Renovating the pyramid of needs: Contemporary extensions built upon ancient foundations

Douglas Kenrick, Vladas Griskevicius, Steven Neuberg, Mark Schaller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

743 Scopus citations


Maslow's pyramid of human needs, proposed in 1943, has been one of the most cognitively contagious ideas in the behavioral sciences. Anticipating later evolutionary views of human motivation and cognition, Maslow viewed human motives as based in innate and universal predispositions. We revisit the idea of a motivational hierarchy in light of theoretical developments at the interface of evolutionary biology, anthropology, and psychology. After considering motives at three different levels of analysis, we argue that the basic foundational structure of the pyramid is worth preserving, but that it should be buttressed with a few architectural extensions. By adding a contemporary design feature, connections between fundamental motives and immediate situational threats and opportunities should be highlighted. By incorporating a classical element, these connections can be strengthened by anchoring the hierarchy of human motives more firmly in the bedrock of modern evolutionary theory. We propose a renovated hierarchy of fundamental motives that serves as both an integrative framework and a generative foundation for future empirical research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-314
Number of pages23
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Development
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Humanistic psychology
  • Life-history theory
  • Motivation
  • Positive psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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