Evolutionary Psychology and Maslow’s Model of Motivation
Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of human needs or motivational model, which says that humans are driven by different needs at different stages of their life, and that there is an upward progression. In his diagram below I have also added on the right-hand side some arrows showing how the levels correspond to our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects.
The model states that we have to meet our basic physiological and safety needs first (food and drink, sleep, sex, somewhere to live). Then comes the emotional needs of love and belonging, and attaining status in society. Next are the mental needs such as creativity and art and other mental pursuits. Finally, the self-actualisation (being “all that one can be“, which may be as a parent or a successful sports-person, or as an artist or a politician, etc.), and transcendence as the highest spiritual goal beyond oneself.
Maslow’s model is widely taught, but it is not without its critics. Some modern reformist psychologists want to remove the spiritual aspects and place sex on top as the main motivational factor in all human endeavours! (I do not agree with this).
I refer back to the human brain model, and propose that the more one uses the prefrontal cortex, the higher one progresses through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We can see the basic physical needs are controlled by the reptilian brain, the emotional needs of the limbic brain, and the higher mental and spiritual needs at the top of the pyramid corresponding to the use of the prefrontal cortex.