RI Week #3: The Major Motives of Behavior


“Behavior is guided by motives. There are two main types of motives: service and domination.

The motive of service produces love, friendship, admiration, neighborliness, good citizenship, patriotism, honesty, ethical conduct, loyalty, and courtesy. The motive of domination produces anger, hatred, contempt, disagreement, jealousy, envy and discourtesy.

In average life, the motive of service and the motive of domination do not exist in their pure state. A person inspired only by the spirit of service would be a saint; one inspired only by the urge for domination would be a monster. The average person is inspired by both motives and tends both to serve and dominate.

How can two opposite motives of behavior be expressed by one person? The answer is, by means of a healthy balance. A healthy balance of the two major motives makes for healthy group life.  IF those in a group insist on domination only, group life turns into endless struggle. If service is the only motive, group life is monotonous, colorless and lifeless.

You know the game called, “Tug of War”. One set of people tug at one end of a rope, another set of people tug at the other end. If the pulling strength of the two groups is equally balanced, there will be no action. On the other hand, if the distribution of forces is too unequally balanced, there will be no contest.  One of the groups will have a runaway victory. A healthy contest occurs only if the pull of the one team just over balances the pull of the other. So a balance is healthy if the opposing forces are neither equally matched nor too unequally matched. With motives, a healthy balance is maintained if service over balances domination without overwhelming it.

It is a popular belief that the spirit of service is most fully express in the home and that the spirit of domination is expressed more with strangers. In other words, it is thought that family is usually dealt with in the spirit of service, while strangers are dealt with in the spirit of domination. If this were true, irritation would be rare at home and common among strangers.

However, if you think of your own life, you know that most of your irritations come from your close relatives and friends. A smaller amount of irritation comes from people you know less well at school or work.  The strangers you see in the store or on the street are only occasionally a source of irritation. In other words, the average individual tends to be polite with strangers but loses his temper frequently with those close to him and is likely to be rude and impatient with them.

You all know of the person who frequently is late for dinner at home but on time when he meets his friends. When he is late for the outside date, he offers an apology. No apology is even thought of for being late to the dinner at home. The promptness and the apology to the friend are expressions of a spirit of service. The lack of courtesy to the family is an expression of domination.

In this persons pattern of behavior, there is no healthy balance between the two sets of motives. Domination wins at home and service wins outside. I call this kind of behavior “devil-at-home-angel-outside.”

Too many people save their best behavior for social contacts, but tend toward the domination when dealing with members of their own family. Your family life will greatly improve if you learn behavior and attitudes that express a healthy balance, with the spirit of service stronger than the spirit of domination.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s