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Maslows hierarchy of needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham

Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" in Psychological Review. Maslow
subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity.

Maslow studied what he called exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane
Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglass rather than mentally ill or neurotic people,
writing that "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a
cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy. Maslow studied the healthiest 1% of the college
student population.

Maslow also coined the term "metamotivation" to describe the motivation of people who
go beyond the scope of the basic needs and strive for constant betterment.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology originally

comprising a five tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a

Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that
motivates our behavior. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so

This model can be divided into deficiency needs and growth needs. The first four
levels are often referred to as deficiency needs, and the top level is known as growth or being

The deficiency needs are said to motivate people when they are unmet. Also, the need
to fulfil such needs will become stronger the longer the duration they are denied. For
example, the longer a person goes without food, the hungrier they will become.

One must satisfy lower level deficit needs before progressing on to meet higher level
growth needs. When a deficit need has been satisfied it will go away, and our activities
become habitually directed towards meeting the next set of needs that we have yet to
satisfy. These then become our salient needs.However, growth needs continue to be felt
and may even become stronger once they have been engaged.


Maslows hierarchy of needs

Figure 1 Eight Stage of Hierarchy of Needs

1. Physiological/Biological needs: Physiological needs are the physical requirements for

human survival. Physiological needs are thought to be the most important; they should
be met first.
2. Safety needs: Once a person's physiological needs are relatively satisfied, their safety
needs take precedence and dominate behavior. In the absence of physical safety due
to war, natural disaster, family violence, childhood abuse, etc. people may (re-
)experience post-traumatic stress disorder or transgenerational trauma. In the absence
of economic safety due to economic crisis and lack of work opportunities these
safety needs manifest themselves in ways such as a preference for job security,
grievance procedures for protecting the individual from unilateral authority, savings
accounts, insurance policies, disability accommodations, etc. This level is more likely to
be found in children as they generally have a greater need to feel safe.

Safety and Security needs include:


Maslows hierarchy of needs
Personal security
Financial security
Health and well-being
Safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts
3. Love and Belonging needs: After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third
level of human needs is interpersonal and involves feelings of belongingness.

According to Maslow, humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance

among their social groups, regardless whether these groups are large or small. For

Large social groups may include clubs, co-workers, religious groups,

professional organizations, sports teams, and gangs.
Small social connections include family members, intimate partners, mentors,
colleagues, and confidants. Humans need to love and be loved both sexually
and non-sexually by others.
4. Self-esteem needs: All humans have a need to feel respected; this includes the need to
have self-esteem and self-respect. Esteem presents the typical human desire to be
accepted and valued by others. People often engage in a profession or hobby to gain
recognition. These activities give the person a sense of contribution or value.
Low self-esteem or an inferiority complex may result from imbalances during
this level in the hierarchy. People with low self-esteem often need respect from
others; they may feel the need to seek fame or glory.
However, fame or glory will not help the person to build their self-esteem until
they accept who they are internally.

*Most people have a need for stable self-respect and self-esteem. Maslow noted two
versions of esteem needs: a "lower" version and a "higher" version.

The "lower" version of esteem is the need for respect from others. This
may include a need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention.
The "higher" version manifests itself as the need for self-respect. For
example, the person may have a need for strength, competence,
mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom. This "higher" version
takes precedence over the "lower" version because it relies on an inner
competence established through experience.


Maslows hierarchy of needs
5. Cognitive needs: Maslow believed that humans have the need to increase their
intelligence and thereby chase knowledge. Cognitive needs is the expression of the
natural human need to learn, explore, discover and create to get a better understanding
of the world around them.
6. Aesthetic needs: Based on Maslows beliefs, it is stated in the hierarchy that humans
need beautiful imagery or something new and aesthetically pleasing to continue up
towards Self-Actualization. Humans need to refresh themselves in the presence and
beauty of nature while carefully absorbing and observing their surroundings to extract
the beauty that the world has to offer.
7. Self-actualization needs: Self-actualization is the instinctual need of humans to make
the most of their abilities and to strive to be the best they can. This about realizing
personal potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
8. Self-transcendence needs: Maslow later divided the top of the triangle to add self-
transcendence which is also sometimes referred to as spiritual needs. Spiritual Needs
are a little different from other needs, accessible from many level.


By studying 18 people Maslow considered to be self-actualized (including Abraham Lincoln

and Albert Einstein) Maslow (1970) identified 15 characteristics of a self-actualized person.

Characteristics of self-actualizers:

1. They perceive reality efficiently and can tolerate uncertainty;

2. Accept themselves and others for what they are;

3. Spontaneous in thought and action;

4. Problem-centered (not self-centered);

5. Unusual sense of humour;

6. Able to look at life objectively;

7. Highly creative;

8. Resistant to enculturation, but not purposely unconventional;


Maslows hierarchy of needs
9. Concerned for the welfare of humanity;

10. Capable of deep appreciation of basic life-experience;

11. Establish deep satisfying interpersonal relationships with a few people;

12. Peak experiences;

13. Need for privacy;

14. Democratic attitudes;

15. Strong moral/ethical standards.

Behavior leading to self-actualization:

(a) Experiencing life like a child, with full absorption and concentration;

(b) Trying new things instead of sticking to safe paths;

(c) Listening to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of
tradition, authority or the majority;

(d) Avoiding pretense ('game playing') and being honest;

(e) Being prepared to be unpopular if your views do not coincide with those of the

(f) Taking responsibility and working hard;

(g) Trying to identify your defenses and having the courage to give them up.

The characteristics of self-actualizers and the behaviors leading to self-actualization are

shown in the list above. Although people achieve self-actualization in their own unique way, they
tend to share certain characteristics.

However, self-actualization is a matter of degree, 'There are no perfect human

beings' (Maslow,1970a, p. 176). It is not necessary to display all 15 characteristics to become
self-actualized, and not only self-actualized people will display them.


Maslows hierarchy of needs
Maslow did not equate self-actualization with perfection. Self-actualization merely
involves achieving one's potential. Thus someone can be silly, wasteful, vain and impolite, and
still self-actualize. Less than two percent of the population achieve self-actualization.

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