Skip to main content

The drive or instinct to increase the respect other people have for us

I would firstly like to expand on how I believe instincts work to influence our behaviour.

Initially, we feel an urge or drive to behave or think in a certain way. For example, to say something we think is funny that might make another person laugh. If successful, we then feel good, at least partly because that person’s respect for us might have improved slightly. Thus, satisfying the instinct provides the reward of feeling good or at least feeling that we did something good (for us).

My belief at the moment is that this need to increase respect is one of the strongest in most people. It competes with other instincts at all times however and, while not always prevailing, often seems to win. For example, this might explain why soldiers perform acts of bravery despite great risk to their life (and thus going against their survival instinct). I suspect it is to increase the respect they receive from not only their fellow soldiers but also everyone else, including their enemies.

Another set of examples are the lengths most people go to in order to look attractive. This of course often competes with (and at times loses to) other instincts such as hunger (when someone wants to lose weight) as well as the instinct to rest when feeling fatigued (if someone wants to exercise to attain a more attractive looking body).

A good example of why simple pleasure seeking does not explain human behaviour is the fact that few people who achieve fame and/or fortune then simply retire from work. Most, if not all, continue to work very hard because the need to increase the respect other people have for them is as strong as it ever was.

I’d next like to distinguish between the perception that someone has a certain amount of respect for us, determined by comparison with that person’s seeming respect for other people – especially those we would call peers, and the drive to increase that respect. It appears to me that knowing someone respects us a certain amount does not really provide a rewarding feeling unless we feel that we have increased that respect or that the person respects us more than we thought they did (perhaps via something they said).

For most people to be happy I believe they need the opportunity to increase the respect other people have for them. Hence someone living alone with few social interactions will not often have this opportunity and is more likely to suffer from depression or at least chronic unhappiness. This is perhaps partly because the need for increasing other people's respect for them isn’t being satisfied and thus an important source of rewarding feelings isn’t being triggered.

If, however, someone living alone is pursuing goals that they think will increase the respect from others, such as writing a book or sailing solo around the world, then this instinct will provide rewarding feelings when they imagine the increase in respect other people will have for them once the project is completed.

Lastly, all people are to some extent competitive animals (as well as socially cooperative and caring ones) and this might derive from the need to increase the respect other people have for us in comparison to the respect they have for other people.

Popular posts from this blog

Are left-wing people (liberals) more compassionate than right-wing people (conservatives)?

Quite a few differences in personality, typical behaviour and beliefs have been identified between people with left-wing and those with right-wing political views. Many have been highlighted in the recent book The Republican Brain which, despite the title and bias of the author, highlights strengths and weaknesses of those from both ends of the political spectrum and also suggests our society needs people from both ends of the political spectrum (or at least people with the personality traits that are typical from each end). One difference that was not mentioned but which I'd like to propose is that left-leaning people have a stronger innate sense of compassion than right-leaning people. This could be viewed as an attack on conservatives but I’m more of the view that no amount of susceptibility to feeling compassion is right or wrong – people simply differ. Left-leaning people will view right-leaning people as lacking in compassion at times while those of the right often view th

Why I decided to start this blog

I recently finished a Master of Biostatistics degree at the University of Sydney. The last task was to use advanced statistical techniques to analyse health related data in collaboration with researchers. I ended up doing two separate analyses. The first related to patient data from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit in Sydney (where I work). The second related to some of my own health related data. The analysis of my data is covered in the second part of the report and is available here . The main aim was to discover, from my data, ways to reduce one of my common symptoms – nausea (usually mild luckily). Using time series analysis methods I found various ways that should help including reducing my caffeine intake and getting more sleep. What soon surprised me however was that I found it hard to do this despite knowing I would likely feel healthier as a result! This led me to further explore the idea of competing instincts that seemed to be influencing my actions in