An Introduction to the Theory of Personality and Motivation

A need is a term which is needed for an organisms to survive a particular life span. Needs are generally distinguished from desires. In the case of a desire, a lack of it results in a fairly obvious adverse effect: either a complete dysfunction or even death. However, for a need it can be harder to identify the need, because its definition is much more vague.


Self-esteem or personal worth is one of the more abstract dimensions upon which human beings appraise their capabilities and worth. It therefore follows that the scope and intensity of a need could vary significantly from person to person. More precisely, as compared with the case of desires, the need involves an interaction of two elements. These are the need to do the action and the need to have the opportunity to do it.

In order to understand this need concept we need to take some further steps. First of all, we need to remind ourselves that in human beings, there is a distinction between the levels of motivation, or self-esteem, on the one hand, and the actualization of some kind of functional objective, such as survival, on the other. The very idea of working for the advancement of some kind of common good, like the betterment of human beings as a whole, presupposes the existence of some level of subjective motivation, which is referred to as self-actualization. This self-actualization has a certain relationship to the actualization of some kind of objective, like the achievement of some goal or objective of a certain nature.

In fact, the theory of needs is closely related to the organizational theory of psychology. Here, there is a hierarchy of psychological needs, just as there is in any other hierarchy. There are, for example, the physical needs, the energy demands, the attention requirements, the social relationships demands, the intellectual abilities, the learning and the memory demands, as well as the leisure time demands. The higher the level at which these different components fit, the closer the relationship is to the concept of self-actualization. In other words, there may be some activities that appear to be completely extraneous to the functioning of the person, but actually they contribute to the fulfillment of some higher or extraneous need that the person may feel his loss without being able to account for it.

The organizational theory of psychology can also be seen as a hierarchy of needs, with human motivation at the top, and the various other needs lower down in the scale. For example, the most obvious need that people feel is for a good job security, although this may not always be consciously expressed. But when security is threatened, people will feel the loss of some things they consider to be important, including their sense of worth, their confidence, their personal relationships, etc. Another aspect of human motivation is the need for a good reputation, which may also not always be consciously expressed but that always plays an important role in determining the level of achievement. This need for a good reputation also creates and tends to intensify certain forms of ritual in which people reaffirm their membership in a group or in some other entity that justifies the way they behave.

All the theories presented so far, including the two-factor theory of motivation, agree on the fact that the concept of self-worth, the need for security, the need for approval, and the need for a good reputation are closely connected with each other. The need for social approval has an especially significant role in today’s society, when many individuals find it difficult to obtain a job in a modern corporate setting. The need for security is also important, since one’s financial future depends on it. And the need for a good reputation can be understood to play a very important role, since many people consider themselves to be a good judge of character. All these theories can be examined to further understand the concepts behind the concepts of personality and motivation.