Can we identify a real person’s ‘superobjective’ by how they actually behave in real life?

As I think about writing and character development and human behavior and a ton of other things, I keep going back to the fascinating world of the superobjective.

A superobjective is what acting coach Larry Moss calls the overarching goal or desire of a character’s existence.  Whether acting or writing, keeping the superobjective in mind will keep your character grounded in reality and genuineness, while keeping their focus on what is most important.

But lately, as I’ve been thinking about how people react in certain circumstances, I started to think if people in real life actually have superobjectives? Is there something that I am striving for more than anything else? Hmmm …Can some reactions and behavior of the people around us be explained away by understanding what caused that behavior? Is there some hidden superobjective tucked under the surface which could make a person’s action suddenly make sense?

A few years back I was at a banquet where some individuals were being honored. A relative of a certain person who was to be honored discovered that this person’s name was left off of the program by mistake. Well that was it! The relative could not let it go. The complaining got boisterous and the person’t behavior so distracting that the event could not go on and everyone in the room was giving this person their attention. The relative demanded restitution and would not back down until promised that their due reward would be forthcoming.

Why was recognition so important to this person that she was willing to cause a scene of epic proportions over an honest oversight? Could it have been that this person has been fighting for respect their whole life? Could it have been that she was belittled at a child? Or made fun of? Or had the perception of not getting their just rewards for their effort? Was she a middle child who envied the praise given to an eldest? Was respect this person’s life superobjective and she was willing to go to any lengths to right the wrong of not getting what was perceived as her due respect?

Of course, this is all conjecture as I don’t know the person at all. But I find this whole line of pondering rather invigorating. It makes me want to go create a character and give her some tragic past which helps explain current behavior.

So are thinking about superobjectives useful in looking at real life behavior? I’m not sure. But this is the kind of stuff I think about in my free time. Only a writer, I suppose.

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