Daniel M. Ogilvie

Four Motives

PACK Taxonomy of Motives

A few years ago, Kristin Rose and I derived 4 motivational variables from the 4 contingencies of learning in operant conditioning. Acquire was derived from positive reinforcement, Cure from negative reinforcement, Prevent from positive punishment, and Keep from negative punishment. PACK is formed by arranging the first letter of each motive. The motives can be organized into a 2 by 2 table that reveals some interesting properties that are contained in our Journal of Personality article listed below.

These variables have been applied to the personal project obtained in interviews with individuals in different age groups. One study showed that Acquire is the leading motive for being engaged in a project irrespective of age. That result is modified by the fact that there is a clear step-wise decline in Acquire purposes from young adulthood, through middle adulthood, and into older age. In one study, Cure (getting rid of an existing negative condition) rose in the middle-aged group, but that pattern was not replicated in a follow-up study. Both studies confirmed that Keep (avoiding the loss of an existing positive condition) rises in later life. I consider that result to be our prize finding so far. Finally, Prevent is the least used category of motives across all age groups: a finding that leads me to suspect that Acquire, Cure, and Keep may frequently operate in the service of a more implicit purpose to Prevent a negative outcome.

At present, the PACK taxonomy has only been used to score purpose statements that accompany personal project descriptions. I believe that there are other areas of application (e.g., organizational development, individuals differences, product advertisements, political rhetoric) to which the system can be applied with potentially revealing results.

Papers pertaining to this work are:

Ogilvie, D.M., & Rose, K.M. (1995). Self-with-other representations and a taxonomy of motives:
        Two approaches to studying persons. Journal of Personality, 63, 643-679.

Ogilvie, D.M., Rose, K.M, Heppen, J.B. (2001). A comparison of personal project motives in
       three age groups. Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, 63, 207-215

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