To Maslow or Not to Maslow

Like everything to do with academia, there are supporters of theories and there are detractors. I like to listen to the supporters. What I have found in my 30 years of academic studies is that the main drive of detractors is to disprove a theory. Not for academic purposes mind you, they do it so that they can say 'look at me, look at how I found that this was wrong". Conspiracy theorists.

Maslow’s theory of our hierarchy of needs is one such theory that comes and goes. People either like it or rubbish it. Why do some dislike it, because his theory was based on observation and not on research? Sorry, isn't observation a type of research?

Maslow proposed that we have a hierarchy of needs in the shape of a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid (the widest part therefore the most important) is our physiological needs; air, water, food, shelter, sleep. That makes sense. I would add to that these days - money. Most of us need money for food and shelter.

The next layer on the pyramid is safety; family, health, employment, etc. Again it makes sense to me. The third level of the pyramid is belonging; socialisation, family, community, friendship. We need to feel loved, to feel wanted, to be listened to and heard. By the way, so much of this layer is missing these days because of urban sprawl and electronic communication. We don't talk enough! I digress.

Then Maslow suggests that our next need is esteem; self-confidence, achievement, the respect of others. This is the 'look at me' stuff that I was talking about earlier, the detractors. I bet the detractors wouldn't spend as much time as a detractor if they didn't have a home, food, or a job.

Lastly is self-actualization; problem solving, accepting of facts, lack of prejudice, getting ahead if life. Isn't this the last thing on most of our minds? We just want to have nice things, live a good life, and look after our health and wellbeing. 

So, what do you think? Where do you sit on this? Doesn't this pyramid make common sense to you? Didn't it 'feel' right when you read it? Is there some other way of arranging the pyramid? For me, it makes sense and Maslow’s theory is still relevant today.