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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

 simplypsychology.org /maslow.html

 

 

Maslow's (1943, 1954) hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

 

Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behaviour. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.

 

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

 

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 more hungry 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. Once these growth needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.


 Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization. Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by a failure to meet lower level needs. Life experiences, including divorce and loss of a job may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of the hierarchy. Therefore, not everyone will move through the hierarchy in a uni-directional manner but may move back and forth between the different types of needs.

 

Maslow noted only one in a hundred people become fully self-actualized because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs.

 

 

The original hierarchy of needs five-stage model includes:

 

 

1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.

 

 

2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.

 

 

3. Love and belongingness needs - friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).

 

 

4. Esteem needs - achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.

 

 

5. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

 

 

 

 

Maslow posited that human needs are arranged in a hierarchy:

 

'It is quite true that man lives by bread alone — when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled?

 

At once other (and “higher”) needs emerge and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and still “higher”) needs emerge and so on. This is what we mean by saying that the basic human needs are organized into a hierarchy of relative prepotency' (Maslow, 1943, p. 375).

 

The expanded hierarchy of needs:

 

It is important to note that Maslow's (1943, 1954) five stage model has been expanded to include cognitive and aesthetic needs (Maslow, 1970a) and later transcendence needs (Maslow, 1970b).

 

 Changes to the original five-stage model are highlighted and include a seven-stage model and a eight-stage model, both developed during the 1960's and 1970s.

 

 

1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

 

 

2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, etc.


 

            3. Love and belongingness needs - friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance,                  receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group                       (family, friends, work).

 

 

4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.

 

 

5. Cognitive needs - knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability.

 

 

6. Aesthetic needs - appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.

 

 

7. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

 

 

8. Transcendence needs - helping others to achieve self actualization.

 

Self-actualization

 

Instead of focusing on psychopathology and what goes wrong with people, Maslow (1943) formulated a more positive account of human behavior which focused on what goes right. He was interested in human potential, and how we fulfill that potential.

 

Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1943, 1954) stated that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. Self-actualized people are those who were fulfilled and doing all they were capable of.

 

The growth of self-actualization (Maslow, 1962) refers to the need for personal growth and discovery that is present throughout a person’s life. For Maslow, a person is always 'becoming' and never remains static in these terms. In self-actualization a person comes to find a meaning to life that is important to them.

 

As each individual is unique the motivation for self-actualization leads people in different directions (Kenrick et al., 2010). For some people self-actualization can be achieved through creating works of art or literature, for others through sport, in the classroom, or within a corporate setting.

 

Maslow (1962) believed self-actualization could be measured through the concept of peak experiences. This occurs when a person experiences the world totally for what it is, and there are feelings of euphoria, joy and wonder.

 

It is important to note that self-actualization is a continual process of becoming rather than a perfect state one reaches of a 'happy ever after' (Hoffman, 1988).

 

Maslow offers the following description of self-actualization:

 

'It refers to the person’s desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially.

 

The specific form that these needs will take will of course vary greatly from person to person. In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions' (Maslow, 1943, p. 382–383).

 

 

Are you self-actualized?

 

 

 Characteristics of self-actualized people

 

Although we are all, theoretically, capable of self-actualizing, most of us will not do so, or only to a limited degree. Maslow (1970) estimated that only two percent of people would reach the state of self-actualization. He was especially interested in the characteristics of people whom he considered to have achieved their potential as individuals.

 

By studying 18 people he 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 humor;

 

6. Able to look at life objectively;

 

7.  Highly creative;

 

8.  Resistant to enculturation, but not purposely unconventional;

 

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;



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