A Theory of Human Motivation HTML version

all other needs may become simply non-existent or be pushed into the background. It is
fair to characterize the whole organism by saying simply that it is hungry, for
consciousness is
almost completely preempted by hunger. All capacities are put into the service of
satisfaction, and the organization of these capacities is almost entirely determined by the
purpose of satisfying hunger. The receptors and effectors, the intelligence, memory,
habits, all
may now be defined simply as hunger-gratifying tools. Capacities that are not useful for
purpose lie dormant, or are pushed into the background. The urge to write poetry, the
desire to
acquire an automobile, the interest in American history, the desire for a new pair of
shoes are,
in the extreme case, forgotten or become of sec-[p.374]ondary importance. For the man
who is
extremely and dangerously hungry, no other interests exist but food. He dreams food, he
remembers food, he thinks about food, he emotes only about food, he perceives only
food and
he wants only food. The more subtle determinants that ordinarily fuse with the
drives in organizing even feeding, drinking or sexual behavior, may now be so
overwhelmed as to allow us to speak at this time (but only at this time) of pure hunger
drive and
behavior, with the one unqualified aim of relief.
Another peculiar characteristic of the human organism when it is dominated by a certain
need is
that the whole philosophy of the future tends also to change. For our chronically and
hungry man, Utopia can be defined very simply as a place where there is plenty of food.
tends to think that, if only he is guaranteed food for the rest of his life, he will be perfectly
and will never want anything more. Life itself tends to be defined in terms of eating.
else will be defined as unimportant. Freedom, love, community feeling, respect,
may all be waved aside as fripperies which are useless since they fail to fill the stomach.
a man may fairly be said to live by bread alone.
It cannot possibly be denied that such things are true but their generality can be denied.
Emergency conditions are, almost by definition, rare in the normally functioning peaceful
society. That this truism can be forgotten is due mainly to two reasons. First, rats have
motivations other than physiological ones, and since so much of the research upon
has been made with these animals, it is easy to carry the rat-picture over to the human