A homeless person’s main concern is bringing food and seeking shelter, not making friendships or achieving career milestones. Similarly, a person living in a war-torn country does not bother with social validation and concentrates on protecting himself from physical harm. This shows how humans prioritize specific needs depending on the situation.
American psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow studied this behavior carefully and developed a theory commonly known as the “hierarchy of needs” to explain the same.
So what exactly is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and how does it affect human behavior?
What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory in psychology that describes a five-layer hierarchical model of human needs that determines an individual’s behavior.
conceptualized by Abraham Maslow In 1943, this theory states that people have different levels of needs and need to be met at lower levels before they can progress to higher levels. These five categories of needs are ( in hierarchical order)
- Physiological needs (food, water, shelter),
- Safety needs (protection from harm),
- Social needs (love and belonging),
- Self-esteem needs (self-esteem, respect from others)
- Self-actualization needs (fulfilling one’s potential).
According to Maslow, humans always focus on meeting their basic needs first. These needs are non-negotiable and apply universally to all humans. After meeting these needs, a person can focus on a more individualistic and emotionally complex set of needs.
The five levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
According to Maslow, humans have five levels of needs that must be met in a specific order, explained as follows:
For humans, the most basic needs concern the maintenance and functioning of the body. Maslow called these basic needs physiological needs because they are essential to survival. Without food to eat, water to drink, shelter to live in, and proper rest, a person struggles to function properly in society. believed that other things would be secondary until their desires were satisfied.
For example, those affected by recent layoffs quickly look for another job to earn money and meet their basic needs of food, water and housing. Only after securing a new job and meeting the most basic needs of survival can a person move on to the next level of needs.
Need for safety
Once humans have enough food and water in their bellies and are able to rest in comfortable shelter, they begin to prioritize their immediate physical safety and safety from attack. Thing. For example, refugees flee war, violence, conflict and persecution and seek urgent physical security across borders. Similarly, when a natural disaster hits an area, people quickly leave their homes in search of physical protection and safety.
People who feel unsafe in their immediate surroundings cannot focus on pursuing high-level needs. For example, people who live in hazardous areas prioritize physical separation from the environment above all else. They relocate to areas with relatively low crime rates. Once your physical safety is confirmed, you can move on to meeting your emotional needs.
According to Maslow, humans also need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among social groups. This is what Maslow calls social needs. For example, a person who feels lonely feels the need for companionship and decides to find her partner, get married, and start a family. Depression, anxiety and loneliness have all been replaced by happiness, companionship, love and fulfilling relationships.
Apart from immediate family relationships, humans also feel the urge to build meaningful relationships and friendships within communities. Therefore, you can join a local book club or cycling club to meet people with similar interests and further experience this sense of belonging with other members of society.
Need for respect
When physiological, safety, and social needs are met, humans are eager to gain respect, confidence, and respect from their peers. For example, consider a rich man who likes to buy luxuries and brag about his wealth to his peers. In contrast, there are artists who paint only to master their craft and gain confidence in their abilities. Whether the source of admiration is others or oneself, these scenarios create a positive self-image and help people define their worth, which Maslow described as the need for respect. and he can be divided into two versions.
- Lower version: The need to be respected by others includes status, fame, prestige, recognition, and attention.
- Higher version: Self-esteem needs include self-confidence, independence, freedom, mastery, strength, and competence.
When self-esteem needs are not met, people feel inferior. For example, two friends, A and B, are applying to the same college. Both worked equally hard to make their application stand out. However, Mr. A’s application is rejected and Mr. B’s application is accepted. A develops an inferiority complex towards his friend B, which affects his self-esteem and confidence.
The higher needs that begin with self-esteem are ego-driven needs. Once the bottom three levels of needs are met, ego-driven needs play a more important role in motivating human behavior.
the need for self-actualization
Once a person’s physiological, safety, social, and respectability needs are met, they shift their focus to reaching their full potential. For example, a successful investment banker may start a technology company simply because he is passionate about it. This new business had little money at first, but he still enjoys his job so much that he can’t think of anything else to do with his life. Maslow describes this as the final stage of the hierarchy of needs, a now-legendary term called self-actualization.
Maslow also points out that the urge for self-actualization is based on personal motivations and individualistic goals. As such, the nature of this need is highly subjective. For example, one person may aspire to become a world-famous athlete, while another may find fulfillment in being a good parent.
Navigating Maslow’s Hierarchical Needs Pyramid
As we move up the hierarchy, our needs change, and so do our motivations for meeting those needs. Maslow thus divided the hierarchy of needs into his two sections.
Maslow recognizes physiological, safety, social, and self-esteem needs under the scarcity needs or D needs. Motivation to meet these needs arises through deprivation. When these needs are met, motivation drops. Also, the longer D-needs remain unmet, the stronger the motivation to meet them. For example, a person’s hunger only makes them wait longer to eat something.
Need for growth
Maslow classifies self-actualization as the sole growth or B need. The need for growth stems from the desire to grow as a person. Unlike scarcity needs, the pursuit of growth needs creates an even stronger desire to meet them. For example, someone learning to play an instrument may find it frustrating at first. Yet, as you progress, the desire to master the instrument grows stronger, and the satisfaction once you have fully mastered it grows.
Expanded Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow later built on the original hierarchy, introducing three additional needs at the top of the pyramid for a total of eight. These needs are described as follows:
- Cognitive needs: It refers to the human need to understand and understand our surroundings while being able to come up with new solutions to problems. For example, a person can develop critical thinking skills and learn new languages.
- Aesthetic needs: This refers to the need to explore and appreciate beauty, balance and form. This includes exploring the worlds of art, music and culture.
- Transcendence Needs: It refers to the need to transcend oneself through religious, mystical, spiritual, aesthetic, ethical, or ideological pursuits. This is the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and includes self-actualization, self-transcendence, and a sense of purpose.
Applications of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs extends to many aspects of everyday life, business, marketing, human resources management, and even psychology. Here are some examples:
- In Marketing: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs helps marketers create ideal buyer personas and determine what motivates individuals to purchase products. Products specifically aimed at people at the respect level of Maslow’s hierarchy are more likely to be marketed as items that bring recognition and respect. It is something to be proud of and is often seen as something that helps build confidence.
- In personnel management: HR managers use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to understand what motivates and keeps employees satisfied. For example, managers may find that their employees are motivated by a sense of accomplishment and recognition rather than by financial rewards. By tailoring your management style to your employees’ needs, you can increase job satisfaction and productivity.
- In education: In the classroom, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be used to encourage positive behavior. For example, when students exhibit negative behavior, it may be because lower-level needs such as safety and security are not being met. By addressing these needs first and then focusing on higher-level needs such as self-actualization, teachers can foster an environment of learning, exploration and growth.
- Governance: Governments can use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a guide when making policy decisions. For example, when addressing poverty and income inequality, it is important to first address lower-level needs for food, housing and clothing before focusing on higher-level needs such as self-fulfillment.
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