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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Photography, 2020

Abraham Maslow proposed a theory of the hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. He uses the terms “physiological”, “safety”, “belonging and love”, “esteem”, and “self-actualization” to describe the pattern through which human motivations generally range from low to high. I believe it is a good time to analyze this theory through social responses during the global pandemic of COVID-19. Normally, for a developed country like the United States, it is rare to see a large number of people to have desperate “physiological” and “safety” needs. However, during this pandemic, as people are worrying about whether or not they can stay safe and healthy, they are also in fear of losing access to basic physiological supplies, since this public health crisis has influenced the overall social structure and economy tremendously.  


I visited Costco and Walmart--two of America’s biggest supply stores. I shot these images when I have to go grocery shopping, which are the only times I have had contact with the outside world during this pandemic. I contrasted parallel images of empty racks of highly demanded basic human need supplies during this pandemic with images of full racks of normally favored products that supply higher needs during regular time. These images are presented in diptychs. Images with similar compositions are paired together to create visual contrast.

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© 2021 by Jiaqi Liu. All rights reserved.