Hierarchy of Human Needs

While researching on Google for possible answers to an existential problem, I ran into this peculiar set of things that are apparently considered by the many psychologists of the world as ‘the‘ set of things that every human needs in their life. Upon further investigation, by which I mean reading Wikipedia, I found out that this is a distinguished set of things collected by a psychologist called Abraham Moslow. I call it distinguished because it came from Moslow’s detailed study of the lives of distinguished people of the western world, like Albert Einstein and Frederick Douglass. By observing the lives, motivations and actions of these luminaries, Moslow came up with a list of entities that act as powerful motivating factors for people. Generally called ‘Moslow’s hierarchy of needs‘ this list is something of a corner-stone in psychology circles and is referenced by doctoral students and product marketers alike. Although, he personally never used a pyramid to represent his hierarchy, this is what Wikipedia, along with a big majority of Google Image search results, shows.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Together, these factors are not too surprising. We always knew that things like food and water came first, and once they are satisfied the need for money and security, and then relationships and then knowledge come in but to see it in neatly stacked pyramid kind of gives the idea a lot more weight. Of course the top ones are the needs that are more coveted and harder to acquire, especially since Amazon doesn’t sell them. Self-Actualization is the big one here — it is the expectation of an individual to reach the potential that the individual feels he/she is capable of. That’s some deep zen.

The same Wikipedia page that gave us this image also gives us some of the counter arguments to Moslow’s list. One of them, my favorite really, is that he created it from the western culture’s perspective which, most geographically savvy people would know, only represents one half of the world’s culture. Surely, the remarkable lives of people like Buddha and Gandhi could have serious impact on the items in the pyramid had Moslow considered them. Also, some of his peers say that this should not be a hierarchy since they inter-depend on each other and failing some of them not necessarily impact the rest of them.

In any case, this seems like a great starting point to develop a concrete idea about the things one has in life and feel grateful for and, more importantly, what one still needs and work towards it.


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