This is the second in a series of articles summarizing the research that established the Reiss Motivation Profile® as “The Science of Motivation®.”
Professor Steven Reiss, together with colleagues James Wiltz and Michael Sherman, used his newly-developed RMP to evaluate motivational differences between college students who played zero, one, and two high school or college varsity sports. The purpose of the study was to identify the motives that are most relevant to sports participation in adolescents and young adults. It was predicted that a strong desire for Physical Activity would be the primary motive characteristic of athletes.
The subjects were 415 undergraduate students (260 males and 155 females) divided into three groups – those who participated in zero (n = 96), one (n = 108), or two or more varsity sports (n = 211).
Athleticism was found to be positively associated with the basic desires for Physical Activity, Family, Social Contact, Power, and Vengeance. Compared to subjects who did not play a sport, athletes who participated in at least one varsity sport placed significantly greater value on exercise, parenting, peer companionship, achievement, and competition. As predicted, the strongest correlation was between the number of sports played and the intrinsic enjoyment of muscle movement, a finding that provided evidence for the criterion validity of the RMP Physical Activity scale.
Number of sports played was found to be negatively associated with the basic desire for Curiosity. This result suggests that students who participate in varsity sports may be less interested in academics than students who are non-athletes.
According to the researchers, the study’s findings indicate common motivational correlates of a diverse number of sports, but not necessarily for specific sports. For example, a strong desire for Social Contact may be more characteristic of athletes who play team sports such as soccer compared to those who participate in individual sports such as bicycling.
In conclusion, this study supported the relevance of the Reiss Motivation Profile® for assessing what motivates athletes.
To read the complete article, click here.
Reiss, S., Wiltz, J., & Sherman, M. (2001). Trait motivational correlates of athleticism. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 1139-1145.