Individual differences in fundamental social motives

Rebecca Neel, Douglas Kenrick, Andrew Edward White, Steven Neuberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations

Abstract

Motivation has long been recognized as an important component of how people both differ from, and are similar to, each other. The current research applies the biologically grounded fundamental social motives framework, which assumes that human motivational systems are functionally shaped to manage the major costs and benefits of social life, to understand individual differences in social motives. Using the Fundamental Social Motives Inventory, we explore the relations among the different fundamental social motives of Self-Protection, Disease Avoidance, Affiliation, Status, Mate Seeking, Mate Retention, and Kin Care; the relationships of the fundamental social motives to other individual difference and personality measures including the Big Five personality traits; the extent to which fundamental social motives are linked to recent life experiences; and the extent to which life history variables (e.g., age, sex, childhood environment) predict individual differences in the fundamental social motives. Results suggest that the fundamental social motives are a powerful lens through which to examine individual differences: They are grounded in theory, have explanatory value beyond that of the Big Five personality traits, and vary meaningfully with a number of life history variables. A fundamental social motives approach provides a generative framework for considering the meaning and implications of individual differences in social motivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-907
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume110
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Keywords

  • Individual differences
  • Life history theory
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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