Interpreting the iWAM

The Example

An adult student in a university motivation class I teach posted a discussion item addressing the connection between her iWAM results (it is part of the class on motivation and self-management) and her work.

She wrote: "And the thing the iWAM illustrated that I absolutely agree with is that I have a very low ability to read peoples’ body language and subtle meanings."

My Response to Her Post

Your statement is: "I have very low ability to read . . . "

When training professionals to use the iWAM, we make strong assertions about not connecting what the iWAM measures to "ability".

Motivational and attitudinal patterns are an indication of what you want to do, not what you can do (ability).

If that appears to be nit-picking, it is not intended to be. Rather, it is a crucial distinction in understanding human behavior.


Lots of people can do things they don't want to do. If they don't do them, the observer cannot tell whether it is a motivational issue, an ability issue, or both. In your case, you could be correct: You might not have the ability to read people's non-verbal behavior.

The iWAM, however, is only a measure of whether you want to do so.

Thanks for providing your example to make an important point!

Post Script

We don't have time or curricular bandwidth to cover combination patterns in the class.

I regularly scan the comics (which I often prefer to the other news) for examples of iWAM patterns.

Here's one that seems to demonstrate the combination of High Affective and Low Affiliation.