Among the best-known theories of work motivation in both academic and applied settings are models predicated on the assumption that, at root, humans are need-driven creatures, most of whose behavior can best be understood by examining their need states and identifying the goals or goal states they seek to satisfy their needs.

What is a Need?

A variety of definitions of need have been offered, but the one favored by the author is attributable to Henry A. Murray. In his 1938 book Explorations in Personality, Murray wrote, first, that need is a hypothetical construct, not a physical entity: We cannot assess it directly or determine its color. It has no physical mass, density, or specific gravity. Second, Murray’s definition also implies that a person in a state ...

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