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Henry Murray and Psychological Needs

Murray from a Psychoanalytic Perspective

Murray used the term personology to describe his study of human lives and individual
differences in personality

Murray described a habit system as automatic, unconscious behaviors shaped by the id, ego,
and superego

Murray emphasized positive instincts related to motivation and needs

Henry Murray and Psychological Needs

The Importance of the Situation: Press

Murray emphasized the impact of the situation on behavior which he referred to as press:

1. Alpha press refers to the actual, objective reality

2. Beta press refers to ones subjective perceived, reality

Murray referred to a single episode involving the interaction of internal and external factors as a

Henry Murray and Psychological Needs

Murray as a Motivational Theorist: Needs

Murray focused on needs, motives and drives as the forces that direct behavior

Murray described needs as internal, abstract constructs that can be inferred through behaviour

Murray (1938) coined the term regnanacy to emphasize a biological correlate for a psychological

Henry Murray and Psychological Needs

Murray as a Motivational Theorist: Needs

Murray distinguished among several types of needs:

1. Focal and diffuse

2. Proactive and active

3. Manifest and. latent

4. Conscious and unconscious

Unconscious needs form a dissociated collective in what Murray referred to as the alter ego

Henry Murray and Psychological Needs

Henry Murray and Psychological Needs

Henry Murray and Psychological Needs

Henry Murray and Psychological Needs

The Personal Needs of Henry Murray

Murray is described as neurotic with a high need for intimacy and uniqueness

Snyder and Fromkin (1980) asserted a cultural role for the need for uniqueness

Tafarodi, Marshall, and Katsura (2004) found differences in the expression of uniqueness in
Japanese and Canadian students that reflected motivational differences

Henry Murray and Psychological Needs

Evaluation of Murrays Theory

Murray sparked research in discovering individual differences in motivation

Murray emphasized the role of situational factors

Murray co-developed the Thematic Apperception Test

Critics state his theory is too broad and subjective

The Assessment of Psychological Needs

The Thematic Apperception Test

Concerns with the psychometric properties include low test-retest reliabilities and validity

Others note that different instructions across presentations may contribute to the low reliability

TAT shows clinical utility in psychopathology, and in assessment of differences in relationship

variables as outlined in object relations theory

Alternative Measures of Psychological Needs

The Adjective Check List

The ACL (Gough & Heilbrun, 1965) consists of 300 adjectives that respondents select to describe
a personality
Measures the same needs as the EPPS but unique scales allow for a measure of extreme

Needs identified by the ACL converge with traits identified by components of the fivefactor

Specific Psychological Needs

Achievement Motivation

McClelland(1961) states the TAT is an implicit measure that does not require a conscious
reflection of motives

Self-report is an explicit measure that does require a conscious reflection of motives

Implicit measures are viewed as better indicators of motives than explicit measures and may
reflect different systems as seen in the lack of correlation between the two tests

Specific Psychological Needs

Achievement Motivation from a Societal Perspective

Differences in achievement motivation are observed between individualistic and collectivist


Spence (1985) suggested that mainstream theories of achievement motivation may be limited
to individualistic cultures

The expression of achievement motivation can also vary across cultures

Specific Psychological Needs

Affiliation Motivation

Hill (1987) designed the Interpersonal Orientation Scale and determined four motives that direct

1. Attention

2. Positive stimulation

3. Social comparison

4. Emotional Support

Festinger in his (1954) similarity hypothesis stated that we engage in social comparison for

Specific Psychological Needs

The Need for Power

Research shows no gender differences in the need for power, but power motives may be linked
to testosterone levels

Winter (2002) found no relation between power and political success based on an analysis of
written content (e.g., Presidential speeches)

Contemporary Theory and

Research on Motivation

Personal Projects

Little (2005) defined personal projects as a mid-level process-oriented construct that directs our
daily tasks toward current goals

Personality traits and overall levels of life satisfaction are reflected in our approach to personal

Cross-sectional research confirms personal projects change with age throughout the lifespan