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Dismantling Maslow's Pyramid

Originating in developmental psychology, Maslow’s theory provides a hierarchical framework of human motivation from the fundamental physiological needs of food, sex and safety, to higher order psychological motivations such as belonging, creativity and morality. Maslow’s ideas, often represented as a ‘pyramid of needs’, have been prolifically applied to social policy, pedagogy, marketing, business management and clinical practice. This project queries the ways in which the theory has shaped the perception of need in contemporary society.

Laura Palmer, a researcher in psychology, and Edward Thornton, a philosopher, are collaborating with multi-media artist and co-founder of the ‘Hospital Rooms’, Tim A Shaw, to create an interactive installation exploring the implications of Maslow's theory. Using Tim’s work as a stimulus, a public interdisciplinary discussion will be hosted at Bethlem Gallery’s Salon Series to challenge Maslow’s theory as the basis of our understanding and responses to individual need and to reimagine a more inclusive theory built from the ‘ground up’.

This project is a collaboration between King's College London's Department of Psychological Medicine, Philosophy Department, Royal Holloway London, multi-media artist Tim A Shaw and Bethlem Gallery, supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s as part of the Early Career Researchers scheme.

Project Team:

  • Laura Palmer, Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Project Lead
  • Edward Thornton, Philosophy Department, Royal Holloway London, Project Collaborator
  • Tim A Shaw, multi-media artist, Project Collaborator
  • Bethlem Gallery, Project Collaborator
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