Differences in motives between Millennial and Generation X medical students

Nicole J. Borges, R. Stephen Manuel, Carol L. Elam, Bonnie J. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Objectives Three domains comprise the field of human assessment: ability, motive and personality. Differences in personality and cognitive abilities between generations have been documented, but differences in motive between generations have not been explored. This study explored generational differences in medical students regarding motives using the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). Methods Four hundred and twenty six students (97% response rate) at one medical school (Generation X = 229, Millennials = 197) who matriculated in 1995 & 1996 (Generation X) or in 2003 & 2004 (Millennials) wrote a story after being shown two TAT picture cards. Student stories for each TAT card were scored for different aspects of motives: Achievement, Affiliation, and Power. Results A multiple analysis of variance (p < 0.05) showed significant differences between Millennials' and Generation X-ers' needs for Power on both TAT cards and needs for Achievement and Affiliation on one TAT card. The main effect for gender was significant for both TAT cards regarding Achievement. No main effect for ethnicity was noted. Conclusions Differences in needs for Achievement, Affiliation and Power exist between Millennial and Generation X medical students. Generation X-ers scored higher on the motive of Power, whereas Millennials scored higher on the motives of Achievement and Affiliation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-576
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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