Archive for August, 2011
What are the fundamental human needs?
What things, if we get them, will make us happy human beings?
Are there such things as universal human needs, that everyone in every society would identify with, or does it depend on your personality and cultural background?
In an earlier post on Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs, I mentioned that it had been criticised (Hofstede, 1984) for being based on Western sensibilities. In defence of his criticism Hofstede cited a research study by Haire et al. (1966) in which managers from 14 different countries were asked to rate the importance of various needs (security, social, esteem, autonomy, self-actualisation) as well as indicating their level of satisfaction and fulfilment of those needs.
In this study, only the managers from the US ranked the needs in the order proposed by Maslow.
So does that mean that Maslow’s needs are not universal?
Think about a recent job change that you made by your own initiative (rather than by force of circumstance, such as redundancy).
Why did you change? Had you got so fed up with your previous job that you had to move to preserve your sanity? Or were you tempted away by the opportunities on offer in the new job?
What about changing your mobile phone company, utilities, mortgage deal or internet service provider? Do you switch when you get fed up or do you constantly look for better deals?
What motivates you at work and why is it important to you? When you’re thinking about a job move, do you make a list of what you want or a list of what you don’t want?
When you make a list of pros and cons, which column tends to be most influential in making your mind up about something?
This issue of whether you are moving towards something or moving away from something has been a recurring theme in things I have been reading and in discussions I have been having over the last couple of weeks.
Over on Careers Debate we are having an interesting discussion about narrative approaches to career coaching/counselling.
Coincidentally, I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book which looks at how we reconstruct our memories and perceptions in order to keep them consistent with our self image.
In Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson explore the various ways in which we delude ourselves in order to maintain a favoured self-perception. They discuss how this desire to avoid cognitive dissonance leads to extremes of self-justification in all areas of life. They provide examples from the realms of politics (obviously!), international relations, law enforcement, psychology, alien abductions, scientific research and marriage guidance.
It is an interesting book, if somewhat depressing. Personally, I think it should be compulsory reading for any politician or business leader. There is enough thought-provoking material in here to sustain several heated discussions. However, one particular set of research studies caught my attention because of their potential link to narrative work with individuals.