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Murray's Needs


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Ambition | Materialistic | Power | Status | Affection | Information | So What? 


This is the list of 'psychogenic' needs identified in Explorations in Personality, edited by Henry A. Murray in 1938. They are divided into five groups.

Ambition needs

Need Definition
Achievement To accomplish difficult tasks, overcoming obstacles and achieving expertize. 
Exhibition To impress others through one's actions and words, even if what is said or done is shocking.
Recognition To show achievements to others and gain recognition for these.


Materialistic needs

Need Definition
Acquisition To acquire things.
Retention To keep things that have been acquired.
Order To make things clean, neat and tidy.
Construction To make and build things.


Power needs

Need Definition
Abasement To surrender and submit to others, accept blame and punishment. To enjoy pain and misfortune. 
Aggression To forcefully overcome an opponent, controlling, taking revenge or punishing them.
Autonomy To break free from constraints, resisting coercion and dominating authority. To be irresponsible and independent.
Blame avoidance To not be blamed for things done.
Contrariance To oppose the attempted persuasion of others.
Deference To admire a superior person, praising them and yielding to them and following their rules.
Dominance To control one's environment, controlling other people through command or subtle persuasion.
Harm avoidance To escape or avoid pain, injury and death. 
Infavoidance To avoid being humiliated or embarrassed. 


Status defense needs

Need Definition
Counteraction To make up for failure by trying again, pridefully seeking to overcome obstacles. 
Defendance To defend oneself against attack or blame, hiding any failure of the self.
Infavoidance To avoid being humiliated or embarrassed. 


Affection needs

Need Definition
Affiliation To be close and loyal to another person, pleasing them and winning their friendship and attention. 
Nurturance To help the helpless, feeding them and keeping them from danger.
Play To have fun, laugh and relax, enjoying oneself.
Rejection To separate oneself from a negatively viewed object or person, excluding or abandoning it. 
Sex To form relationship that lead to sexual intercourse.
Succourance To have one's needs satisfied by someone or something. Includes being loved, nursed, helped, forgiven and consoled.


Information needs

Need Definition
Cognizance To seek knowledge and ask questions about things in order to understand.
Exposition To provide information educate others.


Murray also differentiated between physiological primary needs, such as for food and water, and secondary needs, which are more psychological.

So What?

So find out whether the other person has these needs in any form, and help to satisfy them in exchange for what you want of them.

You can also stimulate any of them to create tension. 


Murray, H. A. (1938). Explorations in Personality. New York: Oxford University Press


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