, William Aflleje2
and I used the Reiss Motivation Profile® for Business to assess the
basic desires that characterize high-achieving women. We predicted that
women who stated they were focused mostly on professional achievement
would score significantly higher on the RMP Power scale as compared to
women who indicated they were focused mostly on other priorities.
The subjects were 66 adult women who responded to our invitation to
complete a survey about what is important to them. Survey invitations
were posted on a variety of social media that drew respondents from
diverse sources such as alumnae of women’s colleges, women who had
participated in a university engineering project, listeners to
podcasts on the environment, readers of Forbes blogs, and women who were
followers of the first author on Linkedin and Twitter. The mean
age of the subjects was 48. Fifty-seven of the respondents
listed the United States as their country of residence; the other nine
subjects were from Australia, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Malaysia,
Romania, Singapore, and Sweden.
Each subject completed the RMP for Business anonymously and then answered this forced-choice question:
I view myself as:
______focused mostly on priorities other than professional achievement.
______focused mostly on being high achieving in my professional career.
Thirty-four subjects answered “focused mostly on priorities other than
professional achievement,” while 32 respondents chose “focused mostly on
being high achieving in my professional career.”
Two statistical tests were used to compare the mean scores of the two
groups on each of the 16 basic desires assessed by the RMP: the t-test
and the Wilcoxon Signed-Rank test. The t-test assumes that RMP scores
are normally distributed, which is the assumption made by Professor
Steven Reiss, and the Wilcoxon is an alternative test used when there
may be some uncertainty about how scores are distributed.
Compared to women in the “other-focused” group, women in the
“career-focused” group scored significantly higher, on average, on the
basic desire for Power (p < .03 on both the t-test and the Wilcoxon).
This finding confirmed our prediction, thus providing evidence for the
criterion validity of the RMP Power scale.
Status was the motive that most strongly discriminated the two groups.
The “career-focused” women’s average score for Status was more than six
points higher than the average score for the “other-focused” women (p
< 0.003 on the t-test and p < .002 on the
The motive of Curiosity also discriminated the two groups, with the
“career-focused” women scoring significantly higher, on average, than
the “other-focused” women (p < .03 on the t-test and p < .04 on
There were no statistically significant differences between the means of
the two groups on the other 13 basic desires assessed by the RMP.
The RMP Power scale is defined as the desire for influence of will. This
motive drives hard work, determination, the need for achievement, and
the desire for leadership. People with high scores on Power value
competence, productivity, and excellence. They seek challenges, work
long hours to accomplish their goals, and may assume leadership roles.
In short, the Power scale assesses how much an individual values
achievement. It was predicted, therefore, that women who stated they are
focused mostly on being high achieving in their professional careers
would score significantly higher on the basic desire for Power, as
compared to women who indicated they are focused mostly on other
priorities, a prediction that was confirmed.
The RMP Status scale is defined as the desire for respect based on
social standing. It motivates people to value wealth, fame, and
prestige. People with high scores on Status like to feel important. They
often embrace materialistic values and thus are motivated to acquire
symbols of wealth. Some place great value on their reputation, and some
choose a profession based on its perceived level of prestige. Given that
an individual’s professional role often determines his or her social
standing, it is not surprising that the “career-focused” women scored
significantly higher for Status than did the “other-focused” women.
The RMP Curiosity scale is defined as the desire for understanding.
People with high scores on Curiosity value theoretical knowledge and
ideas. They embrace intellectual pursuits, like to analyze complex
issues, and generally enjoy a wide range of intellectual interests. In
short, they like to think. Advancement within a profession typically
provides greater opportunity to engage in analytical thinking and
problem solving. Thus, it makes sense that women who are focused mostly
on being high achieving in their professional career would score
significantly higher for Curiosity, as compared to women who are focused
mostly on other priorities.
Interestingly, the “career-focused” and “other-focused” women were
equally self-confident, as indicated by the lack of a significant
difference between the means of the two groups on the RMP Acceptance
scale. This suggests that women who are focused mostly on priorities
other than professional achievement did not choose this path because of a
fear of failure.
Another interesting finding is that the average means for the two groups
were not statistically different for the RMP Family scale, which is
defined as the desire to raise children and spend time with siblings.
This suggests that the “career-focused” women and the “other-focused”
women place similar value on parenthood.
- The data provided evidence for the criterion validity of the RMP Power scale.
findings demonstrated support for the utility of the RMP in evaluating
motivational differences between groups of individuals who report they
are focused on different life goals.
believe it would be intriguing to use the RMP to assess the basic
desires that characterize high-achieving men. This would permit an
analysis of whether or not gender differences exist in the motives of
individuals who are focused mostly on professional achievement.
Maggi M. Reiss, M.A.
President, IDS Publishing Corporation
Joan Michelson, MBA, CEO, Green Connections Media, Career Coach, Podcaster, & Forbes Contributor
William Aflleje, M.S., Statistician, Reesh LLC
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