An international study of the various aspects/levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, by Louis Day & Ed Deiner (2011) suggests that, around the world, satisfying material needs is associated with rating life as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but the ‘higher level’ (in M’s system) needs were related to enjoying life and positive and negative feelings. Reminds me of Herzberg’s two-component system of ‘hygiene needs’ and ‘motivators’.
Day & Deiner found that positive effects could result from satisfaction of either set of needs – so not as hierarchical a system as M suggested.
Equlaity is important, too:
An important finding, Diener said, is that the research indicated that people have higher life evaluations when others in society also have their needs fulfilled.
“Thus life satisfaction is not just an individual affair, but depends substantially also on the quality of life of one’s fellow citizens,” he said.
Maybe this fits with Wilkinson & Pickett’s (hotly contested) ideas about the damaging effects of inequality in societies, described in The Spirit Level (http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resource/the-spirit-level)
A little about D&E’s methodology:
The researchers turned to the Gallup World Poll, which conducted surveys in 155 countries from 2005 to 2010, and included questions about money, food, shelter, safety, social support, feeling respected, being self-directed, having a sense of mastery, and the experience of positive or negative emotions.
Quotes above from Medical News Today story about the research at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/230109.php
Ed Deiner’s website is at http://internal.psychology.illinois.edu/~ediener/, and you can get him to send you copies of many of his papers from there (though I don’t think the one mentioned here is up there yet). A useful service: thanks, Ed.
Tay, Louis & Diener, Ed (2011) Needs and subjective well-being around the world Journal of Personality and Social Psychology no pagination specified. doi:10.1037/a0023779