Beyond Maslow’s pyramid: Introducing a typology of thirteen fundamental needs for human-centered design

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This paper introduces a design-focused typology of psychological human needs that includes 13 fundamental needs and 52 sub-needs (four for each fundamental need). The typology was developed to provide a practical understanding of psychological needs as a resource for user-centered design practice and research with a focus on user experience and well-being. The first part of the manuscript briefly reviews Abraham Maslow’s pioneering work on human needs, and the underlying propositions, main contributions and limitations of his motivational theory. The review results in a set of requirements for a design-focused typology of psychological needs. The second part reports on the development of the new typology. The thirteen needs were selected from six existing typologies with the use of five criteria that distinguish fundamental from non-fundamental needs. The resulting typology builds on the strengths of Maslow’s need hierarchy but rejects the hierarchical structure and adds granularity to the need categories. The third part of the paper describes three examples of how the need typology can inform design practice, illustrated with student design cases. It also presents three means for communicating the need typology. The general discussion section reflects on implications and limitations and proposes ideas for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number38
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalMultimodal Technologies and Interaction
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • psychological needs
  • user-centered design
  • design for experience
  • design for well-being


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