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Some people want to be liked, whereas others want to be admired. What causes this?
June 21, 2012 10:45 PM   Subscribe

Some people want to be liked, whereas others want to be admired. What causes this?

I was reading about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Two of the fundamental needs in the hierarchy are esteem (respect of others, achievement, confidence) and love/belonging (friendships, family, etc.).

It occurred to me while reading this that some people seem much more driven by one over the other:

- On the one extreme, there are people who crave the company and affection of others, even if that means sacrificing respect or admiration. They tend to become submissive or make themselves appear flawed in order to endear themselves to others.

- On the other extreme, there are people who cite an insatiable desire to be respected or admired, even if it means alienating their peers and becoming notorious. This category includes many famous people (e.g. entertainers, business magnates, politicians).

I'd like to learn more about this phenomenon. Are there established names for the two personality types? What causes a person to be one way or the other?
posted by wireless to Human Relations (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
[Comment deleted. This post is uncomfortably close to "chatfilter," but to the degree that the two expressed questions might be answered by links or references to actual studies or theories of personality types, let's try to keep our answers more substantive and not so much "this is my opinion." Thanks, everyone. ]
posted by taz at 11:44 PM on June 21, 2012


I vaguely remember passages in the earlier work of Alice Miller, where she explains how people throughout their lives tend to re-create patterns of human interaction, dependency and so on, that stem from their early childhood (a somewhat sloppy paraphrase, but it's the best I can do now).

So you strive for whatever worked for you as a kid to get confirmed as an individual.

...Reference in support of taz's initiative, and not because I necessary believe everything that Miller has written. But the idea is compelling, isn't it: those who "tend to become submissive or make themselves appear flawed in order to endear themselves to others," for example, may have had great success with their mom, acting like this, and so they try to recreate that particular dynamic. And for those "people who cite an insatiable desire to be respected or admired, even if it means alienating their peers and becoming notorious," one can guess that, when they were kids, other tactics just didn't lead to the same level of controllable satisfaction.

[I still feel that you're here creating an artificial dichotomy somehow. There are so many ways to interact with the world...]
posted by Namlit at 4:33 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It has been years since I've been involved in research on the subject, but your question brings to mind McClelland's theory of needs. Essentially, he postulates that people are motivated by achievement, power/status, or affiliation. Those who "crave the company and affection of others", in your terms, are affiliation types, while those who "cite an insatiable desire to be respected or admired" are either achievement types, power/status types, or some combination of both.

It's important to remember that, IIRC, Maslow's need hierarchy is notable for two reasons. First, it has so much intuitive appeal and just seems like it ought to be true. And second, there have been many attempts to validate (i.e., "prove") his hierarchy either in total or in part, and those attempts have been uniformly unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the need hierarchy as well as McClelland's theory of needs (and other, similar theories as well including the Myers-Briggs which gets a lot of play on Metafilter) are useful categorization schemes and certainly facilitate how we talk about individual differences.

As to why people are one type or another, well... people have made entire careers trying to sort this out. The debate about nature versus nurture figures in here, and conventional wisdom shifts fairly frequently on the topic.
posted by DrGail at 5:18 AM on June 22, 2012


No research to back this up, just my off-the-cuff impression - I think some people get broken early on. All children crave love and are good and giving it and receiving it (leaving aside those on the autism spectrum). But if something goes wrong - let's say they're rejected by their parents, become bullied at school, experience ostracism in a variety of forms - then something gets broken. But the need for connection persists.

When authentic connection isn't on offer, the personality becomes distorted. The kid who is starved of affection early on grows into an adult who becomes obsessed with substitutes for love - fame, power, money, whatever fills the void.
posted by cartoonella at 10:30 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think everyone wants both to be liked and admired. They are very different skill sets or personality traits which achieve these results. My view is that people have some natural tendency that over time gets reinforced.

It is rare to meet an overachiever who also has lots of strong fulfilling relationships, but it does occur.
posted by abirdinthehand at 1:49 PM on June 23, 2012


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