Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 251–266 | Cite as

Assessing implicit motives with an online version of the picture story exercise

  • Katharina Bernecker
  • Veronika Job
Original Paper


An online version of a Picture Story Exercise (PSE) was administered to 180 participants to assess implicit motives for achievement, affiliation, and power. First, data were analyzed with respect to different aspects of participant behavior (dropout, writing time, story length, setting). Second, online data were compared with data collected in the laboratory (n = 93). Results regarding motive density, internal consistency, picture profiles, and position effects were comparable among samples and consistent with previous research (Pang and Schultheiss in J Person Assess 85:280–294, 2005; Schultheiss and Brunstein in J Person Assess 77: 71–86, 2001). In addition, online participants completed self-report measures assessing explicit motives and the Big Five personality factors. Explicit motives showed no substantial overlap with PSE motive scores, replicating previous research. Personality factors revealed gender differences in correlates: men with a high implicit power motive reported less agreeableness and conscientiousness. Results suggest that administering the PSE online yields reliable and valid data.


Implicit motives Picture story exercise Internet Assessment 



This research was supported in part by the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes with a scholarship awarded to the first author. We thank Alena Friedrich, Yousuf Haq, and Rebecca Wheeler, for their help in collecting and coding the data, Carol Dweck and Ulf Reips for their support in conducting this research, and Gregory Walton and David Yeager for helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ErfurtErfurtGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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