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Describing the elephant: a foundational model of human needs, motivation, behaviour, and wellbeing

  • Models of basic psychological needs have been present and popular in the academic and lay literature for more than a century yet reviews of needs models show an astonishing lack of consensus. This raises the question of what basic human psychological needs are and if this can be consolidated into a model or framework that can align previous research and empirical study. The authors argue that the lack of consensus arises from researchers describing parts of the proverbial elephant correctly but failing to describe the full elephant. Through redefining what human needs are and matching this to an evolutionary framework we can see broad consensus across needs models and neatly slot constructs and psychological and behavioural theories into this framework. This enables a descriptive model of drives, motives, and well-being that can be simply outlined but refined enough to do justice to the complexities of human behaviour. This also raises some issues of how subjective well-being is and should be measured. Further avenues of research and how to continue building this model and framework are proposed.

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Document Type:Preprint
Author:Andreas Habermacher, Argang Ghadiri, Theo Peters
Number of pages:66
Publisher:Center for Open Science ; PsyArXiv
Date of first publication:2020/12/15
Keyword:basic human needs, evolution of behavior; human behavior; psychological needs; subjective well-being
Departments, institutes and facilities:Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Entry in this database:2021/01/06
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International