An Integrated Approach to the Study of the Complexity of our Behaviors

To act we need to have enough motivation to do. Motivation comes from the needs/wants of something and the painful feelings if we don’t act. It is uncommon to find discussions relating the four components of needs-motivation-emotions-interactions under study together.

This post attempts to fill this gap by showing that these four components feedback to each other and that they are interconnected.

Let me start with a simple example. If you feel hungry, you have the #need to eat. This feeling of needs #motivates you to go to the kitchen. If you are lucky, you find in the fridge the food that you like most and you act by eating it. This action fills you with pleasure so your positive #emotions rise.

A deviation example is if you feel hungry, but you have fear that there is no food in the kitchen that you like. This feeling may demotivate you from going to the kitchen and you take no action. This in turn results in the painful feeling of getting hungrier. Your need for food goes up.

The above two examples show that needs- motivation- emotions and actions affect each other.

Emerging Needs and Wants.

Technology and the rapidity of its change create rippling effects on many other sectors in our lives. As a result, we live in a VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity). In such an environment, our needs change, and safety as a basic need regains a high priority.

The advancement of the internet has created an upward positive spiral by making virtual connections easier, allowing opportunities for self-realization and an increasing sense of freedom. For example, you may complain freely to the world, publish an e-book without seeking publishers’ approval, and recording your voice and distribute it easily to the world to show your singing and musical talents.

Unfortunately, this upward spiral has a counter downward spiral. The risk to reputation, spams, e-burglars, and bullying are examples of the new risks we all face. The upward spiral helps us achieve self-actualization whereas the downward spiral takes us to a basic need and that is safety.

A second major source of the internet creating emerging needs is the rapidity of increasing needs to compete with delivering new and dependable products in less time. We want more for less. WE want better quality services at lower prices. We want better personal service with less time available for servicing. We want reliable delivery in unsettled times.

The above examples of seemingly paradoxical demands stress us. We may react negatively under stress and act in ways that are unacceptable to the customers.

A third major effect of the internet is that we tend to get over connected resulting in rigidity at times we need to have high capacities of resilience. The interruptions we get and the distractions we encounter are all adding to our stress and the associated negative feelings the stressors create inside us.

VUCA of the Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs

I conclude from the above discussions that Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs is witnessing disruption and is becoming VUCA in its nature.

To illustrate by one further example I refer to the Arab Spring. The disruption effect of the Arab Spring shows that small acts take much lesser times to dissipate their effect. This in turn created destabilization of societies with an increasing need for safety, food, and social belonging.

Needs are experiencing their rippling effect with the time needed to go from basic needs to higher needs and vice versa diminishing.

Further Explanation of the VUCA of Maslow’s Pyramid

The image below illustrates the interaction cycle of needs, motivation, emotions/feelings, and actions.


Rod King expressed these as interactions between the four elements in a fractal visualization grid as follows illustrating the feeling hungry problem I discussed earlier.

The path of existing Habit Models runs in the direction of as well as opposite to the problem-solving cycle as in Pain-Plan-Do-Review (PPDR). PPDR stands for Problem- Plan- Do- Review.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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