B-needs and D-needs

Reeve (1992) summarized attempts to do research on Maslow's ideas and concluded that "the weight of the evidence casts considerable doubts on the hierarchy's validity." However, he suggested that a simpler, two-level distinction might receive support. This is the distinction between needs based on maintenance of the organism (such as hunger and thirst) and those based on growth. That is similar to the distinction Maslow made between D-needs and B-needs.

What are D-values?

Maslow called traditional Hullian-type needs D-needs. The D stood for "deficiency." The D-needs were based on "D-values" (deficiency values). Deficiency values fit into the Hullian scheme: you have a deficiency of something (food, water, security) and this generates a need. You work to eliminate the deficiency (reduce the drive) then you are satisfied.

What are examples of B-values?

The needs Maslow believed to be higher, healthier, and more likely to emerge in self-actualizing people were being needs, or B-needs. Most other psychologists would call these existential or spiritual needs. Existential means, literally, pertaining to existence. Existential needs are rooted in our need to experience our lives more fully and to find meaning and purpose in life. These needs involve a type of motivation quite distinct from hunger, thirst, and other motives studied by Hullian psychologists. If you satisfy B needs, you feel fulfilled but never satiated. You can never have too much justice or beauty or truth.

B-needs include truth, goodness, and beauty. Maslow also included unity, perfection, and completion or finality. An artist enjoys symmetry; an architect strives for a sense of unity; a craftsman feels good to see a piece completed; a musician seeks perfection in the tone of an instrument. Maslow lists B values such as aliveness, process, uniqueness, and self-sufficiency. These characteristics bear a striking resemblance to Carl Rogers's description of healthy trends during psychotherapy. Finding that they had come up with many of the same ideas, Maslow and Rogers formed a natural alliance as leaders of the humanistic psychology movement in the early 1960s.


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