What Makes Us Tick?

Deep down, what motivates you? What aspects of your life are most meaningful to you? What goals drive your behavior?

Professor Steven Reiss answered these questions in a unique way – scientifically. He asked thousands of people from different cultures and diverse backgrounds about their intrinsic motives. Although scholars had spent centuries studying human nature, Reiss was the first to conduct large-scale, scientific surveys of our human purposes and psychological needs.

The result of Reiss’s work is the first comprehensive, standardized measure of what motivates an individual. The Reiss Motivation Profile® (RMP) assesses the 16 basic desires that are deeply rooted in human nature and that are intrinsic to all of us. These goals are common not only to all people but also to our nearer relatives in the animal world – goals such as the consumption of food, avoidance of danger, the company of peers, triumph over opponents, and leadership among our companions.

What makes the RMP “The Science of Motivation®?” Unlike other tests in the field, Professor Reiss did not use an a priori approach. That is, he did not start with a list of motives and then write items to assess those motives. Rather, he developed the RMP using an empirical (scientific) approach. The initial draft of the questionnaire included more than 500 items reflecting every imaginable goal that might motivate someone. After paring this list to 328 items by eliminating redundancies, Reiss conducted a series of studies with four separate samples of subjects in which he used a statistical technique called factor analysis to interpret the data. The end result was 16 scales, each comprised of eight items. In short, Reiss allowed data to determine the list of motives, not his own musings.

Reiss’s studies on the reliability and validity of the RMP passed stringent peer review for publication in scientific journals. The test also has been validated by independent researchers in Canada, Finland, and Poland in addition to the United States.

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