New Psychology Blog category

I am starting a new series of posts about psychology topics you’ll find under this category.

As a project manager most of the target objects are humans, therefore It’s a good idea to understand how a human interacts with its environment and how he or she will respond to an input.

I’ll start with the very simple conepts of needs and wants:

Human Behavior Explained by Needs

Needs have been analyzes by many Psychologists, with know most:

Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization.

The first four levels are known as Deficit needs or D-needs. This means that if you do not have enough of one of those four needs, you will have the feeling that you need to get it. But when you do get them, then you feel content. These needs alone are not motivating. (Wikipedia)

In addition, humans are motivated by the desire to achieve or maintain the various conditions upon which these basic satisfactions rest and by certain more intellectual desires.

Transformed to Systems Thinking and assuming psychological hedonism this looks as follows


Simulation result with 15 needs and ‘eagerness’ set as one need per year:Maslow sim


The simple assumption is that ‘fulfilled needs’ = ‘content level’. Therefore after a couple of years you’ll be maximal content = level of ‘self-actualization’ reached.

Obviously this does not model reality. One problem is that the approch does not cover the obstacles that cannot be overcome just by eagerness. Also needs are not static and will adjust as (other) needs are satisfied.

Another general problem with a psychological theory of needs is that conceptions of “need” may vary radically between different cultures or different parts of the same society. One person’s view of need may easily be seen as paternalistic by another.

Artur Manfred Max Neef did research to identify ontological culture independent needs. His critisism about other theory of needs is that they do not distinguish between neeeds and satisfiers (e.g. food is a satisfier to the need of subsistence). He came up with he following non-hierarchical fundamental human needs;

Max Neff's fundamental human needs

Humanistic psychologists like Maslow believe that every person has a strong desire to realize his or her full potential, to reach a level of “self-actualization“. Self-actualizing people tend to focus on problems outside themselves; have a clear sense of what is true and what is false; are spontaneous and creative; and are not bound too strictly by social conventions. Maslow noticed that self-actualized individuals had a better insight of reality, deeply accepted themselves, others and the world, and also had faced many problems and were known to be impulsive people.

See also positive Psychology.

Frederick Herzberg (April 18, 1923 – January 19, 2000) introduced his motivation-hygiene theory or two-factor theory with:

Motivators (e.g. challenging work, recognition, responsibility) that give positive satisfaction, arising from intrinsic conditions of the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, or personal growth, and

Hygiene factors (e.g. status, job security, salary, fringe benefits, work conditions) that do not give positive satisfaction or lead to higher motivation, though dissatisfaction results from their absence. The term “hygiene” is used in the sense that these are maintenance factors. These are extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary…

Human Behavior Explained by Wants

Wants are often distinguished from needs. A need is something that is necessary for survival (such as food and shelter), whereas a want is simply something that a person would like to have.

NB: Needs and Wants together are called Demand.

Psychological egoism is the view that humans are always motivated by self-interest, even in what seem to be acts of altruism.

Human Behavior Explained by Emotions

Many psychologists believe that there are six main types of emotions, also called basic emotions. They are happiness, anger, fear, sadness, disgust, and surprise:

6 basic emotions

In February 2014 a research by Glasgow University has shown: All human behaviour can be reduced to four basic emotions – refer to BBC news:

They said fear and surprise shared the “signal” of wide open eyes, while anger and disgust shared a wrinkled nose. The team from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology claimed these early signals could represent more basic danger signals.

How to Connect with Reality?

Jeffrey Alan Gray (26 May 1934 – 30 April 2004) was a British psychologist.

Gray was opposed to the idea that the brain contains a representation of the external world. He considered that the external world, as described by physics, is nothing like what it appears to be in conscious perception. […] Gray argued that our only direct knowledge of the cow is a brain state. We have no direct knowledge of the cow as it really is, and it is meaningless to say that the cow brain-state is a representation of the real cow. Instead, Gray thought that conscious perceptions should be treated as signals. Signals have no need to resemble the thing about which they communicate. […] The brain was argued to be a ‘comparator system’ that predicts what should happen, and detects departures from that prediction. […]The brain was argued to take account of plans as to what to do next, plus memories of past regularities, in assessing what is likely to be the next stage of a particular process.

Gray’s biopsychological theory of personality:

Gray hypothesized two systems controlling behavioral activity, the behavioural inhibition system (BIS, sensitivity to punishment as well as avoidance motivation) and the behavioural activation system(BAS, sensitivity to reward as well as approach motivation). 



Clare W. Graves (December 21, 1914 – January 3, 1986):

Graves created an epistemological theory that he hoped would reconcile the various approaches to human nature and questions about psychological maturity. […] Graves theorized that in response to the interaction of external conditions with internal neuronal systems, humans develop new bio-psycho-social coping systems to solve existential problems and cope with their worlds. He believed that tangible, emergent, self-assembling dynamic neuronal systems evolved in the human brain in response to evolving existential and social problems.  (Wikipedia:

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3 thoughts on “Psychology

  1. I have a fan of Maslow since I first read him in the 1960s! Since his death, many other psychologists, as well as cognitive and neuroscientists, have built on his work and incorporated systems thinking/complexity concepts into their understanding of the human brain, human thinking, and the positive feedback loops between the individual and the surrounding culture. I summarized some of this work in a paper that you may find relevant. I published it on STW Journal, concentrating on our society’s present polarization:

  2. Those interested in Maslow might find of interest the theory of developmental change that I developed in my dissertation: Public Administration in the Public Interest. It is posted at . See especially Chapter 2 for the representational map of developmental change based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow had talked about applying the hierarchy of needs to a theory of societal reform in his book Eupsychian Management (reprised as Maslow on Management). Please feel free to follow up with me on these matters. My contact information is on the above website.
    Readers may also be interested in the article that Algis Valiunas has written on Maslow and Americans at I hope these references prove both of value and of interest.

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