DM4-What is Your Motivation Style

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The purpose of this action guide is to help you understand what drives you to do something and to apply that understanding to your current situation as you explore majors.


We are all driven to do the things we do for a variety of external and internal reasons. Additionally, some of us find it relatively easy to motivate ourselves to do something while others find it extremely difficult. Take working out for example. However, if you are able to identify your preferred motivation style, you open a window to understanding what motivates you to take action and also to learn. And learning, especially learning something new and challenging, is one of the key steps in understanding all the great options before you as you select your academic and career path.


Complete the assessment below under "Motivational Questions". This will help you see which of the 4 motvation styles (listed below) is your primary motivation style. This assessment is based on “What’s Your Motivation Style?” by Marcia L. Conner.  You can access the assessment in document form online or use the Handout on the CAPE website as well. If you would like to write or draw out your responses, you may use DrawIsland, Word or the drawing tool of your choice; scan the file, save and upload it below.

Motivation Styles

Goal-oriented:  If you are goal-oriented, you probably reach for your goals through a direct and obvious route. This might lead you to a reference book, your computer, or to call an expert—whatever means is available. You usually prefer meeting in-person when it's the most effective method and don't find learning, itself, much fun.

Relationship-Oriented:  If you are relationship-oriented, you take part in learning mainly for social contact. When you meet and interact with people, you learn things along the way. You may not like working independently or focusing on topics (separately from the people) because that doesn't give you the interactivity you crave.

Learning Oriented: If you are learning-oriented, the practice of learning, itself, drives you. You search for knowledge because learning delights you and you may become frustrated by anything that requires you to spend more time following procedures than on actual learning.

Thrill-Oriented:  There is also a fourth motivation style I haven't yet addressed, primarily because it's far less common than the other three styles and because you might not think of it as a motivation style at all. That style is thrill-oriented, drawn not to any particular thing but, rather, away from anything that people perceive as tying them down, bounding them, or pulling them in any predictable direction. This isn't to say that thrill-oriented learners can't acquire goals, relationships, or curiosity, but if any of these feel too time-consuming, invasive, or binding, the learner becomes restless and perhaps experiences a compulsion to go in another direction—any other direction—to feel free. If you're thrill-oriented, you're likely to be impulsive and you want to remain impulsive; you seek thrills and flee anything that doesn't offer you that sensation. All of us at one time or another feel impulsive or have an urge to do something else, but we usually moderate these urges when they come, instead of always following where they lead.

Printable Version
DM4: Motivation Style

Used with permissions from Marcia L. Conner, (c) 1993-2014. All rights reserved The original version can be found at