Thursday, August 19, 2010

Maslow's pyramid changed?

I read today that Maslow's hierarchy of needs (also known as Maslow's pyramid) may be undergoing an updating change, based on some of the understandings of human psychology that have come about in the 70 years since Maslow published in 1940.

Maslow's original hierarchy is based on the principle that as the needs of any one level are satisfied, a person can focus on the next level of the hierarchy. The original names of the levels of the hierarchy were:
  1. Immediate Physiological Needs
  2. Safety
  3. Love (affection, belongingness)
  4. Esteem (respect)
  5. Self Actualization
The new levels are roughly parallel with the original hierarchy, but with more levels:
  1. Immediate Physiological Needs
  2. Self-Protection
  3. Affiliation
  4. Status/Esteem
  5. Mate Acquisition
  6. Mate Retention
  7. Parenting
The research team - which included Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and Mark Schaller of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver - restructured the famous pyramid after observing how psychological processes radically change in response to evolutionarily fundamental motives, such as self-protection, mating or status concerns.

The bottom four levels of the new pyramid are highly compatible with Maslow's, but big changes are at the top. Perhaps the most controversial modification is that self-actualization no longer appears on the pyramid at all. At the top of the new pyramid are three evolutionarily critical motives that Maslow overlooked - mate acquisition, mate retention and parenting.

The researchers state in the article that while self-actualization is interesting and important, it isn't an evolutionarily fundamental need. Instead, many of the activities that Maslow labeled as self-actualizing (artistic creativity, for example) reflect more biologically basic drives to gain status, which in turn serves the goal of attracting mates.
So, while some people don't like the ideas that are espoused by evolutionary psychology, there might be a point to this change.


tall penguin said...

I wasn't a fan of Maslow's hierarchy of needs to begin with and am less a fan of the proposed changes. I think it's quite arbitrary to define a linear progression of needs. At least not without sufficient data to back up the assertions.

What about those who aren't interested in having a mate and/or parenting children?

I still like the concept of self-actualization. Whether it's a true "need" is debatable, but so is much of the stuff on that pyramid.

Eric said...

So child-rearing is the ultimate goal of human life?

Maslow, say it ain't so!

I'm starting to feel like Brad Stand in I Heart Huckabees:

Brad Stand: Why is marriage and kids so important? I mean, there's an overpopulation problem.
Vivian Jaffe: Whoa. Whoa.
[Dawn scoffs, insulted]
Bernard Jaffe: Well, that came out of left field.