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The Science
of Motivation



Steven was a great mentor to me in my career. Under his guidance for several years, trust bloomed not just in my abilities but in my connections too.


I built a strong network of professionals inspired by his work, particularly his famous book "The Science of Motivation," well-known in various European countries.

Looking back, it's clear how Steven's associates continue to spread his motivation philosophy, showing the widespread impact of his ideas.


Passing on his legacy to my son Daniele, I've transitioned into writing and creating content, especially on LinkedIn. Here, I blend academic depth with engaging storytelling, challenging my readers' thoughts.

Brunello Intrinsic Motivation Expert & Author 

This book presents an original scientific theory of psychological needs, values, and personality traits based on a series of scientific studies. The author, Reiss, explains how different points on the motivational arc can result in different personality traits and values. Moreover, the book discusses how knowledge of psychological needs and values can be beneficial in counseling individuals and couples. Reiss also describes new, powerful methods of assessing and predicting motivated behavior in various natural environments, including corporations, schools, and relationships.

Steven Reiss:
A Legacy
of Innovation
and Understanding

Within the intellectual tapestry of psychology, few threads are woven with as much innovation and insight as the work of Steven Reiss, a luminary whose contributions to the realm of human motivation continue to inspire long after his passing. His pioneering exploration into the mechanisms that drive us unveiled sixteen basic desires as the very engines behind our every action. Seemingly ordinary behaviors, he observed, were propelled by these universal motives—each an intricate gear in the complex machinery of the human psyche.

The Reiss Motivation Profile®, a seminal creation borne from Dr. Reiss's work, stands as a testament to his quest for the parsing of personality through motive analysis. This diagnostic beacon of self-understanding illuminates the diverse intensities of our intrinsic desires, from acceptance to vengeance, urging us to consider how these powerful forces influence our lives. His work manifested a paradigm shift, challenging the opaque walls of psychodynamic theories with the crystalline clarity of individual values.

In his acclaimed book, "The Normal Personality - A New Way of Thinking About People," Reiss championed an empathic stance towards the idiosyncrasies of personality, advocating instead for a recognition of our individual aspirations as inherently natural rather than aberrant anomalies. This conviction seeded an appreciation for the beautiful diversity inherent within human motivation, revealing a complex landscape where disorderly behavior might simply be a misunderstood yearning for spontaneity.

Yet, it was perhaps his personal testament of resilience, enduring a life-threatening autoimmune disease and subsequently championing organ transplants for those with mental disabilities, that spoke volumes of his character. Steven Reiss dared to spearhead research braving controversial terrain, believing firmly in the inherent worth and dignity of every individual's motives.

Steven Reiss

The Science of Motivation

In 1985, Steven Reiss (with Richard McNally) put forward the concept of anxiety sensitivity, which has been validated in more than 1,600 peer-reviewed studies.

Steven Reiss is the author of the Anxiety Sensitivity Index, a globally recognized standardized psychological testing procedure for diagnosing panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Steven Reiss presented numerous research papers on mental health problems in people with mental impairment, or the co-occurrence of psychiatric illness and developmental disabilities. This work was recognized with five national awards and provided a scientific explanation as to why there was and is a need for demented psychiatric and psychological clinics. These research contributions are ultimately credited with the creation of several hundred such facilities in Europe and North America.

In 1988, Steven Reiss authored the Reiss Screen for Maladaptive Behavior, a standardized assessment instrument that has been and continues to be used extensively to assess the need for mental health services.

Steven Reiss has been invited to speak before the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institutes of Health.

In 1987, Steven Reiss hosted the first international research conference on mental health for people with intellectual disabilities. Steven Reiss has received three awards for his advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities.

In 1995, Steven Reiss was diagnosed with a life-threatening autoimmune disease and underwent a liver transplant at Ohio State University Medical Center in 2002. With Linda Jones, he became involved in a national program to help people with mental disabilities gain better access to organ transplants. This commitment was recognized in hundreds of newspapers. Since 1995, Steven Reiss has been involved with recurrent life-threatening illnesses.


In 2008, Steven Reiss founded the World Society of Motivation Scientists and Professionals, a non-profit organization.


Steven Reiss theory of religion refers to William James observation that different people respond to different aspects of religion. He expanded on William James' argument with his reflections. The publication of his theory has been reported in academic journals such as Zygon, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Washington Post. Steven Reiss assumes that religious experiences encompass the meaning of life and cannot be reduced to just one or two themes-such as morality, community, or fear of death.

Steven Reiss has been and continues to be frequently cited by other researchers and scholars, according to the Social Science Citation Index.


The Need for

The Science of Motivation

Independence champions the art of self-direction and the freedom to live by one’s personal choices.


Those who place a high value on self-determination find joy and liberty in steering their course, and may experience constriction when this autonomy is compromised.


It's common for teenagers to assert their sense of identity, sometimes opting for eclectic sartorial expressions to mark their distinctiveness. Individuals who strongly esteem independence might prefer solitude to companionship, and their paths could be marked by nonconformity and reticence in personal relationships.


Conversely, those less oriented towards autonomy tend to welcome interdependence, eagerly accepting emotional support and displaying a willingness for vulnerable connection.

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