Human Motivation & Affective Neuroscience Lab
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Latest News: 23 September 2013
Exploiting the full potential of thematic apperception through profile analysis

In a new paper, Oliver and Maria Schultheiss argue that the picture story exercise (PSE), a measure of implicit motives, has not been put to its full diagnostic use for a long time. This is because researchers using the PSE typically sum scored imagery across pictures to get a total score that is then used in prediction. Schultheiss and Schultheiss present evidence that a lot of the diagnostic potential of the PSE resides in the scores generated by specific picture cues, however. For instance, motive scores are stable because the pattern in which individuals respond to each picture cue remains stable from one testing occasion to the next (see figure; solid line = first occasion, striped line = second occasion)

figure 1

The authors also argue that the manner in which people respond to specific situations depicted on the PSE corresponds to how they behave in similar specific situations in real life. The approach taken by Schultheiss and Schultheiss to so-called “projective” measures of motivation is highly consistent with modern approaches to personality which view personality as a pattern of if-then contingencies between specific situations and the specific behaviors people typically show in these situations (see the work by Walter Mischel and Yuichi Shoda). According to these approaches, behavior is not shown in the same way across all situations. Rather, personality is revealed by the specific situations that elicit a given behavior in a person as well as those that do not elicit that behavior. Schultheiss and Schultheiss therefore call for a new approach to understanding and utilizing the diagnostic information inherent in the PSE and similar thematic apperceptive measures of motivation and personality.

Previous releases:

High progesterone is associated with less coherent brains (August 2012)

What color naming speed reveals about the wisdom of one's goal choices (December 2010)

Are you high on testosterone and is that a good thing? Listen to Podcast of interview with Dr. Oliver Schultheiss on UM NewsService

New edited book on implicit motives available (October 2009)

What the word "not" may reveal about your ability to handle stress (October 2008)

Estrogen fuels female power (February 2008)

High-testosterone people reinforced by others’ anger, new study finds (February 2007)

Study finds US students more motivated to achieve, less power-hungry than German students (August 2006)

Are all people stressed out by a defeat or does it hurt some more than others? (April 2006)

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