"These desires are what drive our everyday actions and make us who we are," Reiss said. "What makes individuals unique is the combination and ranking of these desires."
The research is bound to be controversial with many researchers who have tried to reduce all human behavior to just one or two basic desires - such as pleasure, pain or survival - or who say that that there are some desires that all people share equally, Reiss said. But in looking at how people differ in these 16 desires, Reiss said he concluded that "we are individuals to a much greater extent than psychologists have previously realized."
For example, Reiss said our educational system is built on the premise that all children are naturally curious (curiosity is one of the 16 basic desires) and have the same potential desire for learning. But Reiss found that people can differ quite a bit in their maximum potential to enjoy learning. (New Theory of Motivation Lists 16 Basic Desires That Guide Us)