15-Sep-2020

The RMP is The Science of Motivation® (Part 3)

This is the third in a series of articles summarizing the research that established the Reiss Motivation Profile® as “The Science of Motivation®.”  

Professor Steven Reiss, together with graduate student Susan M. Havercamp, conducted three studies to evaluate the RMP’s four-week test-retest reliability, internal reliability, concurrent validity, and criterion validity. The studies were designed to answer these questions: Over time, do people consistently report the same life goals? To what extent do people tend to report the life goals they think others may value rather than the ones they themselves value? Does self-reported motivation correlate with real-world behavior?

Study 1

Subjects
The subjects were 123 undergraduate students (44 males and 79 females). None of the subjects had participated in any prior studies on the RMP. 
 
Procedure
The RMP was administered anonymously to each subject on two separate occasions four weeks apart.
 
Results
Pearson product-moment correlations ranged from .69 to .88, with a mean of .80. According to commonly-accepted statistical standards, these results indicated the RMP has “good” test-retest reliability.
 
Study 2

Subjects
The subjects were 171 undergraduate students about equally divided between males and females.  None of the subjects had participated in any previous studies on the RMP.
 
Procedure
Five measures were administered to small groups of subjects in randomized order. In addition to the RMP, the subjects completed the:

  • Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (MC-SDS), which measures a tendency to endorse items that are culturally approved
  • Dominance scale of the Jackson Personality Research Form (PRF), which assesses traits such as assertive, persuasive, and directing
  • Order scale of the Jackson PRF, which assesses traits such as organized, methodical, and neat
  • Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI), which predicts traits such as fearfulness and worry.

Results
Data from Studies 1 and 2 were combined to calculate the internal reliability for each RMP scale. The Cronbach alpha coefficients ranged from .79 to .94, with a mean of .88, thus demonstrating “good” internal reliability.  
 
Pearson product-moment correlations between the MC-SDS and the RMP ranged from .01 to .39, with a mean of .16. These results indicated that responses on the RMP are minimally affected by social desirability. In other words, people respond to the RMP items based on the goals they value – not on what they think are the goals valued by society.  
 
The RMP Power scale, defined as the desire for influence of will, correlated .55 with the Dominance scale of the PRF. The RMP Order scale, defined as the desire for structure and stability, correlated .60 with the Order scale of the PRF. The RMP Tranquility scale, defined as the desire to avoid experiencing anxiety and pain, correlated .58 with the ASI. These findings provided evidence for the concurrent validity of the three RMP scales of Power, Order, and Tranquility.  
 
Study 3

Subjects
The subjects were 470 members of eight criterion groups and 737 members of a comparison group. The subjects in the criterion groups had not participated in any previous studies on the RMP. The comparison group consisted of a diverse group of subjects whose RMP data had been gathered during prior studies. 
 
Procedure
The subjects completed the RMP anonymously.
 
Results
1.  Greeks (Criterion Group 1)

  • The term “Greeks” refers to college students who join fraternities or sororities, which offer the promise of friendship and fun parties. Since the RMP Social Contact scale is defined as the desire for companionship with peers, it was predicted that Greeks would score high on this scale, a prediction that was confirmed. Greeks scored significantly higher on the desire for Social Contact as compared with subjects in the seven other criterion groups. Greeks’ mean standard score also was higher than that of the comparison group. The findings provided evidence for the criterion validity of the Social Contact scale.
  • Fraternities and sororities aim to recruit popular students, and the students who respond to the recruitment efforts tend to be those for whom popularity is important. Since the RMP Status scale is defined as the desire for respect based on social standing, it was predicted that Greeks would score high on this scale. As predicted, Greeks’ mean standard score for Status was significantly higher than that of the comparison group. The findings demonstrated support for the criterion validity of the Status scale.
  • The recruitment materials published by fraternities and sororities suggest that these organizations are interested in attracting campus leaders as members.  Since the RMP Power scale is defined as the desire for influence of will, it was predicted that Greeks would score high on this scale, a prediction that was confirmed.  Greeks’ mean standard score for Power was significantly higher than that of the comparison group. The findings provided evidence for the criterion validity of the Power scale.

2.  Philosophers (Criterion Group 2)

  • Biographical data suggest that many philosophers are highly curious individuals. Since the RMP Curiosity scale is defined as the desire for understanding, it was predicted that college students majoring in philosophy would score high on this scale. As predicted, Philosophers’ mean standard score for Curiosity was significantly higher than that of the comparison group. The findings demonstrated support for the criterion validity of the Curiosity scale.

3.  ROTC (Criterion Group 3)

  • Historically, military officers have placed high value on honor codes.  Since the RMP Honor scale is defined as the desire for upright character, it was predicted that college students who were members of ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) would score high on this scale. The prediction was confirmed for males, who comprised 83% of the ROTC members, but not for females. The mean standard score for Honor for male ROTC members was statistically higher than that for male subjects in the comparison group. These findings offered mixed support for the criterion validity of the Honor scale.
  • College students must be physically fit to quality for ROTC, and therefore such students are likely to value and enjoy exercise. Since the RMP Physical Activity scale is defined as the desire for muscle exercise, it was predicted that ROTC members would score high on this scale, a prediction that was confirmed. ROTC members’ mean standard score for Physical Activity was significantly higher than that of the comparison group. The findings provided evidence for the criterion validity of the Physical Activity scale.
  • ROTC recruits college students who are interested in becoming military leaders. Since the RMP Power scale is defined as the desire for influence of will, which includes the desire for leadership, it was predicted that ROTC members would score high on this scale. As predicted, ROTC members’ mean standard score for Power was significantly higher than that of the comparison group. The findings demonstrated support for the criterion validity of the Power scale.

4.  Athletes (Criterion Group 4)

  • Playing a sport requires considerable muscle exercise. Since the RMP Physical Activity scale is defined as the desire for muscle exercise, it was predicted that varsity athletes would score high on this scale, a prediction that was confirmed. Athletes’ mean standard score for Physical Activity was significantly higher than that of the comparison group. The findings provided evidence for the criterion validity of the Physical Activity scale. 

5.  Dieters (Criterion Group 5) 

  • People who are obese tend to have hearty appetites. Since the RMP Eating scale is defined as the desire to consume food, it was predicted that dieters would score high on this scale. As predicted, Dieters’ mean standard score for Eating was significantly higher than that of the comparison group. The findings demonstrated support for the criterion validity of the Eating scale.
  • People who are obese tend to be physically inactive. Since the RMP Physical Activity scale is defined as the desire for muscle exercise, it was predicted that Dieters would score low on this scale. Although Dieters’ mean standard score for Physical Activity was one of the lowest among the criterion groups, it was not significantly lower than that of the comparison group.

6.  Volunteers (Criterion Group 6)

  • This criterion group was comprised of members of the Peace Corps and Habitat for Humanity, two organizations that are dedicated to helping people in need. Since the RMP Idealism scale is defined as the desire for social justice, which includes humanitarian efforts, it was predicted that Volunteers would score high on this scale, a prediction that was confirmed. Volunteers’ mean standard score for Idealism was significantly above the norm. The findings provided evidence for the criterion validity of the Idealism scale.
  • Volunteers serve the needy, not the wealthy, and often do so with little or no pay. Since the RMP Status scale is defined as the desire for respect based on social standing, which often includes the embracing of materialistic values, it was predicted that Volunteers would score low on this scale. As predicted, Volunteers’ mean standard score for Status was significantly below the norm. The findings demonstrated support for the criterion validity of the Status scale. 

7.  Culinary Students (Criterion Group 7)

  • People with hearty appetites may be likely to develop an interest in becoming a professional chef. Since the RMP Eating scale is defined as the desire to consume food, it was predicted that Culinary Students would score high on this scale, a prediction that was confirmed. Culinary Students’ mean average score for Eating was significantly above the norm. The findings provided evidence for the criterion validity of the Eating scale. 

8.  Seminary Students (Criterion Group 8)

  • According to college ministers, Protestant seminary schools attract many young people with a strong interest in helping the downtrodden. Since the RMP Idealism scale is defined as the desire for social justice, which includes humanitarian efforts, it was predicted that Seminary Students would score high on this scale. As predicted, Seminary Students’ mean standard score for Idealism was significantly above the norm. The findings demonstrated support for the criterion validity of the Idealism scale.
  • The pursuit of wealth is not a common motive for joining the clergy. Since the RMP Status scale is defined as the desire for respect based on social standing, which often includes the embracing of materialistic values, it was predicted that Seminary Students would score low on this scale, a prediction that was confirmed. Seminary Students’ mean standard score for Status was significantly below the norm. The findings provided evidence for the criterion validity of the Status scale.
  • Many religious writers have described the need for psychological support as an intrinsic joy. Since the RMP Independence scale is defined as the desire for self-reliance, it was predicted that Seminary Students would score low on this scale. As predicted, Seminary Students’ mean standard score for Independence was significantly below the norm. The findings demonstrated support for the criterion validity of the Independence scale.
  • Clergy often preach about the importance of traditional morality such as that exemplified by the Ten Commandments. Since the RMP Honor scale is defined as the desire for upright character, it was predicted that Seminary Students would score high on this scale. In fact, Seminary Students’ mean standard score was not statistically different from the norm, thus indicating that these future clergy reported only typical interest in moral values. This result did not support the prediction of greater than average motivation for moral conduct for this criterion group.

Taken together, the findings of these three studies provided strong evidence for the:

  • Test-retest reliability for each of the RMP scales
  • Internal reliability for each of the RMP scales 
  • Minimal influence of social desirability on test takers’ responses to the RMP 
  • Concurrent validity of the Order, Power, and Tranquility scales
  • Criterion validity of the Curiosity, Eating, Idealism, Independence, Physical Activity, Power, Social Contact, and Status scales.

In summary, the researchers were able to answer the questions that guided their studies:
 
1.  The RMP’s “good” test-retest reliability suggests that people’s self-reported life goals remain stable over time. 
 
2.  As demonstrated by the minimal influence of social desirability on test takers’ responses to the RMP, people generally report the life goals they themselves value, not the ones they think others may value.
 
3.  The criterion validity established for eight RMP scales indicates that people’s self-reported motives predict their actual behavior.
 
 
To read the complete article, click here

Havercamp, S.M., & Reiss, S. (2003). A comprehensive assessment of human strivings: Test-retest reliability and validity of the Reiss Profile. Journal of Personality Assessment81(1), 123-132.
 

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