•McClelland’s Definition of a Motive/Need:
–A recurrent preference or readiness for a particular quality of
experience, which energizes, directs, and selects behavior in certain
–Motive ≠ Conscious Intention
–Motives (Why?) ≠ Traits (What?)
Motivations and Needs are the same thing for McClelland. He introduced the idea of an
implicit motive, the motivation that exists inside of us, but that is outside our conscious.
Motives and traits interact/combine to predict certain outcomes.
Motives are different from traits. Traits refer to the questions of “What?” (What
feelings is someone prone to having? What thoughts does someone have?) Motivation
refers to the “Why?”
There are certain motivations that lie outside of conscious awareness and they play a
profound role in shaping our behaviour.
Given our motivational preparedness/preferences, we see the world differently.
If the profound things that influence people’s personalities lie outside conscious
awareness, than we can’t rely on self-report. How then, do we get access to those
implicit motivations? McClelland pioneers the TAT (Thematic Apperception Test)
(Participant looks at a series of standardized pictures and has to write a story in
response to this standardized series of pictures)
The notion behind the TAT is that when faced with an ambiguous situation, and when
asked to make meaning of it, what we do is we rely on our own organizations of
motivations and concerns and hopes and fears and we project all these onto the
characters we are creating, because the cards/pictures themselves have no motivational
McClelland began his studies with Achievement Motivation (the need for achievement).
He believed the need for achievement is an implicit motivation and because of this, they
are not conscious to us. So how do we use the TAT to measure Achievement
Motivation? What we need is a scoring system.
We need to create experimental conditions that will temporarily raise their achievement
motivation (will temporarily put achievement on their mind). After the cognitive tests, he
told one group that the tests will reveal what their leadership and intelligence is
(emotive arousal condition). To another group, he told that the cognitive tests were
still in development, that they would not indicate anything (neutral testing conditions).
Both groups were then made to write stories for images presented. By analyzing the
resultant stories, the predominant themes in the emotively aroused group could be
identified and these themes then became part of a scoring system for subsequent