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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hierarchy of Needs, Part One

After recently brushing up on human motivation theory (no need to bore you with details, but you can do a Google search to learn more), I realized that a simple little pyramid developed by psychologist Abraham Maslow might help us figure out what our characters want.

In essence, Maslow’s theory is that there is a hierarchy, or pecking order, of human needs. This theory can be applied to your character’s lives, but misapplication might fail to suspend a reader’s disbelief.

Click here to read the rest of my article at Christian Fiction Online Magazine.


Lapiz de la Guerra said...

Awesome article! My therapist mentioned Maslow's pyramid to me not long ago. It was really neat to see it applied to the writing world! I am definitely going to be using this to re-evaluate some of my characters :o)

Joy said...

Maslow's pyramid of needs, enters our training sessions...Interesting to use it to apply to characters in a story.

Jeff King said...

I'll look into it...

Miss Sharp said...

Hi Jeannie! This is so interesting!

I have to wonder, though, if the pyramid isn't possibly skewed to represent 20th century thinking. People who lived before our basic needs were so easily met not only had romantic and social yearnings, they managed to have them met.

We wouldn't be here today if this wasn't so...Maslow presented his theory in the 1940's, well into a much more advanced civilization.

As always, love to hear your thoughts on this! :D

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

miss sharp - as always, i love the critical thinking you bring to your comments!

i'd say that you're probably right. cavemen weren't guaranteed safety and they procreated. that's probably oversimplifying it, but it makes sense to me.

Kristen said...

That's interesting.
You sparked a thought for me. We're licensed foster parents. In our training we learned about the 9 essential conditions for building self-esteem (I didn't find this anywhere online). The nine essentials- information we need, significant persons, groups we belong to, my meaningful role in life, means of supporting family, source of joy, system of values, places that are important, history (my past/story)

In the exercise we gave examples and then wrote what needs those conditions met in our lives (sig. person: husband, meets the need for love). We then ranked our top five and we were then instructed to slowly "take them away" as foster children experience. This really revealed what was important to us, and effected us emotionally too. That exercise might be good for characters too, and some of these categories look like Maslow's theory and could work hand in hand. Sorry this is so long, but you sparked something:)

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