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Motivation Research

Part 2. Marketing Research

  1. Robert V. Kozinets

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem02006

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Kozinets, R. V. 2010. Motivation Research. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 2.

Author Information

  1. York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Motivation research is a term used to refer to a selection of qualitative research methods that were designed to probe consumers' minds in order to discover the subconscious or latent reasons and goals underlying everyday consumption and purchasing behaviors. Motivation research was derived from an application of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic personality theories and became the premier consumer research method in the 1950s. It has had a lasting influence on the areas of advertising and consumer research, as well as advertising practice. Dr. Ernest Dichter, a trained psychoanalyst, was the first and foremost practitioner of motivation research. Critics of motivation research disliked its small sample sizes, its subjective interpretations, its basis in clinical methods, and its exotic explanations. Despite its controversial past, motivation research is still regarded as an important technique by marketers who want to gain a deeper understanding into consumer motivations. Current techniques in wide use derive directly from motivation research. These methods include projective tests, metaphor analysis, storytelling, word-association tasks, sentence-completion tasks, picture generation, and also photo sorts. Some of the most prominent contemporary marketing researchers such as Gerald Zaltman and Clotaire Rapaille use techniques that are recognizably affiliated with motivation research.


  • motivation research;
  • marketing research;
  • consumer behavior;
  • culture and consumption;
  • metaphor techniques;
  • psychoanalysis;
  • Rapaille;
  • ZMET