Need Theory

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Definition: Need Theory

Need Theory or Three Need Theory is a theory which states that any individual regardless of the cultural or geographical backgrounds, will be predominantly motivated by one of the 3 needs, i.e. Achievement, Affiliation and Power. He says that, these drivers for the individuals are not inherent but they are developed by the culture and the environment in which the individual is brought up in.


Need for Achievement:

People high on need for achievement are driven by challenging goals. They thrive on setting and achieving challenging tasks. They like to take risks, but to a calculated level and not very high risk because very high risk tasks are perceived to be driven by chance or luck and have high chance of failure. They like to take regular and candid feedback so that they can work on it and improve where ever they are wrong. They often prefer to work alone.


Need for Affiliation:

People with high need for affiliation tend to go along with the group. They don’t like to stand out or lead the team. They want to be liked by the team, they agree and go along with what the team says even though they have opposite opinion. They work best in a group environment than a competitive one. They do not like to take risky or uncertain tasks. They like rewards or appraisal to be personal.


Need for Power:

People high on need for power like competitive environments, they like winning in any situations or arguments. They like to control and influence others. They are ones who take charge of the group when ever a project is assigned, who speaks up in the team meetings to make their point to be considered. They like to be rewarded in public.


It is given by a psychologist, David McClelland in the year 1961 in this book 'The Achieving Society'.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Need Theory along with its overview.

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