Maslow's pyramid renovation triggers controversy

Washington, Aug 20 (ANI): A team of psychologists who have updated a cornerstone of modern psychology - Abraham Maslow's pyramid of needs - has triggered a controversy on the way.

Maslow's pyramid describes human motivations from the most basic to the most advanced. But it had begun to look a bit weathered and outdated.

The revamp of Maslow's pyramid reflects new findings and theory from fields like neuroscience, developmental psychology and evolutionary psychology, said Douglas Kenrick from Arizona State University.

Maslow developed the pyramid of needs to represent a hierarchy of human motives, with those at the bottom taking precedence over those higher up. At the base of Maslow's pyramid are physiological needs - hunger, thirst and sexual desire.

"It was based on some great ideas, several of which are worth preserving," Kenrick said.

"But it missed out on some very basic facts about human nature, facts which weren't well understood in Maslow's time, but were established by later research and theory at the interface of psychology, biology and anthropology," he added.

According to Maslow, if you are starving and craving food that will trump all other goals. But if you are satisfied on one level, you move to the next. So, once you are well fed, you worry about safety.

Once you are safe, you worry about affection and esteem and so forth.

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.

"Among human aspirations that are most biologically fundamental are those that ultimately facilitate reproduction of our genes in our children's children," Kenrick explained.

"For that reason, parenting is paramount."

"You could argue that a peacock's display is as beautiful as anything any human artist has ever produced," Kenrick said.

"Yet it has a clear biological function - to attract a mate. We suspect that self actualization is also simply an expression of the more evolutionarily fundamental need to reproduce," he added.

"The pyramid of needs is a wonderful idea of Maslow's," Kenrick said.

"He just got some of it wrong. Now people are talking about it again, which will help us get it right."

The paper was published in the March issue of Perspectives on Psychological Sciences. (ANI)

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