Abraham Maslow researched and created his hierarchy of needs using his observations of work practice. He said until we had sufficient of a layer we did not ascend to the next level of the hierarchy. As Virginia Postrel has shown this is not actually true in our modern day (and non-USA) circumstances. There seems to be something much richer driving us especially at the higher levels.
Paul Tillich, existential philosopher postulates that an Individual has three options in life……...
Submerges self into social group
As we move up Maslow's Hierarchy we are moving from utilitarian functions to symbolic ones enabling us to make meaning of our artefacts within our cultural contexts. Paul du Gay's circuit of culture model, explained in "Doing Cultural Studies", helps us towards understanding the role of artefacts in making meaning.
Maslow's hierarchy has been "improved" by additional layers over the years since his death. First a Cognitive layer was added below Self-actualisation and then more layers were added and these extras were used to inform the DoCoMo's i-mode (Japan) innovation process. This leads to:
The layers are defined as:
Whilst very useful in interpreting our motivation and behaviour I have erred on the simple side keeping to the original 5 layers as the newer layers tend to be enabled by a product or a service rather than being feature specific , i.e. I don't know how someone will actually make meaning of the features I provide but I hope that they will enable emergent behaviour. At the functional end I can make sure the user benefits from more efficient stain removal, cooler drinks, smoother acceleration, clearer menus, etc.