Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation

Abraham Maslow initially developed the hierarchy of human needs framework in 1943. This hierarchy of needs explains how humans get motivated therefore is known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory of motivation. This theory demonstrates that individuals must satisfy lower-level deficit or shortage needs before progressing on to meet higher-level growth needs. However, he later clarified that satisfaction of a need is not an “all-or-none” phenomenon, admitting that his earlier statements may have given “the false impression that a need must be satisfied 100 percent before the next need emerges”. Indeed, people progress to the next level with more or less satisfaction.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation

What Is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation?

Maslow’s 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. Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up.

  • From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
Deficiency Needs vs. Being Needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy

This five-stage model can be divided into deficiency needs and Being or 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).

Deficiency / Shortage needs arise due to deprivation/ lack and are said to motivate people when they are unmet. Also, the motivation to fulfill 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.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation in Psychology comprises a five-tier of human needs:

  1. Physiological needs: these are biological requirements for human survival, e.g. air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, and sleep.

If these needs are not satisfied the human body cannot function optimally. Maslow considered physiological needs the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.

  1. Safety needs: protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
  2. Love and belongingness needs: after physiological and safety needs have been fulfilled, the third level of human needs is social and involves feelings of belongingness. The need for interpersonal relationships motivates behavior

Examples include friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).

  1. Esteem needs– which Maslow classified into two categories: (i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and (ii) respect from others (status, prestige).

Maslow indicated that the need for respect or reputation is most important for children and adolescents and precedes / paves the way for real self-esteem or dignity.

  1. Self-actualization needs (B-needs):  realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth, and peak experiences. A desire “to become everything one is capable of becoming.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Examples In Home & Workplace Context
Needs Home Organization
Self-actualization Needs Education, religion, hobbies, personal growth Training, advancement, growth, creativity
Esteem Needs Approval of family, friends, community Recognition, high status, responsibilities
Belongingness Needs Family, friends, clubs Teams, depts, coworkers, clients, supervisors, subordinates
Safety Needs Freedom from war, poison, violence Work safety, job security, health insurance
Physiological Needs Food Water Sex Heat, Air, Base Salary


Maslow’s Theory To Motivate Employees in the Workplace
  • Remember employees have needs beyond a paycheck.
  • Focus on satisfying employee needs related to self-concepts.
  • Self-esteem.
  • Self-actualization.
  • Satisfied needs lose their potential.
  • Be careful when estimating employee’s needs.

Author: M M Kobiruzzaman

M M Kobiruzzaman is a researcher, lecturer, and academic & creative content writer. He studied for a Master of Management By Research at the School of Business and Economics Faculty, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Previously, he graduated from the Department of Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. His research interests contained Journalism, Social Media Communication, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and Corporate Communication. He has published several journal articles globally. He prefers to impart academic knowledge to other people through content writing. 

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