Willing To Be

Some people want to be liked, whereas others want to be admired. What causes this? ¶ March 19

Some people want to be liked, whereas others want to be admired. What causes this?

I was reading about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Two of the fundamental needs in the hierarchy are esteem (respect of others, achievement, confidence) and love/belonging (friendships, family, etc.).

It occurred to me while reading this that some people seem much more driven by one over the other:

- On the one extreme, there are people who crave the company and affection of others, even if that means sacrificing respect or admiration. They tend to become submissive or make themselves appear flawed in order to endear themselves to others.

- On the other extreme, there are people who cite an insatiable desire to be respected or admired, even if it means alienating their peers and becoming notorious. This category includes many famous people (e.g. entertainers, business magnates, politicians).

I'd like to learn more about this phenomenon. Are there established names for the two personality types? What causes a person to be one way or the other? posted by wireless to Human Relations (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite


McClelland's theory of needs. Essentially, he postulates that people are motivated by achievement, power/status, or affiliation. Those who "crave the company and affection of others", in your terms, are affiliation types, while those who "cite an insatiable desire to be respected or admired" are either achievement types, power/status types, or some combination of both.

It's important to remember that, IIRC, Maslow's need hierarchy is notable for two reasons. First, it has so much intuitive appeal and just seems like it ought to be true. And second, there have been many attempts to validate (i.e., "prove") his hierarchy either in total or in part, and those attempts have been uniformly unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the need hierarchy as well as McClelland's theory of needs (and other, similar theories as well including the Myers-Briggs which gets a lot of play on Metafilter) are useful categorization schemes and certainly facilitate how we talk about individual differences.

As to why people are one type or another, well... people have made entire careers trying to sort this out. The debate about nature versus nurture figures in here, and conventional wisdom shifts fairly frequently on the topic.
posted by DrGail at 5:18 AM on June 22, 2012

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