Theory of Interpersonal Needs
Western Kentucky University
I selected the Theory of Interpersonal Needs because it was a theory I had never heard of before and was interested in what these needs could be. After doing research on the theory I have realized how the components of this theory are considered needs and how they apply to our lives. We have so many different experiences everyday and this this theory helps explain what we are feeling, why, and how it all ties into communication. It is important that we understand and recognize this theory if we are to improve upon what we already know about communication.
Interpersonal Needs Theory
The Theory of Interpersonal Needs was created by William Schutz in 1958. The basic needs of this theory include inclusion, control, and affection. These needs are all absolutely necessary for affective communication and to some extent our survival. People have always had these needs but now that we specifically know what they are we can identify how different parts of communication can positively or negatively affect a person. Everyone is affected by communication in some way and theories like this help us analyze and understand what is going on in our lives.
The first need or component of The Theory of Interpersonal Needs I will explain is inclusion. At some point we feel the need to belong whether that is to a specific group or just those who are around us. According to Leary, “The need is for frequent, nonaversive interactions within an ongoing relational bond.” (Leary, 1995, 497). We are constantly affected emotionally by the interactions we have with others. We then analyze our experiences with specific people and come to a conclusion, that being whether we are wanted or unwanted, and because us this we attempt to maintain a relationship with this person. No matter what we do we will be affected by the need of inclusion because it is a part of human nature.
Next, the need for control is equally important. This kind of control can be thought of as influence over others or others influence on you depending on how you handle control. According to Leotti, “Converging evidence from animal research, clinical studies and neuroimaging suggests that the need for control is a biological imperative for survival, and a corticostriatal network is implicated as the neural substrate of this adaptive behavior.” (Leotti, 2010). We physically and mentally need control no matter where we are at in our lives or how much control we have because we are forced to live with others. Power is given to everyone but it is up to them how they use it and how it is distributed in order to function with other people. The amount of control that you believe you have will greatly affect future decisions because you are usually going to think about the consequences of that decision given the circumstances you are in.
Finally, the last need of The Theory of Interpersonal Needs is Affection. Affection is that one on one connection you establish and form over time with others. According to Bakken, “Recent research suggest that, along with identity, intimacy is an important construct during adolescence.” (Bakken, 1992, 301) From the very beginning of our lives we are shown an amount of care that we do not really understand at that point but that affection we receive allows us to live and puts us on track for a healthy life. In order to maintain a healthy and balanced life our affection must be two-sided meaning sent and received. Other people in your life want to feel like they mean something because if they do not, they will not stick around and neither will their affection. It is impossible to make it through everything in life alone so we must come together to form relationships and show our affection.
The Theory of Interpersonal Needs is so important because communication and relationships are what allows all life to thrive and continue to grow. Inclusion, control, and affection are all motivators that drive us to live and as a result drive us together. Many people think of basic needs as physical needs like food, water, and shelter but without communication new life would simply not be possible. It is necessary to form intimate relationships with others so that we can achieve a healthy emotional state and create new life.
After researching The Theory of Interpersonal Needs, I came to realize just how important communication was and how it has impacted life as a whole. I, like many others, just thought about physical needs when it came to survival but communication is just as needed. Communication has so much depth and complexity within the relationships we make that we often don’t think about because it is something we have been shown from the beginning of our lives meaning it is natural to enact this kind of behavior. When looking at each need as it applies to my life, I can clearly identify them. I feel I am regularly shown inclusion, control, and affection from the relationship I have with my family but now know what I specifically need to focus on for the future. My control is what I have the most trouble with because I am mostly just listening to others without taking any action myself. If I could learn to better balance this need, I would be living a more balanced, healthy, and impactful life. My goal is to live the best life I can and these needs are keys to doing so.
The Theory of Interpersonal Needs really does explain how communication works. Inclusion, control, and affection can be observed in everyone’s life in someway because all of them were needed in the process of getting us to where we are today. When we reflect on our beginnings, we can clearly see that we have these needs in common and are supported by them. Now that we know of these needs it is up to us to use this knowledge to create healthy relationships and lives.
Bakken, L., & Romig, C. (1992). Interpersonal needs in middle adolescents: companionship, leadership and intimacy. Journal of adolescence, 15(3), 301.
Leotti, L. A., Iyengar, S. S., & Ochsner, K. N. (2010). Born to choose: The origins and value of the need for control. Trends in cognitive sciences, 14(10), 457-463.
Leary, M. R., & Baumeister, R. F. (2017). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. In Interpersonal Development (pp. 57-89). Routled