When it comes to health and fitness, the British (in particular we in
the west coast of Scotland) are not renowned for our enthusiasm on the
matter. The Scottish Executive is now realising however that this is
an issue which needs addressed, and quickly. The strain upon the
National Health Service and the deteriorating health of the nation is
a worry, and if we are to install suitable values in the population
then we must learn how to motivate them.
Leading behavioural psychologists have devised a number of
motivational and behavioural theories, and this helps us begin to
understand the way people behave, and consequently why they behave the
way that they do.
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was one of these psychologists, who
produced a piece of work which he named his "hierarchy of needs".
Maslow suggested that there are five sets of goals, which may be
called basic needs.
Mans primal need is for survival, and the simple physiological needs
are thirst, hunger, shelter, sleep and sex. Not necessarily in any
particular order however, as the need for a drink may at times
overtake the need for food- but if you found yourself with someone's
hands around your throat, then needing a thirst quencher would be
quickly forsaken for the need to breathe!
Secondary to survival is the need for security. This reflects our
desire to be free from danger, however in the 21st century this more
resembles the need for job security and financial independence rather
than the fear of sabre-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths.
This is followed by mans desire to belong or to be loved. Humans are
social animals and man has been known to go to extraordinary lengths
in order to be accepted as part of a group or society.
When these have been satisfied, we come to the desire for self-esteem
and self-respect, which are affected by a person's standing
reputation, and his or her need for recognition and appreciation. In
the past it may have been the head arrow-maker or swordsmith, whereas
now it may be the local football team manager, or anything that may
give him/her a title, power or a feeling of prestige.
Finally we come to self-actualisation. This is when one has satisfied
all the lower needs, and discovered how to maximise our talents and
abilities. This may come in the form of job fulfilment, however if
this is not the case then we have to consider if sport can fill that
Maslow's theory is normally expressed in the form of a pyramid style
diagram with survival at the bottom; working up to self-actualisation
at the top. Maslow himself never initiated this and to my eyes it
gives the false impression that in order to move up to the next, the
lower needs have to be fulfilled. This would seem to be the norm,
however creative people may be more driven by self-actualisation needs