What sets you in motion?

Eduard Spranger was a Swiss behavioural scientist who lived from 1882 to 1963. In 1928 he published his book Types of men, in which he classified six personality types. A personality type tells us about the attitude a person adopts with respect to the world.

These attitudes are influenced by one’s family, upbringing, education and knowledge. For example, you had a very dominant parent who used to determine everything for you when you were young, and you did not appreciate it. This may result in an attitude, a conviction, that you don’t accept decisive people around you who tell you what to do, who control you. Therefore, you now make sure you’re always in control of the situation yourself. An experience from the past can thus make you motivated to take the lead, to exert power.

Six motives

Instead of personality types, I use the term motives. I distinguish the following six motives:


Driven to discover. The stronger this attitude, the more one feels the need to search for, systemise and analyse knowledge.


Spranger calls this the economic attitude. Driven by this attitude, one feels the need to gain a return on all investments. People don’t just do something, they expect something in return. The stronger this motive, the more results, rewards or successes are expected making a relatively smaller effort.


Harmony and balance, creativity and self-expression are important for this type of person. They are focused on creating a balance between work and private life and harmony among people.


These are generous people when it comes to making time, talent and energy available to others. They like to help and support without expecting something in return. If this motive is strong, one makes himself subservient to others in order to help them.


Puts himself at the centre stage. Likes to do things in his own way. Will spend time and energy to dominate the situation and wishes to be recognised for his contribution to things.


Spranger calls this the religious attitude. Starting from one’s own ideals, principles and beliefs and using them to create order. These apply to the entire omniverse and are not up for debate, for the idealist.

Awareness model

I use the awareness model to explain in a simple way how we look at thinking style, motives, styles of behaviour in relation to talents and personal development.

Types of men

Types of wenThe psychology and ethics of personality (Fifth edition)

Eduard Spranger

Max Niemeyer Verlag

Halle (Saale)