The Pyramid of Patriotism: Explaining patriotism through Maslow’s diagram

Mohammad Owaiz Shaik
4 min readAug 16, 2022

Patriotism generally refers to love or devotion to a country. The meaning is too simple and is often misunderstood, leading some citizens to act in extreme ways. The pyramid of patriotism explains what patriotism is and how it can unite and help society grow.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, what is it?

Psychologist Abraham Maslow has provided one of the most prominent accounts of human motivation, with the ‘Hierarchy of Needs‘ representing his most well-known contribution to psychology. This work has helped numerous marketers, and product builders understand the needs of their customers.

Maslow researched both ‘exemplary people from the past, such as Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt, and elite college students. Following these studies, Maslow produced the hierarchy of needs, which consists of five distinct groups of needs: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Watch this video to understand Maslow’s concept.

What is it to do with patriotism?

There’s no direct correlation between patriotism and Maslow’s. But Maslow’s diagram is used as a framework to explain a wide range of concepts such as Interaction design, Urban design, product management, etc. It gives a new perspective to look towards these complex concepts.

The pyramid of patriotism

Just like Maslow’s needs, there are different levels of patriotism. Each level has a role in showing one’s emotion and action that leads to unity and growth of the society.


Love towards symbols that represent the ideas and qualities of a nation. The symbolism can be of two different kinds.

  1. Visual — Flag, Emblem
  2. Verbal — National Anthem, Poems, Pledges

Symbolism is an essential aspect of uniting people with lesser communication barriers.

Let’s take flags:

The origins of flags lie in ancient history. Initially, they may have been simply decorative or perhaps ceremonial ideas. They were superior to many other emblems: cheap and straightforward to make, easy to carry and display, and attracting attention with their lifelike movement in the wind.

A flag represents an idea or an ideal. It is neither a mere piece of decoration nor an object to be honored for itself. It is honored for what it represents. In many countries, flags are held in high regard because of their history, the sacrifices made by the people, and the qualities they represent.

Flags are for the masses. At the UN or the Olympics, One can’t go out and start reading our Constitution to represent the country. They need to be impactful with minimal communication — that’s where flags have a role. Flags help where communication is complex.

Land and Culture

The love for the environment, which includes territory, culture, and history, unites us.

Motherland, we fall in love with the land because it has valuable and inherent properties. It’s something related to nature and the environment which supports us. Most of the wars were fought for the land.

What’s there in the land? Land provides us with biological and physiological needs to survive: air, food, water, shelter, warmth, etc. Each place on earth has its value and significance geographically and culturally. It’s a home with a sense of belonging, security, and protection.

Shared values and principles

This is where it all comes together. The Unity, stability, and prosperity of the country depend on these principles.

These values are the ideals that form the basis of the kind of country that we as citizens aspire to live in. They tell us about the fundamental nature of our society.

Respecting and Abiding by these would make us more patriotic.

Example Unity in diversity and Constitutional laws

The Constitution is for everyone. It talks of JUSTICE — Social, Economic, Political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship; EQUALITY — of status and opportunity and to promote them amongst all, and FRATERNITY — assuring the dignity of the individual and the Unity and integrity of the nation. The Preamble, while not legally binding, is what we believe our democracy should be.

Duties and Responsibilities

Showing love by participating in the growth and development of the nation. We can fulfill these duties in three ways:

  1. Protecting the country by joining the forces, maintaining law and order to avoid conflicts, and protecting the country from exploitation is an essential bridge for further growth and prosperity.
  2. Doing business transforms citizens’ lives, creating jobs that help citizens participate in society’s development and their self-development.
  3. Governing and participating in the state’s welfare through civil services and politics refers to policy-making and executing them for the betterment of the nation.

Selfless leadership

Often, the epitome of love is when someone sacrifices for the nation without expecting anything in return. The impact here is intense. People spend their entire lives contributing to the nation’s future through expertise and lifelong commitment. They inspire everyone below in the pyramid.

Abdul Kalam, born, graduated, and worked in India, is an excellent example of this. His vision for 2020 was commendable. He then served as the President, the first citizen of the country. Until his last breath, he was doing what he loved to do and inspired the entire nation.


Enforcing patriotism through the bottom levels like symbolism and land love would drive us towards Pseudo patriotism. It means that it gives the feeling of love that doesn’t add value to society and can even turn into an evil force. That’s a classic example of Nationalism and Jingoism exhibited in some countries.

As citizens, we should often educate ourselves on what our nation is built on and how we can contribute to its growth and prosperity.



Mohammad Owaiz Shaik

Hi, I’m a designer from India creating experiences to help people live better. I humanize products and services through design. Learn more at