On Low Grumbles, High Grumbles, and Metagrumbles

If the level of complaints is studied in the industrial situation, it can be used also as a measure of the level of health of the organization, especially if one has a large enough sampling.

The general principle from which the whole thing proceeds is something like this: People can live at various levels in the motivation hierarchy, that is, they can live a high life or a low life, they can live barely at the level of survival in the jungle, or they can live in an enlightened society with good fortune and with all the basic needs taken care of so that they can live at a higher level and think about the nature of poetry or mathematics or that kind of thing.

There are various ways of judging the motivational level of life. For instance, one can judge the level at which people live by the kind of humor that they laugh at. The person living at the lowest need levels is apt to find hostile and cruel humor very amusing, e.g., the old lady who is getting bitten by a dog or the town moron who is being plagued by the other children, etc. The Abraham Lincoln type of humor—the philosophical, educational type of humor—brings a smile rather than a belly laugh; it has little to do with hostility or conquest. This higher type of humor cannot be understood at all by the person living at the lower need levels.

The projective tests also can serve ...

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