Maslow 2.0: A New and Improved Recipe for Happiness
What are the ingredients for happiness? A study based on the first-ever globally representative poll on well-being has some answers about whether or not a pioneering theory is actually correct.
The theory in question is psychologist Abraham Maslow's "hierarchy of needs," a staple of Psychology 101 courses. It breaks down the path to happiness in an easy-to-digest list: Earthly needs, such as food and safety, are considered essential, since they act as the groundwork that makes it possible to pursue loftier desires, such as love, respect, and self-actualization (the realization of one's full potential).
To find proof that Maslow's theory translated into real life, Ed Diener, a University of Illinois psychologist and senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, helped design the Gallup World Poll, a landmark survey on well-being with 60,865 participants from 123 countries that was conducted from 2005 to 2010.
Respondents answered questions about six needs that closely resemble those in Maslow's model: basic needs (food, shelter); safety; social needs (love, support); respect; mastery; and autonomy.
As it turns out, the needs that are most linked with everyday satisfaction are interpersonal ones, such as love and respect. Our troubles, conversely, relate most to lack of esteem, lack of freedom, and lack of nourishment.
"Maslow got right that there are universal human needs beyond the physiological needs that everyone recognizes," Diener says. "But it turns out people are inherently social. We are called the social animal now."