Human Motivation & Affective Neuroscience Lab
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Latest News: 27 June 2016

Woman are more affiliation-motivated than men

In a study to be published in the Journal for Research on Personality, HuMAN Lab researchers Amely Drescher and Oliver Schultheiss found that women and men differ in their nonconscious need for affiliation, but not in their nonconscious needs for power or achievement. The authors used meta-analysis to arrive at these findings, which means that they averaged gender differences for motive measures across published and unpublished studies. Thus, their findings are based on a research synthesis of 28 studies with a total of almost 6,000 research participants and spanning more than 50 years. The observed gender difference between women and men in affiliation motivation is almost half a standard deviation. This means that the average woman scores higher than 70% of men in terms of her need for affiliation

At first blush, the result of higher affiliation motivation in women appears to reflect a gender stereotype at work that prescribes more feminine, "soft" traits for women. However, in their paper Drescher and Schultheiss point out that the truth behind their finding may be more complicated. First, they obtained their results looking at motivation measures that do not rely on self-report and instead tap nonconscious, implicit motivational needs. Thus, the affiliation gender difference is not simply a matter of verbal self-categorization, but appears to reflect something deeper.  Second, women were not less power- or achievement-motivated than men and therefore did not follow traditional gender stereotypes in these domains. The authors speculate that hormonal factors may contribute to the gender difference in affiliation motivation, because some studies show that women who do not take oral contraceptives are much more similar to men in their need for affiliation than women who take the pill.


Previous releases:

Why the power-motivated are better at parking their cars

New meta-analysis: Low to no correlation between implicit and explicit motive measures

Content-coding motive measures can be approcimated with automated word counts

Exploiting the full potential of thematic apperception through profile analysis

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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