Thursday, January 28, 2010

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

When I attended college, my English teacher taught us about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Simply stated, the theory professes the following:

Man’s most basic, primitive needs must be met before he can consider other needs.

What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? See the list below:
  • Physical Needs: air, food, water, sleep, sex
  • Safety: shelter, physical and financial security, health
  • Social (Love/Belonging): family, friendship, acceptance in a group, intimacy
  • Esteem: confidence, respect, acknowledgement
  • Self-Actualization: morality, wisdom, personal potential, privacy
  • Cognitive: acquire and understand knowledge
  • Aesthetic: appreciate and create beauty and structure
Hmm…does the need for food, water, or sex always take precedence over morality? Not necessarily. Someone with high moral character might deny himself sex before marriage. A starving mother may feed her child before feeding herself.

 Writers are always trying to find motivation to move their characters to action. Our characters are constantly involved in relationships, solving mysteries or crimes, seeking betterment, more knowledge, money or glory, and sometimes they are totally insane. Understanding this theory and how man often defies the rule can help us better create believable characters and maybe even help us introduce plot twists. And don’t forget motivation such as attachment, comfort, trust/dependency, occupation, and control are additional needs to throw into the mix.

2 comments:

Valerie Ipson said...

Very helpful to think about as I develop my characters. Thanks!

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