Psychometry of Implicit Motives

DFG Research Network by Felix Schönbrodt (LMU München) & Birk Hagemeyer​

The Project

The measurement of implicit (non-conscious) motives via the Thematic Apperception Test and related methods (Picture Story Exercises; PSE) has been applied for a long time in clinical practice as well as in psychological research. Interest in implicit motives has severely grown over the last 15 years, among others inspired by the prevalent distinction between implicit and explicit dispositions. The psychometric quality of the PSE method has often been criticized in spite of frequent and impressive evidence for its validity. Reacting to this methodological criticism, it has been argued that classical test theory is not an appropriate theoretical framework for PSE measurement. However, there is no agreement to date about what an alternative theory of measurement could look like. In the scientific network founded by Dr. Felix Schönbrodt (LMU München) and Dr. Birk Hagemeyer (FSU Jena), experts of motivational psychology and experts for statistical methods and psychometrics join forces in order to develop an appropriate measurement theory for PSEs. For this purpose, existing approaches are gathered, integrated and expanded. In addition, possible refinements of the PSE method are discussed. By using already existing data, first tests of innovative measurement models will already take place in the funding time of the network (2013-2014). Based on the results, subsequent cooperative research projects that continue and extend the new approaches will be designed and proposed for funding to the German Research Foundation. The network consists of 11 upcoming researchers from Germany and Austria and 5 international experts working in the fields of motivation und psychometrics who will take part in the planned 6 network meetings as guest discussants. More information will be available from a website that is to be established soon.


Dufner, M., Arslan, R. C., Hagemeyer, B., Schönbrodt, F. D., & Denissen, J. J. A. (2015). Affective contingencies in the affiliative domain: Physiological assessment, associations with the affiliation motive, and prediction of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109, 662-676. doi: 10.1037/pspp0000025External link

Hagemeyer, B., Dufner, M., & Denissen, J. J. A. (2016). Double dissociation between implicit and explicit affiliative motives: A closer look at socializing behavior in dyadic interactions. Journal of Research in Personality, 65, 89-93.

Prestele, E., Gerstenberg, F. X. R., Hagemeyer, B., & Geisler, F. C. M. (2016). The effects of implicit and explicit affiliation motives on vagal activity in motive-relevant situations. Motivation and Emotion, 40, 862-877.

Runge, J. M., Lang, J. W., Engeser, S., Schüler, J., den Hartog, S. C., & Zettler, I. (2016). Modeling motive activation in the Operant Motive Test: A psychometric analysis using dynamic Thurstonian item response theory. Motivation Science, 2, 268-286.