20 November 2009

Human Needs

Manfred Max-Neef and a few others defined the Fundamental human needs, not as a hierarchy, but rather as an interconnected system of needs which are complementary and seeking to be satisfied at the same time. He offers a matrix which breaks down the Fundamental human needs into how they are displayed with in oneself (being), one's possessions (having), one's behaviors (doing) and one's surroundings (interacting). (I tried to insert it, but it wouldn't fit right.)

Henry Murray elaborated on this view of needs. He said that one's individual personality determines how strongly they desire each of the basic human needs. A few of his needs are listed in the below chart with the behaviors people take to meet their needs.

Domain Need for... Representative behavior
Ambition Achievement Overcoming obstacles

Recognition Describing accomplishments

Exhibition Attempting to shock or thrill others
Inanimate objects Acquisition Obtaining things

Order Making things neat and orderly

Retention Hoarding things

Construction Building something
Defense of status Infavoidance Concealing a handicap or a failing

Defendance Giving an explanation or excuse

Counteraction Retaliating for something
Human power Dominance Directing others' behavior

Deference Cooperating with or obeying someone

Autonomy Standing up to authority

Contrariance Being oppositional

Aggression Attacking or belittling others

Abasement Apologizing or confessing

Blame avoidance Stifling blameworthy impulses
Affection between people Affiliation Spending time with others

Rejection Snubbing others

Nurturance Taking case of someone

Succorance Being helped by another

Play Seeking diversion through others
Exchange of information Cognizance Asking questions of others

Exposition Delivering information to others

I think this is so interesting to me because I like how they tied the need into a behavior. That's what I'm usually most interested in. What is it exactly that motivates two people to react to identical situations in differing ways? These charts don't explain that per se, but they do offer some more insight. People have differing degrees of each of the needs, so their initial reflex is to meet the need they hold in highest regard. That's why people in a similar situation react differently: not only have they had different experiences which give different perspectives, they also gave different their goals prioritized differently, so they are searching for different results.
People are complex. This social thing is hard!


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