Steven Reiss has made a science – or, at least, scientific research – out of figuring out what might make people change their ways.
Reiss, an Ohio State University researcher and executive director of the World Society of Motivation Scientists and Professionals, came up with the idea of studying why people do things, or avoid doing things, years ago.
Instead of simply assuming that most people must like the same things he liked, he designed a formal motivational survey to explore people’s motivations using the methods of social psychology.
Reiss and colleagues gave the survey to 50,000 people ages 12 and older in Europe, Asia, North America and Mexico, and Reiss has been using the results as the basis for a series of motivation analysis tools.
The initial survey identified 16 factors that motivate most people, and the researchers came up with a system for determining how specific people rate each of those factors.
The tests based on the survey are short, relatively straightforward tests that cost about $40 per person to give, Reiss says.
Coaches in Europe have tried giving the test to athletes, to see if it could help increase their motivation, and health maintenance organization (HMO) in Michigan is going to try to see if the test can improve HMO wellness program results.
Disability insurers have not yet tried a version of the test on disability insurance benefits recipients, but Reiss said he thinks that, given the relatively low cost of the test, trying the test on any population in which motivation (such as: motivation to return to work) might make a big difference could be worth a try.