The desire to gain prestige with one’s fellows, family, friends, club or community or to be praised, appreciated, or rewarded in some way constitutes one of the most powerful social motives. Prizes, titles, diplomas, and testimonial dinners show to what extent we recognize the strength of this motive. The urge for personal appreciation is probably a development and elaborated expression of the motive which leads the young child to seek petting and fondling. On the positive side, kind words, flattery and material rewards enhance one’s sense of security and self-esteem.
Nearly everyone has a personal investment in his own names. No matter how attractive an advertising letter may be, therefore, it creates a negative impression of the name of the person to whom it is sent is incorrectly spelled.
Each of us seeks approval from some audience, the character of the audience depending on our age, sex and present state. The small child seeks the good will of his family and often of strange adults by exhibiting his repertory of tricks – climbing, jumping, reciting. The adolescent displays his strength and daring to those of his own age, and advertises his sophistication through knowledge of currently popular slang, music and dress.
The adult appeals to many audiences for approbation by presenting a well groomed appearance or by displaying his wealth, intellectual gifts, or generosity. In lieu of positive achievement in sports, business, politics or a profession a person may resort to boasting, arrogance, bad manners and even antisocial and criminal acts. Any attention, even adverse is considered better than no attention at all. Interest in collecting, though allied to food hoarding also represents a method of satisfying a need for social approval. Boys and girls collect colored stones, marbles, pictures of actors, wealthy men collect stamps, vases etc. At different levels of sophistication, the motive is the same pride of passion plus prestige gained within one’s group from having a larger or more expensive display than someone else.