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In this manuscript we review the constructs of personality and values, clarifying how they are related and how they are distinct. We then relate that understanding to motivation, and propose that personality and values have different influences on different motivational processes. We present a model in which personality and values influence motivation via the motivational processes of goal content and goal striving.
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Review
Personality, values, and motivation
Laura Parks
a,*
, Russell P. Guay
b,1
a
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, United States
b
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, United States
article info
Article history:
Received 12 November 2008
Received in revised form 19 May 2009
Accepted 1 June 2009
Available online 26 June 2009
Keywords:
Personality
Values
Motivation
Goals
abstract
In this manuscript we review the constructs of personality and values, clarifying how they are related and
how they are distinct. We then relate that understanding to motivation, and propose that personality and
values have different influences on different motivational processes. We present a model in which per-
sonality and values influence motivation via the motivational processes of goal content and goal striving.
Ó2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Personality, values, and motivation
Since 1937, when Allport recommended the exclusion of evalu-
ative traits when investigating personality, the constructs of per-
sonality and values have rarely been studied together. However,
both are expected to influence a variety of behavioral outcomes,
and so it seems evident that we should consider both in examining
the impact of individual differences on behavior. Yet this practice is
so infrequent, there is little understanding of how personality and
values are related to one another, much less how they might jointly
impact behavior. As such, this manuscript considers both personal-
ity and values simultaneously as predictors of motivated behavior.
In this paper we review the personality and values literatures in
terms of how the constructs are similar and distinct in order to
clarify their unique attributes. Because values have received less
literary attention in recent years, the values construct is reviewed
in greater detail. We then review how each is expected to relate to
motivation theoretically, and how they have been linked to moti-
vation empirically. We also propose a model that integrates the
two constructs into one motivational framework and discuss
how they may differentially predict different motivational pro-
cesses. The goal of this manuscript is to clarify our understanding
of how values and personality are similar, how they are distinct,
and how they might collectively influence motivated behavior.
2. Personality
Personality is defined as enduring dispositions that cause char-
acteristic patterns of interaction with one’s environment (Gold-
berg, 1993; Olver & Mooradian, 2003). Research has demon-
strated that personality is related to physiological processes (Olver
& Mooradian, 2003), and there is ‘‘robust evidence that genetic fac-
tors substantially influence personality traits” (Caspi, Roberts, &
Shiner, 2005, p. 462), with heritabilities averaging around .40 (Bou-
chard, 1997). While there is little evidence for a shared environ-
mental effect, there is obviously a significant non-shared
environmental component that contributes to an individual’s per-
sonality (Bouchard, 2004).
Although personality research has experienced a renaissance in
the last 25 years, until the early-1980s most of the research on per-
sonality – particularly on workplace outcomes – concluded that
personality did not matter (Barrick, Mount, & Judge, 2001; Gold-
berg, 1993). That conclusion changed, however, with the emer-
gence of the five-factor model of personality (FFM), which
provided a relatively parsimonious taxonomy for grouping and
classifying specific traits. Aggregating personality traits into these
five broad categories produces several benefits, including greater
reliability in measurement and results that are more comparable
across studies. As noted by Mount and Barrick (1995, p. 160),
‘‘many personality psychologists have reached a consensus that
five personality constructs, referred to as the Big Five, are neces-
sary and sufficient to describe the basic dimensions of normal per-
sonality.” Further, McCrae and Costa (1997, p. 509) state that
‘‘many psychologists are now convinced that the best representa-
tion of trait structure is provided by the five-factor model.”
0191-8869/$ - see front matter Ó2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.paid.2009.06.002
*Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 540 568 5171.
E-mail addresses: parksll@jmu.edu (L. Parks), russell-guay@uiowa.edu
(R.P. Guay).
1
Tel.: +1 319 335 1504.
Personality and Individual Differences 47 (2009) 675–684
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Personality and Individual Differences
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/paid
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The FFM’s five factors (and examples of traits) are Conscien-
tiousness (responsible, organized, efficient), Emotional Stability
(self-confident, resilient, well-adjusted), Extraversion (talkative,
ambitious, assertive), Agreeableness (friendly, cooperative, loyal),
and Openness to Experience (curious, imaginative, open-minded)
(Goldberg, 1992; Mount & Barrick, 2002). Although the FFM is
now widely accepted as a meaningful way to organize personality
traits and has been shown to have cross-cultural generalizability
(McCrae & Costa, 1997), some researchers defend taxonomies with
more or fewer factors (see, for example, Ashton et al., 2004; Block,
1995). Nonetheless, the emergence of the FFM led to increased
activity in the study of personality, with the conclusion that per-
sonality does indeed have meaningful relationships with perfor-
mance, motivation, job satisfaction, leadership, and other work
outcomes.
3. Values
Broadly defined, values are conceptions of the desirable
(Kluckhorn, 1951). More specific definitions have been developed,
however, and the proliferation of descriptions has tended to hin-
der research in the values domain (Hitlin & Piliavin, 2004). In
general, values research has ascribed to one of two basic models
(Ravlin & Meglino, 1987a), which we refer to as ‘‘values as pref-
erences” and ‘‘values as principles.” Values as preferences (work
values) are essentially attitudes. They indicate the preferences that
individuals have for various environments (Ravlin & Meglino,
1987a). For example, someone who values autonomy would be
more satisfied with a job that provides considerable discretion.
Values as preferences have been studied extensively in relation
to career choice and, more recently, within the context of fit. Re-
sults typically indicate that values as preferences are related to
attitudes, such as job satisfaction. They have not, however, typi-
cally been found to relate to behavior (except for career choices)
(Dawis, 1991).
Values as principles, often termed individual or personal values,
are guiding principles regarding how individuals ought to behave.
For example, an individual who values honesty believes that all
people ought to be honest, while an individual who values achieve-
ment believes that people ought to have many accomplishments
that will be socially recognized. This manuscript focuses on per-
sonal values (values as principles), because research and theory
suggest that they are more closely linked to motivation. That is,
values as preferences are attitudinal, and should primarily impact
attitudes, such as satisfaction. Personal values, however, should
more directly impact motivation, because they are general beliefs
that one ought to behave a certain way. In this paper, therefore,
any reference to values will implicitly refer to personal values,
which we define as learned beliefs that serve as guiding principles
about how individuals ought to behave.
Values are evaluative; they guide individuals’ judgments about
appropriate behavior both for oneself and for others. Values are
also general – they transcend specific situations, which helps us
to distinguish what values are from what they are not. Values
are not, for example, attitudes – attitudes are specifically related
to a given event, person, behavior, situation, etc. Values are more
ingrained, more stable, and more general than attitudes (England
& Lee, 1974). Additionally, values are ordered by importance, such
that one will tend to act according to the more important value
when two values are in conflict. For example, consider a man
who values hedonism (pursuit of pleasure) more than benevolence
(concern for relationships). If forced to choose between golfing and
helping his brother move, he would be more likely to golf, because
he places greater importance on fulfilling personal desires than on
relationships with others.
3.1. Where do values come from?
Values develop initially through social interactions with role
models such as parents and teachers. Because values are learned,
there tend to be similarities in values patterns within cultures, as
shared values are passed from generation to generation (Meglino
& Ravlin, 1998). This is supported with research demonstrating
relationships between personal values and culturally-shared val-
ues; in fact, Oishi, Schimmack, Diener, and Suh (1998) concluded
that ‘‘patterns of relation between a particular value and other
variables should be investigated at the cultural level”; p. 1186).
Values are initially learned in isolation as absolutes (e.g., ‘‘hon-
esty is always the best policy”) (Maio & Olson, 1998; Rokeach,
1973), and all values are viewed positively. If all values were
equally good, however, we would not be able to make choices be-
tween them when determining which values should guide behav-
ior. Over time, the values that individuals learn develop into a
values structure, through experiences in which two values are
placed in conflict, forcing the individual to choose one over the
other (Rokeach, 1972). This process may also result from personal
introspection (Locke & Henne, 1986). Values tend to change con-
siderably during adolescence and young adulthood (particularly
for students attending college); however they are generally quite
stable in adulthood (Kapes & Strickler, 1975; Rokeach, 1972).
Nonetheless, because values are learned initially through social
interactions, being exposed to a new social environment can facil-
itate changes in one’s values structure, which is why socialization
efforts can sometimes change the values of newcomers to become
more like those of the organization (Cable & Parsons, 2001). Not all
employees respond equally to socialization, however, suggesting
that some individuals are less willing to make changes in their val-
ues structures (Weiss, 1978).
3.2. A taxonomy of values
Although other taxonomies of values certainly exist, in the
interest of brevity we focus our discussion on the Schwartz Value
Theory, which is the most widely-used and most well-developed
value theory. While many prior values researchers, such as Milton
Rokeach, developed models to assess values, Shalom Schwartz and
his colleagues made great strides in recent years in improving val-
ues measurement by developing a theoretically-based values tax-
onomy based on a circumplex structure (see Fig. 1). More highly
correlated values are situated closer together, while lower correla-
Fig. 1. Schwartz’s value circumplex. Reprinted with permission from Schwartz
(1994).
676 L. Parks, R.P. Guay / Personality and Individual Differences 47 (2009) 675–684
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tions create more distance between the points. Values that are
across from one another on the circumplex will tend to conflict,
such that individuals who endorse one will typically not endorse
the other. Those values that are adjacent to one another, however,
are more similar and more likely to be endorsed similarly by indi-
viduals. Schwartz and his colleagues have tested the circumplex
structure extensively and cross-culturally; results from samples
in over 40 countries have yielded quite consistent results (Sch-
wartz, 1992, 1994; Schwartz & Bilsky, 1987, 1990). Based on the
placement of the values in the circumplex structure, Schwartz
has identified 10 meaningful groupings of values. Although these
10 value domains are essentially ‘‘fuzzy sets” (Schwartz, 1994),
conceptually they capture the values that tend to cluster together
most closely, and therefore provide a meaningful and relatively
simple way to group and organize individual values. The 10 value
domains (and sample values for each) are Power (authority,
wealth, social recognition); Achievement (ambition, competence,
success); Hedonism (pursuit of pleasure, enjoyment, gratification
of desires); Stimulation (variety, excitement, novelty); Self-direc-
tion (creativity, independence, self-respect); Universalism (social
justice, equality, wisdom, environmental concern); Benevolence
(honesty, helpfulness, loyalty); Conformity (politeness, obedience,
self-discipline/restraint); Tradition (respect for tradition and the
status quo, acceptance of customs); and Security (safety, stability
of society).
3.3. Why study values?
Recent organizational research has tended to shy away from
studying values (except in terms of fit) in part because values
can be prone to social influence – a result of being learned initially
through social interactions. In this regard, Bardi and Schwartz
comment that ‘‘[p]eople may conform with norms even when the
normative behavior opposes their own values” (2003, p. 1217).
Some organizational scholars have therefore concluded that be-
cause a strong organizational culture encourages normative behav-
ior, personal values are irrelevant to behavior. Yet culture can be a
challenging thing to manage, and although individuals may adjust
their behavior somewhat based on external cues, those external
cues may not impact their underlying motivation, or the goals they
want to pursue. If values impact motivation, then understanding
that process may be beneficial to, for example, managers trying
to increase goal commitment. Aligning those goals with the indi-
vidual’s values could yield higher performance.
Another argument against the study of values is that values
expression may rely on cognitive control, meaning we may need
to rationally consider options within the context of our values for
our values to impact decision-making (Conner & Becker, 1994).
Verplanken and Holland (2002) found that individuals made
choices consistent with their values, but only when those values
were cognitively activated (or made salient). Values might not im-
pact behavior, then, if individuals do not regularly consider their
values prior to making decisions about how to behave. However,
Bardi and Schwartz (2003) demonstrated that values also influence
behavior through habitual routines, in which case cognitive pro-
cessing may not be needed for values to influence behavior. They
suggested that values impact habitual behavior through affective
mechanisms, such that we feel positive emotions when acting con-
sistently with our values and negative emotions otherwise. Human
decision-making is widely believed (among cognitive psycholo-
gists) to consist of two different information-processing systems,
one experiential and intuitive, the other rational and analytical
(Epstein, 1994). The experiential system (System 1) is reactive
and quick, relying on cognitive heuristics, or shortcuts built from
prior experiences and their outcomes. It is this system that enables
humans to act almost instantaneously in the face of danger, with-
out rationally considering options and outcomes (Facione & Faci-
one, 2007). Additionally, System 1 is often triggered by our
emotions, such that fear triggers an efficient, life-saving response
(though it should be noted that efficient is not necessarily better;
Epstein, 1994). The rational, analytical system (System 2) of deci-
sion-making, in contrast, is deliberative and conscious. When this
system is in use, the decision-maker considers various options
and their possible outcomes logically, reflectively, and systemati-
cally; this process is better for unfamiliar situations, abstract con-
cepts, and when there is time to consider all possible options
(Facione & Facione, 2007). Although research is lacking in this do-
main, values can potentially influence behaviors through either
system. This is consistent with research on goal activation, which
demonstrates that even unconsciously activated motives impact
behavior (Bargh & Gollwitzer, 1994). If true, then cognitive support
would likely only be necessary for the rational system (System 2).
Finally, researchers have been hesitant to study values because
of measurement issues (Hitlin & Piliavin, 2004). Until recently, val-
ues were examined individually (not aggregated into broader do-
mains), making it difficult to discern any pattern across studies.
England’s research on managerial values exemplifies this approach
(England & Lee, 1974). Similar issues were faced with personality
prior to the emergence of the FFM – suggesting that Schwartz’s
taxonomy could be of great benefit to values research. An addi-
tional issue with values measurement is that some researchers
contend that values should be measured ipsatively (using a rank-
order scale) to control for social desirability and to better approx-
imate the way individuals make choices when considering their
values (selecting one over another). This limits the statistical anal-
yses that can be performed, because the scores are not indepen-
dent. Research is mixed on whether an ipsative scale is really
superior to a normative (Likert-type) scale. Ravlin and Meglino
(1987b) administered both and found that the ipsative measure
produced results most consistent with theoretical expectations.
Maio, Roese, Seligman, and Katz (1996), however, reached the
opposite conclusion in a study that similarly had participants com-
plete both types of measures. Schwartz has also addressed (or per-
haps side-stepped) this issue by suggesting that one use a
normative scale and control for scale usage by calculating the
mean value score and partialling it out of subsequent analyses
(Schwartz, 1992). This has the effect of controlling for social desir-
ability, in that each individual’s response becomes a measure of
how important that particular value is to him/her after taking into
effect the importance of all the other values they have rated. That
is, a person’s absolute score on the value domain of benevolence is
less important than knowing their benevolence score relative to
the other rated values. One individual might rate all values around
6 on a 7-point scale, while someone else might rate all values
around 4. A score of 5 for benevolence values would mean some-
thing completely different for these two individuals in terms of
predicting how they might behave. Partialling out the mean score
controls for this possible confound. Multiple researchers (see, for
example, Bardi & Schwartz, 2003) have recently utilized this ap-
proach with good results (i.e., results fairly consistent with theo-
retical expectations).
4. Personality and values
There are several differences between personality and values.
Values include an evaluative component lacking from personality.
Values relate to what we believe we ought to do, while personality
relates to what we naturally tend to do. Personality traits do not
conflict with one another (i.e., one can simultaneously express
the personality traits of Extraversion and Conscientiousness), yet
values do conflict, as some are pursued at the expense of others.
L. Parks, R.P. Guay / Personality and Individual Differences 47 (2009) 675–684 677
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Additionally, personality traits are relatively innate dispositions
(Olver & Mooradian, 2003), while values are learned, socially-en-
dorsed beliefs that reflect an adaptation of one’s needs to what is
considered acceptable in society (Rokeach, 1972). That is, an indi-
vidual behaves in an extraverted fashion (personality) because
being extraverted is a part of his/her nature. A person behaves in
an honest fashion (value) because he/she has learned that honesty
is important. Finally, values structures appear to be somewhat
more dynamic (malleable) than personality traits. While a person’s
value structure may change somewhat if/when exposed to a new
environment (Rokeach, 1973), personality traits are relatively sta-
ble over the lifetime (Judge, Higgins, Thoreson, & Barrick, 1999;
McCrae et al., 2000), with an estimated annual stability coefficient
of .98 (Conley, 1985).
In spite of these distinctions between the two constructs, it can
be difficult to disentangle personality and values in practice. Roc-
cas, Sagiv, Schwartz, and Knafo (2002) comment that the same
term can refer to either a trait or a value; i.e., the term ‘‘compe-
tence” can relate to a tendency to be competent (personality) or
the belief that it is important to demonstrate competence (value).
However, it is not necessarily the case that someone who is natu-
rally competent believes it is an important value to have, nor is it
always true that someone who values competence actually pos-
sesses it. The distinction is also complicated by the fact that we
often think of personality in terms of behavior (and often measure
it through behavioral expression of traits). As a result, behavior
tends to be attributed rather automatically to personality, even
though not all behavior is an expression of personality. In fact, val-
ues may temper the behavioral expression of personality traits. For
example, someone who is naturally impulsive and is an excite-
ment-seeking risk-taker may choose to show conscientious ten-
dencies and purposely drive more slowly and carefully when he/
she has children in the car, out of concern for their well-being
(benevolence values). This implies that values and personality
may interact in predicting behavior.
Although personality and values are distinct constructs, they
are not uncorrelated. While social experiences have a significant
impact on the development of one’s value system, personality
may also play a role (Olver & Mooradian, 2003). For example, an
agreeable individual might decide that the value type of benevo-
lence is more important than that of power – in spite of what
he/she has learned from parents and other role models – because
this is consistent with his/her personality. Likewise, a naturally
curious individual (a component of Openness to Experience) may
decide that it is important for individuals to be curious (a compo-
nent of self-direction values). Because they like to explore and
question the status quo, they may believe that this is how individ-
uals ought to behave. Thus although there are clear theoretical dis-
tinctions between the constructs, there are also similarities.
Furthermore, both are expected to impact decision-making, moti-
vation, attitudes, and other behaviors. In fact, Locke (1997) in-
cludes both personality and values in the same box in his
integrated model of work motivation.
A recent meta-analysis (Parks, 2007) clarifies the relationships
between personality and values. Although based on a fairly small
sample size (11 studies), it does lead to the conclusion that while
there are consistent, theoretically predictable relationships be-
tween personality and values, the constructs are distinct. Agree-
ableness and Openness to Experience had the strongest
relationships with values, with Agreeableness relating most
strongly to benevolence values (
q
= .48) and Openness to Experi-
ence exhibiting strong correlations with both self-direction
(
q
= .49) and universalism values (
q
= .46). These relationships
make sense given the constructs – Agreeableness describes the ex-
tent to which individuals tend to be friendly, loyal, and coopera-
tive, while the Benevolence value domain captures the belief that
individuals ought to be honest, friendly, and helpful. Likewise,
Openness to Experience describes the extent to which individuals
tend to be curious, creative, and open to new ideas, which relates
both to self-direction values (beliefs that individuals ought to be
independent and self-directed) and universalism values (beliefs
that individuals ought to be free and seek wisdom). Conscientious-
ness and Extraversion demonstrated more modest correlations
with values; the strongest generalizable relationships for these
traits were Conscientiousness with conformity (
q
= .29) and
achievement values (
q
= .26), and Extraversion with stimulation
values (
q
= .26). Finally, Emotional Stability was not strongly re-
lated to any values (the strongest generalizable relationship was
with stimulation values;
q
= .11). These relationships are summa-
rized in Table 1.
These results suggest that there may be room for values to add
incrementally to the prediction of motivation (and perhaps job
performance and other work-related outcomes), because they are
only modestly or weakly correlated with relevant personality fac-
tors. For example, Conscientiousness has been shown to relate to
motivation using several different motivational frameworks (Judge
& Ilies, 2002). It is also the strongest personality predictor of task
performance (Barrick et al., 2001), positively related to citizenship
behaviors (Borman, Penner, Allen, & Motowidlo, 2001), and nega-
tively related to deviance (Cullen & Sackett, 2003). If values were
highly correlated with Conscientiousness, they would be unlikely
to add incremental validity in predicting motivation (or other out-
comes) above and beyond the effects of Conscientiousness.
Achievement values, the domain most likely to relate to perfor-
mance, correlate only .26 with Conscientiousness and .23 with
Extraversion (Parks, 2007). Likewise, Emotional Stability is related
Table 1
Relationships between (Big Five) personality traits and (Schwartz Value Theory) personal values (generalizable relationships from Parks (2007) meta-analysis; N= 11).
Conscientiousness
(responsible,dependable)
Emotional Stability
(calm,self-confident)
Extraversion
(talkative,assertive)
Agreeableness
(friendly,loyal)
Openness to Experience
(curious,imaginative)
Power (public image,authority) .19 .34
Achievement (ambition,competence) .26 .23
Hedonism (pursuit of pleasure)
Stimulation (variety,novelty) .11 .26 .29
Self-direction (independence,self-set goals) .49
Universalism (justice,equality) .23 .46
Benevolence (honesty,loyalty) .48
Conformity (obedience,self-discipline) .29 .05 .35
Tradition (respect for tradition) .35 .27
Security (safety,stability) .22 .02 .07
678 L. Parks, R.P. Guay / Personality and Individual Differences 47 (2009) 675–684
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to motivation across several motivational frameworks (Judge &
Ilies, 2002); correlates with task performance for most jobs (Bar-
rick et al., 2001); and predicts citizenship and deviance (Borman
et al., 2001; Cullen & Sackett, 2003). Because values are relatively
unrelated to Emotional Stability, it is more likely that values could
contribute incrementally (above and beyond Emotional Stability)
to those outcomes for which relationships could be theoretically
predicted.
5. Motivation
Motivation is an energizing force that induces action (Pinder,
1998). It relates to decisions (conscious or unconscious) that in-
volve how, when, and why we allocate effort to a task or activity.
While we try to address motivation in a broad sense, we found it
helpful to focus the discussion of motivation around goals (cogni-
tive representations of desired states), the most frequently studied
motivational construct (Austin & Vancouver, 1996). Goals are fun-
damental to the human experience (Locke, 1997), and regardless of
awareness, goals direct action. There is substantial evidence that
setting goals leads to enhanced performance (Locke, 1997).
Mitchell (1997) describes motivation as psychological processes
involving ‘‘arousal, direction, intensity, and persistence of volun-
tary actions that are goal directed” (p. 60). Arousal is essentially
the motivational process of being interested in a given goal (such
as a student being interested in earning good grades), while direc-
tion is the process of actually selecting a goal and choosing to pur-
sue it (i.e., the student setting a goal to earn an A in all his/her
classes in a given semester). Intensity relates to the amount of ef-
fort that one puts forth in pursuit of the goal (i.e., how much the
student chooses to study), and persistence refers to one’s contin-
ued pursuit of the goal, even in the face of challenges (for example,
continuing to strive for As even after being sick and missing a week
of classes). Motivation, therefore, relates to what we choose to pur-
sue (arousal and direction) and how we pursue it (intensity and
persistence). These two broader categories have alternately been
termed ‘‘goal setting and goal striving,” ‘‘choice motivation and
control motivation,” ‘‘goal selection and goal implementation,”
and ‘‘goal choice and self regulation” (Mitchell, 1997). We refer
to these two categories as goal content and goal striving.
Goal content refers to the decision to pursue a given goal – that
is, to the actual content of the goal that is being pursued. The term
goal content was chosen specifically because there is an existing
literature on the content of goals that individuals pursue. For
example, Austin and Vancouver (1996), in their seminal review
of the goal construct, include a section that reviews existing taxo-
nomies of goal content. While much of this focuses on goals that
individuals set either for learning or for workplace performance,
some of the existing taxonomies aspire to be comprehensive and
include all the major goals that individuals might pursue. Some
of the prevalent goal content theories include Ford and Nichols’
(1987) Taxonomy of Human Goals and Roberts and Robins’
(2000) Major Life Goals. Goal orientation also fits under the broad
umbrella of goal content; this stream of research specifically exam-
ines two types of achievement goals (performance goals and mas-
tery goals); why individuals tend to pursue one over the other; and
what the implications are for their subsequent success (see, for
example, Grant & Dweck, 2003).
Goal striving refers to the amount of effort and persistence that
goes into goal pursuit after a goal is chosen. It reflects the self-reg-
ulatory processes that ensure adequate attention and effort are gi-
ven to the goal, and are maintained when challenges arise. Goal
striving encompasses those activities that individuals engage in
to ensure goal attainment, including taking personal initiative,
establishing how one will achieve ones goals (implementation
intentions), overcoming barriers to goal attainment, and engaging
in positive self-talk to increase self-efficacy following setbacks
(Latham & Pinder, 2005).
Is it worthwhile to make a distinction between goal content and
goal striving? In a study of learning goals, Volet (1997) examined
both and found that they had independent and significant effects
on academic performance in the course. Likewise, VandeWalle,
Brown, Cron, and Slocum (1999) found support for their hypothesis
that goal striving (effort) and goal content functioned differently in
their process model predicting performance. Additionally, Sheldon,
Ryan, Deci, and Kasser (2004) found that both the content of one’s
goals and one’s success at pursuing them had independent effects
of well-being.
5.1. Current research on personality, motivation, and behavior
Although personality has been considered in many motivation
studies, there is an incomplete understanding of how personality
relates to motivation. Barrick et al. (2001) comment that although
personality is believed to impact job performance largely through
motivational processes, ‘‘research is hindered because an accepted
framework does not exist for studying motivational constructs”
(2001, p. 25). Nonetheless, there is strong evidence that personality
– especially Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability – has an
impact on motivational constructs, which in turn relate to perfor-
mance. For example, Barrick, Mount, and Strauss (1993) found that
Conscientiousness was related to the tendency to set and be com-
mitted to goals, and that these constructs partially mediated the
relationship between Conscientiousness and performance (sales
volume and performance ratings). In a lab study, Gellatly (1996)
found that Conscientiousness was related to expectancy (for suc-
cess), which was related to the goals set by participants and to
performance.
Emotional Stability has also been shown to relate to motivation,
though in many cases the evidence is indirect, coming from closely
related constructs. For example, Kanfer and Heggestad (1999) pos-
tulated that trait anxiety (similar to low Emotional Stability) pre-
vents individuals from effectively controlling the negative
emotions that cause distractions, inhibiting the self-regulatory
processes involved in goal striving motivation. Likewise, Emotional
Stability has been shown to relate to self-efficacy motivation,
believing that one is capable of successfully performing a given
activity (Judge, Erez, & Bono, 1998). There is substantial evidence
that self-efficacy is related to effort, persistence, and performance
(see Gist & Mitchell, 1992, for a review), and that it is particularly
beneficial when individuals are faced with obstacles in their goal
pursuit (Bandura, 1986). While this is a somewhat recursive pro-
cess (successful past performance leads to higher self-efficacy,
which leads to more successful future performance), some
researchers have found that self-efficacy leads to overconfidence
that actually decreases performance (Vancouver, Thompson, Tisch-
ner, & Putka, 2002). Nevertheless, there is substantial evidence that
self-efficacy contributes to future effort; in a review Bandura and
Locke (2003, p. 87) discuss nine meta-analyses that are ‘‘consistent
in showing that efficacy beliefs contribute significantly to the level
of motivation and performance.”
Judge and Ilies (2002) meta-analytically reviewed articles eval-
uating the relationships between personality and motivation using
three dominant motivational theories – goal-setting, expectancy,
and self-efficacy. Results indicated that Conscientiousness and
Neuroticism were consistently related to motivation regardless of
the motivational theory being studied (other FFM traits exhibited
weaker and less consistent relationships). Specifically, relation-
ships between Conscientiousness and motivation were
q
= .28 for
goal-setting, .23 for expectancy, and .22 for self-efficacy. Relation-
ships between Neuroticism and those motivational constructs
L. Parks, R.P. Guay / Personality and Individual Differences 47 (2009) 675–684 679
Author's personal copy
were
q
=.29, .29, and .35, respectively. In sum, these two
traits are remarkably consistent in predicting motivation – even
when motivation is measured in very different ways. Conscien-
tiousness and Neuroticism are also the two personality traits that
are most consistently predictive of job performance (Hurtz &
Donovan, 2000).
Based on the above findings, one can conclude that Conscien-
tiousness and Emotional Stability are important predictors of moti-
vational processes. The majority of these studies have focused on
goal striving processes rather than on goal content. This is particu-
larly true of studies using goal-setting and self-efficacy frameworks.
Even in studies of expectancy motivation, which includes the con-
cept of valence (how valued the outcomes/goals are for participants),
the focus is typically on the impact of valence on goal striving.
5.2. Current research on values, motivation, and behavior
Although empirical research linking values and motivation is
limited, many theorists have proposed that this link should exist.
Rokeach portrayed values as having an inherent motivational com-
ponent, and even described them as ‘‘supergoals” (1973, p. 14).
Schwartz (1992) similarly describes values as fundamentally moti-
vational; both theorists state that values are a link between the
more general motivational construct of needs and the more spe-
cific motivational construct of goals.
Similarly, several motivation experts have described the ex-
pected link between values and goals. Locke and Henne (1986) de-
scribe goals as ‘‘a means of actualizing values...the mechanism by
which values are translated into action” (p. 3). Similarly, Lewin
(1952) describes values as ‘‘guiding” behavior by inducing goals,
which are more concrete and which serve as a ‘‘force field,” giving
the individual something specific to ‘‘reach” for. That is, goals act as
a mediator in the relationship between values and behavior. Values
elicit goals, which drive action. Likewise, Mitchell (1997) expects
values to impact the motivational processes of attention and direc-
tion (goals that individuals are attentive to and choose to pursue).
Yet few studies have attempted to empirically link values with
motivational theories. The closest is the self-concordance model
of motivation (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999), which proposes that indi-
viduals are more likely to persist at goals consistent with their val-
ues. However, values are not measured in self-concordance
research (intrinsic motivation is measured, assuming we are intrin-
sically motivated by goals consistent with our values). Likewise, in
expectancy theory values are implicit in the concept of valence –
the extent to which an outcome or goal is perceived to be impor-
tant or attractive. However, the values systems of individuals are
rarely considered in expectancy research.
At least two studies have examined the relationships between
values and valences (the attractiveness or desirability of possible
outcomes or of goal attainment). Feather (1995) administered a
lab study in which respondents read hypothetical scenarios and
indicated the attractiveness (valence) of alternative courses of ac-
tion. The alternate courses of action were designed to tap different
values. For example, in one scenario the student was asked whether
it would be more attractive to take a job that offered more freedom,
independence, and creativity but less job security, or if it would be
more attractive to take a job offering the opposite. Feather found
that the values of the respondents were related in theoretically pre-
dictable ways to the attractiveness of the options. Self-direction
values were positively correlated with the valence of the job with
more freedom (r= .30) and negatively correlated with the job with
more security (.27). Likewise, security values were positively cor-
related with the job with more security (.18) and negatively corre-
lated with the job with more freedom (.27). Feather also found
that the valences were highly predictive of their choice behavior
when participants were asked to choose their preferred option.
Dubinsky, Kotabe, Lim, and Wagner (1997) examined the extent
to which values were related to the valence of various rewards for
salespeople in the US and Japan. Not surprisingly, they found that
security values were related to the desirability of increased job
security as a reward in both samples. Achievement values were re-
lated to the desirability of promotions and the desirability of in-
creased opportunities for personal growth in both samples. This
study also found that achievement values were related to self-
rated job performance, though the (standardized) beta coefficients
achieved significance in the US sample only (b= .25 for the US sam-
ple, .18 for the Japanese sample). Interestingly, self-direction was
related to job performance in the US sample only, while conformity
was related to job performance only in the Japanese sample.
Although few studies have directly considered the impact of
values on motivation, there is substantial empirical evidence that
values impact the types of decisions that individuals make, and
evidence that they impact behavior. Several researchers, for exam-
ple, have demonstrated relationships between values and political
party affiliation (Rokeach, 1973; Schwartz, 1994). Values also re-
late to decisions to join a civil rights organization and to participate
in civil rights demonstrations (Rokeach, 1973). Universalism values
have been linked to making environmentally–friendly decisions
(Verplanken & Holland, 2002), while tradition and conformity val-
ues are associated with religiosity across various denominations
(Saroglou, Delpierre, & Dernelle, 2004). Illies, Reiter-Palmon, Nies,
and Merriam (2005) examined the relationship between values
and leadership styles, and found that different values were associ-
ated with task-oriented vs. relationship-oriented leadership emer-
gence among college students. In a lab study, Garling (1999) found
that universalism values were related to cooperative decision-
making in a social dilemma. In another lab study, Ravlin and
Meglino (1987b) had individuals complete managerial in-basket
exercises, and found that participants made decisions consistently
with their personal values.
Beyond decision-making studies, Bardi and Schwartz (2003)
examined whether values were related to habitual, day-to-day
behaviors (rated by self and others). Examples included such items
as ‘‘take it easy and relax” (hedonism), ‘‘observe traditional cus-
toms on holidays” (tradition), ‘‘watch thrillers” (stimulation), and
‘‘choose friends and relationships based on how much money they
have” (power). Behaviors were rated based on their frequency, and
the findings strongly supported the hypothesis that values relate to
habitual behaviors: value–behavior relationships ranged from a
low of .03 for security to a high of .46 for stimulation (peer-rated
behaviors), with 6 of the 10 relationships yielding correlations
above .20.
We can conclude therefore that values are related to decision-
making, and as such they may be related to decisions about what
goals to pursue. Further, there is evidence that values impact
behavior, though our understanding of how and when values influ-
ence behavior is not well-understood.
6. Propositions
As discussed, we propose that both personality (especially Con-
scientiousness and Emotional Stability) and values (mainly
through goals, valences, and decision-making) are antecedents to
motivational processes. This proposal is consistent with past re-
search and theory in the fields of personality, values, and motiva-
tion. However, past theories have not simultaneously considered
personality and values, thus have not explicated the unique effects
that personality and values might have on motivation. We expect
personality and values to each make unique contributions to moti-
vational processes. In particular, we focus on the two broad moti-
vational processes encompassed by goal content and goal striving.
680 L. Parks, R.P. Guay / Personality and Individual Differences 47 (2009) 675–684
Author's personal copy
From a theoretical perspective, needs, values, and goals are be-
lieved to be arranged hierarchically, with needs influencing the
development of values systems, and values influencing the deci-
sion to pursue various goals (Latham & Pinder, 2005; Locke,
2000; Rokeach, 1973; Schwartz, 1992). The fulfillment of long-
term goals leads to the attainment of values, which leads to the
satisfaction of needs (Locke, 2000). Consistent with these theoret-
ical expectations, we propose that values will be related to the con-
tent of goals individuals choose to pursue. For example, we would
expect that a college student who values achievement would
choose to set goals related to earning good grades in his/her clas-
ses. Support for this proposition comes from the demonstrated link
between values and decision-making. Goal content reflects a deci-
sion to pursue a particular goal. That decision may be made after
considerable cognitive processing, by rationally considering how
important it is to pursue the goal given ones values. As mentioned,
multiple studies have shown that values are related to decisions
that individuals make. This suggests that individuals will be more
likely to make decisions to pursue goals that are consistent with
their values.
Values may also relate to goal content via experiential process-
ing. Self-concordance research has found that individuals are more
satisfied when they pursue goals consistent with their values and
interests (see, for example, Sheldon & Elliot, 1999; Sheldon et al.,
2004). Likewise, Bardi and Schwartz (2003) found that individuals
engaged in habitual activities consistent with their values, and
proposed that an affective mechanism was at work, because
value-congruent behavior yields positive emotional outcomes. This
implies that some goals may be selected rather automatically,
without analytical processing, because their pursuit is pleasurable
or satisfying. Whether via cognitive or affective/experiential mech-
anisms, therefore, values should relate to goal content.
Proposition 1: Values will be systematically related to goal
content.
While values may be more closely related to goal content, we
expect personality traits – especially Conscientiousness and Emo-
tional Stability – to be more closely related to goal striving, which
refers to the amount of intensity, effort, and persistence individuals
engage in when pursuing their goals across time (Kanfer & Hegges-
tad, 1999; Mitchell, 1997). In their research on personal projects
(similar to goals), Little, Lecci, and Watkinson (1992) commented
that personality was ‘‘likely to influence both the ease with which
personal projects can be accomplished and the alternate routes
through which they are carried out” (p. 507). Thus, once a goal is
set, personality determines if and how the goal will be attained.
Likewise, we expect that once a goal is chosen, personality will
‘‘take over” in determining how the goal is pursued because per-
sonality affects how we behave across situations and over time.
Past studies demonstrate that Conscientiousness and Emotional
Stability are related to goal striving processes (Judge & Ilies, 2002).
Conscientiousness describes the extent to which individuals tend
to be organized, responsible, dependable, achievement-oriented,
etc. These traits are instrumental to someone pursuing a difficult
goal, in part because individuals with these traits tend to develop
good strategies for goal pursuit, and also because they tend to per-
severe and carry out their plans. Conscientiousness is related to the
tendency to set goals and engage in effortful goal pursuit (Barrick
et al., 1993; Judge & Ilies, 2002). Individuals low on Conscientious-
ness, however, will tend to be irresponsible and disorganized, mak-
ing it difficult to develop good strategies or stick with them.
Emotional Stability describes the extent to which individuals
tend to be self-confident, resilient, and well-adjusted. These traits
are believed to be beneficial because individuals will not be dis-
tracted by emotional fears, such as fear of failure. Judge et al.
(1998) reviewed research on the impact of core self-evaluations
(closely related to Emotional Stability) on motivation, and con-
cluded that one benefit of higher core self-evaluations was that
when faced with a discrepancy between their performance and
their goal, individuals with higher core self-evaluations were more
likely to exert additional effort to achieve the goal. They also pro-
posed that individuals with lower core self-evaluations are more
likely to believe that situations are beyond their ability to control,
and therefore reduce their level of effort in difficult times. In sup-
port of this concept, Little et al. (1992) found that Emotional Stabil-
ity was related to the amount of control that individuals felt they
had over personal projects, as well as their confidence in success-
fully completing those projects. Kanfer and Heggestad (1999) fur-
ther propose that trait anxiety (also closely related to Emotional
Stability) relates to one’s ability to control negative emotions,
while emotion control impacts one’s ability to maintain effort in
goal pursuit. Shrauger and Sorman (1977) found that individuals
with high self-esteem tend to persist longer after initial failure
than those with low self-esteem. Similarly, McFarlin, Baumeister,
and Blaskovich (1984) found that high self-esteem individuals
were more likely to persist in a futile endeavor (trying to solve
an unsolvable problem) than those with low self-esteem. We
therefore expect Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability to be
related to goal striving. Furthermore, we expect these personality
traits to be more predictive of goal striving than values. Personality
defines how we actually behave in general and across time (Gold-
berg, 1993); it is therefore more likely that a behavioral measure
that requires persistence across time will be related more closely
to personality than to values.
While we expect Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability to
relate to goal striving, we do not expect the remaining personality
factors to be relevant to goal striving. The Judge and Ilies (2002)
meta-analysis of the relationships between personality and moti-
vation found that only Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability
were consistently related to motivation, while the remaining per-
sonality traits had weaker and less consistent relationships.
Proposition 2: Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability will
be related to goal striving.
Greater levels of goal striving should lead to greater goal attain-
ment. Past research indicates generally robust findings for greater
effort and persistence leading to higher performance (Austin &
Vancouver, 1996;Latham & Pinder, 2005), though moderators exist
(for a review, see Locke, 1997). We therefore expect goal striving to
be related to goal accomplishment, and to mediate the relation-
ships between personality traits and goal accomplishment. This
is consistent with previous studies in which motivation has been
found to mediate the relationship between personality traits and
performance. For example, Barrick et al. (1993) found that goal-
setting motivational constructs mediated the relationship between
Conscientiousness and performance. Likewise, Gellatly (1996)
found that expectancy motivational constructs mediated the rela-
tionship between Conscientiousness and performance. Motivation
may not fully mediate these relationships, however, because per-
sonality traits may be beneficial to goal accomplishment in other
ways besides through goal striving. Individuals who are emotion-
ally stable, for example, may get more assistance from others be-
cause they are pleasant to be around. The greater levels of
assistance could promote goal accomplishment above and beyond
the effect of goal striving. Likewise, individuals who are highly con-
scientious may have better time management skills, enabling them
to accomplish more with seemingly less effort. This is consistent
with previous findings in which motivational constructs partially
mediate the relationship between personality and performance.
For example, Barrick, Stewart, and Pietrowski (2002) found that
L. Parks, R.P. Guay / Personality and Individual Differences 47 (2009) 675–684 681
Author's personal copy
the motivational constructs of accomplishment striving and status
striving partially mediated the relationship between Conscien-
tiousness and performance (by about 35%). We therefore expect
that goal striving will only partially mediate the relationship be-
tween personality traits and goal accomplishment.
Proposition 3: Goal striving will be related to goal accomplish-
ment, and will partially mediate the relationship between rele-
vant personality traits and goal accomplishment.
Logically, the decision to pursue a goal should lead to goal striv-
ing, which should relate to goal accomplishment. If we set a goal,
we should also put forth effort in pursuing that goal. Goal content,
then, should be related to goal striving, and goal striving should
mediate the relationship between goal content and goal accom-
plishment. This approach is consistent with Locke’s (1997) inte-
grated model of work motivation in which goal content is related
to effort and persistence, which are related to performance.
Proposition 4: Goal striving will mediate the relationship
between goal content and goal accomplishment.
The propositions presented up to this point assume that person-
ality and values impact goal accomplishment through multiple
mediating processes – suggesting that the direct relationships of
personality to goal accomplishment, and values to goal accom-
plishment, are likely to be rather weak. Because the effects of per-
sonality and values on goal accomplishment are mediated by goal
content and goal striving processes, the direct relationships be-
tween the individual differences constructs and goal accomplish-
ment are not likely to be very strong, and the mediated model
should better fit the data than simply relying on direct effects. This
is consistent with past studies that have examined motivation as a
mediating mechanism between personality (especially Conscien-
tiousness and Emotional Stability) and performance (Barrick
et al., 1993; Barrick et al., 2001; Gellatly, 1996) and with findings
that values influence valence (Dubinsky et al., 1997; Feather,
1995), which, as a component of expectancy theory, is a motiva-
tional construct known to influence performance (Van Eerde &
Theirry, 1996). Although a full process model has not been tested
with values, the theory that values impact motivation is supported
by numerous researchers (see, for example, Locke, 1997; Rokeach,
1973; Schwartz, 1994). We therefore expect that a model including
the motivational constructs of goal content and goal striving will
provide a better fit to research data than will a model with only di-
rect effects from individual differences to goal accomplishment.
This mediated process model is presented in Fig. 2.
Proposition 5: The relationships between relevant individual
differences (personality and values) and goal accomplishment
will be mediated by the motivational processes of goal content
and goal striving.
7. Summary
A greater understanding of how both personality and values re-
late to motivation is important because it can lead to more com-
prehensive theories of human behavior, and assist managers,
team leaders, teachers, and anyone else working through (or with)
others. In proposing this model, we do not suggest that we can
deterministically predict how individuals will behave in every sit-
uation based on their personality traits and values; we recognize,
rather, that these are dynamic structures that are continuously
influencing one another while simultaneously being influenced
by the environment in which one is acting (Fischer & Bidell,
2006). However, evidence does demonstrate that these structures
are sufficiently stable (Conley, 1985; Rokeach, 1972) to permit
some generalizations about how they are likely to impact behavior
in general (other things being equal).
The ideas presented here provide several arenas for future re-
search and theoretical development. We do not make propositions
here regarding which values domains are likely to be predictive of
which goal content domains, though such predictions could readily
be made and tested. For example, it seems plausible to expect that
benevolence values would be predictive of goal content in relation-
ship to ‘‘belongingness,” which Ford and Nichols (1987) describe as
including goals related to social attachments, intimacy, friendship,
community, and social identity.
Another area that seems worthy of additional research is the
domain of goal commitment. Research has demonstrated that
commitment to assigned goals is often lower than commitment
to self-set goals (Locke, 1997). If values are related to the goals that
individuals choose to pursue independently, they may also be re-
lated to commitment to goals set by others. An understanding of
how values relate to goal content may therefore enhance our
understanding of how to increase commitment to assigned goals.
Likewise, future researchers should consider the outcomes of
motivation that are likely to be relevant in the workplace, such
as task performance, organizational citizenship behavior, and
counterproductive behavior (deviance). Although task perfor-
mance is often constrained by situational strength, cultural norms,
and role expectations, discretionary behaviors are typically less
constrained and are more likely to be influenced by individual
attributes such as personality and values. Additionally, we expect
that the impact of individual attributes on motivation is likely to
be expressed most obviously among individuals with considerable
autonomy and discretion, such as senior managers or entrepre-
neurs who have substantial freedom in deciding how to perform
their jobs. For those individuals, personality and values may be
more predictive of motivated behavior than for those whose
behavior is constrained. A more comprehensive understanding of
how personality and values impact motivation might therefore
lend greater understanding to the behavior of entrepreneurs and
top management teams, who generally experience high levels of
autonomy.
Finally, there are some potential extensions to this theory that
should be considered, especially in the arena of decision-making.
Prior research has demonstrated a link between values and deci-
sion-making; however, personality has not been simultaneously
considered. These relationships should be explored, as should the
potential influence of personality and values on ethical decision-
making and on the strategic decision-making of top management
teams.
This paper presents several testable propositions regarding how
personality and values may differentially impact motivation. Spe-
cifically, values should relate to the goals that individuals choose
Fig. 2. Proposed model.
682 L. Parks, R.P. Guay / Personality and Individual Differences 47 (2009) 675–684
Author's personal copy
to pursue. Personality, in contrast, should relate to goal striving, or
the amount of effort and persistence that individuals put forth in
their goal pursuit. We hope that the ideas and model presented
here will serve as a useful framework for the continued study of
individual attributes that relate to motivation.
Acknowledgements
This manuscript stemmed, in large part, from the dissertation of
the first author. As such, we would like to gratefully acknowledge
the dissertation committee for their contributions to the ideas pre-
sented here: Murray Barrick, Amy Colbert, Amy Kristof-Brown,
Mick Mount, and Walter Vispoel. We would additionally like to
thank Terry Mitchell and Joyce Bono for their contributions.
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... While most previous studies have focused on work values as principles (e.g. England, 1967;Keller et al., 1992;Parks and Guay, 2009), this study examined the motivating role of work values as preferences. Some scholars (e.g. ...
... Some scholars (e.g. Parks and Guay, 2009) have maintained that work values as principles are more closely associated with employee motivation and behavior than are work values as preferences, but the present study provided evidence that work values as preferences may still have a substantial influence on employee motivation and behavior. Given that an understanding of how and when intrinsic work values affect employee behavior is not well-established (Parks and Guay, 2009), it is noteworthy that this study found that intrinsic work values may affect employee behavior (i.e. ...
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This chapter shows that genetic variation is an important feature of virtually every human psychological trait and must be taken into account in any comprehensive explanation (theory) of human behaviour. It begins by discussing the mistaken but widely held belief that 'genetic variance' is an indicator of the biological or evolutionary unimportance of a trait. It then turns to the role of quantitative genetic methods in modern biology. Application of these methods across a very large number of quantitative characteristics of an equally large number of species leads to the conclusion that almost all quantitative characters are heritable. This truism is illustrated for the major domains of normal human individual differences: mental ability, personality, psychological interests, and social attitudes. It is shown that compared with effects in social psychology, ecology, and evolution, as well as psychological assessment and treatment, known quantitative genetic influence on human psychological traits should be considered large in magnitude. The argument that ' there are no genes for behaviour' is refuted using 'clockwork'genes as an example. Using the example of corn oil, it is also shown the fact that finding genes for a quantitative character can be very difficult. The chapter concludes by pointing out that molecular genetics will not replace quantitative genetics; rather, the two levels of analysis will fit together seamlessly.
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