Archive for the ‘02: Sixteen Basic Motives’ Category

:: Power ::

September 8, 2009


           The desire to influence can be viewed as more than a mere state of mind. Such desire, has been attributed to CEOs, public officials, and the wealthy, among others. Those with such a driven disposition to espouse the desire of power, tend to surround themselves with objects which convey an image of success, control, and, most of all, power. The collection of these objects culminates into a powerful space, a space which underscores the owner’s desire for power and, many times, works to intimidate the visitor or bystander.

            The United Nations General Assembly Hall conveys many things through its architecture. Of them, size and power are strikingly clear. The hall, with a capacity over 1800, dwarfs the bystander and highlights the president and speaker. The three seats on the raised dais at the front of the room are given the backdrop of a golden, textured wall rising the full height of the space drawing attention to, and emphasizing those three seats and giving their occupants power. The occupants of those seats ensure order within the assembly, and foster the UN meetings, to place them with less of a background or lower them to the same plane the audience is on would be an injustice to their office position. Furthermore, not only does the room give power to the high ranking officials, it also gives power to the general assembly members by placing them, based upon country, closer to or further away from the front of the room. All in all, this strategic layout and architecture of the room both empower and emphasize the members of the UN depending on the position they take within the room.

            The concept of empowering a space’s occupant can quite interestingly be seen on a much smaller scale, a scale relevant to a single occupant. The interior of a luxury vehicle work at the scale of its owner. The vehicle envelops the occupant, wrapping all of the instruments around them. With a plush leather interior, rich accents, and highly developed ergonomics, the car creates a symbiosis between occupant and machine, placing the driver in complete control over the actions the car will take. The feel of riding upon an extremely powerful engine coupled with a well engineered chassis empowers the driver, giving them total control. Additionally, to the observer, the driver of an expensive luxury vehicle carries connotations of power, success, and drive.

            Regardless of scale, the space one surrounds them self in is integral to how they are perceived by others. Regardless of scale, the right space can underscore the power-driven occupant and highlight their standing and stature within a population.



September 8, 2009

Motives are the underlying reason behind human behavior. Reiss defines the romance motive as the desire for sex and beauty; at the animal level, reproduction essential for species survival, and the intrinsic feeling of lust. Any mutually acceptable space provides the opportunity for romance. Romance is associated with passionate love and a committed relationship. Women are more likely to go through life with this motive as a top priority. A woman with romance as a top priority would surround herself with beautiful things and place herself in environments common to men and women. She would also make her home, especially her bedroom, inviting.

While romance is a more common priority among women, it does not equate to florals, pastels and frills. Romantic rooms must be mutually appealing, a mix of masculine and feminine. A romantic room is luxurious, clean and sophisticated. To mix masculine and feminine décor, light colors for the bedding and dark colors for walls and accents and or furniture are best. Also, softening “masculine” furniture, such as a leather chair, with a fur or cashmere blanket, or hardwood floors with a rug, adds comfort; comfort is extremely important in a romantic space. Lighting is also important to create a romantic mood, such as ambient and natural light. The bed, of course, should be the showpiece of the room; Include nice linens, throw pillows and and accent color for emphasis. One who takes great pride in their bed and/or bedroom is most likely a passionate person.

This design method can be applied to any other physical space as well. Any room can be a mix of masculine and feminine décor and ambiance, following the same basic guidelines. Restaurants and resorts often follow this mutually agreeable design. Living and dining rooms, too, can be romantic. As long as both men and women feel comfortable within a certain space, they are free to feel comfortable with each other.

I consider myself a fairly romantically motivated person, and up until researching it, I was not aware that my apartment follows the same mix of masculine and feminine items; brown accent wall(behind my bed) and floors, white linens, brown accents, wood furniture, dark walls in the living room and a off-white couch with and mix of dark and light pillows. I’ve always been concerned with whether or not other people, men and women, appreciate my decorating; apparently, my romantic personality was the driving force.


September 8, 2009





Out of the 16 motives on Steven Reiss’s long list, tranquility was the motive I choose to talk about. All of the 16 motives can be felt by everyone in one way or another and the motives help in guiding spatial design. Tranquility is a motive that everyone nowadays overlooks. In our fast paced society, we are so busy and so caught up in what’s around us that we often forget that we need our own time, our alone time to just gather our senses and enjoy our own identity.

Steven Reiss stated in his article Multifaceted Nature of Intrinsic Motivation: The Theory of 16 Basic Desires that the motive tranquility is a “desire to avoid anxiety, fear”. It is where people can experience peace and relaxation and just get away from the everyday stress and “recharge their batteries”.  Reiss mentions animals and how they run away from danger.  Just like humans, when animals are in an environment where the space around them is uncomfortable or makes them feel overwhelmed (mental overload), they find an outlet to escape. They want to break away into an environment where their intrinsic feelings of safeness and relaxation can come into play.

Reaching for the state of tranquility is the act in which humans can again feel alive and recharged. Restorative places are often surrounded by natural features and provide views to things green. That is why hospitals and rehabilitation centers often provide windows for patients to look out into and enjoy the scenery. Large rolling lawns, rows of trees, and flowers paint the view out the window and provide an outlet for patients who spend hours and hours lying in bed sleeping or staring at the white ceiling above them. The beautiful scenery directly changes their moods and puts them in a more positive and content mood. Similarly, bathrooms and bedrooms, the two important places for people to rest, often include windows.  The space allows for people to step away from a world of anxiety/tenseness and into a state of bliss.

Another example is the bathtub. Many people nowadays come home from work exhausted and tired. Majority of the people usually take showers because it’s faster and more time efficient, but it doesn’t help them fully relax. Others take time to soak in a warm bath which is a good way to cool off physically, mentally, and emotionally. The image with a bathtub covered with rose petals and lime pieces shows how the use of nature again is involved to help one relax. The moment one spends in a bathtub can effectively help one soak away all the stress that has built up over a day. It is a time where one can enjoy oneself and be at peace in this refreshing space.  Some people choose to go to the spa, which is another good way to reach tranquility. They’ve set aside time for themselves to enjoy the experience of relaxation.

Lastly, even the simple act of decorating our homes and surrounding ourselves with objects that we hold dear to us can help us feel tranquil. Pictures of our loved ones, pets, family members back at home, and even favorite paintings can ease our stress levels.

The key thing to remember is not to be so wrapped up in what’s around us, but to set aside time for ourselves to take a breath of fresh air.


September 8, 2009

Reiss defines motives as, “reasons people hold for initiating and performing voluntary behavior. They indicate the meaning of human behavior, and they may reveal a person’s values.” When applying Reiss’ definition of motives to his Theory of 16 Basic Desires, particularly “Saving”, a person’s values deem most pertinent.

Reiss identifies saving as the 16th motive and a basic motive of human behavior: the desire to collect.  Outside of the context of Reiss’ study, saving applies to other things such as health of the body and soul. In conclusion, Reiss’ , “basic or fundamental motives have three features: (a) end purposes, (b) universal motivators, and (c) psychological importance.” In the following analysis I will take a look at intrinsic and extrinsic pleasures as well as end goals when considering the “saving” motive.

Intrinsic motivation or pleasure can be described as one’s motivation to participate in things that are internally self-satisfying or build one’s self-concept. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts self-actualization at the top of the pyramid.  In terms of Reiss’ motives and Maslow’s theory, saving means that accomplishing a certain wealth in terms of money, health, and mental well-being is a top priority after basic physical motives such as hunger. Intrinsic motivation can be looked at as actions people partake in for no other reason than the interest and enjoyment that goes with it.  Curiosity and challenge are driving factors behind intrinsic motivations. For example, a person reading a book for pleasure feeds a curiosity factor and the simple reason of finishing a book and enjoying the read. However, Reiss mentions that, “pleasure can be a consequence of behavior rather than a motivating cause.”

Extrinsic motives differ because the pleasures are external to the behavior or activity.  Thus, a behavior is rewarded with external factors such as money, trophies, or grades. For example, a child studies more to make better grades. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations can be closely related to end goals. Reiss explores the end goals looking at the nature of the motive behind them.

When talking about the saving motive, extrinsic and intrinsic motivations may be applied. A person may satisfy an intrinsic drive by making money as the completion of a self set challenge, competition, or curiosity of an idea. On the other hand, a person may satisfy the intrinsic drive as well as the extrinsic. When such a person makes money, they are also able to provide for themselves and/or their family, buy material things that represent them, invest in real estate, and maintain and certain lifestyle that the money allows them. The saving motivation’s end purpose is first and foremost survival, then providing for others, then the finer things. Saving’s universal motivators may be mirroring other’s behavior. Like “Most everyone has a job so you should too” or trying to climb the social ladder. Saving’s psychological importance is a peace of mind or a sense of control that a person is able to support themselves giving their lives a sense of balance.

Reiss’ 16 motives guide the design of a space. Spaces do not necessarily consume all the motives at once, but are typically a product of at least one. We will take a closer look at what spaces are driven by the motive of saving. In the application of Reiss’ saving motive to spaces, Augustin mentions homes and other real estate investments as a means to stock away money for the future. Customizing such an investment reveals personal values, a statement of ownership, and the material things one values as well.

Taking into account Augustin’s interpretation of Reiss’ saving motive, I chose two houses featured in Interior Design Magazine. Both, homes or galleries, for that matter, are an end result of saving money as well as collecting belongings. First, Kitty Hawks and her spouses’ large New York apartment ranges in all styles putting importance on the experience of collecting versus the pieces themselves. The space seems to succinctly house their many furnishings collected over the decades. It represents their love for a smart, but eclectic style, as well as a homey feeling full of memories and travels. In contrast, I chose an apartment designed by Hariri and Hariri, where they combined two New York co-ops for art collectors. The space is truly designed around the art. The pieces speak for themselves, and the furnishings are mere decorations. At one end of the spectrum the Hawks’ residence shows their personal values of family, memories and experiences. At the other end, the art co-op displays a love of art as well as a respect for each work with rooms designed around specific pieces. However, both examples display ownership and accomplishment of saving. [On a side note]In contrast, I wanted to show an example of saving, or the desire to collect things, in excess. A form of OCD known as hoarding, which I respectfully understand is a serious condition, is where people are afraid to let go of things that they believe have intense meaning in their lives and a fear of letting those things go.

Before reading The Theory of 16 Basic Desires, my initial reaction to the motive of saving was money, physical health, and soul. Using the three fundamental features of a motive outline by Reiss, I wanted to look a bit further into other spaces that use saving as a motivation in a different sense. Other than a monetary context, saving is defined as tending or serving to save; rescuing; preserving. Therefore, I chose a hospital and a church (or any religious establishment) in addition to the home and their collected belongings within.

A hospital refers to saving one’s physical health. Good physical health is an end goal or purpose of satisfaction of the basic human drives such as hunger: what we need to be able to live. A universal motivator of health is pure survival. One may even go far enough that good health is a universal drive or motivator that is satisfied to the point of reproduction where one is passing on their genes, surviving their family tree.  The psychological importance of saving one’s physical health could refer to the healthy body healthy mind theory. One must be physical apt to be able to obtain monetary wealth to satisfy the saving motivation. This in turn allows them to satisfy the saving motivation in terms of homes and real estate investments.

Last, the church may be seen as a saving motivated space. Religion may save the soul. Reiss explores religiosity as a factor associated with honor and vengeance. I believe it can also be applied to saving. This space focuses primarily on the desire for psychological support putting importance on psychological health. “Saving” ones soul may give them a sense of purpose (or “end purpose”). Also, religion may be seen as a universal motivator. Reiss’ results, “implied that people embrace images of supportive and attentive deities not because they fear death, but primarily because images of these gods moderate feelings of autonomy (existence as an independent being), which many people experience as aversive when feelings are too strong.” The church displays a saving motivation in the aspect of valuing the life one is given and honoring whom they believe gave it to them.

In summation, my exploration of Reiss’ motivation for saving is not solely limited to material belongings, money, and real estate investments. Although, they may represent us and show ownership and accomplishment, I believe Reiss’ motivations cross over many spaces and each motivation is also applicable to many genres of spaces. Our homes can individually represent our saving motivation, and places such as churches and hospitals can communally represent what we value. Whatever the motivation behind the action, these spaces speak volumes about what drives our society intrinsically and extrinsically as well as human behaviors in general.26030282673252740824_3e081efac8PerfectHospitalRoomgrace_church_sanctuary_1_1-2


September 8, 2009

Steven Reiss stated in his article Multifaceted Nature of Intrinsic Motivation: The Theory of 16 Basic Desires that motives “may reveal a person’s values.” This directly applies to idealism, for people motivated by their ideals will make their spaces a way to show those ideals, values, or things they believe in. Sometimes it’s not obvious to others, for only the owner of the space and the objects inside knows what those objects mean.

The ideal of patriotism is often seen in government buildings. At Dallas City Hall, flags rise high above the mostly horizontal building, catching the eye of passers-by. This visual hierarchy of the flags above all else around shows that priority of country. A city hall would be expected to give the sense of love and support for the country. The ideal of patriotism can also be taken to a smaller scale. For example, in a home, an English flag can by displayed prominently for all viewers to see. This shows the occupants’ support of England. It may be their heritage, support for a sports team there, or any other reason, but only the occupants know exactly what.

Another thing that people may want to communicate to others is their religion. The image below is St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. Designed in a rather non traditional way, the building design still creates a striking effect on the interior. The reverence that one feels is heightened by the eye being drawn to the speaker at the front of the chapel, and ultimately upwards towards God. This design clearly shows the ideals of the people in the space. Similarly, the next image shows a Buddhist temple with iconic images or statues. These visuals in a low, intimate lighting condition convey the beliefs and worship of these occupants.

The final image of a bedroom shows that its occupant is a huge supporter of peace, seen in the two posters that have the words peace, diversity, strength, and nonviolence. By what the owner of the room put in it, one gets the idea that this person is a dedicated supporter of world peace, and he or she probably brings those posters to demonstrations. This person is clearly unafraid to show others his or her ideals, and probably welcomes the objects’ use as conversation starters. Overall, the design of these spaces took motivation from idealism, using the design as a tool for nonverbal communication of the occupants’ ideals.

St. Mary's Cathedral Buddhist Temple Peace bedroom

Physical Exercise

September 8, 2009

Characterized by the desire to exercise or to simply keep moving instead of staying in a sedentary state, physical exercise or the human need to move and use the body is one of Steven Reiss’s sixteen basic motives.   People are aware of the needs of their bodies, exercise and the working off those pesky extra calories has always been important in recent history.  In designs, this motivator is manifested in obvious and subtle ways through both public and private buildings. 


Gyms are clearly a part of the motive for exercise.  Public gyms that offer many different forms of workouts have become increasingly popular as people have wanted more diverse workout regimens.  By supplying facilities for individual or group workout needs many of these “gyms” have become “workout centers,” marketing themselves to the more elite crowd, many of these whom had previously had worked out at home.  For those who would rather work out outside:  another popular, public opinion is the hike and bike trail.  Walking and biking trails have become trendy in many major cities, on university campuses, and as a feature of private neighborhood developments.   

Designers and architects have picked up on the motive as well, and have incorporated it in many shopping centers and other public areas.  Taking a walk outside on a beautiful day is practically an American pastime and has therefore become a part of design.  Outdoor shopping centers have sprung up in major cities, featuring an outdoor shopping district that branches off of a central street or walkway.  Downtowns have also become more pedestrian friendly.  While always designed to attract foot traffic, downtown designers have added more lights, outdoor speakers, and flashier facades to make experience more enjoyable. 


Many residences now have a room or space allocated for working out.  People have their own reasons for wanting/needing a workout area in their home from loving the convenience to not wanting to work out in front of others, to not wanting to pay the monthly fees of a public gym.  Whatever the reason, these spaces have become a necessary part of people’s homes in the form of a separate room, the corner in the guest room, or that spot in front of the television.    Swimming pools have also become a popular feature corporate into the design and costs of homes.   Either lap pools or rounder family pools can be used for exercise and add value to any home, making them a practical design decision.

A big beautiful yard is always a desirable feature to a home, and many people do their own gardening.  The feeling of getting dirty and sweaty and creating something beautiful appeals to many that will spend from a couple of hours to days working and creating that prefect lawn or flower bed.

September 8, 2009



The textbook defines acceptance as people communicating their desire for approval in spaces by following the social conventions of groups that they want to accept them.  Also in Steven Reiss’s article about 16 Basic Desires, he explains it as a motive that is a desire for approval.  The motive “acceptance” can’t be seen with our visions; it is something that we, as individual human beings, feel with our hearts amongst each other’s.  Another significance of feeling accepted is that it gives great confidence in them with joy and comfort by giving one the sense of belonging.

In a church or any religious space, people gather to pray and accept god, and to be accepted by god.  Accepting one another under one common belief, people feel relaxed, blessed, protected and loved by whom they are surrounded with.  To enlarge the emotional intersection of believers, most furniture in church are made of warming textured wood, arranged in a way that people can actually see and, even touch one another.

Marriage is a special event in people’s lives, where you accept each other as a family.  The couple officially makes promises to love each other forever and ever.  It is a new stage in life where you live a life as “one” with another person.  And as the couple extends their family, the members must accept each other with unchangeable and unconditional love.  Regardless to who and how they are, the members must acknowledge their presence.

Even in an exuberant space such as in a party or a club, people can still feel acceptance.  Despite their sexuality, nationality and everything,  people are there just to enjoy the time together.  Blasting musics, spinning lasers, radiant mirror-balls, sweet drinks, and the uplifted atmosphere helps people in the space to feel connected with their moves.

Compared to the previous spaces, where people gather with the same desire, this space, the White House, carries a slightly different meaning.  It is a place where the leader of the United States, who has been chosen by the citizens, gets to live.  The president is accepted by the citizens to be our leader, and has the privilege to live in the special house.  The gate or the entry way is another threshold where the person is entering and is accepted to enter into the other space.  Simply, entering the gate to the White house may mean national acceptance of one person as the leader.

Social Contact

September 7, 2009

According to Reiss social contact is the “desire for peer companionship.” As one of the sixteen basic desires, social contact feeds off of the need for humans to interact and socialize with others.

So, the big question is how can this basic desire be related to a physical place?

First off, the physical place (public or private) needed for social interaction should be a space which allows people to be brought together. There are various types of physical places which allow, or even produce social interactions. To be honest, just about any space which is not solely for intimately private usage could be considered as a place for interaction. A few places which allow social contact include: side walks, schools, grocery stores, living rooms, cafes, sporting events, parks, etc. The list is fairly vast.

UT: Becoming more focused we will look at UT as an example of a physical place which yields social interaction. UT’s campus is a prime area for social interaction whether walking across campus on your way to class, or participating in class discussion. The campus is highly occupied with people, large, and is an open public space. The campus provides for an array of encounters whether casual (i.e. running into someone randomly on campus) or forced (i.e. being called on in class).

Apartments: Next, one of the most basic and highly used places is the living room. It is a more private and controlled, yet still social environment. It is also casual and yields for multiple people to inhabit the space without intruding into more personal space.

Spiderhouse: Other places include cafes, restaurants, and coffee houses which are laid back, and are common social destinations for social interactions. The phrase “Hey, wanna grab coffee sometime” is a perfect example of how these services made available create and foster social contact. These places also act as an almost ‘neutral’ meeting ground for easy, somewhat controlled situations.

UT Football, The Stadium: Lastly, football stadiums and other sporting arenas provide another level of social contact. Sporting events are usually attended in groups and provide for large numbers of people to attend them. Here humans are able to interact with others who share common grounds; whether friend or stranger, these physical places allow human interaction on a large scale.

Basically, the physical places needed/utilized for social contact run the gamut.


September 7, 2009

 According the Reiss’ Sixteen Motives, independence is the desire to control our own destiny. While this can have many other implications in life, the way certain spaces are designed can help to enhance or detract from the feeling of independence. By allowing someone to control others’ access to them and their possessions, they can feel more comfortable and free in a space. While independence doesn’t directly correlate to privacy, the option to create it at one’s will encourages freedom. Along with this desire to control comes the desire to be on one’s own without control from others. Being autonomous and self-reliant leads independent people to tend towards certain spaces. Along with this push away from authority and towards freedom and control comes a tendency towards certain kinds of interiors, such as that of a home or someone’s personal area that they can customize and control as they please. Because of this, a very independent person may attempt to make certain impersonal places more of their own through decoration and customizations within their own area, whether a cubicle at a commercial space down to even the clothing a person wears to show their independence. In addition to tending towards certain personal spaces, Reiss also discussed how independent people shy away from more authoritative spaces that require a certain behavior and attitude in the environment, such as a church or political atmosphere.

For my examples, I looked mostly at the personal spaces that independent people would lean towards. Therefore I found mostly home-like atmospheres that allowed complete control in both the design and the way the interior was used and grew throughout its life. Since the “animal” instinct of an independent person is to “leave the nest” and get his or her own place first and foremost, I looked at an efficiency apartment. Compared to any other sort of apartment, an efficiency is mostly for one, maybe two, people where everything is open and there is complete freedom in decoration and personal division of space. Secondly, I found a customizable houseboat that has one bedroom and a large great room separated by a bathroom. This allows even more freedom than one’s own house because not only do you control the interior, but due to its mobility, you also control the exterior experience. Lastly, someone who is independent in other forms of their life could possibly have their own business and therefore their own home office. This begins to tell more of a story about the rest of their life as they can customize, decorate and organize their space to their own tastes while also controlling their work schedule and business practices completely on their own. Included is a collage of the houseboat along with pictures of it in different countries.Judge_Erin_02

Motivation: Family

September 7, 2009

idea house

Steven Reiss identifies family as one of the sixteen motives that “propel human beings through their lives and … can be related to physical places.”  The physical environment of the home is directly related to the values of raising and supporting a family.  Reiss explains that when a space is created for gathering, the environment “communicates important information to our family”. Because a majority of square footage is devoted to living and dining rooms, this message expresses the priority of togetherness in the home.

It has become part of our culture that we gather for meals, so naturally the dining and kitchen spaces have become places to congregate in our home.  The tradition of sitting down for dinner provides a family with a routine of spending time together.  This tradition is often less about the food, and more about prioritizing a time to share with each other.  Whether a family sits down for a gourmet feast, or crams in fifteen minutes standing over a bucket of fried chicken, the important factor is the togetherness.

For the minimum standard, a dining space can be as simple as a table and chairs.  In this form, the important message is still communicated:  This is place to stop, and spend time in.  Sitting around a table, facing each other provides the opportunity for conversation, as talking and sharing is the priority when eating with others.

When more attention is given to the kitchen and dining spaces, it is possible to create even greater opportunities to spend time together.  When convenience and comfort are standards for the design of these spaces, they become the most desirable rooms to inhabit.  The study of a vacation home in Port Aransas, Texas is a fine example of a home that prioritizes family living.

Three different zones make up the plan of the room:  a dining nook, kitchen workspace with bar seating, and a lounging zone.  Each space is conveniently accessed from the other, without ever leaving the company in the room.  Convenience also plays a role, as the kitchen is the first stop in the house before heading upstairs into the more private zones.  When coming home in the evening, the gathering place is the first stop, inviting one to spend a little extra time in the company of others.  The comfort of the dining area, an upholstered booth, provides a place for relaxation or a convenient place to work, while still remaining close to others who are cooking.  While kitchen spaces are most common for gathering, they tend to have utilitarian qualities.  Integrating a more comfortable environment boosts the potential for quality time, the most important ingredient for a happy, loving family.

“Families that play together, stay together.”