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