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Nebr Symp Motiv. 2003;49:175-255.

Beyond Maslow's culture-bound linear theory: a preliminary statement of the double-Y model of basic human needs.

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Academia Sinica, National Taiwan University, Taipei.


Maslow's theory of basic human needs is criticized with respect to two of its major aspects, unidimensional linearity and cross-cultural validity. To replace Maslow's linear theory, a revised Y model is proposed on the base of Y. Yu's original Y model. Arranged on the stem of the Y are Maslow's physiological needs (excluding sexual needs) and safety needs. Satisfaction of these needs is indispensable to genetic survival. On the left arm of the Y are interpersonal and belongingness needs, esteem needs, and the self-actualization need. The thoughts and behaviors required for the fulfillment of these needs lead to genetic expression. Lastly, on the right arm of the Y are sexual needs, childbearing needs, and parenting needs. The thoughts and behaviors entailed in the satisfaction of these needs result in genetic transmission. I contend that needs for genetic survival and transmission are universal and that needs for genetic expression are culture-bound. Two major varieties of culture-specific expression needs are distinguished for each of the three levels of needs on the left arm of the Y model. Collectivistic needs for interpersonal affiliation and belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization prevail in collectivist cultures like those found in East Asian countries. Individualistic needs are dominant in individualist cultures like those in North America and certain European nations. I construct two separate Y models, one for people in collectivist cultures and the other for those in individualist ones. In the first (the Yc model), the three levels of expression needs on the left arm are collectivistic in nature, whereas in the second (the Yi model), the three levels of needs on the left arm are individualistic in nature. Various forms of the double-Y model are formulated by conceptually combining the Yc and Yi models at the cross-cultural, crossgroup, and intra-individual levels. Research directions for testing the various aspects of the double-Y model are identified for comparisons at these three levels. Future studies theoretically guided by the double-Y model will enable us to systematically understand, at both aggregate and individual levels, the characteristics and interactions of expression and transmission needs, the characteristics and interactions of collectivistic and individualistic expression needs, and the dynamic processes involved in the transformation of needs from collectivistic to individualistic and vice versa under certain specific conditions. The double-Y model, as a whole, represents a serious, systematic attempt to theoretically and empirically integrate the biological and cultural influences on basic motivational states and propensities. Whether this model will eventually prove to be able to survive future empirical testing and conceptual revision remains to be seen. I must hasten to add, however, that there may be other potentially viable models that are worth being advanced in the future for accomplishing the same purpose of integrating the biological and cultural determinants of the formation, development, and function of human motivation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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