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The meaning of basic desire

A new perspective on personality

When Professor Dr Steven Reiss first presented his theory of the 16 basic desires in the mid-90s the US media immediately showed a lot of interest. The method appeared both to be very straightforward and plausible, while also providing explanations for the greatest complexities of the individual personality.

What are basic desires?

Basic desires are fundamental psychological impulses that define an adult’s personality. Professor Reiss identified 16 fundamental aspects of motivation which capture what any one individual is striving for and what is really important to him or her. The Reiss Profile provided a tool with which basic desires can be captured on an individual level.

An example: the desire for Status

‘Status’ shows how much respect an individual pays to people with a social status they consider to be desirable. Those motivated by status aim to identify themselves with a high social standing, and express this in the clothes they wear, the way they behave, the titles they adopt etc.
People with a weak basic desire for status, on the other hand, have an urge for social equality. They respect other people regardless of background, title or other status symbols.

The 16 basic desires according to Steven Reiss

Basic desires

The importance of the basic desires in practice

There are three essential points to bear in mind regarding the practical application of the theory of the 16 basic desires:

  1. Each basic desire can be a performance driver.
  2. Basic desires which are either particularly strong  or weak in an individual are equally strong performance drivers.
  3. A basic desire never exists in isolation; the combination of basic desires is important.

Your contact person

John J. M. Delnoy
Tel:          +31 6 20 54 21 86
Fax:         +31 7 35 49 58 99
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