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Abraham Maslow - Hierarchy of Needs

1908 – 1970

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist best known for his theory of the “hierarchy of needs”.

Maslow's five (human) needs stack in layers to form a pyramid, with physiological needs at the base and self-actualization at the peak. This is the hierarchy of needs.

  1. Deficit (instinctoid) needs i.e. only become important and noticed if not being met. Genetically programmed “instinct” needs.
  2. Physiological needs – include eating, sleeping, having sex and all other bodily functions
  3. Safety and security needs – with physiological needs met, there is an increased need for a safe environment, stability and protection.
  4. Love and belonging needs – the third layer of needs relates to the need for friends, intimate partner, family and sense of community
  5. Esteem needs – lower esteem needs includes respect from others in terms of attention, recognition, reputation, and status. Higher esteem needs include self-respect, confidence, achievement, and freedom. Higher esteem needs are harder to meet than lower esteem needs, but harder to lose.

Abraham Maslow asserted that asking people about their “philosophy of the future” will reveal which deficit needs are being met or not met. Being needs/growth motivation needs can only be met when all deficit needs are met.

Self-actualization – the continuous desire to fulfill potential “be all that you can be”. This can be broken-down into “meta needs” such as truth, beauty, justice, effortlessness etc and if not met “meta pathologies” such as depression, despair and alienation develop.

More on Abraham Maslow Theory - read How To Increase Your Work and Life Satisfaction: Put Abraham Maslow Theory Into Practice

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By Lyndsay Swinton
Owner, Management for the Rest of Us

Citation Information: Swinton, Lyndsay. "Abraham Maslow - Hierarchy of Needs." December 2004. < >.

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