Motivation and Behaviour: The Reiss Motivation Profile

What the Reiss Motivation Profile measures.

Philosophers and Psychologists have been trying to explain what makes us tick from Plato to Freud to Maslow. In the previous parts of this site we have looked at type based models and now we will look at a model based on traits. Dr. Steven Reiss has taken an approach based on scientific research of over 10,000 surveys with ordinary people across a wide spectrum of life situations. The result is a comprehensive, standardized, objectively validated instrument that assesses 16 basic psychological needs.

How the Reiss Profile is used:

Reiss’s book “Who Am I?”

Every individual has some proportion of all 16 basic needs. Dr. Reiss was looking to understand values based happiness. What he discovered is that how a person prioritizes the 16 needs can predict their behaviour... whether the person will be an organ donor, how they will respond in school, in romantic situations or with regard to religion.

This research on this profile is laid out in a very accessible format in Reiss’s book “Who Am I? The 16 Basic Desires that Motivate our Actions and Define our Personalities” There are 3 basic themes in the book.

  • First, every need, want that we have can be reduced to 16 desires. Reiss openly offers to amend these desires by adding another if anyone can prove the need for another core desire.
  • Secondly, every person has a relationship with all 16 of these desires... having a high desire, being in a neutral range or having a low desire in each area. “How we prioritize these desires is what makes us individuals,” Reiss said.
  • The third principle is that contrasting values are what is at the root of a lot of misunderstandings and conflict between individuals. One chapter “I don’t get it and neither do you” explores this source of miscommunication. No amount of additional information or explanation solves the problem of conflicting desires. In fact it may aggravate the issue especially when someone sees their version of reality as the way things ought to be done.

The Reiss Profile is a self assessment and is therefore as accurate as each persons understanding of how they really operate. Often we report our behaviour as we wish we were and it takes some time in working with the desires to get clear on how we truly behave. Even though there is no right or wrong attached to any desire in theory, many of us have ideas of how things ought to be. We may have judgments about vengeance or honour or any desire in fact and may find it difficult to accept ourselves as we are.

A further look at the model:

The 16 basic psychological needs are:

Power, the need for influence of will
Independence, the need for individuality
Curiosity, the need to think
Acceptance, the need for approval
Order, the need for organized, stable, predictable environments
Saving, the need to collect
Honour, the need to be loyal to the traditional values of one's clan
Idealism, the need for social justice
Social Contact, the need for friends (peer relationships)
Family, the need to raise children
Status, the need for social standing/importance
Vengeance, the need to strike back
Romance, the need for sex
Eating, the need for food
Physical Activity, the need for exercise
Tranquility, the need to be safe

Discover your profile of motivational sensitivities for $149 USD in a 2 step process

  • by purchasing the official online assessment and
  • by emailing me to receive instructions for the assessment and to arrange a debrief by phone or Skype to consider how to apply this information to your next steps.
Also: Email me in order to and/or to buy a digital download of Inner Landscapes - the guide to the Reiss which has an explanation and an illustration for each desire.

See also: Other Assessments.