Modern Day Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Becky Naylor

· General

At Uni, many years ago, I studied aspects of psychology in relation to the management of human resources in a business. We were taught about the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which was developed by Abraham Maslow back in 1943 as the theory of human motivation. This pyramid can be used not only in a workplace but everyday life as a way to track what makes us happy and motivated, but in modern day there could now be something missing.

At the base of the pyramid are the physiological needs which include the very basics of food, water and sleep which physically keep us alive. Next comes Safety where we bring in the protection and security that we all have as a need, which could be to do with security in employment or safety in a home as part of a family. Next in the pyramid we have Love & Belonging where we have a need for friends, family and loving relationships. This level has expanded out recently I feel to Social networks, where we now all have the sense of Belonging with friends that we have on online social platforms, and being part of online social groups. Online, you may have a sense of belonging with someone you have never met, but built up an online friendship.

Towards the top of the pyramid we have Esteem which is all about self-esteem, confidence and achievement, and then Self-actualisation which covers personal growth and fulfilment when you achieve your full potential.

But in this world of the internet and dependence on being connected, where does the Internet and the ability to be connected fall inline. There are modern day needs that fall outside this 70 year old theory. Often on Twitter or Facebook you’ll see the tongue in cheek status update talking about #firstworldproblems which could be trivial problems like your phone running out of charge. This is really not a major problem, but in this era of connectivity to many this is a major problem and a breakdown of one of their major needs. Maybe there should be a modernised Hierarchy of Needs that addresses the dependence we have in our live on electricity and the internet which allows us to stay connected and in touch, whether that’s for our day to day work life or our home and social life.

I have seen an example of a modern Maslow’s Hierarchy with WiFi being at the bottom of the pyramid as the ultimate need, but if we look at it from a clearer perspective this is what I would suggest is more relevant.

A New Hierarchy of Needs

The recognition of this need by the world’s population can be seen with the recent purchase by Google of Titan Aerospace, which is a solar powered drone maker. You may think this is an odd purchase by the search giant but if they can adapt these drones to act as atmospheric satellites they will be able to bring more internet connectivity to the millions of people in remoter areas. This is not the first purchase of its type as Facebook have also recently bought a UK drone maker, Ascenta so the race for global internet connectivity is on.

On reflection I am still amazed at the speed of change that the internet has brought to businesses and our personal lives, affecting the way we communicate, the way we share endless information about what we are doing, and the way we learn. Look back only five years ago at how different things were (did you even have a Facebook or Twitter account?), or try looking back at what you were doing ten years ago, then look back twenty years when you wouldn’t have even had a mobile phone, unless you were one of the futuristic types with a giant carphone.

So what will the next 5, 10, 20 years bring?

Pyramids Image courtesy of Matt Wan

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