Intrinsic Motivation and the Striving Styles System


Intrinsic Motivation and the Striving Styles System

American psychologist Henry Murray (1893-1988) described needs as a, “potentiality or readiness to respond in a certain way under certain given circumstances” (1938). Human needs are the source of intrinsic motivation for all behavior and social interaction. We all have needs that we strive to satisfy in a variety of ways based on a hierarchy of favorite needs. If the conditions are right, and an individual’s predominant need does get met, they are poised for growth and the exploration of how they can seek greater levels of self-actualization. In order for this to happen, social and relationship systems must be responsive to these needs. The result of not having your predominant need met or recognized causes instability and insecurity leading to adaptive and self protective behaviours and an over reliance on extrinsic motivation.

The Striving Styles Personality System offers an approach to needs satisfaction by making it easy to identify dominant needs. It is based on the theory that each of us has an intrinsic or dominant need that must be met in order for us to self-actualize and we use our emotional energy to get that need met. These needs are hard-wired into the brain and set at the time of birth. The give form to the personality and the way one interacts with the world.

There are eight dominant needs and patterns of behavior that are easily identifiable as Striving Styles. They have distinct patterns of self-actualizing and self-protective behaviours. The System recognizes that there are various things that interfere with recognizing and meeting our predominant need. If we are deprived of the conditions that support the identifying and meeting of our needs, we continue to survive, but we will not succeed in meeting our full potential.

Not all behaviour is predictable. The Striving Styles System is useful in laying the groundwork for understand certain things about yourself that you would not normally understand. For example, understanding what your dominant need is in relationships vs. what you were conditioned to believe they were can help you break dysfunctional patterns in relationships.

The Striving Styles Personality System and needs satisfaction approach to self-actualizing take into account the complexity and diversity of personalities and the unrelenting nature of human needs to be met. Within this system, a person’s predominant need cannot be compromised as it is that need which provides the foundation for security. The more aware we are of our predominant need and how to get the need met, the less likely we are to be totally dependent on the unconscious processes that occur when we do not have this information.

Our predominant need is non-negotiable. If we do not get it met, we don’t feel safe and become self-protective. There are other needs that are negotiable and not as connected to survival and whether they are met are not are of little consequence. For example, a child with a dominant need for security has a low need for recognition. It does not matter to them whether or not they are selected for a role in the school play. However, that same child will feel frightened and anxious if their routine is disrupted.

Development and self-actualization occur when we meet our predominant need and integrate meeting other needs as well. It also occurs when we are able to suspend getting our dominant need met and are able to recognize that it creates anxiety, but we build tolerance to the feeling instead of shutting down our development so that we don’t feel.


I am excited to share that our book, Who Are You Meant to Be; A Revolutionary Approach to Achieving Your True Potential will be featured on…
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I am excited to share that my book, Who Are You Meant to Be; A Revolutionary Approach to Achieving Your True Potential will be featured on …
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Striving Styles Newsletter October 2012 via #constantcontact
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Bridging the Rational- Emotional Gap by @AnneDranitsaris on @slideshare
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Using the Striving Styles can improve your relationships.
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