Maslows hierarchy of needs.... Great in kindergarten, but not much use anywhere else...

in Deep Dives10 months ago

I've just commented on a post that uses the 'Maslows hierarchy of needs'model. (which is kinda funny , as the author of the post has previously rebuked the idea of hierarchy being 'a thing'...Mmmmm)

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This is something that I've written about before , as it seems to be a 'go to' place for some people - those who try to substantiate their claims in regards to political, social, or economic theory.

Which is all very well..... apart from one teensy, weensy, problem.

It's total, and utter... bollocks!

It's an over simplistic - and woefully incorrect - model.
Therefor, it can only ever be used in context of an over simplistic - and incorrect - argument.

Ok , lets first find out what the conventional 'thinking' is, that goes into the Maslows hierarchy of needs...

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization.
Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up.

The bold text is part of the definition, but I put it 'in bold'. ..For a reason.
Here's the diagram of the model, to clarify.

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Now, lets destroy it...

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says that you can figure out how people will behave simply by looking at their underlying needs.

Maslow believed that a starving person would find food first, putting aside every other consideration, including social niceties.
He said that things such as 'morality' and 'creativity', 'respect' and 'confidence', could only be realized once the other, 'lower' elements, of the pyramid , were fulfilled first.

One glaring criticism about the model, is that the hierarchy doesn’t take into account acts of selflessness, bravery, charity and heroism.
A hungry man can still go to the rescue of a child in imminent danger ( just one example).

Why would some German citizens hide Jews from the Nazis when their 'hierarchy of needs' had not yet been met?

Why would the starving soldiers in Japanese prisoner of war camps give up their own food supplies , to help the weak and dying?

Many of the best -and most creative- painters and poets in history (those who Maslow would describe as 'self-actualizing') were, in fact, starving and shivering, in some attic, somewhere or other.
And this was also at the time when they did their best work.

Creativity is not dependent of fulfilling the underlying 'hierarchies' that maslows model attempts to describe.

(how many talented actors, writers, or musicians lost their talents - at the very time those underlying hierarchies were met?).
How many rock bands deliver a brilliant -seminal - first album, with the rest of their careers only being a pale shadow of their former brilliance?

The Spiritual Human.

Maslow misses the whole point with his model.
He fails to understand - and therefor fails to take into account - one of the most important aspects of being human.
The spiritual dimension.

Humans look for meaning in their lives in whatever personal journey that may be for the individual.
It can easily transcend any animalistic drives.

Morality is not in isolation of hunger, for example (as shown above).
Starving people are not immune to morality, relationships, and connections.

There's a scientific criticism, published in the 1977 edition of the journal, “The Annual Review of Psychology”.

Korman, Greenhaus and Badin, wrote that there’s no empirical evidence to support Maslow’s ideas.

In fact, they argue, that the empirical evidence points in the opposite direction.
Maslow came up with his theories after observing only a handful of people and it lacks any scientific rigor.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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Maslow’s idea of 'the hierarchy of needs' is a good, simplistic starting point - for those who are trying to understand what drives other people.
But that's all it does.
To try and use it in the higher discussions and understandings of human psychology and behaviors, is an exercise in the ridiculous.

Teaching a five year old to do math is great - and to be encouraged.

Teaching an adult to only accept 'addition' and 'subtraction' in math, as the whole of math - (discounting divisions and multiplications for example) , is patently ridiculous.

Backing up an argument by using "Maslows hierarchy of needs" is no different than a child saying 'addition and subtraction are the only math there is'.

Don't be a child in an adults body.

It will only serve to make you look ridiculous.
(and uneducated in the disciplines of critical thinking and reasoning).

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....I've noticed , over the years, that those with a socialist perspective, (lefties) love to use 'maslows hierarchy of needs' to back up their points...
It's yet another case of leftist sophistry - and simplistic thought process - in action... in my opinion.


Don't be a child in an adult's body.

Ha! That applies to half of humanity, no?

This is a really thought provoking and cool post. You're right about the model being a kiddy block starting point only. What about all the instagram stars heavily in debt but pandering to their shopping and recognition needs before they've dealt with housing and a serous source of income?

Posts like this remind me that no matter how down or stressed I get, I NEED to show up to hive every day, cos this is where the refreshing thinkers are who sustain me when little else does.

Cheers matey, it's good to make people think... (no matter how it can be sometimes!)

But it's so much easier if we can work with absolutes! Also, it's a good excuse for us if we act like self serving a-holes.

...wait until you see my website for anti- life coaching!
(it doesn't mean death coaching though....mmmmm....maybe a different name...)

Funny, not familiar with Maslow or his hierarchy. At first glance it seemed pretty reasonable. Nice job tearing it to shreds.
I feel as though the field of psychology had such potential at one time, but as far as I know it's good as useless in how it's used today.

Great post.

...the whole field of psychology has gone down a rabbit hole I think.

It's the old case of a bureaucracy, one established, of having to find 'new' things , just to to justify it's own existence.

Is Maslow a commie ?
As his pyramid tells me i have to be part of a strong collective first before i can become an stable confident human . If you believe this you will find yourself saluting for a dictator one fine day .
Maybe Maslow has to do a study on the homeless in the streets first before putting his collective thinking on a paper .

i keep saying this stuff for years in dialogs with friends and others. It's really funny when you see some trying to thing of a random kinda argument to win over (cause denial mode kicks in) or looking at me like i am the messiah or something!'s simplistic modeling for simplistic thinking - hence it's useful to get people thinking (in kindergarten).

I find that it isn't necessarily the model that's BS, people do indeed have a need hierarchy, it's the needs that Maslow perceived (which is what, I expect, led to his theory being so thoroughly debunked).