Do Psychologists Still Use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

[♩ INTRO ] Humans are driven by all kinds of wants and
needs. They can be as simple as needing food to keep
your body going, or as complex as wanting to write a symphony. Psychologists are curious about what motivates
us, moment to moment and year to year. And they aim to describe these motivations
in a way that’s useful for things like clinical treatment or, like, managing lots of kids
at summer camp. In 1943, the American psychologist Abraham
Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs in his paper titled A Theory of Human Motivation. But while some of his ideas have stuck around,
others have been left behind. Psychologists nowadays are trying to paint
a more nuanced picture of what makes us tick. Back in the mid 1900s, Maslow set out to create
a comprehensive theory of human motivation, supported by clinical and experimental evidence. Referencing other research, he believed that
our behavior is driven by unmet needs: if your body needs nutrients, you feel hungry,
and you eat. Things like that. And he proposed that we’re motivated by
very basic needs first and most strongly, before worrying about other things. Maslow also recognized that context and culture
affect human behavior, so he wasn’t claiming that these ideas were totally universal. But he wanted to identify things that most
people have in common. What he came up with was a pyramid, which
you’ve probably seen in any Psych 101 class. The most basic needs are at the bottom, and
higher-order needs are at the top. At the base, he put physiological needs — the
stuff you need to survive, like food, water and shelter. From there, they get a little more philosophical. They cover basics like feeling safe, but also
more complex needs like feeling loved, or having self confidence. At the very top, he put self-actualization,
or wanting to fulfill your potential and pursuing things like art or music. And later, Maslow added self-transcendence,
which he defined as aspiring to a higher goal outside oneself — like through altruism,
or spirituality. Now, Maslow’s “evidence” for those top-tier
needs was based off of a qualitative biographical analysis, where he tried to find common qualities
of a short list of people he decided were self-actualized. This included historical figures like Albert
Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and Eleanor Roosevelt, but also a group of unnamed people who were
alive while he was doing this research. And this is obviously a very subjective approach
to research. Plus, when you have a small sample group with
majority of educated white males, it’s hard to say how well these results generalize to…everyone
else. Despite the flaws, Maslow’s ideas have been
widely taught, and have found some use in fields like nursing and education, to help
evaluate how patients and students are doing. And nowadays, other psychologists are trying
to test Maslow’s ideas and develop their own lists of human needs. For example, one psychologist proposed a hierarchy
of three need categories based on Maslow’s ideas and other research: existence, which
are bodily and safety needs, relatedness, which are social things, and growth, which
is like self-actualization. Some studies have people fill out questionnaires
about their lives and well-being. Like from 2005 to 2010, one psychologist worked
with the management company Gallup to send out a poll to countries around the world. In total, they surveyed 60,865 people from
123 countries, and got responses to questions related to the needs in Maslow’s hierarchy,
along with things like general well-being and everyday good and bad feelings. The researcher worked with another psychologist
to analyze the data, and they published a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology in 2011 with their conclusions. While they did find that Maslow’s needs
are generally important to people in many places, the hierarchy is maybe not so much
of a pyramid. It’s more like overlapping circles. Not every need has to be fulfilled before
you can think about the next one, which makes sense. Like, you can be hungry and still have fun
hanging out with friends… And while basic needs like food were a good
predictor of overall life satisfaction, their data suggested that everyday happiness was
more linked with things like respect and social needs. So Maslow was trying to identify some core
human motivations, but his research had some pretty big limitations, too. We can’t exactly predict what we need and
how we act based on that textbook five-tier pyramid. But thankfully, with more comprehensive surveys,
questionnaires, and other research methods, psychologists have better tools to measure
subjective things like human needs, wants, or feelings. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
Psych, and thanks especially to our patrons on Patreon — without you guys, this channel
wouldn’t exist! If you want to support us there and get some
cool perks, you can go to And if you want videos like this, you can
go to and subscribe! [♩OUTRO ]

100 thoughts on “Do Psychologists Still Use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?”

  1. "One psychologist said/tried/thought". Would you mind naming the various psychologists? They somehow sound like "this one weird trick" to me :-p

  2. Neither pyramid nor overlapping circles. But I think it's closer to pyramid. When you are hungry you are f*cking hungry. When you have no money to support family, you just can't think fully about your self-actualisation.

  3. 3:32 "…like, you can be hungry and still have fun hanging out with friends."

    NOPE. My friends better feed me if they don't want to have a bad time ??

  4. So disappointed by this channel's over-empiricism on Psychology. Psychology can not relies so much on scientific data or studies. Subjectivity based on the personal cases is also important. That is impossible to make psychology a completely empirical science. Human experience is also important so does the abstract concepts and theories of Freud, Jung, Fromm and Maslow.

  5. I thought the hunger was basically if you're starving to death, not simple hunger because you haven't eaten in a few hours. So, no, you can't really focus on hanging out with friends if you're starving. Food and/or water will be the only thing on your mind.

  6. OMG, I am doing a science fair project on this! Thanks for making this, especially the resources!!! Did you guys have any other sources that were not posted or any online data bases you guys used? Also my psych teacher uses your videos in class.

  7. I've always wondered if Maslow's hierarchy was elitist in nature. In that if we look at it from a class perspective, the financially weaker sections would be constantly struggling to better their physiological situation before wanting to delve in higher arts like music or sports. Yet isn't that inherently false? We see so many people come from extremely humble backgrounds who have made a name in the world for their talent.

  8. Maslow's ideas seem great for basis of AI development. But instead of themselves needing to feel safe, they'd endeavour to make humans feel safe first, etc.

  9. I personally wouldn't trust Gallup though. I was contacted for one of their surveys a week ago and the questions were very leading. "Are Muslims more or less peaceful than people who follow other religions?" I wanted to say "same", but they only accepted the answers "more" or "less". "Do you trust the media?" I was like 'which media?', but they just wanted their "yes" or "no" answer. If these are your questions, the data you get from them is not going to be reliable, I'm sorry.

  10. Psychology is kind of really subjective about how personality is theorized, Behavioral, Psycho-Analytic, etc. These are made with the biases of whom they theorized. Such as Adler's idea of personality that's about people compensating for their frail body when he himself is a sickly child growing up.

    It's not to say that those theories are wrong, it's just it allows different approaches when something isn't working.

  11. Maslow was such a fecking HWITE MAIL
    "everyday happiness was more linked with respect and social needs"
    clearly never spoke to anyone below the poverty line

  12. Behavioural economists still use it, but have built on it with our changing society and how things can disturb the hierarchy.

  13. Hi there Brit Garner and SciShow pschology! I would like to learn more about Human Motivation. Can you please recommend a book for further study? Thanks a lot.

  14. I think that he meant (and it was taught to me in this way) that a person who is starving – literally starving – will focus on getting food. That will be their primary motivation if all other physical needs are met. it works this way going up the pyramid. The example that you used, a person who is hungry being able to have fun with friends, is disingenuous at best. There is a difference between a person that is starving/ is in need of food and a person who just needs a snickers. As a person who has been homeless, a person who has been in therapy most of her life, and a person with a degree in psychology – I think that you are misapplying Maslow's theory. Every psychiatrist, psychologists, and counselor that I know (including myself) does not apply his theory as liberally as you have. When I was homeless – I worried about getting food, getting water, and getting shelter before I worried about anything else because it was a literal "find this or die" situation. I put myself in dangerous situations to get those needs met. Once I had food, water, and shelter from the elements – then I worried about making sure that I was safe from the other people. It was not until my life was stabilizing that I was able to worry about anything else.

  15. Great video SciShow Psych! Thank you for more fantastic content. This has always been an interesting subject, I enjoyed learning about the new research into human needs, drive, and motivational forces. I especially enjoyed hearing about that 2005-2010 comprehensive study with subjects from 123 countries, I hadn't heard about that study in either my undergraduate or graduate psychology and medical programs. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  16. I always saw Maslow's pyramid in a long-term context. For example, if you're always hungry because you can't afford food or you're living on the street, chances are these things have a bit higher priority than going out with friends or helping the world. The higher you go, the more overlap there seems to be though so it's more like overlapping pyramids forming a bigger one or something

  17. I don't think the top is altruism or self improvement. I think it's boredom. The biological need to occupy the mind. the same thing that gives us tools and science gives us music, gives us art, gives us philosophy, comedy, conspiracy theories, paranoia, existentialism, and depression.

  18. The guy is attempting to generalize all human desires and the criticism is the race of the people he chose to sample? Unless you’re going to same every single human being it’s a fruitless endeavor regardless.

  19. I think Maslow's hierarchy of needs is more like a year to year thing. As you said: you can be hungry while persuing your dreams in the self-actualization state.

    I think when people realise they don't have enough food, and struggle for it throughout the year, that is the point where there is just no time and energy to do self-actualization. Or when you don't have a home, you will first make sure you have a place to stay and sleep, before persuing your goal of making new friends.

    It's a long term prioritization thing

  20. Is it just me, or is "You can be hungry, but still want to hand out with your friends" oversimplification to the point of misrepresentation? Because I think that if you're hungry and still hanging out with you're friends, you're pretty confident that you know where your next meal is coming from, and/or that you can obtain food if the need grows dire enough. I thought Maslow was referring to the security of finding food – like knowing that food was readily available… vs feeling unsure about whether or not food could be obtained at a time of need.

    Or am I way off base here?

  21. You had me interested right up until you said "educated white males" … seriously, let's stop with the identity politics and get back to SCIENCE. And let's not forget those "educated white males" you like to bash lately are the primary reason you have an internet to whine about them on, eh? Call us monsters enough times, eventually we will believe it. Bear that in mind.

  22. Your videos are so good and interesting 8D could you please do one about the effects of cartoon on children whether they are good or not? Because it sounds really interesting with the popularity of shows such Steven universe and rick and morty

  23. 3:32 when taking about basic needs, I don't think he was taking about just snacking to keep satisfied you're of hunger. The type of hunger that sounds to me like he was taking about was about the point where you care about nothing else, you literally care for nobody else and nothing else except to acquire something to eat. You mind doesn't allow you to think about anything else except that. Same concept can be applied to pain.

    There are minor pains that you can just ignore, but real pain has you stick in that moment. You don't think about philosophy, , you don't think about how others think, you don't sympathize or empathize, you don't think about food unless the pain comes from hunger. This pain is your focus

  24. And what is the current views (frameworks) on motivation?
    So, Maslow was subjective, research was poorly conducted. Ok. What are the alternatives?
    It is not a rhetorical question. I am just interested in getting to know this topic in a practical way.

  25. It's funny how existence is put seperately from relationships. I think a human couldn't survive without other people in the past, so it must be hard wired into us that this is needed for survival. Imagine a human without a society, it's certain death. But you could live without other kinds of relationships like love. Or without growth.

  26. Reading tip: He has big issues, but for an example of education in settings of great needs, take a look at what Makarenko (during russian revolutionary times) did with war orphans. He had to deal a lot with survival and danger, but at the same time he allways worked with social structures, status, hierarchies, education and so on.

  27. I think this pyramid more involves social class and resources. Like if ur homeless your main priority would be the safety,food,shelter. While lower class people would want relationships with other but may not have money to fund personal growth. And rich people have met all their basic needs are at the top of the pyramid and pay for something like a gym membership or violin lessons for self growth.

  28. I use Marlow's Hierarchy of Needs all the time, it helps me understand how the real world works, analyze history and other people’s personal experiences. I found out that you don't eat ANYTHING, your body eats you.
    I suggest you watch some Lifenoggin, CRASHCOURSE and TED-ED videos like:
    Why do we starve to death?
    The paradox of value – Akshita Agarwal – could a water bottle be more valuable than a diamond?
    What would happen if you didn't drink water?
    The surprising cause of stomach ulcers
    What is love?
    CRASHCOURSE psychology motivation
    How do vitamins work?
    And more…

  29. It kinda assumes that people with chronic illnesses can't work on self-actualization. It seems like a lot people with terminal cancer spends as much as possible time and energy on self-actualisation projects and nurturing their closest relationships. Of course, that's not true for everybody but neither is maslow's pyramid.

  30. In the original paper, MASLOW himself stated that the order of the hierarchy it self are not rigid. As I could remember he never even talk about a pyramid, but a HIERARCHY.

    Also physiological needs does not mean "you can not be hungry and have fun with friends" The idea is that you need few things to fullfill basic physiological needs to be alive such as water, oxygen etc. Then moving on other needs.

  31. Perhaps it applies more so towards the extremes. Through extreme circumstances, you would much rather prioritize hunger over safety; and this is where I’d say the pyramid seconds as a representation of the history of mankind; to the point where (in the majority of the advanced/western world anyway) food is not a constant thought in our head, and isn’t seen as a priority. Right now I’d say our place lies in finding love and belonging. It is something still being worked on by many people I’d venture to say.

  32. This is one of my favourite psychological concepts of all time. It gives us context. Whenever I see, hear, or read about people judging others' problems by making the argument, "They shouldn't be so caught up in themselves, their problem isn't real or is silly, look at the "real" problems of those in less fortunate cities or countries" I do get a bit ticked off, or disappointed in those types of responses. Yes, perspective perhaps can help deal us with our own problems, and in a perfect world should ideally focus our behaviours towards helping those who are less fortunate (those dealing with problems further down on the pyramid). Yet, we are not in an ideal world, and so when people say this, they don't see the big picture. If someone's main issue they are focusing on is say, being accepted by others, or self-acceptance, who are we to judge their problems simply based on the problems of others, when their circumstances in their time and place have allowed them the opportunity to do so? Should we not celebrate that at least in some space and time the achievements of humanity have actually allowed someone the privilege to do this, to satisfy all other needs, despite everything? We shouldn't judge them based on the problems of others, but rather UNDERSTAND them in context of the hierarchy of needs. Yes, it would be lovely for them to help others who have problems closer to the bottom of the pyramid now that they have achieved such a feat as self-actualization or acceptance and love, but you can't force someone to do something just because it's the right thing to do. People are people. And all problems ARE REAL, they're just on a different level of the pyramid.

  33. Better model: no needs are inherent; they only exist to help fulfill desires. For example, need for food, water, shelter, etc, only exist when there is a desire to live.

  34. Perhaps I haven't dug deep enough, but no comment on how Maslow appropriated many of his ideas from the Lakota (maybe I'm mixing up the tribe) psychology and philosophy? They discuss a similar hierarchy of needs, but for consideration of the self as a generational entity; 7 generations past and 7 generations in the future.

  35. You're misunderstanding an important aspect of Maslow's Hierarchy in this video: he never intended those needs to be fixed in a particular order. If you read Maslow's work rather than a psyc 101 textbook that just copied the diagram without understanding the contex, you'll see that his theory was that our needs would fit into a hierarchy under these headings, but the order would vary for everyone, dependant on the person's value and circumstances. The idea of changing the diagram to a different model isn't a new concept in psychology, just a new concept of the graphic.

  36. I don't get why you had to point out that the research is subjective, all qualitative research is subjective. And you said it in a way that may lead people to distance themselves from qualitative research; even though qualitative research is like the back bone/basis of the objective quantitative research.

  37. I wad agreeing with you up to 3:34. Seriously? “You can be hungry but still have fun hanging out with your friends.” Have YOU ever been hungry? I mean REALLY hungry? The kind of hungry that Maslow is referring to in his theory? Because in his theory, he doesn’t mean that you skipped lunch and can’t wait until dinner. He means the kind of hungry in which you haven’t eaten for days and you don’t know where your next meal will come from. So in that case, would you really be able to hang out and have fun? Of course not!

  38. You didn’t answer your own question. Do psychologists still use his theory? I’m betting that they do because no one has come up with anything better. The psychologists you are referring to, with their studies and whatnot, seem to be merely adapting or modifying it to allow the stages to overlap.

  39. I do think that there is some sort of foundation of needs that are necessary to achieve success. Or to meet your full potential. Basic needs such as health, food, and shelter are vital to achieve peak performance. Possibly after that would be social support and last would be paths of opportunity. The last part meaning that the goal has to be in some way obtainable. For example someone born in Australia regardless of their effort and skill could never have the opportunity to be President of the US. This in no way is a pyramid of motivation. More like a staircase to success.

  40. Whilst I think it is prudent to question Maslows original conclusions and test them again, One has to be clear about what the needs are and how they are defined. Yes, it is possible to be hungry and still enjoy hanging out with friends… but the question then needs to define the level of hunger. If One is starving, having been without food for a number of days I think an offer to go watch the latest flick will only work if food is involved. Being slightly peckish, or having missed one or two meals probably shouldn't count.

  41. The line "You can be hungry and still have fun hanging out with your friends" is something of a cheap shot. Being hungry because you skipped lunch doesn't mean your dietary needs aren't being met. Everyone in the developed world has enough reserves on them to skip a meal or two without harm to their body. Maslow was referring to SERIOUS need. If you're literally starving, as in, your body is digesting itself because it needs calories for your brain, you are not going to go have fun with your friends. You are going to do everything in your power to get food. Of course, the first basic need is Oxygen. That should be the base of the pyramid. Nobody lasts more than a few minutes without it! ;]

  42. The SciShow Psych format is asking an interesting question and taking a whole video to tell you that there isn't a clear answer.

  43. I don't think being hungry and hanging out with friends is a good example. The reason why most of us can have fun hanging out while being a little hungry is because we know that we can get food anytime. Food comes very easily at anytime for the most of us. Now, if we were starving and knew that there is no food available anytime soon, I don't think hanging out with friends will be as fun anymore.

  44. I use it to help educate my clients who are all “criminal offenders.” Start with understanding drives behind past behaviors in order to start figuring out new behaviors that will actually lead to lives consistent with one’s ultimate values/wants (self-actualization).

  45. At the top of the pyramid is caring exactly how much foam is on your double espresso latte and how new your phone is.

  46. The hierarchy of needs trivializes emotional needs. A homeless person and a millionaire may both kill themselves out of loneliness.

  47. to clear up something you said in the video, Maslow actually said people do not need to fulfill each need to 100% like what is claimed in the video, he wen ton to clarify exactly what you took issue with and said needs on a tier were fulfilled to a point that a person was content with, not when it was 100% fulfilled

  48. While I think the pyramid is inaccurate, I feel like bringing up the fact that is was done by well educated white males is relevant(stated in video). You can have a room of 12 blond haired blue eyed white men and their varying life experiences could bring a lot to a table.

  49. So love and feeling needed comes before confidence? That makes sense? Also what does being a white male have to do with anything?

  50. White males aren't that different from other humans fundamentally. A brain is a brain, and culture has ultimately very little influence.

  51. Why is her main descriptor "white males"? So those guys had no other similar qualities besides skin color and sex?

  52. They mentioned white males. So if a right winger mentions ethnic link with intelligence there evil but if its a white male there is no qualms. She a WHITE female

  53. You have to love how what could have been a great video was ruined when she has the need to state the comment of, "a small sample of educated white males" as it shows the endemic bias that plagues social psychology these days. The comment is not provided in context for the time along with other factors.

  54. People should read Maslow's actual books (Toward a Psychology of Being is the main work, and there are others), not the Psych 101 "summary". The hierarchy of needs was just one component of his approach, and he was always very clear about those needs not being strictly a pyramid as the textbooks misrepresent it.

  55. Maslow did not think that "every need had to be fulfilled before you think about the next one" as you say. His pyramid was more nuanced than that. He believed that each Need is at a certain percentage of satisfaction at any given point. "If need A is satisfied only 10% , then need B may not be visible at all. However, as this need A becomes satisfied 25 percent need B may emerge 5 percent, as need A becomes satisfied 75 percent need B may emerge 50 percent, and so on." – from his book "Motivation and Personality" So it seems that his hierarchy of needs actually was a combination of a pyramid and overlapping circles…

  56. 3:33 ~ That’s a VERY POOR and ridiculous interpretation of Survival and Social needs! It’s NOT that you are hungry but can still enjoy hanging out with friends. It’s more like: A person wouldn’t be concerned with having friends when he is literally starving.

    While I agree that the sections should be over lapping, it should not be circles. The triangle is ideal to illustrate that many more people are able to satisfy their needs of hunger and shelter (represented by the large base at the bottom of the triangle) than they are able to become self actualized (represented by a smaller section of the pyramid at the top. I do think, though, that the levels of the pyramid should be blended to indicate that a person can be at the top of one level and also at the bottom of the next level to indicate that the person is transitioning from one level to the next.

    And, what “better” tools do Psychologists have? They might have more tools, but they don’t have any one tool that is better. Besides, no one ever suggested that Maslow’s should be done exclusively.

  57. Is not the research of Diener infected by a confirmation bias? I mean, he suposed the Maslow's hypothesis of what counts like a human need. And if Maslow's does not figured out something that the pure data could reveal, another need instead those five Malsow gived to us? It is not absurd to imagine that, like the girl in the video said, a sample that cover only a white male group could omit a important need that could really exist and be showed up by an analysis of the data itself, without use of the malsow's concepts.

  58. Maslow studied more than 1,000 people to come up with his hierarchy of needs. There is a pattern in all humans. That all humans are motivated to look for food when starving or that they need to defecate before continuing a good conversation. The needs are appropriately staged.

  59. What sticks out from this video: white males are not human. Also, Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein are white, christian males.

  60. White males you say… Why did you have to ruin a good video with stereotypical garbage? Sigh… it was going so well

  61. Needing food, safety, happiness is… a subjective concept? 😛

    And the overlapping model doesn't make much sense to me, I'd personally stick with the pyramid but I would actually invert it. As in, at the bottom there would be the basic feeding need then safety but each level would be smaller than the ones above. This model would show that while necessary (if a level isn't sufficiently or at all fulfilled, the pyramid would crumble), the lower levels are, at the same time, less "important" than the ones above, and the aim of existence, what would work the most towards a "happiness" state, would be the highest levels, the most "fulfilling".
    This would work in the sense that few people are truly happy, especially "rich" people, because only the first 2-3 levels would be fulfilled…

    No idea if I make sense, blah, whatever, I'm out! 😀

  62. There is a misunderstanding about the need for food. It’s not just being hungry. Human’s hunger needs are meet in most countries and to see what the pyramid is you have to look at those who are starving and don’t know where their food will come from tomorrow. Yemen is currently a good model.

  63. I'm late to the party, but I'm commenting anyway! When you suggest that because his sample of people that he used for evidence of the top two tiers of the pyramid are comprised of mostly white people, you are inadvertently suggesting that the colour of your skin correlates with certain aspects of human psychology… I didn't realise this channel was pro-alt-right. Last I heard there was no such evidence of that, and if there is now it better be pretty damn convincing.

  64. It never really made sense to me that "esteem" came after "love and belonging" since you kind of need to have self-esteem in order to have good relationships.

  65. In Maslow's own words:

    We have spoken so far as if this hierarchy were a fixed order but actually it is not nearly as rigid as we may have implied. It is true that most of the people with whom we have worked have seemed to have these basic needs in about the order that has been indicated. However, there have been a number of exceptions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *