, Texas, Ohio, and the United Kingdom. None of the people served as 
participants in any of our previous studies. The research was conducted in full 
compliance with each agency's ethics committee.

The instrument was completed by parents, siblings, agency supervisors, and 
direct care workers. All raters reported that they had known the participants 
for at least 4 months. In order to limit the extent to which the results might 
be influenced by any one rater, no person rated more than five individuals. As 
shown in Table 1, the agencies indicated whether or not participants had a 
behavior disorder. In people with MR/DD, these behavior disorders are mostly 
conduct problems, aggression, and severe behavior symptoms, such as 
self-injurious behavior, although the full range of psychiatric disorders is 
seen in this population (see Reiss, 1994). Local psychiatrists and clinical 
psychologists provided the diagnostic information.


The data collection at each agency was supervised by a program director or by 
his or her assistant. All data collected were completely anonymous in that no 
names or identifying participant codes were used.

Results and Discussion

We submitted the data to a series of factor analyses using the maximum 
likelihood extraction method with oblique direct oblimin rotations. On the 
basis of the scree plot that suggested a 12-factor solution and a theoretical 
expectation of 14 factors (see Reiss & Havercamp, 1997), a series of factor 
analyses were conducted extracting 10 to 20 factors. The 14-factor solution was 
the easiest to interpret; this solution accounted for 52% of the variance. The 
factor labels, eigenvalues, percentage variance, and item loadings for this 
analysis are shown in Table 3. The factor correlation matrix revealed largely 
unrelated factors. Of 91 correlations, only 13 exceeded .20 and none exceeded 

Table 3 Factor Structure of Reiss Profile (MR/DD;: N = 515)

A scale for social contact did not emerge from the exploratory factor analysis. 
Because of the significance of the desire for social contact, the eight items 
that were intended to measure this desire were retained. Cronbach's alpha 
coefficient for this scale was .79 for Sample 5. Of the 162-items on the 
instrument, 62 were deleted because they did meet the item retention rules used 
for Studies 1 and 2.

Study 6

The purpose of this study was to confirm the factor results obtained in Study 5 
with a different sample of research participants. No new items were added to 
the instrument. However, we reworded 10 of the 100 retained items to increase 
item variance, and we reworded six items so that all 100 items could be scored 
in the same numerical direction.



Sample 6 consisted of 438 people (248 men, 189 women, 1 unreported) who either 
were receiving services from one of the following agencies: a large national 
residential agency with headquarters in Ohio, a large residential provider of 
group homes in suburban Chicago, or a residential dual diagnosis program near 
Philadelphia; or whose parents, siblings, or county board support staff 
attended a research presentation at the 1996 national meeting of the Arc of the 
United States. In total, the data came from 24 states. Demographic information 
is summarized in Table 1. None of the people had served previously as 
participants or raters in any of the other studies on fundamental motivation.


The procedures were the same as those used in Study 5.

Results and Discussion

We performed a confirmatory factor analysis on this sample and the 15-factor 
model obtained from Study 5 (14 empirically derived factors plus Social 
Contact). A generalized least squared discrepancy function was applied to the 
interitem correlation matrix. When the factors were allowed to correlate, the 
15-factor solution provided a reasonable fit to the data (RMSEA = .078). This 
finding provided evidence of a robust factor structure. As shown in Table 3, 
the Cronbach's alpha coefficients for each of the scales varied between .70 and 
.92, with a median of .83. The alpha values for male and female participants on 
each factor were similar to one another. However, future research is needed to 
explore more completely the possibility of gender effects.

These factor results are similar to those obtained for the self-report 
instrument. As many as 13 of the 15 factors on the self-report instrument have 
corresponding factors on the MR/DD (ratings) instrument. The main differences 
are these: The self-report instrument has a scale for Power (dominance) not 
found on the MR/DD instrument. The self-report instrument has a scale for 
Citizenship (desire for social justice) not found on the MR/DD instrument. The 
MR/DD instrument has separate scales for Anxiety, Frustration, and Pain 
Sensitivity, whereas the self-report instrument has a single (combined) scale. 
The interpreted factors and factor definitions for the MR/DD and self-report 
instruments are shown in Table 4.

Table 4 Scale Definitions for Reiss Profile: Self-Report and MR-DD Informant

Study 7

Because fundamental motives are purported to be stable individual differences, 
it is important to assess the stability of this construct over time. The 
purpose of this study was to establish the test-retest reliability of the two 



Sample A consisted of 31 undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory 
psychology course. Their ages ranged from 19 to 44 years (M = 21.9), where 90% 
were between the ages of 19 and 21. The sample consisted of 28 women (90%); 
racial composition was 73% Caucasian, 10% African American, 13% Asian American, 
and 3% Other. Sample B consisted of 44 individuals (23 women) who were 
receiving services from a large not-for-profit mental retardation service 
agency with headquarters in New York. Participants' ages ranged from 22 to 79 
years (M = 43.9 years); racial composition was 86% Caucasian and 14% African 
American. Seventy percent of the sample were reported to have a behavior 
disorder or psychiatric diagnosis. The instrument was completed by agency 
psychology staff and direct care workers. All raters reported that they had 
known the participants for at least 8 months (M = 28 months). In order to limit 
the extent to which the results might be influenced by any one rater, no person 
rated more than five individuals. None of the people had served previously as 
participants or raters in any of the other studies on fundamental motivation.


Sample A participants were invited to complete the Reiss Profile during class 
on two occasions with a time interval of 2 weeks. Data collection for Sample B 
was supervised by the agency director of psychology. Raters completed the Reiss 
Profile-MR/DD for the same individual twice, at initial assessment and again 3 
months later. All data collected were completely anonymous in that no names or 
identifying participant codes were used.

Results and Discussion

For the self-report instrument, the test-retest Pearson product-moment r values 
for the 15 scales ranged from .80 to .96 (M = .83). For the MR/DD instrument, r 
values for the 15 scales ranged from .72 to .89 (M = .81). All of these 
correlations were significant at the p

General Discussion

The results of the various factor analyses of the Reiss Profiles were 
consistent across diverse samples and assessment methods. Similar 15-factor 
solutions were obtained for the two instruments and confirmed on independent 
samples varying significantly in age, IQ, and the presence of behavior 
disorders. Most items had high factor loadings. The finding that the factor 
solutions were consistent across methods (self-report vs. ratings by others) 
suggests that the results were not significantly biased by the method of 
assessment. For example, the results were not easily explained in terms of 
social desirability, which is primarily associated with self-report instruments 
and usually not considered with ratings instruments. Furthermore, the fact that 
the MR/DD instrument has some items in which motivational preferences are 
implied, rather than directly stated, was not a problem because the same factor 
structure was obtained with the self-report instrument.

These results are consistent with what used to be called the instinct model of 
human motivation. This model was developed by James (1890/1950) and McDougall 
(1926) after Darwin (1872/1965) showed an instinctual basis to some human 
emotions. According to instinct theory, the human desire for social contact is 
an expression of the herd instinct, and the tendency for revenge is an 
expression of an aggression instinct. Both James (1890/1950) and McDougall 
(1926) emphasized that human instincts are not automatic behaviors but are 
modified considerably by cognition and experience. Their idea of an instinct 
was essentially what today would be called a genetic disposition.

James (1890/1950) and McDougall (1926) used three criteria to infer an 
instinct. They inferred an instinct when a motive was (a) seen in all humans, 
(b) seen in some animals, and (c) thought to have survival value. Nearly all of 
the factors on the Reiss Profiles, with the possible exceptions of Citizenship 
and Independence, meet these criteria. That is, these factors refer to 
universal end motives that are seen in many animals and have been thought to 
have survival value.

We suggest a cognitive-behavior-genetics model of end motivation. Because of 
genetic variations, individuals may differ in how much they enjoy each end 
goal. For example, variations in genetic variables may cause some people to 
experience sex as more pleasurable than do others. Beliefs about the personal 
consequences of sex, as well as other learning experiences, may add or subtract 
from the individual's total enjoyment. For example, the belief that sex is a 
sin and past punishment of sexual behavior should subtract from the person's 
overall enjoyment of sex. The net effect is the extent to which the individual 
enjoys sex relative to other people, which we call the person's "sensitivity" 
to sex. People who enjoy sex more than others should have high libido.

Anxiety sensitivity is another case in point. All humans inherit genes that 
cause anxiety to be experienced as aversive and motivate flight from feared 
objects. Beliefs about the personal consequences of experiencing anxiety, 
however, vary from one person to the next, causing significant net differences 
in an individual's sensitivity to anxiety (McNally, 1994; Reiss, 1997; Taylor, 
1995). Researchers have recently found that anxiety sensitivity (a cognitive 
modification of the instinct to flee) is an early risk factor for spontaneous 
panic attacks (Schmidt, Lerew, & Jackson, 1997).

Similar assumptions can be made for each of the 15 fundamental motives 
identified by the results of these studies. Because power has survival value 
and leadership is seen in animals, there may be a genetic basis to how much a 
person enjoys power. Beliefs about the consequences of power, as well as 
conditioning experiences, may combine to modify the person's enjoyment of 
power. The net effect is the person's sensitivity to power, which is one motive 
that the Reiss Profiles purport to measure.

One of the many potential applications of these scales for future research is 
to study the relative contribution of genetics and environment to end 
motivation. Using established research designs in behavior genetics, it should 
be possible to conduct research designed to estimate the extent to which 
fundamental goals and sensitivities have genetic components.

Why should clinical psychologists care about any of this? They should care 
because the potential implications are significant for early diagnosis, 
prevention, and treatment of mental illness. Look at the emerging implications 
of the concept of anxiety sensitivity, for example. Clinical psychologists soon 
may predict spontaneous panic attacks years before they occur (Maller & Reiss, 
1992; Schmidt et al., 1997) and soon may be able to predict panic attacks in 
adulthood on the basis of data obtained in childhood (see Silverman, Fleisig, 
Rabian, & Peterson, 1991). Early identification of mental illness is an 
important first step in the prevention of a disorder.

In order to exemplify the type of information these instruments generate, a 
profile obtained using the MR/DD instrument is shown in Figure 1. This profile 
is shown for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered as 
evidence for the validity of the instrument, because we do not yet know how 
typical the profile is of the indicated diagnostic condition. This profile for 
a person with both MR/DD and major depression reveals little desire for most 
fundamental motivators, which is consistent with clinical descriptions of 
depressed people as being disinterested in enjoyable activities. Motivational 
profiles such as this one cannot be obtained from any prior instrument, 
partially because few prior instruments assess more than one motivational 

Figure 1. Motivational profile of an individual diagnosed with mental 
and major depression.

Clinicians should be able to use these scales for purposes as diverse as 
selecting reinforcers in applied behavior analysis to planning intervention 
strategies in cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling. According to 
sensitivity theory, the people who are called mentally ill often behave in 
unusual ways because they do not care about the same things as everybody else, 
at least not to the same degree. They may not care about anything (e.g., as 
with depression), they may care too much about something (e.g., as with 
compulsive behavior or phobias), or they may care about unusual things (e.g., 
as with schizophrenia). As Ellis (1987) has emphasized, mental illness often is 
associated with a disturbance in caring, and these scales are the first to 
assess caring comprehensively. People with low scores on the Social Prestige 
factor should present as indifferent to what others think about them; people 
with high scores for Power should be highly ambitious; people with high scores 
for Citizenship should be social idealists, perhaps easily depressed over the 
injustices in the world. Using cognitive-behavioral therapy and other 
techniques, psychologists may effectively treat disturbances in caring, leading 
to significant improvements in the person's adjustment.

After these scales are validated, researchers will be able to obtain the first 
ever profiles of end motives of various diagnostic groups. By definition, 
motives precede behavior. If the fundamental end motives underlying aberrant 
behavior could be measured objectively, it may be possible to identify risk for 
aberrant behavior much earlier than has previously been possible.

This investigation provided evidence of 15 psychometrically distinct end 
motives. This number is 12 to 14 more than is recognized in social 
psychological theories of intrinsic motivation. For example, Deci (1975) 
defined intrinsic motivation as engaging in behavior for its own sake; reviewed 
the literature on intrinsic motivation in terms of stimulus novelty motives, 
such as exploration, curiosity, and play; and proposed that all intrinsic 
motivation is self-determination. Deci's (1975) position implies that the 
concept of engaging in an activity for its own sake defines a single unitary 
phenomenon. However, the factor results of the present investigation provide 
evidence of 15 distinguishable fundamental (intrinsic) motives. Future 
researchers should study this discrepancy and determine the extent to which 
Deci's viewpoint can be substantiated by psychometric science.


American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of
mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Asmundson, G. J. G., & Taylor, S. (1996). Role of anxiety sensitivity in
pain-related fear and avoidance. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 19, 573-582.

Bihm, E. M., Poindexter, A. R., Kienlen, T., & Smith, B. L. (1992). Staff
perceptions of reinforcer responsiveness and aberrant behavior in people with
mental retardation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 22, 83-93.

Darwin, C. (1965). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. Chicago:
The University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1872).

Deci, E. L. (1975). Intrinsic motivation. New York: Plenum Press.

Ellis, A. (1987). The impossibility of achieving consistently good mental
health. American Psychologist, 42, 364-375. Ovid Full Text Bibliographic Links

Jackson, D. N. (1984). Personality research form manual. Port Huron, MI:
Research Psychologists Press.

James, W. (1950). The principles of psychology (Vol. 2). New York: Dover.
(Original work published 1890)

Maller, R. G., & Reiss, S. (1992). Anxiety sensitivity in 1984 and panic 
in 1987. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 6, 241-247. Full Text Bibliographic 

McDougall, W. (1926). An introduction to social psychology. Boston: John W.

McNally, R. J. (1994). Panic disorder. New York: Guilford Press.

Murray, H. A. (1938). Explorations in personality. New York: Oxford University

Murray, H. A. (1943). Manual of the Thematic Apperception Test. New York: 
University Press.

Reiss, S. (1990). The development of a screening measure for psychopathology in
people with mental retardation. In E. Dibble & D. B. Gray (Eds.), Assessment of
behavior problems in persons with mental retardation living in the community
(pp. 107-118; DHHS Publication No. ADM 90-1642). Rockville, MD: National
Institute of Mental Health.

Reiss, S. (1994). Handbook of challenging behavior: Mental health aspects of
mental retardation. Worthington, OH: IDS Publishing.

Reiss, S. (1997). Trait anxiety: It's not what you think it is. Journal of
Anxiety Disorders, 11, 201-214. Full Text Bibliographic Links

Reiss, S. (in press). The sensitivity theory of aberrant motivation. In S.
Taylor (Ed.), Anxiety sensitivity. New York: Erlbaum.

Reiss, S., & Havercamp, S. H. (1996). The sensitivity theory of motivation:
Implications for psychopathology. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 34, 621-632.

Reiss, S., & Havercamp, S. H. (1997). Sensitivity theory and mental 
Why functional analysis is not enough. American Journal of Mental Retardation,
101, 553-566.

Reiss, S., & McNally, R. J. (1985). The expectancy model of fear. In S. Reiss &
R. R. Bootzin (Eds.), Theoretical issues in behavior therapy (pp. 107-121). New
York: Academic Press.

Reiss, S., Peterson, R. A., Gursky, D. M., & McNally, R. J. (1986). Anxiety
sensitivity, anxiety frequency, and the prediction of fearfulness. Behaviour
Research and Therapy, 26, 341-345.

Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Exploration on the
meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 57, 1069-1081.

Schmidt, N. B., Lerew, D. R., & Jackson, R. L. (1997). The role of anxiety
sensitivity in the pathogenesis of panic: Prospective evaluation of spontaneous
panic attacks during acute stress. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106, 

Silverman, W. K., Fleisig, W., Rabian, R., & Peterson, R. A. (1991). Childhood
Anxiety Sensitivity Index. Journal of Child Clinical Psychology, 20, 162-168.

SPSS (1995). Statistical Package for the Social Sciences for Windows version 7.
0 users guide. Old Tappan, NJ: Prentice Hall.

SPSS (1997). Systat 7.0: Statistics. Old Tappan, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Taylor, S. (1995). Anxiety sensitivity: Theoretical perspectives and recent
findings. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33, 243-258.

Tucker, L. R., Koopman, R. F., & Linn, R. L. (1969). Evaluation of factor
analytic research procedures by means of simulated correlation matrices.
Psychometrika, 34, 421-459. Bibliographic Links

Zigler, E. (1997, May). Assessing personality traits of individuals with mental
retardation: Introducing a new measure. Paper presented at the annual meeting 
the American Association on Mental Retardation, New York, NY.

Zubin, J., Eron, L. D., & Schumer, F. (1965). An experimental approach to
projective techniques. New York: Wiley.

1There are significant similarities and dissimilarities between the 
concepts of fundamental and intrinsic motivation. On the one hand, both 
concepts express the idea of engaging in an activity for its own sake. On 
the other hand, many researchers also use the term intrinsic motivation to 
express the idea of locus of control and to refer to the stimulus novelty 
motives. For example, intrinsic motivation has been used to refer to 
exploration, learning, play, and personal freedom (Deci, 1975). In 
contrast, the concept of fundamental motivation gives emphasis to the idea 
of an end purpose rather than a locus of control. It implies a 
comprehensive list of end purposes, such as family, vengeance, power, 
honor, food, sex, and so on.

2We express our gratitude to Ellen Langer and Rolf A. Peterson for their 

3All exploratory factor analyses reported herein were performed using 
Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS; 1995) for Windows 
version 7.0. Confirmatory factor analyses were performed using the RAMONA 
program available in Systat 7.0 for Windows (SPSS, 1997).

4Murray's (1938) influential list of human needs was essentially a 
psychodynamic reinterpretation of lists previously generated by instinct 
theorists. As Murray (1938) himself stated, "This classification of needs 
is not very different from lists constructed by McDougall, Garnett, and a 
number of other writers" (p. 84). The results of this investigation match 
more closely the details of prior lists than the one published by Murray 

We thank the following people and agencies for their assistance in 
collection of data: Ray Anderson (VOCA Corporation), Stephen Becker (Arc 
of Greater Hartford), Nicholas Bouras, Sharon Davis (Arc of the United 
States), Henry Deutsch (Keystone Residences), Arthur Dykstra (Trinity 
Services), Steven Fast (Day, Berry, & Howard), Madalyn Fotovich, W. I. 
Fraser, Nancy Guriati (Argo Community High School), Alan Havercamp 
(Davenport Kiwanis Club), Margo Izzo (Ohio State University), Porter 
Laird, Gregory Mathews, Terrence McNelis (National Association on Dual 
Diagnosis), Barry Mitnick (University of Pittsburgh), Estelle Musico 
(owner-operator with McDonald's Corporation), Paul E. Panek (Ohio State 
University Newark Campus), Martha Owens, Rolf A. Peterson (George 
Washington University), Susan Sherwood (Franklin County Board of Mental 
Retardation and Developmental Disabilities), Van Silka (Project Start), 
Scott Spreat, Edward Sterling (Ohio State University), Henry Svec, Joseph 
Szyszko (ISDD Mental Health Program), Denise Valenti-Hein, Mandy Williams 
(Argo Community High School), and David Wehmeyer (Arc of the United 

More information about the paleopsych mailing list