The Reiss Motivation Profile® –
Self Discovery Version


Self-discovery is a process of learning who you are and how you are similar and different from other people. Psychologists have developed three methods for self-discovery, called psychodynamic, personality type theory, and human needs theory.

  • Psychodynamic self-discovery purports to teach people about their unconscious thoughts and desires, and how such hidden mental processes might relate to past childhood experiences. It was based on the study of mental illness.
  • Personality type theory, as stated by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, purports to teach people about innate tendencies for processing information and how such tendencies might determine their personality traits. It was based on the mysticism of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung.
  • Human needs theory, as stated by Steven Reiss, purports to teach people how their personality traits arise from intrinsic motives and values. It is based on the study of conscious purposes as revealed by large scientifically valid surveys of diverse groups of people.

The Reiss Motivation Profile® (RMP) is a standardized, comprehensive assessment of a person's needs, interests, motives, and life goals.

Ages: The RMP can be used with people who are 12 or older.

Length: This is 128-item self-report questionnaire.

Administration: A client can complete the questionnaire online from any computer that is connected to the Internet, but the report is always emailed just to you. You then decide how best to share the findings with the client. Administration time is about 15 minutes. The results are immediate.

Results: You receive a two - five page, plain-language report that discusses how the individual prioritizes and combines the following 16 needs and what this means in terms of personality, behavior, happiness, and possible career choice. The 16 needs are:
Acceptance, the need for approval
Curiosity, the need to understand
Eating, strength of interest in food
Family, the need to spend time with family
Honor, the need for character
Idealism, the need to improve society
Independence, the need for personal freedom
Order, the need for structure
Physical Activity, the need for exercise
Romance, the need for sex
Power, the need for influence of will
Saving, the need to collect
Social Contact, the need for friends
Status, the need for prestige
Tranquility, the need for safety
Vengeance, the need to fight back
Norms: The normative database today includes more than 40,000 people from North America, Europe, and Asia.

Validation: Steven Reiss, Ph.D., conducted scientific surveys and then used factor analytic methods to delineate 16 human needs. He and independent researchers, notably Ken Olson, Ph.D., then validated each of the 16 needs against personality measures (e.g., Big 5 scales, motivation scales, Anxiety Sensitivity Index, romance scales) as an indicator of behavior (e.g., interest in college major, club memberships, television viewing habits, participation in sports, participation in humanitarian causes, etc.). Reiss reported this work in 17 scientific journal articles -- three published in prestigious APA journals -- and three books. Since then, others have published books on the RMP. The instrument is gaining wide use. Practitioners usually can "see" the validity of the tool (meaning that the validity is apparent and not limited to statistics).