Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
The Hierarchy of Needs is a model that was developed by an American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, in the 1940s and 50s.
It’s normally described as a pyramid, with your most basic, fundamental physical human needs (eg food, drink, sleep, shelter) at the bottom.
Next level up is your need to feel secure and safe, protected from fear.
The level above that is where your emotional needs sit – affection, belonging, and a sense of being valued and important. And when you have the respect of others, you can develop a stronger sense of self-respect and self-esteem.
At the very top of the pyramid is ‘self actualisation‘ – where you become your ideal self, reaching your full potential and engaging with life with spontaneity and creativity.
The basic idea is that if there isn’t a strong foundation built up from the bottom of the pyramid (like you don’t feel safe because your Dad beats you, or you don’t know when you’ll get your next meal, or no-one ever tells you that they love you), then you won’t be able to achieve the higher levels, and you won’t be motivated to try to achieve them.
The stronger the foundation layers of your pyramid, the more you can build on it.
It’s a model that’s often used in child development and in business development – for kids, it demonstrates all the things parents or teachers need to fulfil in order for their kids to grow to their full potential. In business development, the argument goes that if you want your employees (and therefore your business) to reach full potential then you need to fulfil the basic needs – starting with a watercooler and a comfortable workstation, through to job security and feeling valued and celebrated in the workplace.
You can’t be the best you can be (kid or employee) unless your needs are met.
There are two main criticisms:
1. perhaps these needs aren’t actually a hierarchy, but are equally important, or perhaps in a web of connections, rather than a pyramid
2. the model makes sense in very individualist societies (like the States or the UK) but it might not be as relevant in other cultures where your personal achievement isn’t as important as the family’s achievement, or your husband’s achievement, or the collective success of the village.
What do you think? I think the model is quite useful, even though it’s got its problems. It’s also a way of measuring what kind of damage might have occured for a child who hasn’t had a good start in life. Children like Oksana, John and Sujit who are featured in the series.
Language Acquisition The brain has periods of critical development. In the language acquisition period you develop the capacity to analyse speech patterns and learn to decode them. Only then can you start to mimic them, store them and start to use them creatively.
Concepts of Self
Harry Harlow’s experiments on physical comfort and privation