The RMP is "The Science of Motivation®"
This is the first in a series of articles summarizing the research that
established the Reiss Motivation Profile® as “The Science of
The RMP is the first – and may be the only – scientifically developed,
comprehensive test of what motivates an individual. After being
diagnosed with a life threatening illness in 1995, Professor Steven
Reiss began thinking about what made his life meaningful - what was
important to him - what motivated his behavior. Realizing that the field
of motivation lacked a standardized measure, he spent the next several
years developing a psychological test that explains why people do what
The RMP was developed empirically. Professor Reiss did not start with
preconceived notions of what motivates people. Instead, he started with
more than 500 items reflecting every imaginable goal that might drive
behavior. After paring this list to 328 items by eliminating
redundancies, he 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. Along with another study led
by graduate student Susan M. Havercamp, the end result of the research
was 16 scales, each comprised of eight items, that defined the universal
goals motivating each of us.
Over the next several years Professor Reiss and his colleagues conducted
further research to establish the reliability and validity of each of
the RMP scales. The initial research as well as the subsequent studies
passed independent peer review for publication in scientific journals.
Additional evidence for the test’s reliability and validity was provided
by four independent researchers at universities in Canada, Poland, and
the United States.
Professor Reiss’s first journal article on the RMP, which was published
with Havercamp, summarized the results of five studies that were used to
develop and then refine the initial questionnaire.
Professor Reiss’s purpose in conducting these studies, which took years
to complete, was to advance knowledge about the universal goals that
motivate everyone. Most, if not all, other tests in the field of
motivation were created for commercial purposes, which necessitates
taking shortcuts in the development process so the product can be
brought to market quickly. One common shortcut is to start
with preconceived notions of intrinsic motivators and then to write
items to assess those predetermined motives. This is not the
process that was followed with the Reiss Motivation
Profile®. Rather, Professor Reiss developed the RMP
scientifically by allowing data, not preconceived ideas, to identify the
basic needs of human nature.
- In Study 1 a
328-item questionnaire was administered individually and anonymously to
a diverse sample of 401 adolescents and adults from six sources.
Exploratory factor analysis revealed 15 scales, with few items loading
on multiple factors. For all studies, an item was retained only if it
had a loading of at least .3 on just one scale.
- Study 2 retained
68 items, modified 42 items, and added 110 new items, for a total of
220 items. Based on 380 new subjects from nine sources, exploratory
factor analysis suggested 17 scales as the best fit for the data.
- Study 3 included
341 new subjects from 14 sources. Of the 187 items, 89 were retained
from the previous study, 24 were reworded, and 74 were
new. Exploratory factor analysis indicated 15 scales as the
best fit for the data.
- Study 4 retained
118 items and added three new items, for a total of 121 items.
Confirmatory factor analysis of data based on 398 new subjects from six
sources provided evidence for a robust 15-factor structure. The
Cronbach’s alpha coefficients ranged from .74 to .92, with a median of
.82, which is considered to be “good” internal reliability.
- Study 5 assessed
test-retest reliability in a sample of 31 undergraduate students who
completed the questionnaire on two occasions with a time interval of two
weeks. Based on a significance level of p < .01, Pearson product
moment coefficients for the 15 scales ranged from .80 to .96, with a
mean of .83. These findings provided evidence for the
stability of the scale scores over time.
To read the complete article, click here.
Reiss, S., & Havercamp, S.M. (1998). Toward a comprehensive
assessment of fundamental motivation: Factor structure of the Reiss
Profiles. Psychological Assessment, 10, 97-106.
Maggi M. Reiss, President
IDS Publishing Corporation
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