Ryan Cutter
Saint Anselm College
Class of 2000
Questions??  email to: rcutter@anselm.edu

Inspiration’s Effects on Motivation, Self-Worth, and Mood

Keywords: Inspiration, Motivation, Self-worth, and Mood
Instruments: Profile of Mood States (POMS) and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale



     Most people have at one time or another read or heard something that made them feel more confident or has made them

feel so good that they thought they could accomplish almost anything.  These types of moments are considered inspirational.

There are many articles that explore the philosophical aspects of inspiration, but there are no studies that deal with inspiration

on an experimental level.  However, the philosophical writings on inspiration do suggest that inspiration can have a significant

effect on levels of motivation, self-worth, and mood.  The purpose of this study was to see if an inspirational writing had a

significant effect on motivation, self-worth, and mood.  Participants were put in either an experimental group, which received

inspirational sayings, or a control group, which received non-inspirational sayings.  Both groups were asked to take the Profile

of Mood States (POMS) to assess mood, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale to assess self-worth, and answer a question of

whether or not they felt motivated after doing their respective reading.  The means were then taken from these measures and

compared between the experimental and control group.  After comparison it was shown that there was no significant

differences between the two groups on any of the measures.  Although there was no significance scores did move in the

predicted direction making the means of the measures slightly higher for the experimental group.  Because of these results it

was concluded that inspiration in the form of a reading does not have a significant effect on motivation, self-worth, or mood.

This was most likely due to the subjective nature of inspiration, which made it difficult to objectively measure.  Future research

should concentrate more on the subjective nature of inspiration by studying it in either an individual case bases, or having a

large scale study with many forms of inspiration such as readings, speeches, music, and self-reflection.  The benefits of this

research are in helping the human spirit overcome fear and achieve all its goals.


     Inspiration is an abstract personal experience that can manifest itself through a person in their motivational levels, self-worth,

and mood (Hart, 1998).  The research on inspiration up to this point is mostly found in journals pertaining to humanistic and

philosophical psychology.  This is due to the subjective, and therefore difficult to objectively measure, nature of inspiration.

However, this study attempts to measure inspiration through looking at three possible manifestations or outputs that follow after

someone has been inspired: motivation, self-worth, and mood.  The following three sections will make clear how inspiration is

a personal experience, and also how motivational levels, self-worth, and mood naturally become the measurable manifestations

of inspiration.  These manifestations have never really been measured in relation to inspiration and it is the purpose of this study

to assess the effects that inspiration has on levels of motivation, self-worth, and mood through the presentation of inspirational



     Inspiration is defined by Ignacio Gotz (1998) as being one of the most mysterious moments in one’s life, the instant when

things “click” and fall neatly into place, or when a new idea flashes in the dark.  He goes on to say that inspiration “acts as a

starting point for the human in the ascent to the divine” (p. 512).  Since this definition is difficult to operationally define it is clear

that Gotz is suggesting that inspiration is an abstract personal experience.  He argues that inspiration is crucial to human life,

because without its influence no movement takes place toward higher knowledge and truths (Gotz, 1998).  If without the

influence of inspiration no higher knowledge of truths can be gained, then it is necessary to explore this relationship more in


     Knowledge is not the result of any direct teaching but rather a new type of cognition, which cannot be learned from any

teacher.  For example, if someone is given an inspirational reading about how each individual is unique and great in their own

way and he/she consequently gains a new knowledge about themselves, then this was not learned from anybody, but rather

arises in the person through that person’s own reflection.  This knowledge will arise of itself through inspiration if the learner’s

thought is guided on in the right way (Gotz, 1998).  Inspiration pushes one to learn, but only knowledge can guide the search

(Gotz, 1998).  From this statement it is clear that true knowledge can only be brought about through inspiration.  In order to

attempt to operationally define inspiration, the characteristic steps of being inspired must now be examined.

     Tobin Hart (1998) describes four characteristics that are necessary for inspiration: focus, trust, letting go, and listening.  The

first characteristic, focus, involves detaching ourselves from the normal ways of thinking; in other words, one should stop trying

to think of many things at one time, but rather frame one specific problem or idea, while letting go of the outside world’s

influences.  The second characteristic, trust, involves being ready to stop thinking in a purely rational way, and letting whatever

ideas come to mind.  Then one should reflect on these ideas in order to find the inspiration one is looking for.  This process is

understood as trust because the person should trust that their very own ideas can bring about inspiration.  The third

characteristic, letting go, follows naturally from trust, but involves the action rather than the attitude.  While trust is the attitude

one should take in letting ideas come to mind, letting go is the action of letting these ideas come to mind and reflecting on them

afterwards.  The last characteristic, listening, involves actually listening and putting into use the ideas that come forth through the

process of letting go.  It is through the listening characteristic that one can find the inspiration one is looking for in solving a

problem or gaining true knowledge (Hart, 1998).  All four of these characteristics are immeasurable in themselves because

they are abstract and therefore lead to the personal experience of inspiration.  However, Hart suggests that the sum of these,

which leads to being inspired, can be measured through looking at the consequences or outputs of someone who has been

inspired.  This study attempts to do this by looking at three suggested outputs: motivation, self-worth, and mood (Hart, 1998).

     Consequently, the relationship between inspiration and knowledge and Hart’s characteristics can be combined to form the

definition of inspiration that will be used in this study.  This definition is that inspiration is a mysterious moment in one’s life,

where a new idea flashes in the dark because of one’s ability to focus, trust in their own ideas, let go of current thoughts, and

listen to new thoughts that come to mind, in order to gain knowledge and achieve wisdom, and can be measured through its

consequences such as motivation, self-worth, and mood.  Inspiration is therefore is a specific mental process.

     It is important to study inspiration because if it exists as an abstract personal experience in gaining knowledge and wisdom

in creative ways, then it has importance in the daily lives of every human being (Hart, 1998).  People everyday encounter

problems that must be solved, and are faced with dilemmas that seem to have no answer, but through using the techniques

offered by Hart (1998) one can solve even the simplest of life’s daily hassles.  Exploration of inspiration can add to one’s

growing “intimacy” with their own ways of knowing.  As people consciously practice ways in which to bring about inspiration,

they could even find their lives change in a new and dramatic way (Hart, 1998).

     It is also important to study inspiration because it can have an affect on many psychological aspects of human life.  Three

things in particular that inspiration may have the most effect on are motivation, self-worth, and mood.  It is important to study

motivation, self-worth, and mood in relation to inspiration because they are three common examples of measurable

manifestations that naturally proceed from the abstract and immeasurable inspiration.  They are examples of the consequences

or outputs of inspiration that were discussed earlier.


     It has already been stated that motivation is a measurable manifestation of inspiration.  However, it has not yet been made

clear how.  This will be done using the ideas of Abraham Maslow (1970, 1971) and Rollo May (1979).  The combination of

these ideas will help to form the definition of motivation pursued in this study.

     The humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow (1970) defines motivation as the force in each person that compels him to

work up the hierarchy of needs and obtain self-actualization.  What Maslow means by this is that each person is motivated to

achieve the next need they have not yet achieved on the hierarchy of needs.  The hierarchy of needs includes five levels.  The

first level of these needs are the physiological needs, which include food and shelter in order for the body to maintain

homeostasis.  The second level of these needs are the safety needs, which include feelings of security and protection.  The third

level of these needs are the belongingness and love needs, which include the hunger for affectionate relationships.  The forth

level of these needs are the esteem needs, which include self-respect and self-worth.  The final level is the need for

self-actualization, which is the feeling of being fully human.  To Maslow, needs on the physiological level, such as the needs of

food, clothing, and shelter must be met before moving on to the next level (safety needs), and so on until self actualization.  For

example, a person who is homeless, is motivated to get food, clothing, and shelter.  They have no time to be worried about

such things as safety or self-acceptance needs, and therefore are not motivated towards them.  If this homeless person was to

meet the basic biological needs, then he would become motivated by other needs such as self-acceptance and esteem.

     The last need of Maslow’s hierarchy is self-actualization.  This is achieved when all the other needs have been met.

Maslow (1971) defines self-actualization as “experiencing fully, vividly, selflessly, with full concentration and total absorption.

It means experiencing without the self-consciousness of the adolescent.  At this moment of experiencing, the person is wholly

and fully human” (p. 44).  According to Maslow, it is at the point of self-actualization where true inspiration can be used to

achieve higher levels of knowledge and wisdom.  He calls this type of motivation “metamotivation”, and takes an existential,

and more specifically, a Nietzschian, perspective in defining it.  Maslow defines metamotivation as being motivated to become

outside one’s self.  To Hart (1998), to become outside one’s self is to “let go” and to “trust and listen” to one’s thoughts

outside of their past influences.  If metamotivation is looked at in this sense it can be defined as a necessary component to

inspiration.  This is important, because it shows that there may not only be a motivation to meet basic needs, but also a

motivation to know and to gain wisdom; more specifically it is a motivation to be inspired.

     Another humanistic definition of motivation is offered by Rollo May (1979) in his book Psychology and the Human

Dilemma, which is focused on becoming free in a controlling world.  He defines humans as being motivated by the longing of

becoming a subject in an objective world.  Before one can understand what May meant by this, his ideas of what subjective

and objective are must be examined first.  When May describes the objective world he is describing the outside world in which

external factors have a control over people.  May describes how quite often this view of the world is the only one accepted

and causes feelings of insignificance and hopelessness.  When May describes the subjective world he is describing the unique

ability of humans to make subjective choices in controlling their own future despite external controlling factors.  He does not

deny that these external factors exist, he merely wants to say that what is important is what we make of these factors.  For

example, if someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness he can take many attitudes towards his illness; he could give up hope

and just lie in bed until he dies, or he can go out and live what is left of his life as he wishes.  For May this is a motivation

towards freedom in the face of a seemingly controlling world.

     May’s (1979) philosophy of subjectivity and objectivity, along with Maslow’s (1970, 1971) hierarchy of needs and

concept of self-actualization, can be combined to give the definition of motivation that will be used in this study.  Motivation is

defined as the cause of a person’s actions based upon his current needs with the ultimate goal being to become free from one’s

own inner fears as well as the restraints of stereotypes in order to gain knowledge and wisdom about questions or problems

he/she might have.  This, like inspiration itself, is very subjective and therefore difficult to objectively measure.  However, also

like inspiration, it can be measured through its consequences.  For example, if one was not motivated to do school work, then

a consequence would be that little school work is done.  On the other hand, if that same person was inspired to do his/her

school work, then he/she would become more motivated to do it, and therefore a consequence would be that his/her school

work is done.  Because of time constraints this study does not look at the consequences of motivation directly, but rather

indirectly through asking each participant if they feel that they will accomplish more goals as a consequence of being inspired to

be more motivated. Next, the connection between motivation and inspiration must be examined.

      Motivation’s connection to inspiration is described by Tobin Hart (1998) who shows that motivation is the consequence of

inspiration.  He states that where inspiration provides the illuminating vision and energy, motivation emerges naturally or willfully

as the next practical step in order to get the job done.  Here Hart is explaining that motivation not only emerges naturally from

inspiration, but it can also be measured, and as shown previously, one can do this by examining the output of his/her motivation

through study of his/her own view of his/her achievements, which are the consequences of motivation.

      A helpful example of understanding motivation becoming the consequence of inspiration is shown through Victor Frankl’s

(1984) experiences in the Nazi Concentration Camps.  Frankl (1984) in his book Man’s Search For Meaning describes his

experience and how inspiration helped him to get through it alive and without ever loosing hope.  Frankl was most inspired by

the thought of his wife and of the thought of continuing his work.  In one passage Frankl explains how is wife was sent to

another camp and he had no way of knowing whether she was dead or alive.  He says, “Had I known then that my wife was

dead, I think that I would still have given myself, undisturbed by that knowledge, to the contemplation of her image” (p. 58).

This expresses Hart’s (1998) view of being inspired because Frankl goes through Hart’s four characteristics of becoming

inspired.  Frankl is focusing on his wife, trusting in his love of her, letting go (or as he puts it, being “undisturbed by that

knowledge”), and by listening to his thoughts just to keep her image in mind.  This image inspired Frankl to become motivated

to want to make it out of the concentration camps alive, as well as his focus on his work of developing his own psychology of


     Frankl’s experience shows the importance of studying inspiration and its relationship to motivation.  Inspiration helps people

become more creative and also helps them gain wisdom and knowledge (Gotz, 1998), as was seen through Frankl’s

persistence in developing his psychology.  Inspiration also helped Frankl get through the most difficult of circumstances by

keeping him motivated to get through it, as was seen through Frankl’s focus on the memory of his wife.

     From this example we can see that motivation emerges naturally from inspiration and can be measured.  However,

motivation is not the only such thing that can be effected by inspiration.  Other aspects are self-worth and mood.  Self-worth

and mood are similar to motivation in that they will also prove to be a measurable manifestation of inspiration.  The next section

discusses self-worth and its relationship to motivation.


     It was stated previously that self-worth was a consequence of inspiration.  However, this has not yet been discussed how.

The following paragraphs will discuss three different views of self-worth.  It will be the combination of these views that will

form the definition of self-worth used in this study.  It will also be made clear that inspiration affects self-worth.

    It is important to study self-worth and its relationship to inspiration because, as seen through the ideas of Carl Rogers

(1980), it can be the basis of whether or not one feels that they are a good person and can trust themselves enough to know

that they can achieve.  This would be a very important idea to instill in today’s youth.  Teachers should inspire their students to

focus on the fact that they are unique individuals who have the ability to set and achieve goals.  When a teacher can relay these

ideas and show students how to focus on these ideas, then the stage can be set for the self to become inspired (Hart, 1998)

and also form a more positive self-worth.  A study was done by Sander Koole (1999) which demonstrates this point.  In his

study Koole showed that participants who were told that they were unique and good and were also told to practice

self-affirmation were significantly more likely to give positive self evaluations, than participants who were told “irrelevant” things

such as scores to a baseball game.

    Philip Dodgson and Joanne Wood (1998) argue that people seek positive thoughts about the self in particular, as opposed

to general positive thoughts. Carl Rogers (1980) in his book A Way of Being backs up this point explaining that most of

non-physiologically related psychological problems are based on a negative view of one’s self in relation to the world.  He also

explains that other’s views are the key cause of how one views himself/herself.  Susan Harter, Patricia Waters, and Nancy

    Whitesell (1998) back up Roger’s view by stating that the opinions of others, who serve as social mirrors into which we all

look, becomes incorporated into the individual’s sense of self-worth.  For example, if one person tells another person that

he/she is good, then that other person will believe that he/she is good.  This is what is pursued in this study.  Participants who

receive an inspirational reading will be given a reading in which they are told of their uniqueness, goodness, and capability to

achieve any goal.

      Barbara Day Lockhart (1997) did a study which expanded the idea of a person’s self-worth being based on others views.

She questioned whether self-worth needs to be earned, or is innate.  Her conclusions from having subjects answer questions

about how they view themselves and how they think others view them were that most subjects’ view of themselves were

consistent with how they perceived others’ view of them.  Lockhart found that most subjects held how others viewed them as

more important than how they viewed themselves, and concluded that others’ views give people a conditional or unconditional

view of how they view themselves. A conditional view means that they only have a positive self-worth if they are pleasing to

people around them, and an unconditional view means that they hold a positive self-worth no matter what others think of

them.  This goes along with Carl Rogers’ (1980) ideas of conditional regard and unconditional positive regard.  Rogers states

that most of psychological problems come from people holding a conditional regard for others.  This means that one person

will only like another person if that person is living up to his/her expectations.  Rogers then goes on to say that if one has an

unconditional positive regard for another, and if they accept and support the other person no matter how they are, then the

other person will also develop an unconditional positive regard for themselves.  This relates to Lockhart’s findings in that if a

person was told that he/she should not be affected by the conditions others put him/her, then that person would see that it is

his/her own view that is more important, and not other’s views.  Lockhart’s findings, according to Rogers’ views could be

changed through the inspirational idea of unconditional positive regard.

     It is very important to study self-worth because of its relation to achievement.  Ted Thompson, John Davidson, and James

Barber (1995) say that certain students known as “self-worth protective” will voluntarily give up in situations where if they fail

their peers will attribute that failure to a lack of ability.  This means that a low self-worth can result in withdrawal from

achievement.  Carl Rogers (1980) also shows this idea in a case study he did on a women named Ellen West.  Ellen lived a life

of giving in to her parent’s wishes and of never becoming who she really wanted to be.  Her parents treated her with

conditional regard and would only love her if she followed their wishes.  Ellen always gave in to those wishes and tried to be

what everyone wanted her to be.  She eventually lost all confidence and all self-worth in herself and became severely

depressed, and even developed an eating disorder.  She eventually gave up all hope of ever achieving anything she wished in

her life.  She even gave up the want to achieve life and killed herself at the age of thirty-three.  Rogers describes this case as

proof that a low self-worth causes someone to give up hope and to give up the desire to achieve anything in their lives.  This

example illustrates why it is very important to study self-worth and how to inspire people to have more self-worth.  If someone

knew how to inspire a person who had really low self-worth, and was severely depressed as a consequence, then that

person’s life might be saved.

    Another reason why it is important to study self-worth is offered by Rollo May (1979).  May offers a theory on anxiety

based on ideas from the existential philosopher Kierkegaard that states that there are two types of anxiety, normal anxiety and

neurotic anxiety.  Normal anxiety is anxiety which every person faces everyday when they are faced with having to make a

decision.  May says that the anxiety is like a messenger that tells people it is time to make a decision.  Neurotic anxiety occurs

when normal anxiety has not been met, or in other words, no decision has been made.  This type of anxiety causes great inner

tension and makes one feel as if they cannot achieve any goals.  A person who has high self-worth would not be afraid to

make the decision that is necessary when normal anxiety occurs.  However, a person with low self-worth is afraid to make

decisions because they are afraid to fail, and they therefore push themselves deeper into a negative view of their abilities to


     Consequently, the relationship between self-worth and others’ views, self-worth and achievement, and self-worth and

anxiety form the definition of self-worth to be used in this study: self-worth is the particular view of oneself based on how

others view them that can either hinder or nourish the motivation to achieve.  This definition can be used to show how

inspiration is related to self-worth.

      According to Carl Rogers (1980) inspiration is very important in relation to self-worth because he believes that a person’s

self-worth can be raised significantly through offering him/her unconditional positive regard.  Based on this statement it can be

seen that Rogers is referring to this regard as inspiration.  This is because inspiration affects self-worth in the same way as

unconditional positive regard.  It can also be concluded from this that self-worth will increase if given inspiration because it is a

measurable consequence of inspiration. This increase can be achieved through offering someone with such inspirational sayings

as, “You can be anything you want, because I am here to back you up and support you in anything you do or become” or

“Focus on your self right now and try to see that you are a person who can make decisions and change the course of your life

in any way you wish”.  This last saying is significant to Rollo May’s (1979) ideas on being a subject in an objective world that

were discussed in the section on motivation.  These types of sayings can make a person feel empowered and give him a higher

sense of self-worth.  If the right ideas are offered to him, then he will feel wanted, and therefore gain a higher sense of self


      The previous sections have shown how motivation and self-worth are consequences of inspiration and how they can be

measured in relation to inspiration.  Also stated previously, there is one other consequence that this study will look at as being a

consequence of inspiration, that is, mood.  The next section will describe what mood is, its connection to inspiration, and its

importance because of this consequence.


    Peter Whybrow (1994) describes mood as the expression of changing emotion and the outward presentation of our inner

feelings.  He also goes on to say that mood is the essential stimulus to human communication.  This description by Whybrow is

the definition of mood used in this study.  This description by Whybrow is trying to show how people not only communicate

through words, but also through their physical expressions due to their inner feelings or mood.  It is important to study mood

for this reason, because people could communicate better with each other if they understood each other’s moods through

reading expression (Whybrow, 1994).  Another important reason to study mood is because of its relation to self-esteem.

Traci McFarlane (1998) did a study in which she gave positive self-affirming statements to participants in order to see if they

had any effect on mood.  Her study showed that if subjects were given positive statements about the self, then their moods also

tended to be more positive.

     It was stated earlier that giving readings geared to increase self-worth is a form of inspiration.  From this it can be

concluded that not only inspirational readings geared to increasing self-worth can increase mood, but also inspiration in

general.  Robert Ornstein (1989) showed that inspiration in many forms, such as music, fragrance, nature, and words, has a

direct effect of putting people in better moods.  He described that people, when talking about inspirational moments in their

lives showed decreased anxiety and depression, while also showing increased happiness and feelings of well-being.  From this

it is shown that inspiration, in all its forms, can cause better and happier mood states.

     As shown by Ornstein (1989) inspiration in many ways can have a direct positive effect on bettering mood.  However,

because this study is also examining inspiration’s effects on motivation and self-worth, only readings geared to inspire one to

feel better about his/herself and become more motivated are used.  It is assumed that because these types of readings are

inspirational, they will increase mood states such as friendliness and vigor, while decreasing mood states such as anxiety and

depression.  This study examines this relationship of inspiration and mood in this way.  Various mood states will be measured

after participants receive either an inspirational or non-inspirational reading.

     In summary, this past review of inspiration and its relationship to motivation, self-worth, and mood was to show that

inspiration is an abstract personal experience that can manifest itself in a measurable way through motivational levels, levels of

self-worth, and various mood states.

Research Purposes and Hypothesis

    The purposes of this study are to determine if inspirational readings geared to this study’s definition of motivation,

self-worth, and mood can in fact increase motivational levels, levels of self-worth, and mood.  The purpose of this is to see if

there are any significant differences in motivational levels, self-worth levels, and mood between the experimental and control

groups in order to discuss how these ideas can be useful to psychology.  My hypothesis of this study are that inspirational

readings will have a positive effect on both motivation, self-worth, and mood.


    There were 20 participants for this study (10 males, 10 females).  They were volunteers from a freshman subject pool who

needed to complete a number of studies for class credit in general psychology.  All participants were between the ages of 18

and 22.  Participants were assigned to either the experimental or control group depending on whether or not they received a

packet of the study’s materials with an odd or even number.  Odd numbered packets were for the control group, while even

numbered packets were for the experimental group.  There were 10 participants in each group.


    The materials used in this study included two groups of readings, two psychological measures, and a general question.

The first of the two readings was a non-inspirational reading taken from the Nashua Telegraph (see Appendix A).  It was

located only in the control group’s packet of materials because of its non-inspirational nature.  The second of the two readings

was an inspirational reading taken from the May 2 journal entry from Each Day a New Beginning written by an anonymous

author (see Appendix B).  It was located only in the experimental group’s packet of materials because of its inspirational


     The first of the two psychological measures, received by both the experimental and control groups, was the Profile of

Mood States (POMS)(McNair, 1977)(see Appendix C).  This test Consists of 65 questions pertaining to the mood states of

tension/anxiety (T), Depression/Dejection (D), Anger/Hostility (A), Vigor (V), Fatigue (F), Confusion (C), and Friendliness.

The test asks participants to answer how they are feeling about a particular mood state by specifying a degree ranging from

“not at all” (0) to “extremely” (4).  The POMS was shown to be 92% reliable for tension/anxiety, 95% reliable for

Depression/Dejection, 92% reliable for Anger/Hostility, 89% reliable for Vigor, 94% reliable for Fatigue, and 87% reliable for

Confusion (McNair, 1977).  There was no reliability measurement for friendliness.  It was also shown to be a valid measure of

all aspects where p<.01 (McNair, 1977).  The second of the two psychological measures, also received by both the

experimental and control groups, was the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965)(see Appendix D).  This scale

consists of ten questions asking participants questions about themselves, and participants are to answer on a scale that ranges

from “agree very much” (1) to “disagree very much” (5).  This scale was shown to have a 85% test-retest reliability

(Rosenberg, 1965).  The test was also shown to be valid when compared to other previous scales of self-esteem where p<.01

(Rosenberg, 1965). The last material used was a question, given to both the experimental and control groups, asking if each

participant believed that after doing either an inspirational or non-inspirational reading they felt more motivated (see Appendix



    First, the participants were told that this study was looking at different psychological responses to selected readings (see

Appendix F). The study had an experimental group that tested the effect of inspirational readings on perceived motivation,

self-worth, and mood, and a control group which received non-inspirational readings.  The two groups first received a literary

selection; the experimental group received the inspirational selection and the control group received the non-inspirational

selection.  Each group was asked to read the selection carefully and turn their reading over when they were done.  The

selections were then collected and two measures were handed out along with a question about the readings.  The measures, as

described earlier, were the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Profile of Mood States.  The question asked whether or not

the participant thought that their given reading affected their motivation in some way.  Participants were asked to read each

question carefully and answer to the best of their ability.  After all the participants completed the measures, they were collected

and a feedback sheet that described the study and its hypothesis was handed out (see Appendix G).


     The effects examined in this study were on the dependent variables of levels of self-worth, various mood states, and

perceived motivational levels after exposure to inspirational passages.  Each variable assessed whether a participant received a

non-inspirational reading or an inspirational reading (whether they were in the control or experimental group).  The means of

participants in the control group were compared with the means of participants in the experimental group to look for any

significant differences in levels of self-worth and in looking for differences in mood states.  Frequencies of answers, either “yes”

or “no”, were looked at in relation to participants perceived motivational levels.  The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale was used

to measure self-worth, while the Profile of Mood States (POMS) was used to measure mood states on seven levels.  These

seven levels include tension/anxiety (T), depression/dejection (D), anger/hostility (A), vigor (V), Fatigue (F), Confusion (C),

and friendliness (labeled friendliness).  Finally, a question developed by the researcher was asked at the end of the study of

whether or not each participant felt that he/she was motivated by the reading he/she received.

     The main dependent variable that this study looked at was self-worth.  Using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, mean

results were compared between the experimental and control groups using an independent-samples T test.  There was no

significant difference between the experimental and control group, t(18) = -.560, p>.05.  However, the experimental group did

show some movement in the predicted direction (see Table 1).

Table 1

Means of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale Between the Control and Experimental Groups

Groups                          N                                  Mean                                 SD
control                          10                                   40.7                                 7.5
experimental                  10                                  42.4                                  5.9

    The mean of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale for the experimental group (x=42.4) was higher than that of the control

group (x=40.7) although not significantly.

     The next dependent variable looked at was the effects of the readings on mood states.  Using the Profile of Mood States

(POMS) the means of seven levels of mood states were compared through an independent-samples T test between the control

and experimental groups. There were no significant differences between the groups on any of the seven levels; however, the

means for four of the levels were in the predicted direction (see table 2).

Table 2

Means and T test scores between the control and experimental groups on the POMS

Groups                                   N                                   Mean                             SD                                 T-Scores
Tension/Anxiety (T) Groups                                                                                                             t(18) = .968, p>.05
control                                   10                                  12.10                            3.81
experimental                           10                                   9.70                            6.85
Depression/Dejection (D) Groups                                                                                                    t(18) = .678, p>.05
control                                   10                                  13.10                           10.98
experimental                          10                                    9.70                           11.44
Anger/Hostility (A) Groups                                                                                                              t(18) = 1.579, p>.05
control                                  10                                   10.90                            5.72
experimental                          10                                    6.67                           11.39
Vigor (V) Groups                                                                                                                             t(18) = .480, p>.05
control                                  10                                   16.90                            6.38
experimental                          10                                  15.60                             5.70
Fatigue (F) Groups                                                                                                                           t(18) = .591, p>.05
control                                  10                                   12.50                             7.85
experimental                          10                                  10.60                             6.45
Confusion (C) Groups                                                                                                                       t(18) = .604,p>.05
control                                 10                                     8.50                              8.50
experimental                        10                                      7.50                              7.50
Friendliness Groups                                                                                                                           t(18) = .353, p>.05
control                                 10                                    17.50                             3.84
experimental                         10                                   16.90                              3.76

    The means between the control and the experimental groups for Tension/Anxiety (control x=12.10, experimental x=9.70),

Depression/Dejection (control x=13.10, experimental x=9.70), Anger/Hostility (control x=10.90, experimental x=6.67), and

Fatigue (control x=12.50, experimental x=10.60) were all in the predicted direction, although not significantly, such that

participants’ mood seemed to be better in the condition where inspirational sayings were read.

     The last dependent variable looked at in this study was whether or not participants in the control and the experimental

groups felt that they were motivated by the reading they received.  Frequencies of answers, either “yes” or “no”, where looked

at using a 2(answer)×2(condition) Chi Square to determine if participants in the control group felt that they were not motivated

by their reading, and also to see if participants in the experimental group felt that they were motivated by the readings they

received.  No significant relationship was found, *2(1)=.219,p>.05.  However, there was one more “yes” answer in the

experimental group.


     This study looked at the effects inspiration had on levels of self-worth, mood, and motivation.  It was hypothesized that

levels of self-worth and motivation would increase as a result of receiving an inspirational reading, and that the participants in

this experimental group would have generally happier and calmer mood states than those in the control group, who received a

non-inspirational reading.  After the completion of the study, the results were shown not to confirm the hypothesis.  There were

no significant differences between the experimental and control groups for self-worth, mood, or motivation.  However,

self-worth was slightly higher in the experimental group, and mood scores were slightly lower in the experimental group on the

levels of tension/anxiety, depression/dejection, anger/hostility, and fatigue.  Also, one more person answered positively to a

question of whether or not he/she felt more motivated after completing his/her reading in the experimental group as compared

to the control group.  These results suggest that, on an objective level, inspiration does not have much effect on self-worth,

mood, or motivation.  However, the results show some effect in the predicted direction.  This slight effect might be due to the

fact that inspiration does have an effect on a person, just not in an objectively measurable way.

     The literature that has studied inspiration in the past is mainly found in journals of humanistic and philosophical psychology,

which focus their attention more on the subjective rather than objective aspects of psychology.  It might not be the case that

inspiration had no effect on the dependent variables, but rather that it had a different effect than what can be objectively

measured, namely, a subjective effect.  This study may show that it is difficult for subjective material to be translated into

objective form.  This is most likely because every individual person has different ideas or ways that he/she is inspired, and

every person also has different capacities and needs for inspiration.  Some people may be easily inspired and may also be at a

point in their lives where they need inspiration, while others may not be easily inspired and have no need to be.  This idea can

be illustrated through the ideas of Maslow (1971).  As shown in the introduction, Maslow believed that there are many

different levels of needs ranging from basic biological needs to self-actualizing needs.  In looking at self-worth, this study used

an inspirational reading that was geared to help realize the need for worth.  However, many people in the study may have

already met that need and as a result were not inspired by the reading.  These participants may have artistic needs or even

self-actualization needs that go beyond an inspirational reading relevant to self-worth.

     The diversity of needs makes it very difficult to measure inspiration and any of its effects on a general objective level.  This

difficulty has implications for people who are trying to use inspiration to increase motivation and self-worth, such as teachers or

employers.  They would need to realize that it would be difficult to inspire a class or group of employees as a whole, because

each person needs to be dealt with individually in order to find out what inspires him/her. Robert Ornstein (1989)

demonstrated this idea through a study in which he had people describe times when they felt inspired, and he measured their

physical states while giving this description.  He found that there were almost as many descriptions of what inspires as there

were people. This study suggests that other means of inspiration, beyond sayings, may need to be explored to find if there is a

common characteristic in all means of inspiration.  If there were, then inspiration could be more easily studied in relation to all

people instead of just the individual.

     There were two main things that may have led to this study’s lack of significant results.  These include the need for more

participants, and also the need for more diverse inspirational readings that would have included a greater number of individual

ways to be inspired.  Because there were only 20 participants in this study, and all of the same age group, it was difficult to

make any generalizations about inspiration.  A larger and more diverse group would may have been more significantly affected

by the inspirational reading, and also would have allowed for greater statistical generalizations.  The study also lacked a

diversity of inspirational readings.  As stated earlier, many of the participants may not have needed any inspiration towards

self-worth, and therefore were not inspired.  If the study included five readings, instead of one, that spoke to other needs such

as aesthetic and friendship needs, then more participants may have been inspired and more significance may have been found.

     Future research on this topic should develop a larger scale study with at least fifty participants of a more diverse age group

ranging from young children to seniors.  This study should also cover many different ways to be inspired.  There should be

readings, music, talks and even reflection time where the participant gets to be alone with his/her thoughts.  Future research on

this topic would benefit from not only doing a larger scale study with more diverse ways to inspire, but also by moving in the

direction of inspiring individuals instead of a whole group.  Doing a study trying to inspire a group is very difficult because of

the diversity of the participants.  It may be easier to look at individuals instead.  In this type of study the researcher should

pretest each individual he looks at, interview to find out how best to inspire each person, then posttest after the person has

been inspired.  This would help ensure that participants are being inspired, and it would also help determine a greater number

of consequences that come from inspiration.  This type of study also goes along with the subjective nature of inspiration than

does an objective general study.

      It is important to do research on inspiration in order to discover how to inspire people to recognize their worth and to not

be afraid to accomplish their goals.  This information would benefit teachers in developing confidence and motivation in their

students at an early age.  It would also benefit employers in developing a happier and more productive environment.  Finally, it

would benefit humanity as a whole in giving it the knowledge of how to make each person feel good about his/herself and

motivate him/her to have an impact in this world.

    Inspiration is a valuable tool for every human, whether recognized or not.  It is what pushes a person beyond fear and

beyond their common everyday lives to accomplish their goals.  In this way inspiration has a direct effect on each person’s

subjective experiences of self-worth, mood, and motivation.  It is necessary to further study inspiration and all of its

consequences so that psychology can understand what makes a person find the confidence and desire to accomplish a goal

beyond his/her own apprehension and routineness.  If psychology could learn how to inspire each individual in this way, then

human accomplishment and confidence would reach unimaginable heights.


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