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In psychology, motivation is the driving force behind all actions of an organism. Motivation is based on emotions, specifically, on the search for positive emotional experiences and the avoidance of negative ones, where positive and negative are defined by the individual brain state, not by social norms: a person may be driven to self-injury or violence because their brain is conditioned to create a positive response to these actions. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation [Jun 2004]

Human needs

Needs refer to things that people "must" have. They are often contrasted with wants, which are more discretionary.

The most widely known academic model of needs was proposed by Abraham Maslow. In it, he proposed that people have a hierarchy of needs, which range from security to self actualization. However, while this model is intuitively appealing, it has not been supported by evidence. See: Clayton Alderfer.

The academic study of needs was at its zenith in the 1950's, but receives scant attention today. One exception is Richard Sennett's work on the importance of respect. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Need [Jun 2005]

Biological survival as a motive

One of the strongest genetic drives of evolutionarily-successful species, such as the human species, is survival. Knowledge of one's environment strongly promotes survival; with more knowledge one can better escape immediate threats. With even deeper knowledge, one can predict such threats and avoid them altogether. Since the powerful instinct to survive drives it, each person's lust for environmental knowledge can be so strong as to require nothing short of certainty. Given the human propensity to abstract, in time this desire can exceed simply assuring one's own survival and press further to investigate the foundations of reality and humans' purposes in it. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_motivation_to_philosophize [Jun 2004]

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