Abraham Maslow’s “Need Hierarchy Theory

Abraham Maslow’s “Need Hierarchy Theory

One of the most widely mentioned theories of motivation is the hierarchy of needs theory put forth by psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow saw human needs in the form of a hierarchy, ascending from the lowest to the highest, and he concluded that when one set of needs is satisfied, this kind of need ceases to be a motivator.

As per his theory this needs are :

(i) Physiological needs

These are important needs for sustaining the human life. Food, water, warmth, shelter, sleep, medicine and education are the basic physiological needs which fall in the primary list of need satisfaction. Maslow was of an opinion that until these needs were satisfied to a degree to maintain life, no other motivating factors can work.

(ii) Security or Safety needs

These are the needs to be free of physical danger and of the fear of losing a job, property, food or shelter. It also includes protection against any emotional harm.

(iii) Social needs

Since people are social beings, they need to belong and be accepted by others. People try to satisfy their need for affection, acceptance and friendship.

(iv) Esteem needs

According to Maslow, once people begin to satisfy their need to belong, they tend to want to be held in esteem both by themselves and by others. This kind of need produces such satisfaction as power, prestige status and self-confidence. It includes both internal esteem factors like self-respect, autonomy and achievements and external esteem factors such as states, recognition and attention.

(v) Need for self-actualization

Maslow regards this as the highest need in his hierarchy. It is the drive to become what one is capable of becoming; it includes growth, achieving one’s potential and self-fulfillment. It is to maximize one’s potential and to accomplish something.

As each of these needs are substantially satisfied, the next need becomes dominant. From the standpoint of motivation, the theory would say that although no need is ever fully gratified, a substantially satisfied need no longer motivates. So if you want to motivate someone, you need to understand what level of the hierarchy that person is on and focus on satisfying those needs or needs above that level.

Maslow’s need theory has received wide recognition, particularly among practicing managers. This can be attributed to the theory’s intuitive logic and ease of understanding. However, research does not validate this theory. Maslow provided no empirical evidence and other several studies that sought to validate the theory found no support for it.

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