Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WHY YOU BEHAVE AS YOU DO - Musings on Human Behaviour

Musings on Human Behaviour

You see a man driving his car very fast, quite dangerously.

You wonder why he is doing so, why he is behaving in this reckless way.

Well, there can be many reasons for his behaviour.

Maybe he is driving fast to experience a sense of thrill (to satisfy his need for excitement).

Or he may be driving fast to save time (to satisfy his need for urgency) or to reach his destination in time (to satisfy his need for punctuality).

The same action may have different motives depending on the need you want to satisfy at that point of time.

This is one simple example, but all your behaviour is governed by your intrinsic motivation to satisfy your needs.

Motivation is a psychological drive that arouses you to act in a certain way to achieve your desired goal which is satisfaction of your needs.

Thus, motivation is the psychological driving force that stimulates goal directed behaviour towards your desired goal.

Remember: Your desired goal is the “satisfaction of your need”.

For example, hunger is a motivation that elicits a desire to eat and satisfies your need for food, or, at a very basic level, your need for survival.


According to Professor Steven Reiss there are 16 basic desires or needs that guide nearly all human behaviour.

Here is the list of 16 basic needs that influence your behaviour (in alphabetical order):

1. Acceptance, the need for approval

2. Curiosity, the need to learn

3. Eating, the need for food

4. Family, the need to raise children

5. Honour, the need to be loyal to the traditional values of your country/clan/religion/ethnic group/profession/society

6. Idealism, the need for social justice

7. Independence, the need for individuality

8. Order, the need for organization – for organized, stable, predictable environments

9. Physical activity, the need for exercise

10. Power, the need for influence of will

11. Romance, the need for sex and for beauty

12. Saving, the need to collect

13. Social Contact, the need for friends (peer relationships)

14. Social Status, the need for social standing (importance in society or at the workplace)

15. Tranquility, the need to be safe

16. Vengeance, the need to strike back, to retaliate, to take revenge for perceived injustice


Of course, as you will realize, this list is not all encompassing and there are so many other needs that influence your behaviour.

Some of these “needs” are tangible, and some are intangible.

Why do you behave in the way you do?

You behave in a certain way to satisfy your needs.

The process of human behavior can be summarized in four steps:

1. A need is aroused within you

2. You behave in a way to satisfy the need

3. The need is satisfied

4. You relax

Hence, it is your needs that influence your behaviour. 

The way in which you behave to satisfy your needs depends on your values, attitude and mindset at that point of time.

Yes, it is your values and mindset which will influence you to behave in a “certain way” to satisfy your needs in a given situation.

Your behaviour is value-driven and situation-specific.

For example, the need for romance will be satisfied by different persons each in their own unique way depending on their values and the situation.

From the moment a need is aroused and till it is satisfied you will be in a state of tension which will “motivate” your behaviour.

Yes, during the period between “need arousal” and “need satisfaction” you will experience a sense of tension, a condition of unrest or uneasiness, which will propel you to behave in a certain way.

Once the need is satisfied you will relax.

When you cannot satisfy a need you will experience feelings of frustration.

The degree of your frustration will be related to the magnitude of the unsatisfied need.

Your frustration will affect your behaviour and may cause you to behave in different ways.

You may find a new and acceptable way of reducing or substituting the (unsatisfied) need in order to make it attainable (adaptive response)

Or, you may continue futile efforts to achieve the unattainable need (maladaptive response) – one of the typical maladaptive responses to frustration is aggression.


Reflect on your own behaviour in the past few days (or recall some of your own memorable behavioural fiascoes or those you have witnessed).

Explore the dynamics between needs and behaviour.

Is there a connection between your values and mindset and way you behaved in certain situations?

Your “needs” influence your behaviour – do you agree?

Please comment and let us know.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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1 comment:

vinny said...

Self-introspection often helps us learn, and heal ourselves. Because all problems are internal, but the solution is always hunted for in the external world!
Nice extensive post!