Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Basic human drivers

Good marketing and advertising reaches us at an emotional level, without us even realising. Or putting it a different way, it answers needs inside of us that we are not really aware of.

But what are our needs? What are the emotions that we respond to? I found a list of basic human drivers attributed to Dr Kevin Hogan, which I thought made rather interesting reading.

Do you agree or disagree with the list? Would you add or remove anything? Should marketing be considering such psychological factors? Comments, thoughts and debate all welcome.

Here’s the list: 16 basic human drivers
  1. Sex/romance
  2. Acquisition/saving
  3. Bonding/connecting
  4. Learning/curiosity
  5. Eating
  6. Defence/fight or flight
  7. Nesting
  8. Vengence
  9. Status
  10. Power
  11. Loyalty
  12. Order and organisation
  13. Independence
  14. Acceptance
  15. Altruism
  16. Physical activity


  1. Very interesting list and I do think you have a point that this probably does relates to what motivates people. Whilst looking at it I was reminded of our old friends Maslow and Herzberg (for anyone reading this that has not done an MBA, they defined factors that motive people mainly in relation to HR)
    I picked up on the second item in the list. It interested me as I am not entirely sure that it is a driver in itself but may be more of a facilitator for other drivers. I believe most people associate money/possessions with other thinks; some people may see money as facilitating independence; they don’t have to get out of bed on a winters morning (I don’t think this is just me) alternatively they may see possessions such as cars, cloths etc as enhancing their status and power. An ex-colleague of mine would almost certainly have seen financial independence as an opportunity to express his dislike of his then boss in physical terms.

  2. Hadrian

    Maslow also came to mind but I'll have to go look up Herzberg ...

    You are right, though, about drivers and facilitators. I think the bottom line is that we do things for multi-layered reasons - some of which we are aware of and some of which are more covert.

    A Twitter follower added "Spirituality and Religion". I suspect there is a driver behind this one too, but its definitely a strong factor in many people's lives.

  3. where's creativity in all of this? the motivation to create, to bring something new of ones self into being, to inspire, entertain and engage others... I think it's quite different from learning

    I'm just wondering how much marketing there is targetting my creative self, I suspect quite a lot if you start to unpick it all

  4. I wondered about creativity too Jenny. But perhaps it is a combination of drivers 4 and 6. People tend to be creative either in reponse to a problem they can't solve by what they already know (the harder or more threatening the problem, the greater the drive to be creative about it) or by wanting to explore their learning in a practical way.

    I think some of the drivers could be combined as well e.g. 1 and 7. Although Romance is also part of bonding. Quite a few others have overlaps which is interesting too.

  5. Yes, creativity. Seems amazing this isn't on the list. Maybe we are getting into higher territory here, once the basic drivers have been met? A bit Maslow-like ...