A few weeks ago I read Professor Steven Reiss‘s book “Who Am I?: The 16 Basic Desires That Motivate Our Actions and Define Our Personalities“. I found this book after watching a TED Talk given by Daniel Pink entitled “The Surprising Science of Motivation“, and googling around on motivation.
Steven Reiss is a Ohio State University Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry. He has studied, amongst other things, anxiety sensitivity, and mental retardation. He has won several awards for his work, and has many published papers.
In this book, Dr Reiss describes his theory of 16 Basic Intrinsic Motivations. This theory argues that, humans are motivated by intrinsic psychological drives, and that these drives are ends in themselves. Each drive is measured as a continuum for an individual, from weak to strong; it is the particularly strong and weak drives that best explain an individual’s motivations. The combinations of these 16 motivations describe the variability of human personality. These 16 motivations are irreducible: any other described drive or motivation can be expressed by the fundamental 16. These values are not short term “feel-good” happiness, but long term “value-based” happiness.