Friday, October 7, 2011

It's all over...

They recently cut open the human brain to look at why we do the things we do, what drives humans, for many years this has been studied through careful observation and experimentation, but now they have chopped it open and looked at the brain behind all those decisions.  So what did they learn?  What are we driven by?

We are driven by four emotional needs:

·         Drive to acquire (obtain scarce goods including intangibles such as social status)
·         Bond (form connections with individuals and groups)
·         Comprehend (satisfy our curiosity and master the world around us)
·         Defend (protect against external threats and promote justice)

So What - well this is the answer to my question, if all I have is all I need then why is all I ever want is more?  Why?  Because I have been hard wired through years of our evolving brain to want more.  The Harvard article states we are driven to acquire, stuff, food, toys and also status, travel and experiences.  We also want to compare to our neighbours, to base our success on what they have, because more is relative and the bottom line we have an insatiable desire for more.

So what if the finite planet can't handle our endless desire for more?  Are we able to re-evolve the mind and actually want less?  Are we able to desire and want a sustainable lifestyle?  a bright future for our children, other species and future generations?

Maybe, also in the article they discuss our other psychological (emotional) wants and these are to Comprehend, to Bond, and to Defend.  What this means is that we are also hard wired to want to understand science, our world, how things work, etc.  Which has lead us to a deeper understanding of almost everything, including our planet and its constraints on more.  At the same time we are driven to defend, this includes ourselves and direct threats to us and our family but it also includes our neighbours, our communities our friends, our workplaces, organisations and society as a whole.  Finally we are driven to bond, to get along and interact and be friendly with one another and seek social interaction and engagement.  So to sum it all up, if we are driven to learn that our finite planet needs us (comprehend) to be better stewards, and that sharing that planet more equitably would help us all get along better (bond) and that we can help the planet and its people (defend) then I think we can overcome our insatiable appetite for more, I think!  I'm sure a poet could have more luck at making this all sound more poetic...  

enjoy the article as I have, the journey to learn why is all I ever want is more is somewhat over, but I think I will keep blogging, because I have grown to like it, at least a little!!


  1. I highly recommend checking out this if you haven't already seen it:

    I think it provides another very meaningful view of what motivates humans.

  2. Also, another relevant piece from the New Economics Foundation (fun and short).

  3. I have watched lots of the RSA animates, I love them, animation meets lecture in a learning medium that suits the oral and the adhd learner!! thanks Ben
    My favourite: