What is Freudian Motivation Theory?

Freudian motivation theory posits that unconscious psychological forces, such as hidden desires and motives, shape an individual's behavior, like their purchasing patterns. This theory was developed by Sigmund Freud who, in addition to being a medical doctor, is synonymous with the field of psychoanalysis.

Key Takeaways

  • Freudian motivation theory posits that unconscious psychological forces, such as hidden desires and motives, shape an individual's behavior, like their purchasing patterns.
  • Freudian motivation theory is frequently applied to a number of disciplines, including sales and marketing, to help understand the consumer's motivations when it comes to making a purchasing decision.
  • The Freudian motivation theory explains the sales process in terms of a consumer fulfilling conscious, functional needs as well as unconscious needs.

Understanding Freudian Motivation Theory

Freudian motivation theory is frequently applied to a number of disciplines, including sales and marketing, to help understand the consumer's motivations when it comes to making a purchasing decision. More precisely, Freud's theory has been applied to the relationship between the qualities of a product, such as touch, taste, or smell, and the memories that it may evoke in an individual. Recognizing how the elements of a product trigger an emotional response from the consumer can help a marketer or salesperson understand how to lead a consumer toward making a purchase.

The Freudian motivation theory explains the sales process in terms of a consumer fulfilling conscious, functional needs, such as blinds to cover a window, as well as unconscious needs, such as the fear of being seen naked by those outside. A salesperson trying to get a consumer to purchase furniture, for example, may ask if this is the first home that the consumer has lived in on their own. If the consumer indicates yes, this may prompt the salesperson to mention how the furniture is warm or comfortable, triggering a feeling of safety.

Freudian Motivation Theory Tenets

Freud believed that the human psyche could be divided into the conscious and unconscious mind. The ego, the representation of the conscious mind, is made up of thoughts, memories, perceptions, and feelings that give a person their sense of identity and personality. The id, which represents the unconscious mind, is the biologically determined instincts that someone possesses since birth. And the superego represents the moderating factor of society's traditional morals and taboos as seen in the fact that not every person acts on impulse. These ideas can help market researchers determine why a consumer has made a particular purchase by focusing on their conscious and unconscious motivations, as well as the weight of societal expectations.

Freudian Motivation Theory Put to Use

When companies want to gauge the probability of success for a new product, they will enlist market researchers to uncover the hidden motivations of a selected group of consumers to determine what might trigger their buying habits. They may utilize a number of techniques to discover such deeper meanings, such as role-playing, picture interpretation, sentence completion, or word association, among others. Such exercises can help researchers learn about how consumers react to products and how to best market them as a result. For example, buying a particular brand of computer can make a person feel smart, successful, productive, and prestigious. Marketers can use this information to cultivate brand identity.