16 different motives for life


Scientifically founded by means of factor analysis (meanwhile tens of thousands of profiles from many countries around the world have been evaluated) 16 different motives for life can be distinguished using the Reiss Motivation Profile®:

  • Acceptance, the desire for positive self-regard.
  • Curiosity, the desire for understanding.
  • Eating, the desire for food.
  • Family, the desire to raise children and spend time with siblings.
  • Honor, the desire for upright character.
  • Idealism, the desire for social justice.
  • Independence, the desire for self-reliance.
  • Order, the desire for structure.
  • Physical Activity, the desire for muscle exercise.
  • Power, the universal desire for influence or leadership.
  • Romance, the desire for beauty and sex.
  • Saving, the desire to collect.
  • Social Contact, the desire for peer companionship.
  • Status, the desire for respect based on social standing.
  • Tranquility, the desire for safety.
  • Vengeance, the desire to confront those who offend.

The 16 life motives according to Reiss in the overview

There are two versions in the Reiss Motivation Profile®. The only difference is that „Romance" is not evaluated and described in one version. Instead, „Beauty" is evaluated. In terms of classification, the two life motives are the same, since in the results of the statistical evaluations using a factor analysis, the erotic, sensual aspects could not be separated from those involving the pursuit of beauty, art, design and aesthetics. Thus, although there are 17 descriptions, they relate to only 16 different life motives.

What's behind it all?


The 16 motives for life differ from the many lists of basic motives and intentions in psychology because they are based on a broad empirical basis and the investigation of thousands of people. Many other approaches are based almost without exception on pure introspection as with Plato, observations of animal behavior - as with James and McDougall - or theoretical in-depth psychological approaches - as with Murray.

The 16 Basic Desires 

  • were determined strictly empirically,
  • are based on factor-analytical evaluations,
  • and have been confirmed in numerous follow-up studies across cultures.

Steven Reiss assumes that at least 14 of the identified motives have a genetic determination. Our motives thus have an evolutionary origin, but are shaped by culture, our beliefs and our individual experiences. What we wish for is largely determined by our genes, but how we fulfill our desires is mainly determined by our culture and our experiences.

These 16 life motives are independent dimensions ("factors"), which have a high explanatory value in relation to human behavior and also have a high predictability of behavior. Every human being has a motivational fingerprint - just like everyone else has his or her genetic fingerprint. The different motivators are combined and more or less pronounced in each person in their own way. Thus, the individuality of man is taken into account and not attempted to classify people in typologies.

  • The motives determine our behavior per se: to live them out is their purpose.
  • The motive profile of a person is basically stable.
  • We find a distinction between feel good-happiness and value-based happiness. By well-being happiness, Steven Reiss understands a person's efforts to create a good feeling as quickly as possible and to find meaning in it. In contrast to this there is value-oriented happiness, which means to have found the meaning of one's own actions and to orientate one's life towards one's own values and motives.

Last but not least, we understand the Reiss Motivation Profile® as a plea for tolerance: Steven Reiss advocates understanding and accepting the motives of other people. Because we tend to consider our own values as desirable and to underestimate those of others.

Recognizing and understanding your own personality with the Reiss Motivation Profile® online


The Reiss Motivation Profile® sheds light on the 16 life motives that determine our lives. They are deeply rooted in each of us and provide information about what drives and motivates us at our core.

  • Who am I?
  • What distinguishes my personality?
  • Why am I the way I am?
  • Why do I react like this in certain situations?
  • Why are some things so important to me and others not?

Find out who you are - with the Reiss Motivation Profile®.

Buy the Reiss Motivation Profile® and answer the 128 questions directly in the online questionnaire. An individual evaluation of your profile helps you discover and reflect on your life motives.

  • The Reiss Motivation Profile® is a scientifically based method.
  • Find out who you are and what drives you.
  • Make better decisions based on your intrinsic motivation.
  • Get to know yourself better and thereby live your individuality.
  • Achieve and increase fit with other people and your environment.