Why do human beings do what they do? There are entire fields of study dedicated to answering this age old question. Most of what drives the world is a net result of individual actions people have taken. Understanding why people do what they do (including you), will help you understand why the world works as it does, and provide opportunities to improve yourself, build and maintain relationships, and potentially lead to new and exciting places.
Consider the following models of how humans work as a starter kit on your journey.
The Simplest Human Model
The most basic model simply says: Humans move towards pleasure and away from pain (“the carrot and the stick” theory of motivation). When both are present, pain avoidance tends to be the stronger motivator.
The 6 Human Needs Model
Tony Robbins’ interesting model identifies 6 human needs that everyone has in common. In this model, all behavior is simply an attempt to meet these 6 needs:
- Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
- Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, and new stimuli
- Significance: feeling unique, important, special, or needed
- Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something
- Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability, or understanding
- Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, supporting, and giving to others
While people need all 6, most individuals will have 2 that dominate their behavior. The last two – growth and contribution – have a unique place in the model as he believes they are the keys to having a fulfilling life. Are they one of your top 2?
The next part of this article will cover a more complicated model on how people process information. In the meantime, look at yourself and others, can you identify the 2 primary needs? Make and test a prediction on how people will behave in future situations. Then use that to understand why they do what they do.