We are all motivated by three fundamental needs

I am not the first person to notice that human behaviour is motivated by needs, and I am not the first person to create a model to understand these needs. I have had the opportunity to learn about and use many of these other models. However, I found that the simpler models failed to explain certain behaviours, and that the more complex models became too cumbersome to be practical.

The 3-S Fundamental Needs Model developed by me in 2008 (updated 2020) addresses these shortfalls.

The 3-S Fundamental Needs Model explains all human behaviours through a dynamic blend of just three fundamental needs:

  1. Security Needs
  2. Social Needs
  3. Stimulation Needs

It is important to note that the 3-S Model is Dynamic!

The overlapping circles on the Venn diagram are not fixed in either size or position. Different people will prioritize their fundamental needs in different ways. Some people will have very high security needs, and very low social status needs. Others will have extremely high stimulation needs, but low security needs. This is the big advantage of the Fundamental Needs Model over other models. It accounts for behaviours that other models fail to account for.

Three possible states of the 3-S Fundamental Needs model. There are an infinite number of possibilities.
Three possible states of the 3-S Fundamental Needs model

Security Needs

Security needs are the easiest to conceptualize, and generally form the core of other behaviour and motivation models. These needs include, physical survival requirements like food, shelter, and clothing, as well as safety requirements like freedom from violence,

Beyond these basic safety needs, security needs can extend to financial security, to level of physical comfort, and dwelling or transportation quality.

Social/Status Needs

Human being are social animals. We cannot thrive without social interaction. The degree to which we require social interaction varies from person to person, and it is critically important to recognize this—especially for professionals tasked with helping others.

Status needs are a critical aspect of social needs, in that they reflect perceptions of our status within society. One person with high status needs might aspire to leadership, another to power, and yet another might be extremely driven by the need to know exactly where they stand with others—regardless as to how “high or low” that relative status is.

Stimulation Needs

These are the most overlooked needs, but are in fact at least as important as other needs. Evidence of the importance of stimulation is overwhelming, as demonstrated by multiple sensory deprivation studies. It is well established that prolonged periods of solitary confinement lead to extremely negative mental health consequences.

Beyond the most basic stimulation needs are the varying needs of some individuals for specific kinds of stimuli. A motivational model needs to explain thrill seeking and risk taking behaviours. It must explain people who are driven to create art or make music. The 3-S model accomplishes this.

Contact Me to discuss applications of the 3-S Model

Everyone may have the same three fundamental needs, but how those needs are balanced and prioritized is unique to each individual. By understanding our own priorities we can ensure that the career activities that we take on in retirement are in sync with our needs.

Maslow vs Max-Neef vs 3-S

The two best known and most used human needs models are Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and Manfred Max-Neef’s Fundamental needs model. How does the 3-S Fundamental Needs model compare to them?

Both of the other models have been subject to extensive review, testing, and validation. Both have sufficient verification to retain their value as useful models. Both models also have practical shortfalls that are overcome by the 3-S Model.

While Maslow’s model accounts for Security Needs and Social Needs, it doesn’t assign sufficient importance to Stimulation Needs. Maslow’s model also fails to account for individuals who place higher order needs above lower level needs; risk takers and thrill seekers for example. His highest order need, “self-actualization” also suffers from a lack of clarity as to its nature, and is based on an assumption that all human beings have this as their ultimate goal.

The Max-Neef model, on the other hand, accounts for the factors that Maslow did not. Unfortunately, the model loses its utility for all but PhD level psychologists because of its complexity. It also uses terms and language that may be subject to more than one interpretation. So it may (or may not) be a more accurate model, but its accuracy is of little use if it cannot be easily applied.

Comparing the Revich 3-S Fundamental Needs Model of Motivation with the Maslow Model of Motivation and Personality
Comparison of the 3-S Fundamental Needs Model With The Maslow Needs Pyramid

The 3-S Fundamental Needs model is designed to be easy to understand, accurate and inclusive, AND simple to apply.

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All contents of this page are © 2021 by Allan Revich. Contents may be quoted and reproduced with attribution only.