Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 89–99 | Cite as

Implicit Motives, Explicit Motives, and Motive-Related Life Events in Clinical Depression

  • Marie-Luise Neumann
  • Oliver C. Schultheiss
Original Article


Past research suggests that implicit motive dispositions moderate individuals’ affective responses to stimuli and life events and are related to well-being and symptoms of depression. We examined whether this association also extends to clinical depression by comparing patients diagnosed with a depressive disorder (n = 30) with a control group of surgery patients (n = 31) on implicit motives, assessed with a picture-story exercise, explicit motives, assessed via questionnaire, and recall and affect ratings of motive-related positive and negative life events. Depressed patients had lower levels of implicit needs for achievement and power than controls. Differences for implicit affiliation motivation as well as for the corresponding explicit motives were in the same direction, but considerably smaller. Compared to controls, depressed individuals recalled more positive and negative life events, but only rated the latter (particularly in the domains of power and achievement) more negatively. These findings suggest that implicit motive concepts and measures may provide a fruitful approach to understanding depression.


Implicit motives Picture-story exercise Need for achievement Need for power Need for affiliation Explicit motives Life events Depression 



The results presented in this paper are based on the first author’s master’s thesis. The data reported in this paper have not previously been presented. We thank Christina Adelhardt for her help in coding PSEs.

Conflict of Interest

Marie-Luise Neumann and Oliver C. Schultheiss declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Klinikum Chemnitz gGmbHChemnitzGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFriedrich-Alexander UniversityErlangenGermany

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