Intimacy Motivation and Subjective Mental Health in a Nationwide Sample

Dan P. McAdams*, Fred B. Bryant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT Over 1,200 adults in a representative nationwide sample were administered the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and an unstructured interview which produced 25 measures of subjective mental health and ultimately six factor scores unhappiness, lack of gratification, strain, feelings of vulnerability, lack of self‐confidence, and uncertainty The TATs were scored for intimacy motivation (McAdams, 1980)—a recurrent preference or readiness for experiences of warm, close, and communicative interaction with others Controlling for age, education, and their interaction, high intimacy motivation in women was associated with greater happiness and gratification, whereas in men it was associated with lack of strain and lack of uncertainty Women high in intimacy motivation who were living alone reported lower levels of gratification and more uncertainty in their lives than other women Intimacy motivation also declined significantly over the life span for women, but not for men Finally, demographic effects on intimacy motivation were examined Controlling for age, education, and their interaction, professional men (e g, doctors, lawyers, and teachers) scored higher on intimacy motivation than did men in other occupational categories, while among women the occupational groups with highest intimacy motivation were service workers and craftspersons

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-413
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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