Five Core Motives
According to Fiske (2010), core social motives are “fundamental, underlying psychological processes that impel people’s thinking, feeling, and behaving in situations involving other people” (Fiske, 2010, p. 14). The specific core motives described by Fiske (2010) are belonging, understanding, controlling, enhancing self, and trusting others. “All five motives orient toward making people fit better into groups, thus increasing their chances for survival” (Fiske, 2010, p. 16).
The importance of the five core motives are described by Fiske (2010):
- Belonging – “the idea that people need strong, stable relationships with other people … belonging to a group helps individuals to survive psychologically and physically” (p. 17 – 18).
- Understanding – the motivation of individuals to understand their environment, “to predict what is going to happen in case of uncertainties and to make sense of what does happen” (p. 18).
- Controlling – “encourages people to feel effective in dealing with their social environment and themselves. Control entails a relationship between what people do and what they get” (p. 20).
- Enhancing Self – “involves either maintaining self-esteem or being motivated by the possibility of self-improvement” (p. 22).
- Trusting – “seeing the world as a benevolent place” (p. 24).
I selected the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk as my current event. For those unfamiliar with the event here is a blurb from their website:
“Thousands of women and men come together, each raising money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. Then they take their commitment to end breast cancer one step further and walk 60 miles over the course of three days.
Seventy-five percent of the net proceeds raised by the 3-Day fund national research and large public health outreach programs. The remaining 25 percent funds local community and Affiliate outreach programs. Virtually every major advance in the fight against breast cancer in the last 30 years has been impacted by a Susan G. Komen grant” (Susan G. Komen 3-Day website, n.d., p. 1).
The organization offers opportunities for people to walk and fundraise in 14 major cities across the nation from July 2012 through November 2012.
As already mentioned, this organization is focused on raising money and support to help survivors of breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society’s recent estimates of breast cancer in 2012, there are “about 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women, about 63,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be found (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer), and about 39,510 deaths from breast cancer (women). Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is a little less 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36. Breast cancer death rates have been going down. This is probably the result of finding the cancer earlier and better treatment. Right now there are more than 2½ million breast cancer survivors in the United States” (American Cancer Society website, 2012, p. 1).
This organization has a lot of people involved: professionals, volunteers, and survivors. There are many reasons for them to be involved, whether to earn an income, give something back, or because they have or had, or know someone who has or had, breast cancer.
One Person’s Core Motives
The reason I selected the Susan G. Komen 3-Day is that at the end of 2011 my sister-in-law, Melody, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. The results from a routine mammogram came back with a small suspicious shadow. After asking her to come back for a second look, the doctors found a second unusual growth. Melody had two different types of cancers in her one breast. Fortunately, they caught it very early and Melody decided to go the aggressive (proactive) route and have a double mastectomy. As a result, she has not had to go through chemotherapy and it appears they were able to catch all of it. However, Melody has had months of difficult medical visits, surgeries, and recovery, just physically. Emotionally, she has had a far more difficult time adapting and coping with the reality of her medical situation. Melody has faced this challenge head on with strength, positivity, and determination. I was not surprised when she told me that she and her husband, Michael, were training to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.
Considering Melody’s participation from the standpoint of the five core motives, it seems clear that she is probably motivated by all of them, in one form or another. There can be no other symbol of belonging stronger than an organization of thousands of people expressing their support for a cause by fundraising and walking 60 miles in three days. The sense of unity with those individuals must be very inspiring. In addition, participation with the organization and their support network helps the survivors of breast cancer to understand what has happened to them. Moreover, participation helps the individual feel more in control of their lives at a time when they often feel out of control over their condition. Melody was not given the option of whether or not to have cancer; she only had the option of how to deal with it. I can only imagine that doing something for such a great cause will enhance Melody’s self-esteem, again, at a time when her self-esteem is struggling due to the issues of her condition. It can be very difficult for a woman to lose such a large part of her feminine identity. Identifying with this cause, and others who have been through what she is going through helps her to feel better about herself and her choices. Lastly, organizations such as the Susan G. Komen helps individuals such as Melody continue to trust in the world being a good place when essentially she could view the world from a much more negative space. I was proud of Melody prior to understanding these concepts, but I feel even closer to her emotionally now that I know them.
Core Motives in the Legal Field
Core motives in my current field are probably a little more subtle. My employer is an attorney and I am his only legal assistant. He is a general practitioner, which means we provide legal services in a variety of areas of law, such as family law, corporate, civil, probate, estate planning, criminal, bankruptcy, personal injury, and small claims.
The services we provide definitely satisfy the core motives of our clients. For instance, the attorney often answers questions when clients are confused and seeking understanding about their current legal problems. Once they have an understanding, the attorney is able to provide them options, allowing them a sense of control over their situation. Sometimes, winning a favorable outcome can be self-enhancing and encourage the client to believe the world is a better place.
American Cancer Society website. (2012). http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/OverviewGuide
Fiske, S. T. (2010). Social beings: Core motives in social psychology (2nd Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Susan G. Komen 3-Day website. (n.d.). http://www.the3day.org