Murray’s Theory of Psychogenic Needs | Know Now

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Murray's Theory
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Murray’s Theory of Psychogenic Needs

The American psychologist Henry Murray (1893-1988) developed a personality theory of Psychogenic Needs organized around motivations, pressures, and needs. Murray described needs as the potentiality or willingness to respond in a certain way in certain given circumstances.

Types of Murray Needs

Psychogenic needs

Ambition needs

Materialistic needs

Energy requirements

Needs for affection

Information needs

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Types of Murray Needs

Need and motivation-based theories of personality suggest that our personalities reflect behaviors controlled by needs. While some of the needs are temporary and keep changing, other needs are more deeply rooted in our nature.

According to Murray, these psychogenic needs operate primarily on the level of the unconscious but play a major role in our personality. Murray identified two types of needs.

Primary Needs: Primary needs are basic needs those are based on biological demands, like the need for oxygen, food, and water.

Secondary Needs: Secondary needs are usually psychological, such as the need for education, independence, and achievement. Although these needs are not fundamental for basic survival, they are essential for psychological well-being.

Psychogenic Needs

Here is a partial list of the 24 needs identified by Murray and his colleagues. According to Murray, all people have these needs; however, each individual tends to have certain level of each need. Each individual’s unique level of needs plays a role in shaping their individual personality.

Each need is important in its own right, but Murray also have the believe that needs can be interdependent, support other needs, and conflict with other needs. For example, the need for dominance can conflict with the need for affiliation. However, excessively controlling behavior isolate friends, family, and romantic partners.

Murray also believed that environmental factors have an important role in how these psychogenic needs are displayed in behavior. Murray referred to these environmental forces as “the presses.”

Ambition Needs

The need for ambition is linked to the need for achievement and recognition. The need for success is often expressed through success, achieving goals and overcoming obstacles. Need for recognition is satisfied by obtaining social status and displaying accomplishments. Sometimes, ambition even involves a need for exposure or the desire to shock and move others.

Materialistic Needs

Materialistic needs focus on acquisition, construction, order and retention. These needs often involve obtaining items, such as purchasing material objects that we desire. In other cases, these needs force us to create new things. Obtaining and creating items is an important part of materialistic needs, but keeping and organizing items is also important.

How Materialism Can Have Financial Consequences

Energy Requirements

Power needs tend to focus on our own independence as well as our need to control others. Murray believed that autonomy was a powerful need involving the desire for freedom and resistance.

Other key power needs he identified include degrading (lowering and defaming), aggressiveness (attacking or mocking others), dodging (avoiding blame), respecting (obeying and cooperative) and dominance (controlling others).

Needs for Affection

Affection needs center on our desire to love and be loved. We need affiliation and seek the company of others. Nurturance, or caring for others, is also important for psychological well-being. The need for relief involves being helped or protected by others. Murray also suggested that playing and having fun with other people was also a critical need for affection.

While most affection needs to be focused on building relationships and connections, Murray also recognized that rejection could also be a need. Sometimes dismissing people is an important part of maintaining mental well-being. Unhealthy relationships can be significantly detrimental to an individual’s well-being, so sometimes it’s important to know when to walk away.

Compassionate and Passionate Love in Relationships

Information Needs

Information needs focus on both acquiring knowledge and sharing them with others. According to Murray, people have an innate need to know more about the world around them. He referred to knowledge as the need to seek knowledge and ask questions.

In addition to gaining knowledge, he also believed that people needed what he called exposure. Exposure is the desire to share what they have learned with other people.

Related Search

Murray’s psychogenic needs have been the subject of much research. For example, research on the need for achievement has found that people with a need for achievement tend to select difficult tasks.

Studies have also found that people with higher needs for affiliation tend to have bigger social groups, trying to spend more time in social interaction, and are more likely to suffer from loneliness when faced with little social contact.

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