Research Myth 2: Maslow’s Hierarchy

John DabellI trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project… Read more about John DabellHave you fallen for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?The educational world is crammed with monstrous myths and legends that hoodwink teachers and schools into thinking they are credible when in reality they have little or zero evidence to support them.Here is one such offering.Apart from the % Learning Pyramid and the ones in Giza, one of the most famous pyramids of all time is Maslow’s pyramid showing a hierarchy of needs even though Abraham Maslow himself didn’t actually frame it as a pyramid. He also added two more layers to the hierarchy (‘knowing and understanding’ and ‘aesthetics’) even though people mostly refer to a five layered pyramid.While Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and the research methods he used to derive his conclusions were flawed, the pyramid is still frequently used and referred to in educational circles and beyond.In 1962 Maslow described how surprised he was that people “swallowed it whole” and that at the time nobody repeated his motivation theory, “tested it, or really analysed it or criticised it.”Maslow’s non-existent pyramid was eventually tested after his death and researchers found that the hierarchy of needs makes intuitive sense but is completely wrong because “the actual structure of motivation doesn’t fit the theory.”So, why do we still refer to a flawed model of human needs and motivations?Maslow himself offered no empirical evidence for his theory and the absence of solid evidence has tarnished his status.Verdict:Let us know what you think – have you fallen for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?Read 12 Educational Research Myths in full here.Related

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