Mouseover nodes in the graph

Maslow's Graph

Another view of Maslow's Pyramid

Maslow first presented a hierarchy of human motivation in a 1943 paper. His idea, that human needs should be looked at as if they were arranged in a hierarchy, is now very common. Invariably, the hierarchy is represented as a pyramid, like so:

(image from Wikipedia)

But if you look at Maslow's original paper, Maslow never uses this pyramid. And if you think about it, the pyramid's not the best way to represent our needs.

For example, if we hold that self-actualization is just always the highest goal, then that implicitly holds that collectivist societies are lesser societies, because in collectivist societies, self-actualization might willingly be sublimated for the greater good. And not everyone needs every one of the needs Maslow listed. For example, it would be silly to say that Gandhi, who was celibate for 40 years, needed sex all that much. If we could see the individual needs in the hierarchy separately, it would be easier to realize this and other things about the hierarchy.

Here's some things I noted:

  • If you click on the Sparser Graph option above, it's far messier, as it should be. There, I took out the connections which I felt were less related to each other, so I think that that graph represents my thinking about my needs better. If you want a probabilistic model, the next step is a Markov net.
  • Notice the central nodes tie everything together, as they well should. Your loved ones tie together all your needs, because you do everything with or for your loved ones
  • You can turn the graph around, so that food is the thing we strive for and creativity is how we get to it. Is that sometimes true? I don't know.