Apparently, Abraham Maslow was right, according to a new study. University of Illinois researchers tested Maslow’s theory and discovered that people actually do feel happier when their basic needs are met. “Anyone who has ever completed a psychology class has heard of Abraham Maslow and his theory of needs,” said professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Illinois, Ed Diener, and lead author of the study. “But the nagging question has always been: Where is the proof? Students learn the theory, but scientific research backing this theory is rarely mentioned.” The researchers used data collected over five years from over 150 countries. The information gathered pertained to positive and negative emotions resulting from various basic needs, including food, shelter, money, safety, respect, social relations, and autonomy.
The study revealed that the happiest people were those who reported feeling fulfilled in most of those areas. But, contrary to Maslow, the sequence in which their “higher” and “lower” needs were met did not influence their sense of satisfaction or joy. The researchers also discovered that those who felt their life was positive did so more when their most basic needs of food, shelter, and money were met. The higher needs, autonomy, respect, and social support, were linked to a feeling of joy. “Thus life satisfaction is not just an individual affair, but depends substantially also on the quality of life of one’s fellow citizens,” Diener said.
“Our findings suggest that Maslow’s theory is largely correct. In cultures all over the world the fulfillment of his proposed needs correlates with happiness,” said Diener. “However, an important departure from Maslow’s theory is that we found that a person can report having good social relationships and self-actualization even if their basic needs and safety needs are not completely fulfilled.” He added, “Another revision of his theory is that we found that different needs produce different types of well-being.”
Yates, D. (2011, June 30). Researchers look around the world for ingredients of happiness. Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/230109.php
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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