The MOTIV Personality System

Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way. - Aristotle


There are seven personality traits, motivations that explain all human personality (attracting, experimenting, planning, helping, being positive, relaxing, and tribal defense). Healthy people appreciate and are developed in one or more of these seven traits. Unhealthy people over value and/or under value, lack development in one or more of those same seven traits. (You may notice below that only five traits are consistently mentioned as I'm still compiling data on the sixth and seventh trait, Easygoing and Sectarian.)

To better explain things through metaphor, if the whole world was a single city...

Materialists (attractors) would be in or trying to get into the expensive exclusive parts of the city, and if in the most exclusive parts of the city, they would try to be maximizing their position/rank.
Offbeats (experimenters) would be outside the the city exploring the unknown or inside investigating, changing/innovating, and/or challenging the status quo of the city.
Thinkers (planners) would be organizing, planning, maintaining the functioning of the city
Interpersonals (helpers) would be serving, taking care of others throughout the city (at home, in schools, hospitals, stores, companies, etc.)
Vitalists (energizers) would be bringing life, positivity, enthusiasm, optimism to any environment they occupy
Easygoers (relaxers) would be lounging on their couch, at the beach, taking naps, chilling at the movie theater, bar, restaurants, or if they had to be at work or other less leisurely places, keeping things calm and peaceful there
Sectarians (nationalists) would be preoccupied with the defense of the city from outsiders / perceived threats inside and outside the city borders

All of the above roles / personality types are needed, have a place in human culture BUT some types are neutral and some are postive. The neutral MOTIV personality types - Materialistic, Interpersonal, Easygoing, and Sectarian thrive in balance, a middle preference. People high or low in these traits, based on my research, are not happy and can cause unhappiness in others. The positive MOTIV traits - Offbeat, Thinking, and Vital appear to help individuals and society thrive if maximized as much as possible.

The MOTIV system

The MOTIV personality theory is a refined hybrid of previous notions of personality (Big 5, Jung, Freud, Golden Rule) which posits that the entire spectrum of personality can be explained by seven independent, alterable, and empirically provable personality motivations / strategies.

The most empirically proven personality model, to date, is the Big 5. It is a lexical personality model, which basically means it is based on the premise that language is a good representation of reality (as words are merely intellectual tools created to describe reality). Essentially this makes the Big 5 a wisdom of crowds approach at explaining who/how people are. The limitation of this is that this makes the Big 5 compromised by whatever biases the crowd has. If most people have a more superficial understanding of what makes people and themselves tick than that is going to be reflected in the lexicon of words understood by most to explain how others and themselves are. I think most people (even very smart people) don't entirely know what makes them tick, why they do what they do.

Jung and Freud represent the expert approach, intelligent individuals with fairly extensive clinical experience treating individuals. However, they were also limited by the make up of their sample size, which was more disturbed (and wealthy) than average. They were also limited by their lack of empiricism. They spent more time formulating concepts/ideas than they spent vetting those concepts/ideas via the scientific method. It's entirely implausible to think that an individual no matter how intelligent can produce flawless personality theories solely based on their instincts, logical judgment, and/or unempirical observations. That's why Jung and Freud's ideas - while profound starting points in parts - don't tell the whole story. That's why people who are really into Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram are more like religious disciples, those systems are not sufficiently rational (empirically proven/provable), and so faith/belief is required to buy into them.

The solution to the aforementioned problems is to come up with a system applicable to the general and clinical population, which accounts for all aspects of personality, which can be proven empirically.

The MOTIV theory is based around the idea of seven central reward drives. These are evolutionary hard wired and/or environmental adaptation styles to life.

Materialistic - by being more attractive / impressive, I will have a survival advantage
Offbeat - by being more novel / unconventional, I will have a survival advantage
Thinking - by being more thought out / systematic, I will have a survival advantage
Interpersonal - by being more selfless / helpful to others, I will have a survival advantage
Vital - by being more positive, energetic, I will have a survival advantage
Easygoing - by conserving my energy, relaxing, I will have a survival advantage
Sectarian - by prioritizing the needs of my group/tribe/country, I will have a survival advantage

Originally, I thought there were (or as theories often arise, 'should be') seven counter preferences to the above. However, I found (after testing that theory) that not to be the case exactly. For example, someone that scores low on Offbeat traits does not necessarily fixate on the opposite behavioral tendency, i.e. conventional behavior, they are just more likely to disprefer unconventional behavior or simply not expend effort being unconventional, different. What I've found in general is that while high trait scorers are heavily invested, and/or fixated, on the MOTIV behaviors they score highly on, low scorers are characterized, on average, more by their absence of fixation on those behaviors (with the exception of Vital, the Depressed counter fixation appears to be equally strong). This makes sense when you think it requires effort to be authentically attractive, or to be authentically different than others, or to be organized, or to be generous, versus simply not being any of those things. Someone with a low Materialistic preference (an Ascetic) is not preoccupied by being socially attractive but that doesn't mean necessarily they are as anti social attractiveness as most Materialists are pro social attractiveness (though some Ascetics certainly are).

So instead of counter preferences, think of the the following as simply non preferences...

Ascetic - Less concerned with attractiveness, money, sex, mate value
Conventional - Less likely to be unconventional, curious, experimental
Haphazard - Less likely to follow a mental plan, more likely to be messy, disorganized, aimless
Withholding - less likely to be selfless, less likely to be considerate, accommodating, supportive of others
Depressed - Sullen, negative, destructive, self sabotaging
Rigid - On edge, high strung, stiff
Globalistic - Has a preference for inclusion, unity, diversity; puts the welfare of the whole world above the welfare of their tribe/culture/nation/race/etc.

Each person's distinct mix on these seven motivational spectrums result in an vast number of different personality orientations, as few as 256 if you consider a high/low preference on each, 2187 if you consider a high/middle/low preference on each (I've compiled a list of of them here along with correlating personality items), even more when you consider that some high/low preferences will be higher/lower than others. Although you will have a lot more insight into yourself or others if you are able to discern that one of the six orientations is more dominant than the rest. Though it's certainly possible to have two or more equally dominant MOTIV types, most people only have one or at most two dominant types.

So, there are seven Primary types - Materialistic, Offbeat, Thinking, Interpersonal, Vital, Easygoing, and Sectarian

When assessing yours or someone elses' personality across all six traits...

A simple bipolar type can be coded as MCHIDEG (Materialistic, Conventional, Haphazard, Interpersonal, Depressed, Easygoing, Globalistic)
A more useful type can be coded as XOTWXES (middle, Offbeat, Thinking, Withholding, middle, Easygoing, Sectarian)
A more complex type coding would be Mox|I|drS, with upper case letter reflecting a strong preference, lower case reflecting a medium preference, || representing the dominant preference, and x representing a middle preference.

Another way to look at MOTIV which is slightly different is that you really have six behavioral drives, with the seventh, Vital, being more of a scoreboard of the effect of the other six preferences. So everyone is somewhere on the following five spectrums...

  • I want to get preferential / special attention vs. I'm unconcerned with image / attention (Materialistic vs. Ascetic)
  • I want to try new things / new ways vs. I'm not a big fan of change (Offbeat vs. Conventional)
  • I want to live life by a mental plan vs. I am unplanned, disorganized (Thinking vs. Haphazard)
  • I want to help others vs. I'm not compelled to help others (Interpersonal vs. Withholding)
  • I want to take it easy vs. I don't prioritize relaxation (Easygoing vs. Rigid)
  • I put my tribe, culture, nation first vs. I don't prioritize nationalism (Sectarian vs. Globalistic)
  • Your distinct preference profile on the above six spectrums results in a certain happiness or unhappiness level which is a major aspect of your Vital score. If you are unhappy and you are not changing your preferences, then you are unlikely to change your happiness level. I think for some people Vitality is somewhat of a drive in itself but for others the Vital score is more of a reflection of the success or failure of their preferences on the other six drives. Some people spend their whole life being rewarded for their preference profile and suddenly it's no longer rewarded. If their happiness never recovers and they never make any changes to address that, they had the effect of Vitality (happiness) but they lacked the drive to maintain it (i.e. it was never really a drive for them).

    The MOTIV personality system is the macro (wide-angle) companion to the R-Drive personality system which covers a more detailed micro (zoomed in) approach to individual personality. The 14+ R-Drive motivations (as well as pretty much any personality characteristic, or personality model type /Big 5/MBTI/Enneagram/) can all be explained by high-neutral-low preference combinations of the seven MOTIV drives much the same way that every color can be decoded by it's distinct mix of primary colors. (I recently created a fairly comprehensive chart of the MOTIV factor loadings of various personality types/traits here.)

    MOTIV factor analysis

    M O T I V
    M 0.609 -0.003 0.081 -0.018 -0.035
    O -0.009 0.614 0.023 -0.048 -0.043
    T 0.075 0.023 0.644 -0.031 -0.022
    I -0.014 -0.047 -0.035 0.650 0.032
    V -0.034 -0.049 -0.025 0.029 0.63

    *sample size 4867 (1468 men, 3357 women)

    MOTIV to Big 5 (TIPI) pearson correlations

    M O T I V
    Extroversion 0.186 0.153 -0.065 0.076 0.475
    Conscientiousness 0.001 0.023 0.460 0.078 0.274
    Emotional Stability -0.109 0.052 0.107 -0.075 0.528
    Openness 0.053 0.482 0.055 0.032 0.259
    Accommodation -0.050 -0.104 0.013 0.367 0.263

    *sample size 1473, 10 test items from the TIPI Big Five test

    MOTIV to Big 5 (BFI) pearson correlations

    M O T I V
    Extroversion 0.201 0.172 -0.023 0.105 0.507
    Conscientiousness -0.042 0.024 0.564 0.089 0.317
    Emotional Stability -0.088 0.148 0.065 -0.011 0.646
    Openness -0.016 0.575 0.002 0.071 0.086
    Accommodation -0.040 -0.023 0.002 0.534 0.363

    *sample size 951, 44 test items from the BFI Big Five test

    The TIPI is a ten item Big Five test and the BFI is a 44 item Big Five test, both have been used frequently by academic researchers. Based on the correlations, Open-mindedness is analogous with Offbeat, Accommodation is analogous with Interpersonal, Emotional Stability and Extroversion are analogous with Vitality (which explains why the introvert self descriptions are more negative than extrovert self descriptions on this site as discussed in this article), and Conscientiousness is analogous with Thinking. All five Big Five traits show significant correlations to Vitality (except BFI Openness) which I think reflects a misalignment in the Big Five structure. Materialistic has little to no correlation with either Big Five inventory which means these inventories don't adequately measure a person's interest in social attractiveness/image which I would argue is one of the most significant personality traits, historically and presently.

    MOTIV to Myers Briggs / MBTI / Jung factor analysis correlations

    E/I N/S T/F J/P
    M 0.367 -0.041 -0.044 -0.009
    O -0.027 0.488 0.078 -0.176
    T -0.222 -0.183 0.175 0.603
    I 0.090 -0.038 -0.580 -0.015
    V 0.624 0.015 -0.035 0.101

    *sample size 1200, test items from an MBTI/Jung analog test on SimilarMinds

    The MBTI is a forced choice personality test system which presents dichotomies a user has to choose between (I think the forced choice system offers limited personality clarity but I will discuss that in another article). The factor analysis reveals the Extroversion/Introversion dichotomy as a strong analog for MOTIV Vitality and a medium analog for MOTIV Materialistic, the Intuition/Sensing dichotomy is a strong analog to MOTIV Offbeat, the Thinking/Feeling dichotomy is a strong analog to MOTIV Withholding (i.e. low MOTIV Interpersonal preference). The Judging/Perceiving dichotomy is a strong analog to MOTIV Thinking. The standout issue in the above results is that a person can have a high Materialistic orientation and a low Vital orientation but you would not accurately be able to discern that from their MBTI/Jung type because MBTI/Jung Extroversion has a positive loading on Materialistic and Vital traits. This illustrates the central flaw in the MBTI system which is that it conflates unhappiness and introversion and happiness and extroversion (which I discuss at length in this article).

    MOTIV Drive Architecture

    Materialistic vs. Ascetic Personalty (Vanity vs. Austerity)

    The Materialist is oriented towards wanting to be attractive and impressive to others. They are often externally narcissistic, seeking to be whatever the external world deems best. The most efficient way to do this is to be physically attractive to others, so the Materialist values beauty, attractiveness more than anything else. To the degree beauty is not enough or is difficult for them to cultivate, maintain, the less healthy Materialist is more likely to resort to other tricks/enhancements such as makeup, hair coloring, fashion, plastic surgery, etc. to make them appear to be more attractive than they actually are. Fancy cars, houses, baubles, also are used to advertise to other people how valuable and desirable less healthy Materialists wish to appear. Anything other people might think is valuable Materialists value. A less healthy Materialist might pursue a particular career because of it's prestige in the eyes of others more than because they have authentic internal interest in that career. They are more likely to borrow their taste from the desires of others so they are keen on following the latest trends and fashions.

    The Materialist wants to resemble a mirrored reflection of what is considered most ideal/attractive by others, society, or their subculture. Money which is basically a social IOU is naturally prized by the Marketer, the more they have, the more they think they are worth, there value is drawn from the external instead of the internal. The Don Draper character in Mad Men exemplifies a less healthy Materialist personality, attractive, rich, and successful on the outside, something else entirely underneath the surface. This drive taken to an unhealthy extreme is what drives the growing wealth inequality phenomena, why when one person builds something of no practical value to existence like a 200ft super yacht, someone else will want to build an even less practical 300ft one, to appear better, more perfect/desirable. This is why a Depressive Materialist may not want to be friends with anyone so attractive they might attract/steal their significant other (or even just steal attention). Materialists tend to be more attractive than average, but their attractiveness can make them stuck developmentally, less likely to develop other aspects of their personality/life. One only has to think of the image of the prettiest caveman enchanted by their reflection in a river to understand that this personality tendency can overvalue a temporary advantage over others to no benefit to the individual or society in the long run.

    On the other hand healthy Materialists can use their superior desirability for the good of the world much like attractive actors and actresses often serve as ambassadors for non profits. While certainly unhealthy Materialists can desire that no one is more attractive than them, the reality is everyone in theory can be more physically attractive. And authentic physical attractiveness reflects better physical health so this is certainly something worthwhile for everyone to aspire to, work towards/on.

    The counter persona to the Materialist is the Ascetic personality. The Ascetic shuns the material world, external ideals, public opinion, and the need to find validation in their social rank/status, physical beauty. They are thus internally narcissistic, only caring about what they think is valuable. They tend to want to live apart from society, outside of it, in the metaphorical or actual wilderness. Great ideas have come from Ascetic intellectuals (which not all Ascetics are) but Ascetics are no less foolish in their life choices than unhealthy Materialist types who lazily, derivative adopt whatever is popular/attractive regardless of whether it is right. A drawback to being Ascetic is illustrated by Aristarchus who figured out the Sun was the center of our planetary system 1800 years before Copernicus readopted the idea and proved it. Had Aristarchus been more social connected, adept, maybe he could have convinced the public of his ideas and the world might be more advanced today as a result.

    The whole underlying psychology of this orientation spectrum is how much one values social rank, status, society, and what society deems valuable. Now if you have a more Ascetic orientation then you may cringe at the notion of society (the unwashed masses) having good judgement on what has value. But the idea of the wisdom of crowds has a lot of compelling evidence behind it (the book The Wisdom of Crowds is a good overview). If you compare the dart accuracy of one random person selected at average versus the average of a group of people, the latter will always be more accurate, the larger the group of people shooting you average, the more accurate. This phenomena only breaks down on things that are too complex for most people to grasp. And while any one individual may possibly exceed society's collective wisdom on one topic, most of the time the collective, averaged intelligence of the group exceeds that of any one individual on most topics. The MOTIV personality model is basically a refinement of the Big 5 academic personality model which was developed when researchers averaged the data on people's self ratings on a large pool of descriptive adjectives, finding five discreet personality traits.

    Ascetics, more free of social preoccupations, can be better able to focus more on whatever their internal interests might be but their social isolation can impair their cognitive capacity, greatly limiting the universe of ideas they are exposed to (in the same way one computer is less powerful than a network of computers). Also, since they are less connected to others and/or less able to connect to others, attract others, their ideas/work may never reach others / the world. This is why an Ascetic and a Materialist pair can work very well together, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs being a good example.

    The dangers of an overly Ascetic existence is the rejection of the material nature of existence and the value of others, society, civilization. Physical attractiveness, physical symmetry does correlate to health to a fair degree, lack of social standing/awareness can endanger one's life, and on most topics society knows more than any one individual, so to shun, not attend to the external compromises your ability to be physically happy, healthy, not to mention harms the quality of society you are choosing to avoid, not contribute to. Having a partner/mate and friends can help you stay healthy, live longer, according to research studies. There are dangers to the Materialistic orientation too. Sacrificing (failing to develop) an internal identity as a result of focusing too much on external attractiveness/image, infidelity as the prioritization of the physical best and/or who values you most causes you to sabotage/stray from perfectly workable relationships you already have, having more kids than you or the planet can happily sustain (or even unhappily sustain), the aforementioned growing wealth inequality problem caused by unconsciously or consciously trying to maximize mating attractiveness in oneself or one's descendants. The less healthy Materialist is also more prone to substituting drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, gambling, and/or other external stimulation addictions as a substitute for the dopamine rush of external social validation. Coupled with the Depressive orientation, Materialists can be very controlling and manipulative of whatever the source of their external validation is, as they depend on this. Of course some unhealthy Materialists can be so charming, ideal seeming at first that it's hard to believe how ugly they actually are deep down, but in these cases their charm is merely a lure, their camouflage not the authentic beauty you find in healthy Materialists.

    Offbeat vs Conventional (New Ways vs. Old Ways)

    Evolution / change seems to be the norm in human existence. There are certainly periods of cultural collapse which result in a more primitive existence than before but overall most newer cultural/intellectual/technological peaks exceed previous ones. The chase of the new, innovation, invention, is the driving force of human evolution. The Offbeat mindset seeks to live on the vanguard of existence, to step into the unknown. There are dangers to this approach, astronauts die, inventors explode themselves in their labs, revolutionaries are killed, athletes die from over-training, but there are clearly also rewards. What is the point of living a life that has already been lived before is the ethos of the Offbeat individual, to sacrifice who you were, are, to become something new, different.

    The Convention on the other hand is more likely to fear change and sometimes even desires an older more simple existence. The Amish are an example of a culture of Conventionals. Orthodox versions of any religious or cultural group are another example. The Flat Earth society is a humorous extreme. Someone who celebrates Christmas or any other cultural holiday is a more mainstream example of this mindset. Some conventions have their place and you can't constantly reinvent better ways to do things at every moment but erring on the side of the conventional is inherently stagnant if not regressive. There is so much that hasn't been figured out, perfected, etc. that to be too conventional is to be against improvement, progress, a better life and a better world. There is nothing admirable in that and that is why no one typically admires the conventional.

    So, this spectrum is about knowledge selection and discovery, experimental vs. conventional living. I think the ideal on this spectrum is to be as unconventional as you can be without risking your physical existence. I think it's really cool to watch someone do some physical stunt that no one has ever been able to do before but if they end up dying do it, it's doesn't seem as worthwhile. Maybe Marie Curie would have had an even more enjoyable and productive life had she been a little more cautious around the Radium that eventually killed her.

    Thinking vs. Haphazard (Planned vs. Unplanned)

    The Thinker's prime motivation is to have a planned out life, to know where they are headed. Essentially, they desire predictability, security, certainty, order. It is not enough to understand that something feels good or that something works, the Thinker needs a more rational understanding so they can achieve reliable results in life. This mentality (coupled with an Offbeat orientation) is the foundation of science and has resulted in a much greater understanding of the world, and a vast number of improvements to the world. The only problem with this orientation is getting too stuck in a particular plan, not being open to updating, changing one's life plan based on poor results and/or new information. There is so much yet that we do not know and new information can change what we know as true. A Thinker can be hindered by their need for total certainty, order in what will likely always be a somewhat uncertain, disordered world, their need to understand things that remain indecipherable. A problem with Thinkers is analysis paralysis or simply over-analysis delays where the Thinker spends more time on a decision than the import of the decision merits or the information available on that decision justifies.

    The Haphazard shuns or finds it difficult to be structured and orderly, to make and follow long term plans. Consequently, they tend to live a more unplanned, meandering life, relying more on chance. This makes them less stiff, less rigid than thinkers can be (at their worst). But it also makes them basically stuck in the mental development of a child. This is normal when you are a child and your brain is still developing, but a resistance, failure to plan, develop that ability/skill, becomes disabling as an adult. Like children, Haphazards are a bit lost, undifferentiated. They have a more amorphous identity as a result of their aversion or inability to focus, organize. They may prefer environments, situation that allow them to continue living as a child developmentally. They are more likely to be artistic but to the degree they don't plan, substantive artistic achievement is less likely.

    This personality spectrum relates to the executive function located in the frontal lobes, the newest part of the human brain. I think like with the Offbeat trait the ideal is to be as Thinking as possible short of being too narrow minded, over-planned.

    Interpersonal vs. Withholding (Othercentric vs. Selfcentric)

    It is surprising the number of people, who identify as selfless/considerate with people close to them and selfish/inconsiderate with strangers, that consider themselves nice or consider themselves perfectly normal, ideal even. The latter type of people are not Interpersonal types. Interpersonal types with a high Vital score care more about others than themselves and would rather hurt them-self than hurt another person. They don't help others to get something back, they help others because they are more wired to the needs of others than their own needs. They feel the hunger, pain, happiness in someone else more than in themself. A lot of good can come out of this orientation. It is the basis for a lot of the charitable and humanitarian causes which make the world a more hospitable place. However, there is also a negative to this orientation. A society of selfless people can be prime fuel for selfish people to take advantage of. Furthermore, you can unwisely avoid developing your own life by being overly devoted to the lives of others. If other people's lives are so worthy of attention, why isn't yours as well?

    Withholding types are less common than Interpersonal types (at least in terms of self reports). If Withholding types are not hiding who they are (which they can certainly do) they kind of stand out since they are so much more disagreeable/unaccommodating/selfish than most people. Withholding types like to claim everyone is selfish as they can't imagine anyone not having their selfish orientation (and also use this fake claim as way to excuse their selfishness/inconsideration). An extreme Withholding preference is one aspect of all sociopaths of the world. They lack empathy towards others, which means they are ignorant or inconsiderate of the pain of others. One convicted serial killer murdered his first victim after a one night stand. His motivation was that he thought his victim looked so peaceful and pretty and he didn't want him to leave his bed, so he calmly strangled him to keep him there (interestingly, he, Jeffrey Dahmer, grew up with parents who had no regard for him as well, who basically abandoned him). A more common Withholding type is simply just looking out for their own interests a little more than other people's (sort of like the ideal of modern American capitalism). If you add a Materialistic and Depressive orientation you get fictional characters like Ebenezer Scrooge or Mr. Potter from It's A Wonderful Life.

    Intelligence seems to be a limiting factor in people's capacity to want to help others, I think if people were more aware (for example of how everyone is connected, however remotely) they would be more altruistic. But most are not, and most people that are very nice even to strangers typically would still probably save a loved one over a stranger from a sinking boat, even if the stranger had more to offer the world (of course a Withholding type would save them-self over a loved one). This results in the kind of culture of selfishness and enabling selflessness (conscious or unconscious) that idly stands by while a majority of the world lives a far less humane life than most in the west (for now), even though in the long run that can hurt everyone as it destabilizes civilization.

    The substance of this personality spectrum is about valuing others. I think the ideal is to be as Interpersonal as possible without hurting yourself and/or the world. If helping others hurts you (or doesn't even really help others in the case of enabling behavior), the world as a whole doesn't benefit. The wise approach is to look out for your interests and the interests of the world (as you can't survive without a world to live in).

    Social scientists interested in game theory have found that a strategy where you always cooperate with others at first and only defect from others if they betray and never apologize is the best socially sustainable strategy Tit for Tat research). You can take consideration too far if you continue to be accommodating to a significant other, family member, offspring or even stranger who doesn't act accommodating to you or others (the principle of reciprocity) as that engenders/reinforces selfish behavior, an entitlement complex, which lowers the quality of the social ecosystem hurting you and everyone else. The healthy version of this behavior is about doing things that actually help others not simply doing whatever others want. Our happiness is more contingent on the health of society than individual health as the healthiest individual would not fair as well in an apocalyptic wasteland. Thus it is essential for the healthiest people to invest in helping others to make for a better society, world and not to live opportunistic selfish lives which is becoming all too common today.

    Vital vs Depressed (Optimism/Happiness vs. Pessimism/Apathy)

    This is one of the most important drives of the MOTIV system, the desire to be alive. None of us chose to be born so it understandably makes sense that not everyone is fully on board with being alive. If you have ever been happy, grateful to be alive, even for a moment, then you know what it feels like for people that have a high Vital orientation, except for them, they are like that most of the time. There was an interesting article recently about a small percentage of the population that doesn't need much sleep.

    Dr. Jones says he has identified only about 20 true short sleepers, and he says they share some fascinating characteristics. Not only are their circadian rhythms different from most people, so are their moods (very upbeat) and their metabolism (they're thinner than average, even though sleep deprivation usually raises the risk of obesity). They also seem to have a high tolerance for physical pain and psychological setbacks.

    "They encounter obstacles, they just pick themselves up and try again," Dr. Jones says.

    Some short sleepers say their sleep patterns go back to childhood and some see the same patterns starting in their own kids, such as giving up naps by age 2. As adults, they gravitate to different fields, but whatever they do, they do full bore, Dr. Jones says.

    "Typically, at the end of a long, structured phone interview, they will admit that they've been texting and surfing the Internet and doing the crossword puzzle at the same time, all on less than six hours of sleep," says Dr. Jones. "There is some sort of psychological and physiological energy to them that we don't understand." (source)

    Vital types self report as liking who they are, enjoying life, being optimistic, having a strong will to live, and being self motivated. Whereas Materialistic types report wanting to be liked the most, Vital types actually report being liked the most.

    Depressed types on the other hand hate who they are while also reporting that they don't even know who they are, they lack motivation, feel they have no control over life, think most people are better than them, feel unable to change their circumstances, feel broken, don't like most people, feel that being optimistic leads to disappointment, are self destructive, and have a defeatist outlook on life.

    Two of most interesting and highest factor scoring differences between Vital and Depressed types are the following items.

    At a certain point in my life my parents distanced themselves from me (and they remain distant).
    At a certain point in my life I distanced myself from my parents (and I remain distant).

    Since no one chooses to be born, it makes sense that one's parents, one's maker / original propeller, appear to have a profound effect on a person's outlook on life, their will to live (both environmentally and genetically). Being distant is also a personality trait on it's own that's correlated with being Depressive and has a genetic component (source). Another significant item which correlated with being Depressed is "I cannot explain why my parents are they way they are (or were the way they are)." It seems growing up with parents that don't know who they are results in kids who don't know who they are, and as a result, Depression because having no sense of identity is basically a depression of the self. Regardless, unhealthy attachment issues (whether genetic or environmentally caused) appear to be a preeminent feature in whether a person has a Vital or Depressive orientation. Not all unhealthy attachment issues are about parental rejection or genetics, excessive coddling and/or closeness (over-parenting) can also result in a helpless disposition that defines the Depressive personality (as discussed in this article).

    If you are someone who thinks they had/have healthy attachments BUT romantic relationship breakups are very difficult for you, break your will, then you need to reexamine your attachment history/reality because an authentic Vital type weathers romantic rejections very well, a Depressive does not. If the loss of a relationship ruins your will to live, you didn't have much of a will to live to begin with.

    Serious trauma can also disrupt/injure/break someone's will to live. If something happens to you, like in war, that upsets your entire world view, that can stop the momentum of a person with even a fairly ideal background whose previous motivation was built on a lot of emotional and intellectual influences that have now been overshadowed by the greater impact of their trauma.

    Certain behaviors, foremost of them developing/maintaining physical fitness, are essential to maintaining a Vital disposition to life (exercise is one of the few actionable behaviors I've found which correlates to the Vital disposition). But if you, in your head (consciously or unconsciously), don't want to be alive, lack a will to live, nothing else really matters. For example, if you are a great driver, as far as capability, but don't voluntarily choose to turn the steering wheel when you need to on a steep mountain road, you will plummet to your death. On a less dramatic level, someone who has less internal will to live won't do, consistently, all the things necessary to maintain a healthy functional life. That's basically what the Depressive personality is for a lot of people, a slow prolonged unpleasant death (often with collateral damage).

    Depressives are the people that inspire zombie movies, droning through life, sometimes hungry for life in others and therefore potentially destructive of others, but lacking sufficient authentic life drive inside. Depressives who are also Materialistic and Withholding are the villainous despots of history, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot. They selfishly act out their self destructive death wishes on the whole world. To kill another person (or yourself) is a very easy thing to do if you simply don't value life.

    I recently discovered that Depressives self report as being really hard on themselves which is ironic because they also self report as not really putting any effort into things. It would seem that what energy they have is devoted to self nullifying thinking patterns. This makes it particularly important to not be negative with Depressives as they are already too negative, and if you are a Depressive to stop being chronically negative and start putting your energy in actionable behaviors that improve Vitality like exercise and pursuing interests you care about, forming and following plans, and helping others, the world, leaving no mental energy left to be negative, self flagellating.

    The historical antecedent to this personality spectrum is Freud's Death instinct. Freud came up with the Death instinct in an attempt to try to explain why trauma victims/survivors (many as a result of WW1) became fixated on self-destructive patterns, specifically they tended to repeat/re-enact their traumatic experiences (unknowingly). He found it connected to another phenomena he noticed in other patients which was a need to repeat past trauma (unhealthy experience) as a contemporary experience instead or remembering that it had actually occurred in the past. I think this repeating of patterns is a function of unhealthy neuropathways that exist due to genetics or unfortunate environment that Depressives by habit adhere to like hikers adhere to a park trail. The solution is to change the pathways/habits and improve energy via exercise so as to embark on, forge, stick to new healthier and more constructive pathways/habits.

    Many Depressives are stuck / fixated on unhealthy attachment issues and/or trauma issues (consciously or unconsciously). They don't like most people because all they care about is their destructive course (which often involves re-enacting poor parental relationships), everyone/thing else is invisible / meaningless to them. This is why Depressives can be very inconsiderate (and often not intentionally). Depressives score highly (compared to the average) on wanting to be carried through life which again suggests a need for a replacement parent and/or a broken will. Materialistic Withholding Depressives like Stalin and Hitler managed to coax an entire nation to carry them (although even that wasn't enough, they wanted the whole world to carry them). Some Depressives though, as a result of their genetics, simply are born with a fragile will to live and might not have a particular trauma history. Again, genetics are not destiny, so a Depressive can choose to change their innate behavioral pattern if they want to.

    Depressives tend to over focus on one or more of the other MOTIV drives with the notion that if only they are more of something, then they could be happy INSTEAD of focusing on actually living, being more alive.

    Materialistic Depressive - focus excessively on being attractive/wealthy/perfect
    Offbeat Depressive - focus excessively on unhealthy experiments, paths
    Thinking Depressive - focus excessively on unhealthy plans/routines/systems
    Interpersonal Depressive - focus excessively on serving unhealthy people
    Easygoing Depressive - focused excessively on taking it easy, perma-leisure-mode
    Sectarian Depressive - focused excessively on their tribe/nation/culture/race

    These misperceptions of what will make them happy fuel their repetition of the same dysfunctional patterns. The Depressive thinks they can only be happy if they get that thing that was always missing or became broken and/or replace what their parents can't provide for them anymore (but that they still are dependent on), i.e. a surrogate will to live. Still other Depressives are just resigned to the idea that nothing will ever make them happy, they will never have a sustainable will/reason to live.

    The notion of self medication, I think, is all about using external means as a substitute for your own lack of internal motivation, will power. Alcohol (liquid courage) can be a normal occasional fun part of life if you are not a Depressive. But if you are one, then you may not be able to get by without it. Anti-depressants prescribed in unprecedented numbers are nothing more than chemical exercise/motivation (i.e. a means to raise heart rate - source). An individual responded to their test results recently with the following:

    Low Vitality score: Little doubt that reflects the fact that I have been diagnosed with depression. I am, however, medicated which ought to have overcome that outcome. Interesting.

    As if the solution to happiness is passively ordering it on a menu at the pharmacy. I do think if you are unwilling to exercise, that anti-depressants may be better than the alternative, nothing, which will inevitably lead to more physical/mental deterioration. However, maybe more deterioration would prompt/force the individual to make changes to their behavior and all psychotropic medication does it trap the individual into not getting worse, but not getting better. Further, there's a lot written about serious withdrawal symptoms of anti-depressants which keep patients on them for no other reason than to avoid withdrawal (source). In any case, anything external that you rely on, on a regular basis, that if removed would make you less functional, less motivated, less alive, is an indication of your own fundamental lack of self propulsion. Thus external solutions even when they provide some organic benefit can serve to further weaken a Depressive's already weak internal will to live.

    The best solution for the Depressive is to become aware of their unhealthy attachment issues, mindset, and/or trauma history and to give up on the need for an idealized parent/savior/love-interest/external-source-for-motivation, to look to them-self for support/healing. Only then can they begin actively living as a more independent self motivated Vital type (exercising regularly, pursuing a career / authentic interests, etc.) and no longer as a more dependent depressive unhealthy child or victim longing for something that won't sustainably fix their problem, which is that they lack the internal will to live. Only then can they actually have a chance at healthy friendships, romantic relationships, career, life.

    Another item that divides Vitals and Depressives strongly is the notion that happiness is something one has control over. Depressives refuse to accept it because they consciously or unconsciously want to be saved by someone/something other than them-self or alternately they think there simply is no hope (which frees them of the responsibility of putting effort into life, i.e. active living). To admit that happiness is something you can have control over undermines their entire emotionally immature psychology, their genetic or learned helplessness. The internal will to live is something that needs to be internally worked for, developed, figured out, as no one is entirely born with it. If the Depressive is otherwise physically healthy, the transition to the Vital orientation won't be so hard. If the Depressive has poor physical health, it will be a longer transition to fix the years of physical neglect, poor habits, but if they move beyond the past unhealthy attachment / dependency issues / trauma fixation there is no reason they can't rebuild themselves in time.

    Life is not fair at the start. We are not all created equal. A lot of Vital types merely had/have the fortune of good genes and/or parents which gave them a lot of healthy life momentum/modeling/skills. They may or may not sustain that momentum/modeling/skills, but their lack of unhealthy attachment issues and/or trauma makes it less likely for them to fall into self destructiveness, the grips of the death instinct. Anyone who is Depressive likely had parents who had their own share of problems with likely their own set of Depressive parents and/or trauma, so often there is really no one to blame. Even if there was, it doesn't solve the problem that the Depressive fundamentally lacks sufficient internal will to live. No amount of trauma (short of their own death), can keep someone with sufficient internal will to live permanently down, they will keep picking them-self up no matter what. Ultimately, for the Depressive every problem that occurs in life is a chance for them to choose to keep giving up, being helpless, acting dead, for Vital types it is simply a chance to choose to overcome another hurdle, to be resilient, to act/be alive. (Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, written on scraps of paper in a Nazi concentration camp, is a good read on the topic of the will to live.)

    Easygoing vs. Rigid (Calm vs High Strung)

    I'm still working on this newly added trait but it basically has to do with one's capacity and preference in regards to relaxation. Some people are really good at relaxing, really enjoy it, and some people are horrible at it, don't see the point. While you can certainly over relax, relaxation is an essential part of being a healthy human being as it enables the body to repair itself and it's important to learn to relax as much as you need to (but no more). People that don't know how to relax are more likely to experience stress related health consequences.

    Sectarian vs. Globalist (Nationalistic/Tribalist vs Cosmopolitan)

    I'm still working on this newly added trait as well but it basically has to do with whether you prioritize the welfare of your people/kind/culture or whether you value the welfare of everyone. In primitive times when humans lived in disconnected tribes it made evolutionary sense to put your tribe above of outsiders. But now as humans live more interconnected with everyone on the planet, and there are far more of us, the benefits and consequences of not working together are more serious.

    Concluding Thoughts

    While none of the MOTIV types correlate with Vitality (i.e. scoring highly in Materialistic, Offbeat, Thinking, Interpersonal, Easygoing, or Sectarian, does not indicate whether you will score highly on Vitality, on average), there are enough high scoring Materialistic, Offbeat, Thinking, Interpersonal, Easygoing and Sectarian items I have run across that are associated with Vitality that it would appear developing any or all of those traits can make one healthier (for example the item "I am very popular in mainstream society" correlates with Materialistic and Vitality). On the other hand I've found no low scoring Materialistic, Offbeat, Thinking, Interpersonal, Easygoing or Sectarian items associated with high Vitality, suggesting that a Ascetic, Conventional, Empty-slate, Withholding, Rigid, or Globalistic personality orientation is detrimental to one's Vitality and thus should be changed, not reinforced. However, when you group people by personality preference only Offbeat and Thinking groups show a higher average Vitality score. On most other MOTIV traits groups scoring in the middle of the each spectrum have higher Vitality (despite the fact that when you look at individual scores, all six traits are orthogonal to Vitality).

    Related to that, I speculate there is one particular personality item that may epitomize a more ideal personality disposition/characteristic.

    I know who I want to be and focus my life's energies in that direction.

    The above item codes based on factor analysis scores of 851 test takers to xotxvxx, middle preference on Materialistic, high preference for Offbeat, medium preference on Thinking, middle preference on Interpersonal, high preference on Vitality (and I don't have enough data yet on Easygoing and Sectarian). I surmise if everyone operated with that disposition (or even if simply more people did), that the world would be a happier, healthier, more reliable, more dynamic place.

    I think it may be empirically provable that happier / healthier cultures (such as Northern European countries) come closer to the XOTXV personality disposition and more depressed / unhealthy ones diverge from it in an endless number of ways much like the Anna Karenina line...

    Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

    So, I think it's optimal to prioritize Offbeatness, Thinking, Vitality and be in between on the Materialistic and Interpersonal spectrum. Vitality is an essential check against exploring doomed paths/plans (if a new idea/plan does not further one's health/happiness/prosperity in the long term, it should be abandoned and something new should be tried), maximizing Offbeatness is a check against progressing too slowly, maximizing Planning is a check against disorder, being semi-Interpersonal is a check against being too selfless or too unhelpful. Being semi-Materialistic you avoid being too out of touch, unattractive to the world or too fake, inauthentic.

    Below is a list of personality items which correlate with the XOTXV personality orientation...

    I usually work on improving things, instead of getting frustrated, when everything seems to be going wrong.
    I am an expert in my work.
    I'm good at working with the hand I'm dealt.
    I fix my own problems.
    I work on improving myself.
    I build things.
    I'm a doer.
    I accomplish things.
    If I were diagnosed with a disease that would cause me to go blind, I would devote my life to finding, figuring out a cure.
    I am resourceful and independent.
    I fix.
    When I'm unhappy I deal with whatever is causing it.
    I rarely have negative thoughts.
    I have high self esteem.
    I make things work.
    I feel comfortable with myself.
    I feel alive inside.
    I spend practically every moment every day doing things that are important.
    I spend a lot of time developing my skills.
    I know who I am.
    I know exactly what makes me happy.
    I optimize.
    I am persistent.

    Interestingly, many of the above items seem to fit myth researcher Joseph Campbell's concept of following your bliss.

    The entire list of 243 MOTIV type item correlations can be found here.


    MOTIV drive descriptions can be found here -

    MOTIV personality tests

    normal version -
    hybrid version -

    In any case, understanding the system and determining your own current type introspectively and/or with those that know you well may be more accurate than any test can be.

    Reading List

    Here are some books which relate, elaborate on the six MOTIV traits. While I don't agree with everything in these books, they give a more robust overview of what each MOTIV trait is all about.

    Materialistic - Survival of the Prettiest, The Wisdom of Crowds
    Offbeat - The Roadless Traveled
    Thinking - The Power of Habit
    Interpersonal - Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World
    Vital - Man's Search for Meaning, The Power of Positive Thinking, Spark ? The Revolutionary Science of Exercise and the Brain
    Easygoing - Relaxation Revolution: The Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing