Are implicit and explicit motive measures statistically independent? A fair and balanced test using the picture story exercise and a cue- and response-matched questionnaire measure

J Pers Assess. 2009 Jan;91(1):72-81. doi: 10.1080/00223890802484456.


Previous studies that have examined the relationship between implicit and explicit motive measures have consistently found little variance overlap between both types of measures regardless of thematic content domain (i.e., power, achievement, affiliation). However, this independence may be artifactual because the primary means of measuring implicit motives--content-coding stories people write about picture cues--are incommensurable with the primary means of measuring explicit motives: having individuals fill out self-report scales. To provide a better test of the presumed independence between both types of measures, we measured implicit motives with a Picture Story Exercise (PSE; McClelland, Koestner, & Weinberger, 1989) and explicit motives with a cue- and response-matched questionnaire version of the PSE (PSE-Q) and a traditional measure of explicit motives, the Personality Research Form (PRF; Jackson, 1984) in 190 research participants. Correlations between the PSE and the PSE-Q were small and mostly nonsignificant, whereas the PSE-Q showed significant variance overlap with the PRF within and across thematic domains. We conclude that the independence postulate holds even when more commensurable measures of implicit and explicit motives are used.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Michigan
  • Motivation*
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Young Adult