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an activated state within a person that leads to goal-directed behavior

a construct representing an unobservable force that stimulates and compels a behavioral response and provides specific direction to that response

Needs occur when a perceived discrepancy exists between an actual and a desired state of being

Note that there are many theories of motivation:

  • Don't look at these as "right" or "wrong"; they are just theories.

  • None are validated, but seem intuitively logical.


Consumers usually have multiple motives for particular behaviors. These can be a combination of:

known to the person and freely admitted

unknown to the person or the person is very reluctant to admit

Note: different motives can lead to the same behavior; observing behavior is not sufficient to determine motives.

A model of motivation might look like:

unsatisfied need===>
. . . . . . . . . .tension===>
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . drives===>
. . . . . . . . . . . . search behavior===>
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . satisfied need===>
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . reduction of tension

hypothesized that within every human being there exists a hierarchy of five needs:

  1. Physiological
  2. Safety
  3. Social
  4. Esteem
  5. Self actualization

You may use this theory as a conceptual guide; it is intuitively appealing. However, there is no real evidence to support it!

(E.g., why would a person like Dr. Bob spend a few years in a doctoral program, attempting to raise a family of four on $725 per month, if "self actualization" shouldn't occur without first meeting lower order needs?)

Nonetheless, one point that can be made from looking at Maslow's theory and from others is that we can expect different people in different situations to be motivated in different ways and toward different goals depending on what needs have been met. That is, while the specific factors of Maslow's idea are not valid in all situations, the idea that motivation can work in a hierarchical fashion is a valid concept.


  • nACH:
    need for achievement: drive to excel: drive to achieve in relation to a set of standards; to strive to succeed.

  • nPOW:
    need for power: the need to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise.

  • nAFF:
    need for affiliation: the desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships.

High nACH:
Some people like goals, some do not. These people are high achieves.

  • they are not gamblers

  • they avoid very easy or very difficult tasks

  • low odds of losing present no challenge to their skills

  • high odds of losing offer no rewards from happenstance success

  • get most satisfaction from "50-50 odds

High nPOW:

  • these people like being "in charge"

  • more interested in the prestige of power than in effective performance

High nAFF:

  • these people strive for friendship

  • prefer cooperative rather than competitive situations

  • desire relationships with a high degree of mutual understanding

McClelland's idea suggests why it is that different people behave in different ways. We all have more or less of a need on some of these factors, making each of us motivated toward different personal goals. People who have a higher nACH would probably make better entrepreneurs or salespeople and be lousy team players. People who have a higher nPOW would probably make better leaders but could be obnoxious "armtwisters" as salespeople. People who have a higher nAFF would probably make the best team players but would lack the "self drive" to be salespeople running their own territory.

The point of this is to note that different people have different personalities.

reflects the common responses (behavior) that individuals make to a variety of recurring situations

Personality deals with relatively long lasting personal qualities that allow us to respond to the world around us.

  • has to do with traits

  • has to do with individual differences


  • Financial - might the used car cost me too much to maintain?

  • Performance - might the car break down and leave me unable to get to school?

  • Physical - what if I get into an accident in a car without air bags?

  • Social - what will my friends think if I buy the pink car?

  • Time - what if I have to drive 100 miles each month to that dealer for warranty service on a new car?

  • Psychological - what if I attend the more rigorous college but flunk out?

  • Opportunity loss - if I go to college now, how much will I lose by not working a "real" job?