A need complex has three essential components—need potential, freedom of movement, and need value—and these components are analogous to the more specific concepts of behavior potential, expectancy, and reinforcement value (Rotter, Chance, & Phares, 1972).
Need Potential Need potential (NP) refers to the possible occurrence of a set of functionally related behaviors directed toward satisfying the same or similar goals. Need potential is analogous to the more specific concept of behavior potential. The difference between the two is that need potential refers to a group of functionally related behaviors, whereas behavior potential is the likelihood that a particular behavior will occur in a given situation in relation to a specific reinforcement.
Need potential cannot be measured solely through observation of behavior. If different people are seen behaving in apparently the same maimer—for example, eating hi a fancy restaurant—one should not conclude that they are all satisfying the same need potential. One person may be satisfyhig the need for physical comfort, that is, food; another may be more interested in love and affection; and the third person may be tryhig primarily to satisfy the need for recognition-status. Probably any of the six broad needs could be satisfied by eating hi this restaurant. Whether or not ones need potential is realized however, depends not only on the value or preference one has for that reinforcement but also on ones freedom of movement in making responses leading to that reinforcement.
Freedom of Movement Behavior is partly determined by our expectancies: that is, our best guess that a particular reinforcement will follow a specific response. In the general prediction formula, freedom of movement (FM) is analogous to expectancy. It is one's overall expectation of being reinforced for performing those behaviors that are directed toward satisfying some general need. To illustrate, a person with a strong need for dominance could behave in a variety of ways to satisfy that need. She might select her husband's clothes, decide what college curriculum her son will pursue, direct actors hi a play, organize a professional conference involving dozens of colleagues, or perform any one of a hundred other behaviors ahned at securing reinforcement for her dominance need. The average or mean level of expectancies that these behaviors will lead to the desired satisfaction is a measure of her freedom of movement in the area of dominance.
Freedom of movement can be determined by holding need value constant and observing one's need potential. For example, if a person places exactly the same value on dominance, independence, love and affection, and each of the other needs, then that person will perform those behaviors judged to have the greatest expectancy of bemg reinforced. If the person performs behaviors leading to physical comfort, for example, then there will be more freedom of movement hi that need complex than in any of the other need complexes. Ordinarily, of course, need value is not constant, because most people prefer the satisfaction of one need over others.
Need Value A person's need value (NV) is the degree to winch she or he prefers one set of reinforcements to another. Rotter, Chance, and Pliares (1972) defined need value as the "mean preference value of a set of functionally related reinforcements" (p. 33). In the general prediction formula, need value is the analog of reinforcement value. When freedom of movement is held constant, people will perform those behavior sequences that lead to satisfaction of the most preferred need. If people have equal expectancies of obtaining positive reinforcement for behaviors ahned at the satisfaction of any need then the value they place on a particular need complex will be the prhicipal determinant of their behavior. If they prefer independence to any other need complex, and if they have an equal expectation of behig rehiforced in the pursuit of any of the needs, then their behavior will be dhected toward achieving independence.
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