Freud’s Motivation Theory

In this blog, we will explain Sigmund Freud’s motivation theory, its components, and how it works. Motivation is all those urges that cause people to behave in various ways. People sometimes do compel to do what they feel is best for them. This leads to regular actions that individuals do every day that produce good results. Human conduct differentiates motivation. For example, two people working for the same company may react very differently to the same situation. This is because they may have various aims and hence show varying degrees of enthusiasm or commitment.

What is Freud’s Motivation Theory?

The theory was developed by Sigmund Freud. He was a doctor who studied psychoanalysis as well.

According to Freudian motivation theory, unconscious psychological factors shape an individual’s behavior, influencing his purchase habits. These include such people’s underlying desires and intentions. The psychoanalytic theory of motivation examines what drives a person to pursue their goals. Freud emphasizes the construction of personality and the emergence of conflicts. Motivation derives from the Latin word “movere,” which means “to move.” It motivates organisms to obtain items that they desire for themselves.

Individuals’ or consumers’ desires and emotions, according to Freudian motivation theory, shape their behavior. This theory usually discusses consumer purchasing choices and how they influence unconscious impulses and wants. It describes the sales process in terms of a consumer satisfying conscious, operating, and unconscious demands.

How does Freudian Motivation Theory Work? 

Sales and marketing professionals utilize the Freudian motivation theory to identify which products to advertise or sell to certain consumers. According to Freud’s theory, there is a link between product qualities and customer emotions.

Certain products have the power to elicit emotional responses from consumers; such things sell more because they appeal to consumers’ unconscious wishes and emotions. According to Freud’s motivation theory, the visual, tactile, and aural aspects of a product might remind people of prior occurrences, motivating them to make purchases. Sigmund Freud classified the human psyche into two parts: conscious and unconscious. While the conscious mind reflects via people’s ideas, feelings, and perceptions, the unconscious mind reflects through natural impulses.

According to Freudian motivation theory, the sale process comprises three parameters:

  • Consumer contentment or conscious fulfillment
  • Satisfaction of functional needs
  • Unconscious needs

Freud’s Motivation Theory Components

The human psyche, according to Freud, is divided into two parts. The conscious mind and the unconscious mind. Both of them have three components in total: the id, the ego, and the superego.


Sigmund Freud defined the id as the biological component of every individual’s mental process. The id consists of innate senses that everyone has had since birth. The unconscious mind is to blame.

When newborns are wet and hungry, for example, they will cry until their needs are fulfilled.


The ego symbolizes the conscious mind. The mind is made up of thoughts, memories, and feelings on which people base their decisions. The ego offers an individual a feeling of personality.

A hungry child, for example, may be able to tell her mother what she wants rather than just sobbing. When the ego matures, the child may be in a position to postpone the need.


This covers societal conceptions of ethics, morals, taboos, and so forth. It is the moral branch that can impact how humans make decisions. This component shows that humans do not always act on impulse and is the human “inner voice” or conscience.

For example, when children get older, they hear parental voices in their thoughts that keep them from breaking societal rules.

In some people, the id is stronger; in others, the superego is greater. The relative power of the id, ego, and superego influences how a person makes decisions.

The Importance of Freud’s Motivation Theory

Sales and marketing can benefit from Freudian motivation theory. According to the notion, people may make purchasing decisions based on their emotions and sentiments without even realizing it.

Consider the case of a man who purchases a new vehicle although his old one is still in fine working condition. The man’s choice to buy an automobile probably influences his desire to establish a social status symbol for himself. This decision may not be as deliberate as the buyer believes.

To use the emotional aspect of Freudian motivation theory, salespeople can use particular marketing methods that could elicit an emotional response from the customer, encouraging him to purchase the goods. Thus, motivation theory can assist vendors in eliciting the desired reaction from clients.

What are Other Motivation Theories?

Aside from Freud’s motivation theory, there are two more popular motivation theories. These are some examples:

Optimal-level Theory

The other name for optimal-level theory is the theory of homeostasis, a phrase created by French psychologist Claud Bernard. The term “homeostasis” refers to the body’s condition of equilibrium. This worldview is part of the “hedonistic” school of thought, which holds that enjoyment is the ultimate ideal.

Humanistic Theory

This theory believes in the ability of humans to realize their potential, build self-confidence, and reach the ideal self. These can include biological causes such as hunger and thirst; safety needs; love and belongingness requirements; esteem needs such as respect and acceptance; and self-actualization motivations such as reaching one’s full potential.

The Bottom Line

Freudian motivation theory is commonly used in a variety of fields, including sales and marketing. To assist in understanding the consumer’s motives while making a purchase choice. More specifically, Freud’s motivation theory has been applied to the link between a product’s attributes, such as touch, taste, or smell, and the memories that it may trigger in a person.

Although Freud’s motivation theory is less common in the treatment of mental health concerns now than it was in the early 1900s, it is vital to understand the ideas since they had a huge and lasting influence on the field of psychology.

For good reason, Sigmund Freud is not regarded as a top-tier employer of scientifically-backed techniques today; nonetheless, his work does give important insight.

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