- Albert Einstein
When a person acts in order to achieve some purpose, we say that his behavior is goal- oriented, or that he is motivated. But human motivation is a complicated matter. People are not always aware of the motives for their own behavior - let alone that of others
The most basic level, physiological needs, namely all those things which a human body needs to survive as a living organism - food, drink, shelter, sleep, air to breathe, etc. As long as any of these needs remains unsatisfied, a person will not worry about other needs. Once the survival needs have been relatively well met, the next level of needs emerges and becomes felt. They are the safety or security needs.
When we have sufficient food, drink and the other necessities of life, our primary concern becomes self- protection. Normally, a person will avoid situations and places where he is likely to get hurt. He will frequently also take steps to secure his future from a possible lack of the basic necessities. We build houses, store food, buy insurance policies - in short, we respond to a need for physical security. That is how this group of needs is expressed in our daily life. Only when the more basic needs for survival are not satisfied do we willingly take risks or endanger ourselves to supply them
We build houses, store food, buy insurance policies - in short, we respond to a need for physical security. That is how this group of needs is expressed in our daily life. Only when the more basic needs for survival are not satisfied do we willingly take risks or endanger ourselves to supply them.
Once the needs for survival and security are sufficiently met, we become aware of affiliation and belongings needs (security needs), but in the sense of emotional rather than physical security. We need to feel accepted by the people around us for our emotional stability. To be rejected, isolated or ignored by society is commonly felt as a form of deprivation.
We therefore act in ways that make other people like us and accept us. Unlike the first groups of needs, which are of a biological nature, affiliation needs are clearly social. No one can satisfy these needs by himself: he needs a social group to which he can belong and which accepts him.
If we are appreciated and admired we feel self-confident and capable. On the other hand, if others look down upon us, not only do we tend to feel hurt and insulted, but we also begin to think of ourselves as inferior, weak and incompetent. If others look down upon us, not only do we tend to feel hurt and insulted, but we also begin to think of ourselves as inferior, weak and incompetent.
“What a man can be, he must be.” It is common to see this need expressed among artists and other creative people, but it is in fact universal. Even a child who has mastered a new skill will feel this need for self-actualization. It is the same with most of us: we need to do what we think we can do well.
Unfortunately, for many people in the world, survival needs and security needs are only barely satisfied, hunger and physical danger being only just around the corner. In such circumstances no normal person will worry about self-actualization, or about esteem and affiliation, for that matter. But give the people enough to eat, shelter and physical security, and the higher levels of needs are bound to appear.
In communication at the grassroots, an understanding of people’s motivation can help us in at least two kinds of situation:
- when we want to help people, and
- when we want them to change their behavior.