Updating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Creating More Effective Social Marketing Campaign

Instinctively, we all know how important it is to secure basic needs of rest, water, food, shelter, and warmth are to survival.

The three steps in between the basic physiological needs and the fulfillment needs are where marketing and advertising most directly applies.

This was the essence the Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid, proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1940s, shows the advancing scale of how our needs lay out on the path to developing our full potential, meaning, fulfillment, creativity, and the pursuit of what is our passion in life. The version of the pyramid you see below was developed by the Doorway Project and clarifies Maslow’s five different levels of basic, psychological and self-fulfillment needs.

  • Safety
  • Belonging
  • Esteem

In Maslow’s pyramid, the descriptions for these needs don’t hit the “sweet spot” for creating a powerful and “sticky” message or a 1-1 strategic marketing perspective to them, so it requires design thinking and creativity to see how you can tailor your message to fit these needs. Christine Comaford, an author and expert on the subject of messaging and persuasion, has found safety, belonging, and esteem to have incredible value for living our everyday work and family lives more creatively, and on purpose.

Ms. Comaford says: “ Without these three essential keys a person cannot perform, innovate, be emotionally engaged, agree, or move forward…The more we have of (these three elements) the greater the success of the company, the relationship, the family, the team, the individual.

Her experience has helped her hone three phrases that are essential for influence and persuasion and for creating this sense of safety, belonging, and meaning that we all need and desire in our lives.

Here are some concrete verbal phrasing that gets at the  basic survival and psychological belonging needs that have been proven successful :

  1. “What if.” This phrase removes ego from the discussion and creates a safe environment for curiosity and brainstorming.
  2. “I need your help.” This statement tips the roles of status from dominant and subordinate, to equality and engaging the other person and provides a sense of shared power and more of an ownership perspective for idea or plan.
  3. “Would it be helpful if.” This phrase shifts the focus from the problem to a cooperative and in some cases a collaborative solution.

Are Happiness and Meaning the Same? Learn the difference between Taking and Giving in Life.

My son Jeff sent me an insightful and powerful article “There is more to Live than being Happy” from The Atlantic on Victor Frankl and other researchers discussion on the difference between pursuing happiness and meaning in life. In essence, pursuing happiness is all about fulling your needs and wants the taking approach to living. So happiness is a more selfish approach to living. Living a life of meaning is all about pursuing giving and doing things beyond yourself. Meaning is selfless and includes suffering and not just happiness. Here is a brief summary from the article:

” In 1991, the Library of Congress and Book-of-the-Month Club listed Man’s Search for Meaning as one of the top 10 most influential books in the United States. It has sold millions of copies worldwide. Now, over twenty years later, the book’s ethos — its emphasis on meaning, the value of suffering, and responsibility to something greater than the self — seems to be at odds with our culture, which is more interested in the pursuit of individual happiness than in the search for meaning. “To the European,” Frankl wrote, “it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to ‘be happy.’ But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy.'”

A recent Gallup survey, says happiness levels of Americans are at a four-year high — as is, it seems, the number of best-selling books with the word “happiness” in their titles. At this writing, Gallup also reports that nearly 60 percent all Americans today feel happy without a lot of stress or worry. On the other hand, according to the Center for Disease Control, about 4 out of 10 Americans have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Forty percent either do not think their lives have a clear sense of purpose or are neutral about whether their lives have purpose. Nearly a quarter of Americans feel neutral or do not have a strong sense of what makes their lives meaningful. Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research. “It is the very pursuit of happiness,” Frankl knew, “that thwarts happiness.”

“Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself — be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.”

Many researchers now agree that the pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves — by devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking” –– we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.”

Don’t miss reading the rest of the article and some of my posts on thewick they are a must read for those wanting to understand how to live a more Constructive and Meaningful Life. 

Part 2: Legacy and Finding your Purpose in Life

“It is essential to follow your commitments 100% of the time—Do you have a clear and meaningful life compass.”  HBR May 22, 2012 Clay Christianson

While vision and purpose in living a meaningful and constructive life are critical, they are rare. This is due to the fact that most individuals lead a frenetic and short-term life focused on activities, daily pressures, and attempts at immediate gratification. Many of us loss site of the “big picture” because life can be so tenuous and fragile. Research in Neurology ( brain), Social Psychology and Adult Development fields can facilitate our understanding of these life strategies. To summarize, research from the marshmallow studies on immediate gratification, brain scans, and emotional, intellectual, perceptual and development studies of adults suggest that effective problem solving, decision-making, personal development, effective communication and influence are not a random or prescriptive like a “bell-shaped curve” based on abilities or intelligence factors, but to large extent a function of emotional intelligence, openness to life-long learning, and one’s perceptual maps and world view.

Transformation occurs when existing maps, solutions, assumed truths and past decisions are exposed as unrealistic, and this new insight allows one to view the world from a more appropriate and empowering perspective. Here is what two prominent psychologist have said about development and personal change.

“The path of personal transformation is primarily a process of becoming aware of, facing up to and taking responsibility for one’s thoughts, feelings and actions, and then expanding this self-realization by communicating with others, retaining integrity whatever the response, and further enhancing the quality of communication with ever-increasing empathy and understanding. Through understanding others better, we can recognize their essential goodwill, however misguided it might have become, and begin to recognize the spirituality of humankind. ”

Abraham Maslow, Ph.D.

Rollo May, a distinguished psychologist,  describes the anxiety caused by a threat to some value which the individual holds essential to his development and existence as the self that he knows. He also quotes Kierkegaard: “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” May’s approach is existential: he conceives the self as a dynamic entity, alive with potentiality. His approach is also holistic, seeking to understand the whole reality and essence of a person’s being. Man is thought of as being and becoming, as a dynamic process, as a complex organism in relation to the universe. However, if an insight or perception is too hard at the moment, if it causes too much anxiety and threatens established beliefs – of self and/or of others – then it may be repressed, and cause fixation of development and afterwards be hidden by defenses.

What secrets or insights can you offer for creating a personal vision and purpose?

How long does it take to judge someone is an Asshole?

The fundamental attribution error, also termed as a cognitive bias in social psychology, or the attribution theory of social psychology, is defined as the tendency to judge a person in an unpleasant situation in a bad light, and attribute her/his behavior to internal causes and qualities rather than understanding the situation or circumstances that may cause the person to behave in that manner. On the other hand, were we to make the same errors, we would easily attribute the causes to external factors. It is described as the overestimation of the attributes of another person’s personality and the underestimation of our own personal qualities in relation to a particular situation. The fundamental attribution error definition is something that can be better understood by means of some examples. 

To answer this question about judging people in a negative way and labeling them assholes we need to understand the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE)and first impression bias. While the fundamental attribution error is made by judging a person based on his intrinsic behavior and our own on external situations, opposite cases are also likely. For instance, when someone earns a promotion at work, we tend to attribute this success to external factors by adopting what is known as the ‘sour grapes’ attitude. We think it’s because he is favored by a particular manager, or because he’s just plain lucky. Here, we fail to attribute this success to his personal traits such as determination or hard work. In another example, a person with a low self-esteem or poor self-image may assume that he is unable to find a life partner because he doesn’t look good or because he isn’t funny. On the other hand, this may actually happen because he is not making the effort to go out and meet people, thereby limiting his chances of meeting someone. 

It is important to learn how to avoid making the fundamental attribution error. Stopping to think for a moment and understanding the cause for a particular person’s behavior is something all of us ought to do in order to avoid making assumptions about someone. This will improve our observation powers and will help us empathize with others. By understanding the aforementioned examples, you will be able to dodge such situations and look at it from a third person’s perspective. Further, in your own case, there is nothing wrong with attributing some internal and external factors to your gain or loss in certain situations where it is deserved. Just don’t make either a habit.The “fundamental attribution error” or “correspondence bias”, was observed 45 years ago in a social psychology research experiment by Ned Jones and Victor Harris, and has intrigued many social psychologists ever since. Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, “…in everyday life people seem all too willing to take each other at face value and all too reluctant to search for alternative explanations for each other’s behavior.” Gilbert proposes that this type of  bias can be traced to four root causes. The following are ways we can — and probably do — go wrong in our understanding of  people we judge as assholes:

  1. We lack full awareness of  a person’s background and present situation. We usually have incomplete information about the experience and constraints other people face. For instance, we may learn that a person has been living in foster home since they were five years old and struggle to opening-up to strangers and come across as guarded and defensive in sharing personal information.
  2. We have unrealistic expectations of  others. Even if we understand that person is stuck between a rock and a hard place, we might continue to formulate strong opinions about the person’s character. As a result, we hold unrealistic expectations. “Sure, he’s had a tough life so far,” you think, “but I never would let these miserable childhood experiences determine who I am going to be as a fully grown adult. When are they going to let go of it.”
  3. We make exaggerated assessments of person’s behavior. We may have perfect knowledge of past experiences and situational barriers or constraints, as well as realistic expectations, yet we may not perceive their  behavior accurately.  The result is an improper and off target assessment.
  4. We fail to correct initial assumptions and impressions of a person when new information is presented. Evidence shows that we are hard-wired to make quick judgments about people and situations, and lock-in to our views and only correct our errors as more data becomes available. However, when we have a lot on our plates, the mind becomes overloaded, we often fail to revise mistakes and continue to think of the person according to our first impression. So this  person remains categorized in your mind as, well, an asshole.

None of this means that we should try to negate, or even suspend, our snap judgments. It is probably impossible to do so, and besides, our snap judgments can carry useful information. Sometimes they are right on the mark. Still, the FAE bias is so powerful it can steer us toward bad hires, loss of possible friendships as well as mindless stereotyping.

So how do we overcome this tendency to make snap judgments. The most effective way to approach our negative first impression of someone is to suspend judgment until you have more contact with the person and more data on who they are and how they behave over time; for example, when interviewing someone for a position in your department you may consider that a 30-60 minute interaction is not a enough time to really get to know someone so you plan a follow-up meeting or invite them to meet more people in the office. By getting more opinions and more time with the person you can gather more information to decide whether they are the right fit for a position. When we leave room for this possibility, we open the door to continue to gather more information in different settings and opportunity to discovery how they react, and gain an evolving understanding of this person so as to improve our assessments of them.

Listen to me people, you need to have this ability to build a strong network of friends and to correctly eliminate assholes from your life. People might think that this is a trait that someone is born with. I don’t believe that assumption. I’m leaning more towards the idea that some learn how to be open-minded earlier than others but I stand by the notion that this skill can be learned. It is not an easy attribute to acquire however, that’s why so many people don’t have it but trust me it is well worth the work. Just imagine the advantages of being open-minded and less judgmental.

Do you really see reality or a Biased view?

So think about that next time you listen to a presenter and hear their position. Now check to see whether you are listening with an open mind. Ask — Is it the position and evidence the presenter is marshaling for their position that bothers you, or is it the biased assumptions you have made about the group you think they represent that upsets and filters your opinion. The question is can you separate the message from the messenger? 

So to get an answer I researched some studies from psychological literature.When the information seems to be coming from or favoring the other side, all bets are off.  Here is one study that points out our inability to listen with objectivity:  

In a famous 1950s psychology experiment, researchers showed students a film of a Dartmouth-Princeton football game in which officials made a series of obvious bone head calls against one team. Asked to make their own assessments of the calls, students who attended the offending team’s college reported seeing half as many illegal plays as did students from the college team that got the bad calls. Controversy  was generated over what actually took place during the game. Basically, there was disagreement between the two schools as to what had happened during the game. A questionnaire designed to get reactions to the game and to learn something of the climate of opinion was administered at each school and the same motion picture of the game was shown to a sample of undergraduate at each school, followed by another questionnaire. Results indicate that the “game” was actually many different games and that each version of the events that transpired was just as “real” to a particular person as other versions were to other people. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

So if  you unpack the experiment it is saying that our perceptions of the same event our biased by our group affiliations. Now the question arises if the same phenomena happens when listening to and experiencing a presentation from a speaker who is identified with a group you don’t trust or see as credible? 

Part 1: How Negative Perceptions and Bias triggered Zimmerman to shoot?

The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.”  Marcel Proust

One youth dead, neighborhood watch citizen goes free. Everyone wants to know how and why did this shooting happen? One reason maybe that Zimmerman’s past experiences and his negative perceptions of black youths as thugs and therefore automatically dangerous to him and his gated community neighbors. He never learned how to balance his negative filters that colored his  experiences with black youth. What if he saw black youths in a more bright, optimistic and flexible light.  Instead he focused on the dark, pessimistic and inflexible thinking that constantly reminded  him that black youths are people who were always causing trouble and needed to be feared. 

Almost every creature comes into world more wired for negativity than positivity or optimism. Why? Fight or flight response. Say you’re wandering through the woods and you fail to notice the pretty wildflowers under your feet. Inconvenient perhaps, but not catastrophic. Now imagine that the thing under your feet is a rattlesnake. Fail to notice this, and its good night, Mark. Which is why we give the bad things in our lives so much more attention than the good ones—a phenomenon known as a negativity bias. The more you defy your innate negativity bias, building from your strengths, finding relief by looking at things from a more positive frame, and embracing delight wherever you can, the more you become stronger in controlling your own way in life. The impact of optimism  of one person living in acceptance of good things happening in life are immense. Become that person, and you’ll find that in spite of everything, when their is positivity in your life you will experience more happiness and positive interpersonal relationships.  It won’t necessarily change the reality of the situation, but the positiviness has a strong ripple effect on anyone coming in touch with you.

Most research on perception and thinking show how your memory of the past helps you determine what to pay attention to in the present but does not lock you into forever thinking that way. Checkout the 10 irrational thoughts that cause people trouble by Dr Albert Ellis. Recognizing faces or race is a simple way to distinguish friends from strangers without a thorough background check each time you encounter someone. We all use this function in perceiving our environment so we are not overwhelmed with too much information. We use this discriminating perceptual process to distinguish different types of birds or poison berries from edible ones. This is a good use of this perceptual function but we also use it as a short-cut for identification and discrimination of people and this can be a bad way to us this function depending on the situation an ensuing action.

We unconsciously make unfortunate  emotional investment in things that have happened to us in the past creating a closed, inflexible mindset that all “black youths wearing baggy pants and a hoody” spell trouble. According to Malcolm Gladwell, in his popular book Blink, many of our life decisions and especially social interactions are based on little information that are generalized to specific situations almost in an automatic way.

Almost every creature comes into world more wired for negativity than positivity or optimism. Why? Fight or flight response. Say you’re wandering through the woods and you fail to notice the pretty wildflowers under your feet. Inconvenient perhaps, but not catastrophic. Now imagine that the thing under your feet is a rattlesnake. Fail to notice this, and its good night, Mark. Which is why we give the bad things in our lives so much more attention than the good ones—a phenomenon known as a negativity bias.

The more you defy your innate negativity bias, building from your strengths, finding relief, and embracing delight wherever you can, the more you become stronger in controlling your own way in life. The impact of optimism  of one person living in acceptance of good things happening in life are immense. Become that person, and you’ll find that in spite of everything, when their is positivity in your life you will experience more happiness and positive interpersonal relationships.  It won’t necessarily change the reality of the situation, but the positiviness has a strong ripple effect on anyone coming in touch with you.

My hypothesis is that Zimmerman, the shooter, may have used irrational beliefs based on past experiences in his encounter with Travon. When he saw Travon, on that raining night, he inaccurately identify someone as a “no good black youth up to no good” the hoody reinforced his suspicion and led to a self-fulfilling prophecy that this person was dangerous and something bad was going to happen any moment. With this expectation in mind he called 911 and began to actively pursue this dangerous person, even though he was told not to follow or pursue and wait for the police to arrive. He  expected to see danger or a possible attack, just as you do when you look at every plant expecting to see poison ivy or poison mushrooms. Past experience can set your filters up to see in either a positive, optimistic or negative, pessimistic light. Automatic filters are necessary, otherwise, your life would be bogged down in the need to resolve every minute doubt, prepare for every possible situation. But Zimmerman’s maladaptive thinking may have led him to belief that Travon, a young black man, signaled trouble and possible danger to him and his neighbors. These triggers led him to make a snap judgment based on past experiences. For example, when you listen to the 911 audiotapes of  Zimmerman with police authorities you hear his negative triggers and fears at work, he said something like these type of punks usually get away with breaking-in or doing harm and it wasn’t going to happen again on his watch. If in the past he had a positive past experiences with black youths his automatic “fight response” may not have been triggered and his snap judgment and action based on fear might have been stopped. Thus, averting the terrible shooting that left one person dead and the shooters life in shambles. If he had reacted in a more positive automatic filter or perception he might have seen the situation in a different light that would have made Travon’s and his life happier and help him to see the best in a person wearing a hoody and walking down the sidewalk in his gated community in a more neutral way as an ordinary citizen to be respect and treated with dignity.

So how do you in the moment of decision stop or block the negative triggers in your mind from putting you and other people in harm’s way and advert a dangerous encounter. By challenging your negative triggers and past experience which lead to negative stereotypes, poor decision-making and inappropriate actions. It is a thinking process I call the STOP. CHALLENGE. REFLECT. ACT. LEARN. REPEAT. learning cycle that gives you time to overcome your impulses and automatic behavior. I will cover how to STOP negative bias and impulsive actions more on my next post. Thanks and I hope this post provides some ideas on why this tragedy took place in Florida. We can all do better. Just STOP and Challenge our irrational thinking before acting.

Bottom Line vs Power Of Emotional Intelligence: Review 19 Research Studies

“Research by the Center for Creative Leadership has found that the primary causes of
derailment in executives involve deficits in emotional competence. The three primary
ones are difficulty in handling change, not being able to work well in a team, and
poor interpersonal relations.”

This is only one study that highlights the importance of Emotional Intelligence and other factors in being successful in business. To do more investigation checkout the through discussion on why EI is one of the most important elements for any organization in reaching their productivity, profitability and people goals.

The 19 studies reported by Cary Cherniss, Ph.D. at Rutgers University, is part of a larger effort by the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations 

This report builds an over whelming business  case for how emotional intelligence contributes to the bottom line in any work organization. Based on data from a variety of sources, this report can be a valuable tool for HR practitioners and managers who need to make the case  for more assessment EI in recruiting and Leadership and Manger training using EI has the foundation for improving their business culture.

As you read the Report try to identify three ways that you could use EI in your organization and always we look forward to hear your feedback an insights.