I found an article in Psychology Today titled Understanding the Psychology of Twitter. There are some pretty interesting statistics in it about Twitter, including how only 10% of American internet users use it. One of the things the author, Moses Ma, discusses in the article is how Twitter ties into Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs.
In our book about It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, Toni Rothpletz and I write about Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs. If you’ve ever taken a business course, you will have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow was all about understanding those things that create self-actualization, and proposed that we think of human needs as a pyramid. On the bottom you have basic needs such as physiological (the need for air, food, water, etc.), then the next level up on the pyramid is safety, followed by love/being, then esteem, and lastly self-actualization. Maslow is famous for saying many things, but the following is one that we like to quote: “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
It’s useful to dig a bit deeper into our need for community. In fact, needs analysis one of the most powerful tools for innovators to understand, which invariably leads to the meaning of their products. So let’s look at Twitter in the context of Abraham Maslow’s concept of a hierarchy of needs, first presented in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.”
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is most often displayed as a pyramid, with lowest levels of the pyramid made up of the most basic needs and more complex needs are at the top of the pyramid. Needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic physical requirements including the need for food, water, sleep and warmth. Once these lower-level needs have been met, people can move on to higher levels of needs, which become increasingly psychological and social. Soon, the need for love, friendship and intimacy become important. Further up the pyramid, the need for personal esteem and feelings of accomplishment become important. Finally, Maslow emphasized the importance of self-actualization, which is a process of growing and developing as a person to achieve individual potential.
Twitter aims primarily at social needs, like those for belonging, love, and affection. Relationships such as friendships, romantic attachments and families help fulfill this need for companionship and acceptance, as does involvement in social, community or religious groups. Clearly, feeling connected to people via Twitter helps to fulfill some of this need to belong and feel cared about.