Steven Reiss and the 16 Human Desires, part two

In my last post, I looked at eight of the 16 Human Desires identified by psychologist Steven Reiss.

Here are eight more.

Physical activity

Have you ever seen a pair of 8-year-olds beat the holy hell out of each other for fun? What about two 48-year-olds sitting around for 12 hours on a Sunday, watching football? We LOVE physical activity, no matter whether we’re engaging in it, or we’re watching others do the same.


The desire for power is closely related to the desire to be in control. We want to be on top of the heap—both because of the status it gives us, and because of the feeling we get when we’re there. (Heck, even kids sing “I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal.”)


Sex as a reproductive act—that’s a physical need. Love, as in “belonging?” That’s also one of Maslow’s needs, remember?

But everybody loves romance. You might like a bouquet of roses or a car door that gets opened for you. Or you might like the thought of being pursued or the way your partner puts on nice clothes just for you.


If you’ve never had the joy of watching a squirrel collect acorns and bury them all over the neighborhood—well, frankly, you’re living in the wrong neighborhood.

But you’re also sadly missing the chance to reflect on our own desire to collect. Fact: we get a lot of joy out of collecting things, whether those things are cigars or Swarovski crystals or books or vintage automobiles or ex-wives.

Social contact

Quick—think of the worst punishment you could receive in prison. It’s solitary confinement, right?

But why is 23 hours a day in a cell by yourself so horrible? Because, a few exceptions aside, we like to be around other people from time to time.


Here’s another place where Maslow and Reiss are on the same page—humans want friends. We want to be in groups. And we want those friends and groups to think we’re successful, or cool, or someone to be imitated.

Once we have friends and belong to groups, we seek the esteem of others that will help us gain status. (As an aside, you should listen to Frank Zappa’s “Status Back Baby.” Pretty funny.)


Listen, what’s that?


That’s peace, my friend.

Wasn’t that refreshing?

Seriously, maybe it’s just me, but when the kids are yelling, and there’s music playing, and my wife is asking me a question, and the dogs are barking…

It’s time to meditate. Calmaté, ese, everybody loves tranquility.


Ewwwww. Vengeance is ugly.

But it’s inescapable. The desire for revenge lives in every one of us.

Sometimes when somebody wrongs us, it’s enough to hear them say they’re sorry. Sometimes we pursue legal action—using the system that our society set up to give us revenge in an “acceptable” fashion.

And sometimes we make a big bowl of popcorn and watch a revenge fantasy like Keanu Reeves in John Wick, or Liam Neeson in Taken, or we read The Count of Monte Cristo or hell, even Beowulf.

Yep, we want revenge so much, so often, that it seeped into our entertainment hundreds or even thousands of years ago—and it ain’t going anywhere soon.

What’s next?

So now, between this post and the last, you have a list of Reiss’ 16 human desires and—just like with Maslow—you can think about which of them your offer is speaking to.

But I’ll talk more about that in my next post.

Steven Reiss and the 16 Human Desires, part one
Steven Reiss and the 16 Human Desires, part two
Steve Reiss in the real world

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