The Science Behind Behavior

When CultureWaves first started, our mantra was, “Be First Faster,” a reflection of what we knew our proprietary technology and science could do for clients. The combination of that science and technology is our World Thought Bank; a collection of evidence spanning more than a decade and based on behavior rather than topics. This collection of data and information allows us to help our clients better understand the core drivers powering today’s society—the “why” instead of the “what.”
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The Hierarchy of Core Motivations

Self Actualization Self-Actualization — growth, fulfillment, philanthropy
Esteem — achievement, prestige, independence
Belonging — friendship, intimacy, social connections
Safety — stability, security, law, protection
Physiological — food, shelter, sex, sleep

Inspired by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a person progresses or “moves up” the ladder, satisfying each level before addressing the next. Before a person can achieve higher-level aspirations such as fulfillment, he or she must first satisfy the base needs of sustenance and security. As such, the colors are a handy shortcut to quickly identifying content by its more primal drivers. While market data fails to explain the rationale behind many consumer decisions, human motivations like fear, generosity and indulgence help provide the big picture.

Waves: Macro Behavior Patterns

Within each layer, CultureWaves tracks multiple macro behavior patterns active in society, which we call Waves. These Waves may evolve, but they are remarkably stable over time—allowing us to tell the story of trends and behavior as they move among core motivations.











Unique Software Platform

CultureWaves monitors behavior using specialized software—providing our clients a unique view into their areas of interest. Using our behavior-based system, we can watch emerging trends ripple across verticals, helping companies see opportunities earlier and stay ahead of the competition. Most “insight” companies use trailing data to tell the story of tomorrow’s trends through the lens of yesterday’s information. The CultureWaves system breaks down a subject area into core drivers to see emerging patterns in a unique way.

Using our software, we can gauge the types of behavior related to your interest. Different searches will highlight different behavior patterns and Waves. For example:

A look into “Charity” shows a large Self-Actualization (Blue) segment, indicating results around philanthropy and fulfillment.


“Luxury” emphasizes Esteem (Green), representing results around acheivement and control.


“Surveillance” as a query highlights the Safety (Orange) segment, indicating results based in comfort, security and protection.


We love stats & metrics—our system is not a replacement for your current data tools. But Big Data is not Big Picture, and using CultureWaves in conjunction with traditional analysis tools is a powerful, actionable and surprising insightful combination.