Maslow’s Pyramid Gets a Makeover

– I was very gratified to see this article.   It makes a point regarding basic human drives (see Biological Imperatives) that I have thought was central for a long time.

– I expect to see this view of things begin to inform discussions of why human behavior is so maladaptive with regard to our environment.

– At some point, I hope, a perception will grow that we cannot understand our irrational and maladaptive behaviors vis-à-vis our environment until we understand how those behaviors were shaped by evolutionary pressures.

– Then we will begin to see why we believe nearby events are more significant than remote ones; in both space and time.  Why we seek to acquire things long past any conceivable need for them.   And why concrete ideas seem more real to us than abstract ones.

– Within these, as well as other insights from Evolutionary Psychology, lie the seeds of our destruction or of our redemption.

– I suspect that the SETI Search for Extra -Terrestrial Intelligence has found the stars to be so silent because correctly responding to these understandings requires an act of transcendence so profound that most species, having just evolved into their technological adolescences, simply cannot process the insights and their implications before they’ve destroyed themselves by ruining the cradle environment under their feet.

– See this poem for another view of this idea.

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What are the fundamental forces that drive human behavior? A group of evolutionary thinkers offer an answer by revising one of psychology’s most familiar images.

Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs is one of the iconic images of psychology. The simple diagram, first introduced in the 1940s, spells out the underlying motivations that drive our day-to-day behavior and points the way to a more meaningful life. It is elegant, approachable and uplifting.

But is it also out of date?

That’s the argument of a team of evolutionary psychologists led by Douglas Kenrick of Arizona State University. In the latest issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, they propose a revised pyramid, one informed by recent research defining our deep biological drives.

Their new formulation is intellectually stimulating, but emotionally deflating. “Self-actualization,” the noble-sounding top layer of Maslow’s hierarchy, in their model has not only been dethroned, it has been relegated to footnote status. It has been replaced at the top with a more mundane motivation Maslow didn’t even mention: “Parenting.”

The new pyramid is based on the premise that our strongest and most fundamental impulse, which shapes our day-to-day desires on an unconscious level, is to survive long enough to pass our genes to the next generation. According to this school of thought, backed by considerable — though not irrefutable — evidence, all our achievements are linked in one way or another to the urge to reproduce.

In other words, aside from our powerful brains, we’re pretty much like every other living creature.

Given that we humans like to think of ourselves as special, this new pyramid will surely encounter strong resistance. But it could also become a shorthand way to clarify the often-misunderstood concepts of evolutionary psychology, which, its advocates insist, are not as meaning-denying and ego-deflating as we might think.

– More…

– Research thanks to Kael

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