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The RMP is "The Science of Motivation®"

                             (Part 4)        


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

Professor Steven Reiss’s theory of motivation predicts that individuals should prefer to watch the television shows that arouse the joys most important to them. For example, people who have a strong desire for Social Contact should be particularly interested in programs that portray friendship and fun, while people who have a strong desire for Vengeance should especially enjoy shows featuring conflict and competition. If the theory of 16 basic desires is valid, it should be possible to develop motivational profiles of viewers of particular types of television programs.

Using the RMP, Professor Reiss and his colleague James Wiltz studied the motives of viewers of reality television programs, defined as shows in which ordinary people – not professional actors – are the main characters. They predicted that the viewers’ rank ordering of the 16 basic desires would be significantly different from normative rankings. Further, they predicted that the more reality television shows watched, the greater would be the difference between the motivational profiles of the viewers and those of a normative group.

Subjects
The subjects were a diverse group of 239 adults (167 women and 72 men) who were recruited from three sources.

Procedure
In addition to completing the RMP, subjects were asked to rate their enjoyment of a variety of activities such as travel, sports, music, and reality television shows. The questions about reality television were embedded in a more general survey of leisure activities so as to disguise the researchers’ true purpose. Subjects completed the questionnaires anonymously and individually.

Results
By far, the largest significant effect was for the Status motive. The mean standard score for Status for people who enjoyed reality television was significantly higher than that of a normative group. Further, the more reality television shows a person liked, the higher was the person’s score on the RMP Status scale. These findings confirmed the researchers’ predictions.

The second largest significant difference concerned the Vengeance motive. People who enjoyed reality television shows scored higher on the RMP Vengeance scale than did people who did not watch such shows.

Significant but small differences were found for the motives of Romance, Social Contact, Honor, and Order. Compared to people who did not watch any reality television programs, individuals who liked two or more reality television shows tended to be more motivated by romance, peer companionship, and structure – and less motivated by morality.

Discussion
Why would people with a strong need for Status watch more reality television shows that do people with an average or weak need for this basic desire? The basic desire for Status is defined as the desire for respect based on social standing. Individuals with a strong desire for Status like to feel important, are impressed with fame and popularity, and often embrace materialistic values. The message in reality television – that millions of people are interested in watching the experiences of ordinary folks – implies that ordinary people are important enough to become celebrities, a message that should resonate with individuals who score high on the RMP Status scale.

Why would people with a strong need for Vengeance watch more reality television programs than do people with an average or weak need for this basic desire? The basic desire for Vengeance is defined as the desire to confront those who frustrate or offend us. Individuals with a strong desire for Vengeance are combative, enjoy competition, and place great value on winning. Reality television shows portray people who are engaged in competitions, focused on winning, and often in conflict with others, themes that should resonate with individuals who score high on the RMP Vengeance scale.
 
Conclusion
The study was successful in identifying the typical motives that characterize viewers of reality television. The broader implication, though, is that the RMP can be used to develop reliable motivational profiles of viewers of particular types of television programs. The significance of the study, therefore, is its suggestion of a valid methodology for conducting productive research in the fields of mass culture and communications.
 
Maggi M. Reiss, President
IDS Publishing Corporation
 
For more information, click the link to read:
 
Reiss, S., & Wiltz, J. (2004). Why people watch reality TV. Media Psychology6, 363-378.

http://www.uky.edu/~dlowe2/documents/3.ReissandWiltz2004RealityTV.pdf
 
© Copyright 2020.  IDS Publishing Corporation.  All rights reserved.
 
 
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