Skip Nav
A Letter to the Mother-in-Law and Father-in-Law I'll Never Have
Do NOT Date Before the Divorce Is Finalized Until You Consider These Important Factors
Stop Fooling Yourself, Girl! 3 Signs He's Clearly NOT Into You

Maslow's Pyramid of Needs Rebuilt With Parenting on Top

Maslow's Pyramid of Needs Rebuilt With Parenting on Top

In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow gave birth to his hierarchy of human needs, a pyramid that attempted to explain human motivation. At the bottom of his pyramid sit our most basic needs, like friendship, love, security, and other physical needs. As we satisfy each level, according to Maslow, people move closer to "self-actualization" — reaching your full potential and becoming everything you are capable of. Psychologists at Arizona State University have put together a new and controversial version. They say it's an updated modern version, but it comes off as a throwback by declaring parenting the ultimate goal humans can work toward.

The new pyramid (seen above) claims to include empirical evidence and advancements in neuroscience. It gives most weight to evolutionary considerations: mate acquisition, mate retention, and parenting. Put simply, it suggests humans will have all their needs fulfilled when they find a partner, get married, and raise children that will go on to give them grandchildren. But what about people who don't want that lifestyle? Perhaps separate pyramids reflecting different lifestyles would be the most modern way to go. What would you put at the top of yours?

To see the original pyramid, read more.

Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 6 years
An awful lot of people meet the parenting goal before they're 40, so then what? focus on mate retention? Why?
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 6 years
I agree with Muppets. Maslow's is much more conducive to the human experience, which is varied for everyone. Maslow's placement of self-actualization at the top of the pyramid seems much more inclusive of human experience as a whole. I plan on being a parent one day, too, so I'm not super emotionally-charged by the argument that parenting is the ultimate path to happiness. I just understand that there is variation that occurs with the human experience. Maslow's Pyramid seems more understanding of that. It's also good to be aware that scientific evidence is evolutionary and often changes in favor of other evidence, so don't take everything as ultimate truth! In the future, both of these pyramids might be dismantled and considered archaic.
Helen-Danger Helen-Danger 6 years
Giving back to society should be at the top. The rest is fine, I guess. People who don't have kids, and those whose kids are grown, still have something to look forward to. They can give back to their communities and contribute what they've learned to culture and society. It is a higher need because the contribution is intangible and non-biological.
MuppetsForDinner MuppetsForDinner 6 years
The point of life is reproduction? So if I'm infertile, I should just go ahead and die? My husband and I are trying to have a baby and it's not the simplest thing. The more I learn, the more I realize how common it is for couples these days to face these issues, and this does not even take into account gay couples who cannot have a child without serious red tape in some situations or judgment by others. Maslow's chart is a hierarchy of NEEDS, meaning that once the lower levels are achieved, we will seek for the next level. IMO, his original pyramid worked much better to state the point that whatever your circumstance, you can work toward a higher purpose/goal. By putting self-actualization at the top, he shows that learning and embracing who one is could come through a number of ways (not just parenting). I'm not going to say that I'm *so offended* because I get that this is a message board where you can say what you want, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to call you out for it ;-)
bryseana bryseana 6 years
Pigeonhole 101. .
stephley stephley 6 years
I found the study, the commentaries that were published with it and other discussions of it thanks. I don't think Kenrick and the others would agree that you can fulfill the parenting urges in "different ways". They're pretty clear that by parenting, they mean to children - they include seeing our children to an age and opportunity to become parents themselves.
stephley stephley 6 years
This is Tres Sugar, not a scientific community and "studies" are thrown out here repeatedly with little reference to how scientifically they were constructed or researched. I have been exploring this more today and my original reaction stands - to me, there's something seriously off about this new pyramid. In one of the commentaries that accompanied (I believe) the original publication, the author said this pyramid misses the "human uniqueness that Maslow intended to capture in his theory" - that rings true to me.
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 6 years
SKG, I'd like to address that directly. These new goals relating to mates and parenting already have categories of their own in the original pyramid, ones that are much more open to interpretation. Mate acquisition and retention fall under the need for love and affection. Parenting falls under the need for self-actualization for many, and is not a need at all for many others. So while I don't know the methodology used to create this pyramid, I do know that the new needs relating to mates and parenting are redundant at best, and fall under other categories.
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 6 years
If it isn't broke, don't fix it. :p I think Maslow's original theory is right on. Basic needs come first, then social needs (companionship, love, belonging), and then self-actualization (challenges, learning, accomplishment, realization of potential). For some people, myself included, parenting is part of the path to self-actualization. For those who have no desire to become parents, being forced to do so would distract them from their quest for self-actualization and make it harder for them to fulfill their needs.
Chrstne Chrstne 6 years
To me, this is BS (the "new" pyramind") All of it. This, combined with other things I have seen/experienced/read makes me never want to trust or listen to another grad of ASU. Ya know, parenting could definitely be considered my ultimate goal. However, this is with the stipulation that I lived in happy-flying-unicorn-magical-rainbow-land...which I obviously do not. Since I live in the REAL world and have REAL needs (other than fulfilling some stupid biological urge), I agree with Maslow. Self actualization is what many people strive for their whole lives. There are a vast number of people who don't give two flying f*cks about parenting or being parents, and don't consider parenting (while married) as reaching their "full potential".
weffie weffie 6 years
Mate acquisition & retention sure sound romantic :P
dexaholic dexaholic 6 years
I personally identify with Maslow's original pyramid. Parenting has never been a priority in my life or something I am constantly striving for. I'm not even sure I want to be a parent. As for partner retention? Well, that's not always possible, is it, so if you fail, do you fall all the way down the pyriamid to the bottom?
stephley stephley 6 years
Honestly, I looked up one of the researchers to see if there was anything in any bio that suggested a political or religious affiliation that might explain this pyramid - it seems that skewed to me.
stephley stephley 6 years
I've only read what you have here and the linked article, but it seems to me that the new pyramid misses the whole point of Maslov's and even seems to have an ulterior, social motivation. I don't see how they can argue that parenting then mate retention are our ultimate goals - so many people could care less about parenting, certainly many people are relieved when parenting as a focus of their lives is over. People survive the death of a spouse, divorce or singlehood just fine - if retaining a partner was our second highest goal, wouldn't there be armies of miserable elderly single people? This just doesn't make sense to me, but maybe I have to read more.
Dad's Relationship With Son
Funny Photos of Destructive Kids
Transgender Texas Woman Posts About Bathroom Bill
Parents With Good Parenting Humor
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds