Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 306–316 | Cite as

Childhood correlates of adult levels of incongruence between implicit and explicit motives

  • Kaspar SchattkeEmail author
  • Richard Koestner
  • Hugo M. Kehr
Original Paper


The present study used archival longitudinal data from 5 years old children and their mothers to explore mother and child characteristics associated with motive incongruence 26 years later. Motive incongruence was assessed in terms of discrepancies between implicit and explicit measures of the need for achievement, power and affiliation. Previous research has suggested that trait self-determination, which involves self-awareness and perceived volition in one’s actions, moderates the level of implicit/explicit motive incongruence. We hypothesized that early childhood experiences that interfere with the development of self-determination would be associated with later motive incongruence. Our results showed that childhood factors that reflected mother–child difficulties in the areas of autonomy and relatedness were significantly related to adult levels of motive incongruence. Specifically, adult motive incongruence was significantly associated with strong maternal inhibition of the child’s dependent and sexual impulses, maternal separation during the child’s second year, and mother reports of feeling dominated by the child. Limitations of the data are discussed.


Implicit motives Explicit motives Motive incongruence Childrearing pattern Development Self-determination Basic need satisfaction 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of TUM Graduate School’s Faculty Graduate Center TUM School of Management at Technische Universität München, Germany. This study was funded by grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Fonds Québécois de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture, Quebec (FQRSC) to Richard Koestner.


  1. Atkinson, J. W. (Ed.). (1958). Motives in fantasy, action, and society. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.Google Scholar
  2. Baumann, N., Kaschel, R., & Kuhl, J. (2005). Striving for unwanted goals: Stress-dependent discrepancies between explicit and implicit achievement motives reduce subjective well-being and increase psychosomatic symptoms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 781–799.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boldero, J., & Francis, J. (2000). The relation between self-discrepancies and emotion: The moderating roles of self-guide importance, location relevance, and social self-domain centrality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 38–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bowlby, J. (1973). Separation: Separation—anxiety and anger. Attachment and loss: Vol. 2. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Brunstein, J. C., & Hoyer, S. (2002). Implizites versus explizites Leistungsstreben. Befunde zur Unabhängigkeit zweier Motivationssysteme [Implicit versus explicit achievement strivings: Empirical evidence of the independence of two motivational systems]. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 16, 51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brunstein, J. C., & Maier, G. W. (2005). Implicit and self-attributed motives to achieve: Two separate but interacting needs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 205–222.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brunstein, J. C., Schultheiss, O. C., & Grässmann, R. (1998). Personal goals and emotional well-being: The moderating role of motive dispositions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 494–508.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. DeCharms, R., Morrison, H. W., Reitman, W. R., & McClelland, D. C. (1955). Behavioral correlates of directly and indirectly measured achievement motivation. In D. C. McClelland (Ed.), Studies in motivation (pp. 414–423). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  10. Deci, E. L., & Flaste, R. (1995). Why we do what we do: The dynamics of personal autonomy. New York, NY: G P Putnam’s Sons.Google Scholar
  11. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  12. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gough, H., & Heilbrun, A. L. (1965). The adjective checklist manual. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gough, H., & Heilbrun, A. L. (1983). The revised adjective checklist manual. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gramzow, R. H., Sedikides, C., Panter, A. T., & Insko, C. A. (2000). Aspects of self-regulation and self-structure as predictors of perceived emotional distress. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 188–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Harrington, D. M., Block, J. H., & Block, J. (1987). Testing aspects of Carl Rogers’s theory of creative environments: Child-rearing antecedents of creative potential in young adolescents. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 851–856.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Heyns, R., Veroff, J., & Atkinson, J. W. (1958). A scoring manual for the affiliation motive. In J. W. Atkinson (Ed.), Motives in fantasy, action, and society. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.Google Scholar
  18. Higgins, E. T. (1998). Promotion and prevention: Regulatory focus as a motivational principle. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 1–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hofer, J., Busch, H., Bond, M. H., Kärtner, J., Kiessling, F., & Law, R. (2010). Is self-determined functioning a universal prerequisite for motive goal congruence? Examining the domain of achievement in three cultures. Journal of Personality, 78, 747–780.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hofer, J., Busch, H., Chasiotis, A., & Kiessling, F. (2006). Motive congruence and interpersonal identity status. Journal of Personality, 74, 511–542.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Job, V., Oertig, D., Brandstätter, V., & Allemand, M. (2010). Discrepancies between implicit and explicit motivation and unhealthy eating behavior. Journal of Personality, DOI:  10.1111/j.1467-6494.2010.00648.x.
  22. Kehr, H. M. (1999). Entwurf eines konfliktorientierten Prozeßmodells von Motivation und Volition [Framework of a conflict-oriented process model of motivation and volition]. Psychologische Beiträge, 41, 20–43.Google Scholar
  23. Kehr, H. M. (2004a). Implicit/explicit motive discrepancies and volitional depletion among managers. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 315–327.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kehr, H. M. (2004b). Integrating implicit motives, explicit motives, and perceived abilities: The compensatory model of work motivation and volition. Academy of Management Review, 29, 479–499.Google Scholar
  25. Kehr, H. M. (2005, August). Leadership by motivation on the basis of the compensatory model of work motivation and volition. In D. N. Den Hartog, M. Fotaki, & J. Weibler (Co-Chairs), Leadership: An international perspective. Symposium conducted at the 65th annual meeting of the academy of management, Honolulu, HI.Google Scholar
  26. Kehr, H. M., & von Rosenstiel, L. (2006). Self-Management Training (SMT): Theoretical and empirical foundations for the development of a metamotivational and metavolitional intervention program. In D. Frey, H. Mandl, & L. von Rosenstiel (Eds.), Knowledge and action (pp. 103–141). Cambridge, MA: Huber & Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  27. Koestner, R., Bernieri, F., & Zuckerman, M. (1992). Self-regulation and consistency between attitudes, traits, and behaviors. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 52–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Koestner, R., Franz, C., & Weinberger, J. (1990). The family origins of empathic concern: A 26-year longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 709–717.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Koestner, R., & Losier, G. F. (1996). Distinguishing reactive versus reflective autonomy. Journal of Personality, 64, 465–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Koestner, R., Weinberger, J., & McClelland, D. C. (1991). Task-intrinsic and social-extrinsic sources of arousal for motives assessed in fantasy and self-report. Journal of Personality, 59, 57–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Langens, T. (2007). Congruence between implicit and explicit motives and emotional well-being: The moderating role of activity inhibition. Motivation and Emotion, 31, 49–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McClelland, D. C. (1951). Personality. New York: Sloane.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McClelland, D. C. (1987). Human motivation. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. McClelland, D. C., & Jemmott, J. B. (1980). Power motivation, stress and physical illness. Journal of Human Stress, 6, 6–15.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. McClelland, D. C., Koestner, R., & Weinberger, J. (1989). How do self-attributed and implicit motives differ? Psychological Review, 96, 690–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McClelland, D. C., & Pilon, D. A. (1983). Sources of adult motives in patterns of parent behavior in early childhood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 564–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Murray, H. A. (1938). Explorations in personality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Pang, J. S. (2010). Content coding methods in implicit motive assessment: Standards of measurement and best practices for the picture story exercise. In O. C. Schultheiss & J. C. Brunstein (Eds.), Implicit motives (pp. 119–150). Oxford: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pang, J. S., & Schultheiss, O. C. (2005). Assessing implicit motives in U.S. college students: Effects of picture type and position, gender and ethnicity, and cross-cultural comparisons. Journal of Personality Assessment, 85, 280–294.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rheinberg, F. (2002). Freude am Kompetenzerwerb, Flow-Erleben und motivpassende Ziele. [The joy of achieving competence, flow-experience, and motive congruent goals]. In M. von Salisch (Ed.), Emotionale Kompetenz entwickeln (pp. 179–205). Stuttgart, Germany: Kohlhammer.Google Scholar
  41. Rheinberg, F. (2008). Intrinsic motivation and flow-experience. In J. Heckhausen & H. Heckhausen (Eds.), Motivation and action (2nd ed., pp. 323–348). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rheinberg, F., & Engeser, S. (2010). Motive training and motivational competence. In O. C. Schultheiss & J. C. Brunstein (Eds.), Implicit motives (pp. 510–548). Oxford: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ryan, R. M. (1993). Agency and organization: Intrinsic motivation, autonomy, and the self in psychological development. In J. E. Jacobs & J. E. Jacobs (Eds.), Current theory and research in motivation: Vol. 40. Nebraska symposium on motivation, 1992: Developmental perspectives on motivation (pp. 1–56). Lincoln, NE US: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  44. Schüler, J. (2010). Achievement incentives determine the effects of achievement-motive incongruence on flow experience. Motivation and Emotion, 34, 2–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schüler, J., Job, V., Fröhlich, S., & Brandstätter, V. (2008). A high implicit affiliation motive does not always make you happy: A corresponding explicit motive and corresponding behavior are further needed. Motivation and Emotion, 32, 231–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sears, R. R., Maccoby, E. E., & Levin, H. (1957). Patterns of child rearing. Evanston, IL: Row Peterson.Google Scholar
  47. Sheldon, K. M., Elliot, A. J., Kim, Y., & Kasser, T. (2001). What is satisfying about satisfying events? Testing 10 candidate psychological needs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 325–339.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sheldon, K. M., & Kasser, T. (1995). Coherence and congruence: Two aspects of personality integration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 531–543.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Soenens, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., Luyckx, K., Goossens, L., Beyers, W., et al. (2007). Conceptualizing parental autonomy support: Adolescent perceptions of promotion of independence versus promotion of volitional functioning. Developmental Psychology, 43, 633–646.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Spangler, W. D. (1992). Validity of questionnaire and TAT measures of need achievement: Two meta-analyses. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 140–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Thrash, T. M., Cassidy, S. E., Maruskin, L. A., & Elliot, A. J. (2010). Factors that influence the relation between implicit and explicit motives: A general implicit–explicit congruence framework. In O. C. Schultheiss & J. C. Brunstein (Eds.), Implicit motives (pp. 308–346). Oxford: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thrash, T., & Elliot, A. (2002). Implicit and self-attributed achievement motives: Concordance and predictive validity. Journal of Personality, 70, 729–755.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thrash, T. M., Elliot, A. J., & Schultheiss, O. C. (2007). Methodological and dispositional predictors of congruence between implicit and explicit need for achievement. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 961–974.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wiggins, J. (1979). A psychological taxonomy of trait descriptive terms: The interpersonal domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 395–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Winter, D. G. (1973). The power motive. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  56. Woike, B., Gershkovich, I., Piorkowski, R., & Polo, M. (1999). The role of motives in the content and structure of autobiographical memory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 600–612.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaspar Schattke
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Richard Koestner
    • 2
  • Hugo M. Kehr
    • 1
  1. 1.TUM School of ManagementTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Lehrstuhl für PsychologieTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations