Motivation Measures/Scales

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This document began with a summary of measures of motivation prepared by John D. Mayer & Kimberly Phillips with Great Thanks to the SPSP Listserv Responders. If you have another measure of motivation to add or comments about one of these specific measures, feel free to add it to this document.


The Nature of the Responses and Our Approach to the Original Summary

The scope of the e-mails we received varied from simple nominations of scales (or theories) to fact-filled, 1-3 paragraph descriptions of measures in the field, and the purpose, historical role, and merit of those measures.

Nominees generally suggested scales they liked or thought were important. With a few exceptions, most nominated scales were not mentioned more than once or twice, and it was sometimes unclear whether a test’s mention was a recommendation or in the context of a comparison or contrast. The nature of the responses provided an excellent basis on which to list scales of various types, but little basis on which to compare the scale’s relative significance. Additional information in the e-mails was useful to understanding how to group or classify scales; we may review some of that in the review article on which we are working, but it is not summarized here.

Our summary of responses here, rather, focuses on assembling (what we hope is) a complete list of the nominated scales. This involved, in some cases, tracking down sources for some scales beyond what was contained in the e-mails.

We believe this list is fairly exhaustive and accurate, but it is possible that, in compiling the list and adding references, we may have inadvertently omitted a scale, paired a scale with a less-than-optimal reference, or made other errors. If so, we regret it.

We hope that, even with those reservations, the overall list we now provide will be very helpful and thought-provoking to those interested in measures of motivation.

Here, then, is the list…

The List of Nominated Motivation and Motivation-Related Scales

Avoidance measures of Test Anxiety

(Mandler, George; Sarason, Seymour B. 1952). A study of anxiety and learning. Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology, 47(2), 166-173.

Behavioral Inhibition System / Behavioral Approach System

(Carver, C. S., & White, T. L. 1994). Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: The BIS/BAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 319-333.

Circumplex Scales of Interpersonal Values

(Horowitz, Leonard M.; Wilson, Kelly R.; Turan, Bulent 2006). How interpersonal motives clarify the meaning of interpersonal behavior: A revised circumplex model. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10(1), 67-86.

(Locke, K.D. 2000). Circumplex scales of interpersonal values: Reliability, validity, and applicability to interpersonal problems and personality disorders. Journal of Personality Assessment, 75, 249-267.

Current Concerns/ Concern Dimensions Questionnaire

(Please see Personal Concerns Inventory) 

Desirability of Control Scale

(Burger, Jerry M.; Cooper, Harris M. 1979). The desirability of control. Motivation and Emotion, 3(4), 381-393.

(DeNeve, Kristina M.; Cooper, Harris 1998). The happy personality: A meta-analysis of 137 personality traits and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 124(2), 197- 229.

Edwards Personal Preference Schedule

(Edwards, Allen L. 1964). The assessment of human motives by means of personality scales. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 12,135-162.

Experience Sampling of Motivation

(Weitz, Barton A.; Sujan, Harish; Sujan, Mita 1986). Knowledge, motivation, and adaptive behavior: A framework for improving selling effectiveness. Journal of Marketing, 50(4), 174-191.

Fear of Social Rejection

(Mehrabian, Albert 1994). Evidence bearing on the Affiliative Tendency (MAFF) and Sensitivity to Rejection (MSR) scales. Current Psychology: Developmental, Learning, Personality, Social, 13(2), 97-116.

General Causality Orientations Scale and Self-Regulation Questionnaires

See this website:

(Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. 1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 19, 109-134.

(Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. 2000). The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.

(Deci, Edward L.; Moller, Arlen C 2005). The Concept of Competence: A Starting Place for Understanding Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determined Extrinsic Motivation. In Handbook of competence and motivation. Elliot, Andrew J.; Dweck, Carol S.; New York, NY, US: Guilford Publications, 579-597.

(Ryan, R.M., & Connell, J.P. 1989). Perceived locus of causality and internalization: Examining reasons for acting in two domains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 749-761.

(Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. 2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68- 78.

(Sheldon, K. 2004) Optimal Human Being: An Integrated, Multi-level Perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Implicit Attitudes Scale and Other Implicit Measures (e.g., the Emotion Stroop)

(Greenwald, Anthony G.; Banaji, Mahzarin R.; Rudman, Laurie A. 2002); A unified theory of implicit attitudes, stereotypes, self-esteem, and self-concept. Psychological Review, Vol 109(1), Jan 2002. pp. 3-25.

(Williams, J. Mark G.; Mathews, Andrew; MacLeod, Colin, 1996). The emotional Stroop task and psychopathology. Psychological Bulletin, 120(1), 3-24.

(Olson, Michael A.; Fazio, Russell H. 2004). Reducing the Influence of Extrapersonal Associations on the Implicit Association Test: Personalizing the IAT. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(5), 653-667.

(Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. 1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The Implicit Association Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464–1480.

Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivational Scale in Education

(Rousseau, François L.; Vallerand, R. 2000) Does motivation mediate influence of social factors on educational consequences? Robert J.; Psychological Reports, Vol 87(3, Pt 1), Dec 2000. pp. 812-814.

Items from The Inner American (i.e., “What would you most like to overhear about yourself?”)

(Veroff, J., Douvan, E., Kulka, R.A. 1981). The inner American: a self-portrait from 1957 to 1976 (pp. 560-562). New York: Basic Books.

Motivational Influences of the Individual versus Collective Self

(Gaertner, Lowell; Sedikides, Constantine; Graetz, Kenneth 1999). In search of self- definition: Motivational primacy of the individual self, motivational primacy of the collective self, or contextual primacy? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(1), 5-18.

(Gaertner, Lowell; Sedikides, Constantine; Vivea, Jack; Iuzzini, Jonathan 2002). The “I”, the “We”, and the “When”: A Meta-Analysis of Motivational Primacy in Self- Definition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(3), 574-591.

(Sedikides, C., Skowronski, J.J., Gaertner, L. 2004). Self-enhancement and self- protection motivation: From the laboratory to an evolutionary context. Journal of Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology, 2, 61-79.

Motive Profile for the Zurich Model of Social Motivation

Schönbrodt, F.D., Unkelbach, S.R., Spinath, F.M. (2009). Broad Motives in Short Scales - A Questionnaire for the Zurich Model of Social Motivation. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 25, 141-149. doi: 10.1027/1015-5759.25.3.141 PDF

Multi-Motive Grid

(Sokolowski, K., Schmalt, H., Langens, T. A., & Puca, R. M. 2000). Assessing achievement, affiliation, and power motives all at once: The multi-motive grid (MMG). Journal of Personality Assessment, 74(1), 126-145.

Need for Closure

(Webster, DM.; Kruglanski, AW. 1994). Individual differences in need for cognitive closure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67(6), 1049-1062.

Need for Cognition

(Cacioppo, John T.; Petty, Richard E.; Feinstein, Jeffrey A. 1996). Dispositional differences in cognitive motivation: The life and times of individuals varying in need for cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 197-253.

Need for Structure

(Moskowitz, Gordon B. 1993). Individual differences in social categorization: The influence of personal need for structure on spontaneous trait inferences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(1), 132-142

(Neuberg, Steven L.; Newsom, Jason T. 1993). Personal need for structure: Individual differences in the desire for simpler structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(1), 113-131.

Need for Uncertainty (with Uncertainty orientation and authoritarianism)

(Kemmelmeier, Markus; Burnstein, Eugene; Krumov, Krum 2003). Individualism, collectivism, and authoritarianism in seven societies. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 34(3), 304-322.

(Sorrentino, Richard M.; Holmes, John G.; Hanna, Steven E. 1995). Uncertainty orientation and trust in close relationships: Individual differences in cognitive styles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(2), 314-327.

Need for Uniqueness/Independence

(Singelis, Theodore M.; Bond, Michael H.; Sharkey, William F. 1999). Unpackaging culture’s influence on self-esteem and embarrassability: The role of construals. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 30(3), 315-341.

Need to Control Prejudice

(Dunton, B.C., & Fazio, R.H. 1997). An individual difference measure of motivation to control prejudiced reactions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 316-326.

(Fazio, Russell H.; Olson, Michael A. 2003). Implicit measures in social cognition research: Their meaning and uses. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 297-327.

(Plant, E.A., & Devine, P.G. 1998). Internal and external motivation to respond without prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 811-832.

Performance and Mastery Orientations

(Elliot, Andrew J.; Church, Marcy A. 1997). A hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(1), 218-232.

(Elliot, Andrew J.; Sheldon, Kennon M.; Church, Marcy A. 1997). Avoidance personal goals and subjective well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23(9), 915- 927.

(Tice, Dianne M.; Wallace, Harry M. 2003). The reflected self: Creating yourself as (you think) others see you. In Handbook of self and identity. Leary, Mark R.; Tangney, June Price; New York, NY, US: Guilford Press, 91-105.

Personal Concerns Inventory (and Concern Dimensions Questionnaire, Motivational Structure Questionnaire)

(Cox, W. M., Heinemann, A. W., Miranti, S. V., Schmidt, M., Klinger, E., & Blount, J. 2003). Outcomes of Systematic Motivational Counseling for substance use following traumatic brain injury. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 22, 93-110.

(Cox, W. Miles; Klinger, Eric 2004). Handbook of motivational counseling: Concepts, approaches, and assessment. New York, NY, US: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

(Klinger, Eric; Barta, Steven G.; Maxeiner, Madeline E. 1980). Motivational correlates of thought content frequency and commitment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(6), 1222-1237.

(Roberson, L., Houston, J. M., & Diddams, M. 1989). Identifying valued work outcomes through a content analysis of personal goals. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 35(1), 30-45.

(Sellen, J. L., McMurran, M., Cox, W. M., Theodosi, E., & Klinger, E. 2006). The Personal Concerns Inventory (Offender Adaptation): Measuring and enhancing motivation to change. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 50, 294-305.

Personal Projects Analysis

(Little, Brian R. 1983). Personal projects: A rationale and method for investigation. Environment and Behavior, 15(3), 273-309.

Personal Strivings Assessment

(Emmons, Robert A. 1986). Personal strivings: An approach to personality and subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(5), 1058-1068.

Personality Research Form

(Jackson, D.N. 1974). Personality Research Form Manual (Rev. ed.). Port Huron, Mich.: Research Psychologists Press.

Picture-story exercises

(Brunstein, Joachim C.; Schultheiss, Oliver C.; Grässman, Ruth 1998). Personal goals and emotional well-being: The moderating role of motive dispositions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(2), 494-508.

(Heckhausen, Heinz; Gollwitzer, Peter M. 1987). Thought contents and cognitive functioning in motivational versus volitional states of mind. Motivation and Emotion, 11(2), 101-120.

More information also can be found at:

Regulatory Focus Questionnaire

(Cesario, Joseph; Grant, Heidi; Higgins, E. Tory 2004). Regulatory Fit and Persuasion: Transfer From 'Feeling Right.' Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(3), 388- 404.

(Higgins, E. Tory; Friedman, Ronald S.; Harlow, Robert E. 2001). Achievement orientations from subjective histories of success: Promotion pride versus prevention pride. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31(1), 3-23.

Schwartz Value Survey; Portrait Values Questionnaire

(Schwartz, Shalom H.; Bilsky, Wolfgang 1990). Toward a theory of the universal content and structure of values: Extensions and cross-cultural replications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(5), 878-891.

Self-Determination Scales

(Please look under General Causality Orientation Scale) 


(Gangestad, Steven W.; Snyder, Mark 2000). Self-monitoring: Appraisal and reappraisal. Psychological Bulletin, 126(4), 530-555.

(Snyder, Mark 1974). Self-monitoring of expressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30(4), 526-537.

Thematic Apperception Test

(Murray, H. A. 1943). Thematic Apperception Test Manual. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

(McClelland, David C. 1985). How motives, skills, and values determine what people do. American Psychologist, 40(7), 812-825.

(McClelland, David C.; Atkinson, John W.; Clark, Russell A. 1953). Arousing the achievement motive and obtaining imaginative stories. In The achievement motive. McClelland, David C.; Atkinson, John W.; Clark, Russell A.; Lowell, Edgar L.; East Norwalk, CT: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

C.P. Smith, J.W. Atkinson, & D.C. McClelland (Eds.), Motivation and Personality: The Handbook of Thematic Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.

(Winter, David G. 1973). The power motive. New York, NY, US: Free Press.

Hmmm. This is all very well. But a careful review of the scoring system for n. Ach. n. Pow. and n.Aff in McCelland et al (1958) will reveal that the operational definition of what is being measured is completely at loggarheads with the operational definitons that lie behind most of the other scales listed here. The McClelland et al operational definitions are best described as measures of competence to undertake self-motivated activities effectively. I have developed this argument in a number of places over the past 40 years but most recently in Raven & Stephenson (2001). The issue is not insignificant in that the measurement model developed in the previously mentioned research actually offers a way of dealing with the most fundamental issue in psychometrics .. which was noted by Spearman more than a century ago: "Every normal man, woman, and child is a genius at someting. The problem is to identify at what. This cannot be done with any of the psychometric procedures in current usage". The point has, somewhat surprisingly, been re-made in a differnet way by Alan Kazdin in The American Psychologist 2006. Current psychometric measures are, in reality, highly unethical. They fail to reveal the talents of individuals and they mis-evaluate developmental programs. OK. Maybe I will write more on this in a separate paper and drop it in here. But the two references I mentioned are: McClelland, D. C., Atkinson, J. W., Clark, R. A., & Lowell, E. L. (1958). A scoring manual for the achievement motive; R. W. Heynes, J. Veroff, & J. W. Atkinson, A scoring manual for the affiliation motive; J. Veroff, A scoring manual for the power motive. Respectively, Chapters 12, 13 and 14 in J. W. Atkinson (Ed.), Motives in Fantasy, Action and Society. New York: Van Nostrand. Raven, J., & Stephenson, J. (Eds.). (2001). Competence in the Learning Society. New York: Peter Lang.

Quester67 11:02, 9 February 2008 (PST)

Unified Motive Scales

Schönbrodt, F. D., & Gerstenberg, F. X. R. (2012). An IRT analysis of motive questionnaires: The Unified Motive Scales. Journal of Research in Personality, 6, 725–742. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2012.08.010 PDF

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