Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Explained
Have you ever wondered what motivates us to do the things we do? Well, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a widely known theory that attempts to answer this question. As a disclaimer, I am not totally sold on its validity, but to complete this blog, I will suspend belief and stick an explanation of the theory itself.
As a humanist, Maslow believed that all humans have a desire to reach a state of self-actualization, that is, the inborn need to live up to their potential. However, before they can achieve this, they need to meet basic needs, such as the need for food, safety, love, and self-esteem. Maslow includes five tiers in his hierarchy of needs. In today’s article, we will explain Maslow’s hierarchy in depth.
From deficiency to growth needs
Maslow’s hierarchy is famously illustrated as a pyramid, with the lower levels being made up of basic needs and the top half housing humanistic needs. The needs at the base of the pyramid are physiological desires such as food, water, sleep, and warmth. After these lower-level needs have been taken care of, then we can move on to the next tier of needs, the desire for safety and security.
When we move up the pyramid, our needs become more social and psychological. The need for love, friendship, and intimacy become essential parts of our lives. Next comes our desire to make our mark in the world, as the need for self-esteem and feelings of success take precedence in our lives. Maslow preached the need for self-actualization or the inborn desire to reach one’s potential in life.
Deficiency Needs vs. Growth Needs
Maslow was under the impression that our needs are comparable to instincts, and the physiological, security, social, and esteem needs are deficiency needs, which come about out of a need for survival. These needs represent the bottom half of the pyramid. The highest tier of the pyramid is known as growth needs. These needs come from a desire to grow, not out of a feeling of deprivation.
Let’s briefly look at each level of the pyramid, starting with the bottom of the pyramid and working our way up to the top.
Level 1: Physiological Needs- These needs are self-explanatory and emanate out of a need for survival of one’s self and the propagation of the human species.
Level 2: Security and Safety Needs- At this level, people want to control their own lives and destiny, and the need for safety and security takes precedence.
Level 3: Social Needs- Social needs like acceptance, belonging, and love takes the front stage. At this level, the need for emotional attachments controls human behavior.
Level 4: Esteem Needs- At this level, people want to be respected and appreciated. As long as the first three levels have been satisfied, esteem can begin to play a more pivotal role in driving behavior.
Level 5: Self-Actualization Needs- At this tier, people are consumed by entelechy. Entelechy is the biological drive that moves us to work towards our potential. Entelechy is also another word for self- actualization, so in a way, entelechy is the motivating force and the destination. At this level, people are concerned with personal growth and less concerned with the perceptions of others, as it can impede them from reaching their potential.
While I am not a total fan of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it gets more things right than it gets wrong. So for those interested in studying human behavior or facilitating their own growth, his theory is a solid start.