Nick Naumof has debunked Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in his article Why Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is Dead Wrong.
Although Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is popular and makes intuitive sense, it is nonetheless a flawed model of human needs and motivations. Abraham Maslow viewed people through rather idealistic lenses and not as we actually are.
We are not creatures designed by a Grand Designer with the aim of fitting idealistic models of humanity.
We are creatures shaped by evolution to survive and reproduce, thus perpetuating our species.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs fails at being a comprehensive framework of human needs and motivations because it ignores the mechanisms behind covering the basic needs.
It fails at acknowledging the fact that what it calls superior needs are, in fact, natural ways of satisfying basic needs.
Human needs, motivations, behaviors and overall psychology are a lot messier than the Hierarchy of Human Needs suggests.
Source: Nick Naumof
We have spoken so far as if this hierarchy were a fixed order, but actually it is not nearly so rigid as we may have implied. It is true that most of the people with whom we have worked have seemed to have these basic needs in about the order that has been indicated. However, there have been a number of exceptions.
Abraham Maslow, Motivation and Personality (1970), p. 51.
In their extensive review of research based on Maslow’s theory, Wahba and Bridwell¹ found little evidence for the ranking of needs that Maslow described or for the existence of a definite hierarchy at all.
The order in which the hierarchy is arranged has been criticized as being ethnocentric by Geert Hofstede. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs fails to illustrate and expand upon the difference between the social and intellectual needs of those raised in individualistic societies and those raised in collectivist societies. The needs and drives of those in individualistic societies tend to be more self-centered than those in collectivist societies, focusing on improvement of the self, with self-actualization being the apex of self-improvement. In collectivist societies, the needs of acceptance and community will outweigh the needs for freedom and individuality.
¹ Wahba, M. A.; Bridwell, L. G. (1976). Maslow reconsidered: A review of research on the need hierarchy theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance. 15 (2): 212–240
Why Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is Dead Wrong, by Nick Naumof
Wikipedia—Abraham Maslow (includes critique)