Freudian Motivation Theory – Definition

Cite this article as:"Freudian Motivation Theory – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated January 14, 2020, last accessed October 27, 2020,

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Freudian Motivation Theory Definition

Freudian motivation theory was developed by Sigmund Freud, a renowned economist. This theory studies how unconscious desires motivate and shape the behaviors of individuals. It studies how psychological forces that are unconscious influence the behaviors of individuals.

Freudian motivation theory maintains that the desires and emotions of individuals or consumers shape their behaviors. Hence, the decision to make a purchase or not is influenced by unconscious motives. The Freudian motivation theory is applied to a wide range of disciplines and concepts and not just the consumer behavior theory. However, this theory is mostly used to describe the buying preferences of consumers and how they are dictated by unconscious motives and desires.

A Little More on What is Freudian Motivation Theory

Practitioners in the sales and marketing discipline also use the Freudian motivation theory to determine the types of goods to market or sell to certain consumers. According to Freud’s theory, there is a connection between the attributes of a product and the emotions of consumers. There are certain products with the capability to trigger emotional responses from consumers, such products sell more because they appeal to the unconscious desires and emotions of consumers.

Freud’s theory also posits that the visual, tactile and auditory qualities of a product can remind individuals of past events, which then motivate them to make purchase decisions.

Freudian Motivation Theory Tenets

Sigmund Freud divided the human psyche into two parts; the conscious and the unconscious mind. While the conscious mind reflects in the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of individuals, the unconscious mind reflects through innate instincts. While the ego represents the conscious mind, the Id is a depiction of the unconscious mind.

Also, consumers have two needs or desires they want to meet, these are the functional needs and the unconscious needs. In most cases, the unconscious needs of a consumer motivate purchase decisions made by individuals. Understanding how the human mind functions is an important factor that the industry must consider in order to boost the sales margin of the industry.

Freudian Motivation Theory Put to Use

In reality, the Freudian motivation theory helps companies determine the success or failure of new products. Sales and marketing officers also use this theory to influence the sales of products. Companies that are concerned about meeting the needs of consumers hire researchers to make findings of the types of products that will appeal to the desires and emotions of consumers. There are certain techniques that companies also use to determine products that will sell more to a group of consumers. Once such products are successfully identified, the company will have higher performance and greater sales.

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