A Taxonomy of Human Motivation

We recently developed a hierarchical taxonomy of human motives and published a paper in PLOSone:

Talevich, J.R., Read, S. J., Walsh, D. A., Iyer, R., Chopra, G. (2017). Toward a comprehensive taxonomy of human motives. PLOS ONE 12(2): e0172279. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172279 

This taxonomy is influencing our work on various computational models of motivation, risky-decision-making, human personality, and online social behavior.

We are also using this taxonomy to see if we can study decision making in a variety of domains in terms of people’s judgments of the impact of various decisions on important life goals (Goal Impact).


  • Stephen J. Read
  • Mendel B. Silberberg Professor of Social Psychology
  • Department of Psychology
  • 501 SGM
  • University of Southern California
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 90089-1061