Development of motive incongruence

Head of the project:

Kaspar Schattke (TUM), Richard Koestner (McGill University), Hugo M. Kehr (TUM)

Description of the project:

Implicit motives (unconsciously, affectively represented) and explicit motives (consciously, cognitively represented) are often incongruent with one another (Thrash et al., 2010). Motive incongruence has been shown to be associated with reduced feeling of well-being (i.e., Brunstein et al. 1998; Kehr, 2004) and increased psychological symptoms (Baumann et al. 2005). Conversely, motive congruence was shown to positively influence the development of ego identity (Hofer et al. 2006).
Previous research has suggested that trait self-determination, which involves self-awareness and perceived volition in one’s actions, moderated the level of implicit/explicit motive incongruence (Thrash & Elliot, 2002; Thrash et al., 2010). We expect that early childhood experiences that interfere with the development of self-determination would be associated with later motive incongruence.
Motive incongruence was operationalised in terms of discrepancies between implicit and explicit measures of the need for achievement, power and affiliation. First evidence using longitudinal archival data suggests that childhood factors that reflect mother-child difficulties in the areas of autonomy and relatedness were significantly related to adult levels of motive incongruence. Specifically, adult motive incongruence was significantly associated with strong maternal inhibition of the child’s dependent and sexual impulses (Autonomy), maternal separation during the child’s second year, and mother reports of feeling dominated by the child (Relatedness) (Schattke et al., 2010). Further studies aim to investigate this relationship in more detail.