Maslow’s theory could be seen as condescending to non-Westerners. The higher needs—self-actualization, the pursuit of knowledge, aesthetics—are also the achievements we stereotypically associate with the degree of ‘civilization’ and ‘development’ of a country or a people. Poor people in ‘developing’ countries who must concern themselves more with the lower needs lead a lower form of existence, the theory could imply. The hierarchy of needs is therefore flattering to Westerners, who typically see themselves as more developed and more civilized than non-Westerners. Part of the appeal of Maslow’s theory, then, may be Western hubris.
Michael Mayerfeld Bell (via sociolab)