They felt inferior as children
According to Alfred Adler, the father of individual psychology, all children feel inferior when they compare themselves to the more capable adults around them. Adler said that children strive for superiority to compensate for that inferiority felt during childhood. (See What Causes an Inferiority Complex?)
They have a secondary inferiority
According to Adler, a secondary inferiority happens when an adult finds himself far away from reaching an important psychological goal. A man who earns a low salary compared to most of his friends might develop a secondary inferiority and so strive to become superior.
Youngest children usually strive more
Youngest children usually develop very high ambition and sometimes strive to be the best among their peers or friends.
Narcissists do their best to become superior
While ordinary people usually strive to become superior, narcissists usually take that striving to an extra level. Narcissists always want to keep eyes on them by showing others how great they are, and as a result, they might strive to become more superior.
Compensation leads to striving for superiority
A person who develops an inferiority complex or who believes that he is inferior to others might strive to become superior to them. For example, a child with a birth defect who grew up believing that he is different in a bad way might strive more to become superior.
Jealousy can fuel the desire for superiority
Many of the critical comments people make about others have the goal of putting them down. A person who feels inferior to a successful person, might make fun of him or gossip about him to feel superior to him. (See Why do people become jealous of others?)
All people strive for superiority but the methods differ
According to Adler, some people strive for superiority the good way by trying to become more successful and useful to the community, while others strive for superiority the useless way by becoming neurotics or criminals.
To prove people wrong
Many people strive for superiority to prove others wrong. This usually happens with people who experience serious rejection or the ones who go through a bad rejection experience that they can’t get over.
Adopted children usually strive more
Adopted children sometimes unconsciously believe that their original parents dumped them because they believed they were worthless. When those adopted children are given the chance, they sometimes become over-achievers in life.
Confident people are more likely to strive for superiority the right way
Only a confident and brave person strives for superiority the useful way. According to Adler, people who don’t have enough courage to fight for their important goals move to the less useful side of life and usually become neurotics.
Comparison fuels the desire for superiority
If a person is always compared to others and if he cares about the subject of the comparison, he will strive to become superior to those other people.
Why do people strive for superiority?
Adler’s theory of striving for superiority | Theories for superiority and success