Tag Archives: Abraham Maslow

Poorest Canadians Spend More Than Half of Income on Food & Shelter

Just over a week ago, I saw this photo retweeted by Gerald Butts, who happens to be a senior advisor to Justin Trudeau (the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada). As I’ve spent most of my adult life in the US, I’m used to hearing and writing (here, here, and here) about some of the sobering statistics in that country (approximately 50 million American live in poverty — right now!) As a result, I thought it’d be enlightening to take a closer look at some of the inequalities in Canada. This graph seemed like a good place to start.

For instance, I had no idea just how large the disparity was between the richest 20% and poorest 20%, with regard to food and shelter. Looking at the numbers, we can see that the poorest 20% spend approximately 56% (!) of their income on food and shelter. Fifty-six percent! While the richest 20% spend just 32%. I chose these categories because of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Food and shelter are some of the most basic needs we have and if the poorest 20% has to spend so much of their income on — essentially — surviving, it’s going to make it that much harder to “climb the economic ladder.” Of course, some might say it’s misleading to look at the numbers in aggregate like this.

With that being said, this holiday season, I hope you’ll remember this graph when you’re out at holiday parties and issues of politics and/or charities arise. It may add an important layer of perspective to the conversation.

Belongingness & Transcendence: Transcendence and Belongingness, Part 3

In the first post in this series, we explored Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In the second post, we looked at belongingness, transpersonal psychology, and transpersonal experiences. In this — the last — post, we’ll tie everything together in a section on belongingness & transcendence, followed by the conclusion.


Belongingness and Transcendence

In this section, we will explore some of the experiences of transcendence that relate specifically to belongingness. We will do this by reviewing a series of examples of transcendence. In the first example, Maslow (1968) refers to transcendence as transcending the ego or the self. Specifically, Maslow (1968) stated “The phrase ‘being in harmony with nature’ implies this ability to yield, to be receptive to, or respond to, to live with extra-psychic reality as if one belonged with it, or were in harmony with it” (p. 58). Meaning, if one transcended one’s ego, one would not only feel a sense of belongingness with the people around one’s self, but one would also feel a sense of belongingness with nature. In this example, we can see how there is a transpersonal element within belongingness.

In another example of transcendence, Maslow (1968) refers to love being a kind of transcendence. Specifically, this refers to love for one’s child or for one’s friend (Maslow, 1968). According to Maslow (1968), “This can also be expressed intrapsychically, phenomenologically, as experiencing one’s self to be one of the band of brothers, to belong to the human species” (p. 59). Meaning, when one experiences a state of transcendence by way of loving one’s child or one’s friend, there is possibility that they are experiencing a state of belongingness with all of humanity. This state of belongingness is possible by one’s state of transcendence. Just as in the first example, this example also shows us how belongingness has a transpersonal element to it.

In an additional example of transcendence, Maslow (1968) refers to a “special phenomenological state in which the person somehow perceives the whole cosmos or at least the unity and integration of it and of everything in it, including his Self” (pp. 63-64). In this example, not only does the person feel connected to all human species, but to the whole of the universe. “He then feels as if he belongs by right in the cosmos” (Maslow, 1968, p. 64). This is an example of transcendence leading to a sense of belongingness. The belongingness feeling is attained once the person has transcended. This is another example showing us transpersonal elements within belongingness.

In the next example of transcendence, Maslow (1968) refers to one transcending “individual difference in a very specific sense” (p. 64). Maslow (1968) stated that “the highest attitude to have toward individual differences is to be aware of them, to accept them, but also to enjoy them and finally to be profoundly grateful for them” (p. 64). This is, yet another way of attaining a sense of belongingness through transcendence. According to Maslow (1968), “Rising above them [individual differences] in the recognition of the essential commonness and mutual belongingness and identification with all kinds of people in ultimate humanness or species-hood” (p. 64). This illustrates another potential way of attaining belongingness by transcending individual differences.

In this section, we have seen that there are transpersonal elements to belongingness. Specifically, we have seen that there is an aspect of transcendence to belongingness. We have seen examples of how transcendence is present in belongingness by way of four separate examples. In the first example, we saw that one could transcend one’s ego or self to attain a feeling of being one with nature and feel a sense of belongingness with everything. In the second example, we saw that one could transcend by way of loving one’s child or one’s friend and in turn, feeling a sense of belongingness with all of humanity. In the third example, we saw that one could transcend to the point that one attains a feeling of oneness with the cosmos or the universe and in turn, feels a sense of belongingness with the whole of the universe. In the fourth example, we saw that one could transcend the individual differences between people to feel a sense of belongingness with all kinds of people.


In this paper, there was a brief description of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There was an explanation of each of the needs of the hierarchy: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. There was an expanded description of one of the components within love needs – belongingness. There was a brief explanation of transpersonal psychology followed by a description of a transpersonal experience, specifically, transcendence. There were then connections made between transcendence and belongingness to illustrate that there are transpersonal elements to belongingness. This was demonstrated by using examples of transcendence and belongingness.



Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation, Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529.

Hartelius, G., Caplan, M., & Rardin, M. A. (2007). Transpersonal psychology: Defining the past, diving the future. The Humanistic Psychologist, 35(2), 1-26.

Hastings, A. (1999). Transpersonal psychology: The fourth force. In D. Moss (Ed.), Humanistic and transpersonal psychology: A historical and biographical sourcebook (pp. 192-208). Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.

Maslow, A. H. (1969). Various meanings of transcendence. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1(1), 56-66.


If you liked this paper/series, you might want to check out some of the other papers/series I’ve posted.


Belongingness, Transpersonal Psychology, and Transpersonal Experiences: Transcendence and Belongingness, Part 2

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the first section of this paper: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. In today’s post, we’ll look at the three sections that followed: belongingness, transpersonal psychology, and transpersonal experiences.



According to Baumeister and Leary (1995), “A need to belong, that is, a need to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of interpersonal relationships, is innately prepared (and hence nearly universal) among human beings” (p. 499). Meaning, humans have a desire to be in relationships with other humans similar to how we learned from Maslow. Baumeister and Leary (1995) separated belongingness into two features: interactions with people and a perception that the relationship will continue in the future. In the first feature, interactions with people, Baumeister and Leary (1995) specify that these interactions have a positive affect, but more importantly, the interactions need to be free of negative affect or conflict. Affect is in reference to the experience of the interaction. In the second feature, humans must have a perception that the relationship will continue in the future and that the relationship have affective concern and stability (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). It is very important there be a context by which the humans can have when interacting with others. This is important because a human’s interactions with a stranger are markedly different from the interaction with someone that they perceived to have a relationship with (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). According to Baumeister and Leary (1995), “To satisfy the need to belong, the person must believe that the other cares about his or her welfare and likes (or loves) him or her” (p. 500). Baumeister and Leary (1995) continued by saying that it would be ideal if this interaction would be reciprocating in that both parties care about one another. In sum, belongingness is a need that is classified by one’s need for social contact and intimate relationships (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). In this section, we have gained a greater understanding of belongingness. In the next section, we will explore transpersonal psychology.

Transpersonal Psychology

According to Hartelius, Caplan, and Rardin (2007), there are three main themes that make up a comprehensive definition of transpersonal psychology: “An approach to psychology that 1. studies phenomena beyond the ego as context for 2. an integrative/holistic psychology; this provides a framework for 3. understanding and cultivating human transformation” (p. 11). Beyond the ego refers to states where the person is experiencing from a state that is no longer absorbed in their ego. Meaning, the person is experiencing a state that is “outside of ‘ordinary’ state of mind” (Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin, 2007, p. 9). Integrative/holistic psychology is a way of incorporating the whole person into psychology. Holistic psychology is made possible to be a specific field within psychology as standard psychology has focused mainly on the ego and its pathologies (Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin, 2007). Human transformation is the process a human undergoes when it is changing, usually in a positive way. To define transpersonal psychology more succinctly, Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin (2007) said “transpersonal psychology studies human transcendence, wholeness, and transformation” (p. 11). In this section, we have gained a greater understanding of transpersonal psychology. In the next section, we will look at transpersonal experiences and more specifically, transcendence.

Transpersonal Experiences

In the last section, we said that transpersonal psychology has three main themes: beyond-ego psychology, integrative/holistic psychology, and transformational psychology (Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin, 2007). In this section, we will look at some of the experiences that go along with these themes. According to Hastings (1999), “Transpersonal psychologists have recognized that certain experiences of mystics, meditators, and religious devotees have transpersonal qualities – that is, they bring the self into a state that transcends individual ego boundaries” p. 198). In other words, one possible transpersonal experience could be transcendence. However, Hastings (1999) noted “There is no one typical experience, and there may be images, ESP, voices, forms, nonforms, visions, and physical effects as part of the encounter” (p. 198). While there are ranges of possibilities for transpersonal experiences, we are going to focus specifically on transcendence.

Maslow (1968) wrote of thirty-five varieties of transcendence. According to Maslow (1968), “transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness” (p. 66). It has been stated that transcendence is one of the elements of transpersonal psychology, so it is fair to say that transcendence is a transpersonal experience. As there are many varieties of transcendence, in the next section we will look at experiences of transcendence in the context of belongingness.


Check back tomorrow for the last section of the paper: belongingness and transcendence, followed by the conclusion.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Transcendence and Belongingness, Part 1

It’s time, once again, to dig into the archives. This is a paper I wrote for one of the first classes I took at Sofia University: Proseminar in Transpersonal and Spiritual Psychology. It took me some time to pick a topic, as there was so much that interested me in the first quarter of graduate school. I eventually settled on making a connection between Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (more specifically, belongingness) and elements of transpersonal psychology. Enjoy!


This paper will give a brief summary of Abraham Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs,’ with a focus on ‘love needs’ – more explicitly – belongingness. There will also be a brief summary of transpersonal psychology. In particular, there will be a description of a transpersonal experience, namely, transcendence. Lastly, there will be connections made showing there are transpersonal elements to belongingness. Specifically, in some variations of transcendence, one feels a sense of belongingness. To begin, we will explore Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Hierarchy of Needs

Before we can understand Maslow’s description of ‘love needs,’ it is important to understand how the ‘love needs’ fit into the bigger picture of needs. According to Maslow (1943), “Human needs arrange themselves in hierarchies of prepotency” (p. 370). The order that Maslow theorized an arrangement of needs was as follows: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization (1943). To start with, we will deepen our understanding of physiological needs.

Physiological needs. According to Maslow (1943), “Physiological needs are the most prepotent of all needs” (p. 373). Meaning, physiological needs are the most basic of all human needs and take precedence over any of the other needs. The physiological needs consist of homeostasis, hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex (Maslow, 1943). Homeostasis is an overarching term that encompasses the four other terms and it means that the human reaches a state of equilibrium or balance. The four other components of physiological needs are all basic needs of a human being to survive. A human must eat and drink in order to survive, just as the human must sleep and reproduce by way of sex to survive. We have a basic understanding of the physiological needs, so we will now deepen our understanding of safety needs.

Safety needs. According to Maslow (1943), “If the physiological needs are relatively well gratified, there then emerges a new set of needs, which we may categorize roughly as the safety needs” (p. 376). Meaning, the physiological needs are the fundamental needs of a human and once those needs are satisfied, the next set of needs is most important – safety needs. The best way to characterize the safety needs is “[the human] seems to want a predictable, orderly world” (Maslow, 1943, p. 377). This predictable and orderly world is part of all aspects of the human’s life. The safety needs consist of security of employment, security of their person including their physical body and health, security of fairness, and security of shelter (Maslow, 1943). Security of employment is in reference to one’s job or vocation. Security of one’s person includes their physical body and health, which refers to one being healthy and not being in any danger from predators. Security of fairness refers to an orderly and predictable world. Security of shelter is a way of keeping one’s person safe and healthy. We have a basic understanding of physiological needs and safety needs, so we will now deepen our understanding of love needs.

Love needs. According to Maslow (1943), “If both physiological and the safety needs are fairly well gratified, then there will emerge the love and affection and belongingness needs” (p. 380). As we learned earlier, the needs occur in a systematic way such that the primary needs are met before the human seeks other needs. The love needs consist of a desire for friends, a desire for a husband or wife, and a desire for children (Maslow, 1943). It is important to note that the word love is not synonymous with sex, as sexual needs seem to be more apparent in physiological needs (Maslow, 1943). As stated by Maslow (1943), “The love needs involve both giving and receiving love” (p. 381). At this stage of one’s needs, they have a desire to give and receive love to their friends and family, if they have family. It is important that the human form social bonds or relationships with friends in order for it to be possible for them to fulfill the love needs. We have an understanding of physiological needs, safety needs, and love needs, so we will now deepen our understanding of esteem needs.

Esteem needs. According to Maslow (1943), “All people in our society . . . have a need or desire for a stable . . . high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others” (p. 381). Maslow differentiates the esteem needs into two categories: achievement and reputation (1943). Within the achievement category, the human strives for achievement by doing and accomplishing objectives. Within the reputation category, the human strives for reputation by gaining the respect and esteem of other people. Both of these categories are part of the human’s desire for self-esteem, self-respect, and respect by others, which make up the esteem needs (Maslow, 1943). If the person is able to achieve and gain a reasonable reputation, then they will be able to attain their esteem needs. We have an understanding of physiological needs, safety needs, love needs, and esteem needs, so now we will deepen our understanding of self-actualization needs.

Self-actualization needs. According to Maslow (1943), “[Self-actualization] refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially” (p. 382). Meaning, a painter must paint, a musician must play music, a writer must write, and an athlete must play sports (Maslow, 1943). Self-actualization needs consist of the human “becoming everything that one is capable of becoming” (Maslow, 1943, p. 382). Someone who is capable of becoming a graduate school professor, but instead settles for being a preschool teacher would not likely be someone who is characterized as fulfilling his or her self-actualization needs. We have explored Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and learned that there are five sets of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. Within this section, we have gained a greater understanding of the hierarchy of needs. In the next section, we will look at one of the love needs in further detail – belongingness.


Check back tomorrow for the sections on belongingness, transpersonal psychology, and transpersonal experiences.

If All You Have is a Hammer…: List of Biases in Judgment and Decision-Making, Part 13

The popular ending to the title of this post is, “… everything looks like a nail.” I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase (or some variant thereof) before, right? I bet you didn’t know that this represents an important cognitive bias, though. In fact, didn’t know that this phrase was popularized by one of the giants of psychology — Abraham Maslow. It comes from a book that he published in 1966 — The Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance. This sentiment behind this phrase is a concept that’s known as functional fixedness.

One of the easiest ways to explain this concept is with a different example — the candle problem. Dan Pink does an excellent job of explaining this in the opening of a TEDTalk he gave a few years ago. I’ve set the video to start just before he begins talking about the candle problem. At about the 3-minute mark, the explanation of functional fixedness ends, but he goes on to talk about an experiment with functional fixedness. Meaning, he couches the importance of functional fixedness in management theory. I’d urge you to come back and watch the remaining 15+ minutes after you’ve finished reading this post:

So, as we can see from the video, it’s hard for people to imagine the box as something other than a receptacle for the tacks. Similarly, when we’re holding the “proverbial hammer,” everything appears as if it’s a nail. One of the most important consequences of functional fixedness is how it contributes to a dearth of creativity. If you’re a manager in a company, maybe you’re not thinking about how you can position your employees to maximize their impact on realizing profits. It’s also possible that you’re not seeing a creative way to reassemble your raw materials (or resources) to design a product that will create a new market!

Ways for Avoiding Functional Fixedness

1) Practice, practice, practice

Probably the easiest and most effective way of overcoming functional fixedness is to practice. What does that mean? Well, take a box of miscellaneous things and see if you can design something fun/creative. The emphasis should be on using those things in a way that they weren’t designed. For instance, if you’re using a toolbox, you might think about how you can use something like wrenches to act as “legs” of a table or as a conductive agent for an electrical circuit.

2) Observant learning — Find examples

Another good way of overcoming functional fixedness is to look at other examples of people who have overcome functional fixedness. When I was giving a presentation on functional fixedness to a group (of college students) about a year ago, I showed the video below. About halfway through the video, one of them remarked: “So, basically, it’s how to be a college student 101.”

If you liked this post, you might like one of the other posts in this series: