Speaker session: Can we create a codex of human motivation?
What if, every time you had a transformational change project, you could identify the specific motivation that would achieve real change?
What if, there were a limited number of human motivations that persuaded people to act whatever the behaviour and wherever you are in the world?
What if, there were tools that you could use that could help you isolate the perfect way to frame something to trigger the action you sought?
These are some of the questions I’ll be tabling at this year’s World Social Marketing Conference in Brighton from September 5th – 8th.
Behaviour change expertise
What is the World Social Marketing Conference? It’s the biggest global gathering of behavioural change experts, and you are of course welcome to join. You can find out more here: https://wsmconference.com/brighton-2022
On the subject of human motivation and behaviour, it’s nearly 80 years since Abraham Maslow created his hierarchy of needs in his paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’. Maslow’s original theory was deeper than just the famous ‘pyramid’; he also defined a series of preconditions to basic needs that included our need to understand, to organise thoughts, to create meaning, and to explore. Other preconditions included freedom, fairness, honesty and justice.
In the time since he published, our understanding of human motivation has dramatically improved, with insights from neuroscience, anthropology, biology and many other disciplines. And yet, some kind of updated comprehensive review of motivation is yet to be published.
That’s what I’m now working on.
Towards a codex
From my work so far, I’ve identified over 50 motivations that are common to all humans. When you group them, they seem to create nexuses around specific themes, such as finding meaning, surviving, understanding who we are, and creating social connections. For each motivation, I’m also doing a deep dive into understanding its dynamics.
There are already sophisticated analyses of our cognitive biases, with an existing codex of over 180 of them. Biases are seen as unconscious shortcuts to speed up decision-making. But because they can be flawed, they are more akin to brakes to effective decisions and actions.
Motivations, on the other hand, are accelerators. Which is why we need to understand both biases and motivators.
Over the next two or three years, you’ll hear a lot more from me on human motivation. But if you want a sneak preview on my direction of travel, come along to the WSMC in Brighton. See you there!
And in the meantime, if you’d like a chat about how your organisation can best tackle motivation and behaviour change amongst colleagues, customers or stakeholders, just drop me a line at John.Drummond@CorporateCulture.co.uk