In 1943, the famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow, published an article in the journal Psychological Review entitled “A Theory Of Motivation”. In this article Maslowe laid out a “Hierarchy of Needs” pyramid. Basically, Maslowe pointed out that human motivation is based on first fulfilling some basic needs and then progressing to other needs.
At the bottom of the pyramid first and foremost are “physiological” needs: food, water, sleep, sex etc. Then comes safety: personal security, emotional, financial. This is followed by social belongings: family, friends and intimacy. The fourth level is self-esteem and the last is self-actualization.
Let’s look at our weight control efforts and see where that intertwines with Maslowe’s “Hierarchy of Need”. First, there is not doubt that food and nourishments are physiological in nature. We need food to survive. However, does that food necessarily mean Serotonin-Plus dietary plan disruptive choices or could that involve healthy choices compatible with our plan? Pretty much all of the other levels of needs (safety, social belongings, self-esteem and self-actualization) are made MUCH more attainable when we are at healthier weights.
So, it appears that if our behaviors are indeed governed by Maslowe’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, AND so much of these needs are aided by effective weight control, then why is 70% of our country overweight/obese? Does this mean that Maslowe’s theory is full of s—t?
Here is Posner’s theory of behaviors: We, meaning human beings, are subject to “human nature” (i.e. sometimes instinctual” and seeking immediate gratification is a strong human nature factor. High carb foods, snacks and alcohol tend to provide an immediate gratification that often is sought after to address a stress, pain or otherwise negative sensation.
For successful long-term weight control, we do need to flip Maslowe’s chart upside down and focus on what effective weight control brings us: lots of self-actualization, self-esteem, heightened social belonging and safety.
For Posner’s theory about the impact of immediate gratification: Find ways to find a delay mechanism to have the intellectual (as opposed to instinctual) part of the brain to assess that a stress eating of carbs/downing alcohol truly does not help the stressful situation and only adds more stress because of the negative impact on weight.
Okay, Psych 101 finished for the day!