14463 Words58 Pages
Basic Human Needs



Basic Human Needs Thane S. Pittman and Kate R. Zeigler Colby College


Chapter to appear in Kruglanski, A., & Higgins, E. (2006), Social Psychology: A handbook of basic principles, 2nd Edition. New York: Guilford Publications

Thane S. Pittman and Kate R. Zeigler Department of Psychology 5550 Mayflower Hill Colby College Waterville, ME 04901 207-859-5557

Basic Human Needs Basic Human Needs "It is vain to do with more what can be done with less."


attributed to William of Occam (c. 1285–1349) "There is always an easy solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong." H. L. Mencken (1949), p. 443 It has been a long time since a
…show more content…
Anyone reading this chapter indoors is surrounded by, sitting on, probably wearing, and using things fabricated by homo sapiens. Humans make things.


When we move into the realm of psychology, matters become more complex and considerably less clear. In considering what, psychologically, might constitute human nature, social psychologists have not taken up the method of cross-species comparisons illustrated in the musings above. In fact in psychology more generally, instead of looking for what is unique about human nature, psychologists have tried repeatedly to come up with a few general principles that are meant to apply across all or virtually all species, essentially arguing that psychologically all species are governed by the same fundamental principles. This approach constitutes a scientifically sound strategy, in the spirit of Occam 's Razor, as an attempt to understand complexity by reducing it to a few simple laws that apply to many species. Familiar examples of this approach include the various serious attempts by behaviorists to explain everything in terms of basic principles of reinforcement (Hull, 1943; Pavlov, 1927; Skinner, 1938, 1981; Watson, 1930). These ideas were tested and refined extensively with experiments on rats and pigeons as well as humans, were extended into such realms as social learning (e.g., Miller & Dollard, 1941), attitude formation and change (e.g., Doob, 1947), and group behavior (Zajonc, 1965), and
Get Access