Tag: dale

WEEK 1–Society, Science and Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Rejoice–The Walking Dead is back!  I will get you caught up on the first week of eCornell’s/ AMC’s class with a lecture on “The Foundation of Survival”.  I’ll tell you a little bit about what I learned about “Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs” and how it applies to this week’s episode of The Walking Dead (Season 4, Episode 1).


Abraham Maslow was a 1950s-era psychologist who, through his research and observations, developed a hierarchy of human needs.  He placed these beliefs in a pyramid shape with the most important, physiological needs, at the bottom.   Maslow believed that people were “basically honest, self-reliant and self-regulating with a tendency to seek relationships, growth and love.”  Per his pyramid, he thought that it was important for the lower-listed needs to be met before moving onto the higher-listed ones.  He believed that there was conflict when: 1)  these needs were not met or 2) a less important need was prioritized before a more important need was fulfilled.  Here are those needs from most important (physiological) to least important (self-actualization):

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs

Many critics of this argue that the order that people experience needs can vary, the order of these needs can vary by culture (for example, some regard esteem more highly than safety) and regression of needs is possible.


Clearly, the post-apocalyptic world that the characters live in shakes up the fulfillment of their lower-level needs.  From a pre- to post- zombie world, this has changed their motivations, as well as their perceptions.   In the most recent episode “30 Days Without an Accident” (Season 4, Episode 1), you can see the relationships and structures that have been created or strengthened by an environment that demonstrates a limited threat to their physiological and safety needs.  However, we see that fulfillment of these base needs has shifted opinions on things, like whether children should be carrying guns.  (According to Carol and Carl, the answer is “Yes, and we’ll teach them how to use them”.)  Even Rick’s three questions to newcomers reflects the difficult choices that have had to be made to fulfill basic human needs: 1) “How many walkers have you killed?” 2) “How many people have you killed?” and 3) “Why?”.

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Clara (Kerry Condon) in Episode 1  Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Clara (Kerry Condon) in Episode 1
Photo by Gene Page/AMC

In this week’s discussions, we were asked:

  1. Was anyone self-actualized in their pre-zombie lives?  ( I said Dale)
  2. What would need to happen for Glenn and Maggie for them to reach self-actualization? (I thought that things had to get really good before everyone got there, even these love birds)
  3. Where is the best place to effectively hunker down during a zombie apocalypse? (I picked a mall!)


Leave your thoughts in the comments below and then stay tuned next week for “WEEK 2–Public Health and Infectious Diseases”!


The Walking AbbieAbbie Elliot is a senior contributor for MCM and a writer for ‘Under the Tuscan Gun, part of “The Cooking Channel’s “Extra Virgin” with actress Debi Mazar (Entourage’s Shauna Roberts) and husband Gabriele Corcos. She has served as managing editor for ‘DC on Heels’, and has written professionally for organizations like The White House Commission on Remembrance and AOL/The Huffington Post. Follow her on twitter: @abbie_b_elliott or email abbie.b.elliott@gmail.com