(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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.

“Obviously, it’s not a panacea,” Reiss said.

But he said an insurer could use the test to do something as simple as creating personalized motivational wristbands.

MINIMUM WAGE BILL

Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., took a step toward bipartisanship recently when he teamed with a Democrat, Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., to introduce H.R. 3086, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act bill.

Today, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act lets employers pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage.

The provision is in place because of a mistaken belief that workers with disabilities would be less productive than other workers, Stearns said in a statement printed in the Congressional Record.

If implemented, the bill would phase out the law that lets employers pay workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage.

“It is deplorable and wrong in America that these not-for-profit centers would hire people with disabilities, including the visually impaired, and pay them less than $1 an hour,” Stearns says in the statement. “Workers with disabilities contribute to our economy and to our society, and they deserve equal pay for equal work.”

PETERSEN AWARD

The International DI Society, Seal Beach, Calif., has given the sixth annual W. Harold Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award to Steve Brady, a second vice president of individual disability insurance sales and marketing at Standard Insurance Company, a unit of StanCorp Financial Group Inc., Portland, Ore. (NYSE:SFG).

Brady has more than 30 years of experience in the disability industry and helped develop a major Standard individual disability insurance program.

PERSONNEL

Custom Disability Solutions, South Portland, Maine, a unit of Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, has promoted Christine Van Voorhis to vice president, claims, from director.

AUSTRALIA

Officials in Australia are looking into the possibility of starting to create a National Disability Insurance Scheme by mid-2013 – a year ahead of the original schedule.

Australia is in the process of replacing a disability insurance system run by state governments and nonprofit organizations with a national system.