A Theory of Human Motivation by the American psychologist Abraham Maslow written in 1943, has become a highly referenced source of information for determining our needs. In the field of psychology, this paper explains the hierarchy of basic needs that need to be fulfilled in sequence to reach self-actualization. This pyramid of needs has been criticized for not being based on scientific proof and for being overly-schematic. In the field of psychology, it is a useful tool for determining theories of human motivation. The Hierarchy of Needs is used professionally in some workplaces to market services to consumers.
The hierarchy of needs is depicted in the form of a pyramid with our basic needs being the largest part of the scheme. It consists of five components that determine our motivations for our behavior in a specific order; we can only progress to the next level once the needs from the bottom have been met.
At the bottom of the pyramid of the hierarchy of needs is our physical requirements that must be met for us to progress to the next level. These needs are basic and are important to our survival as they are necessary for us to live and to function. These needs include:
Our security needs are classified as a deficiency need. These needs are only met once we have satisfied our physiological needs. We need to feel a sense of safety to feel secure in our communities and workplaces. Problems such as bullying and a high crime rate in our neighborhood take away from our security needs being met. When we feel safe having shelter, safety, and stability we are then free to move on to the next stage of development.
Having met our physical and security needs met, we can then focus our energies on our social needs. A strong sense of belonging to a community makes us feel safe and content. Our families can fulfill these needs as we reach out for each other and meet up regularly. Friends can be great supports in a time of need, and this help can be reciprocated to the benefit of each other.
Our ego needs are fourth in importance in the pyramid of the hierarchy of needs and is a deficiency need. Once we have met the needs of physical, safety, and social needs we can satisfy our ego’s needs for fulfillment. These needs pertain to our sense of self-satisfaction. They include:
Self-actualization is at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The minority of people only attains this level because it requires special qualities in a person before this need can be fulfilled. One must be honest, independent, aware, objective, creative, and original. This growth need enables us to reach our full potential thus making us successful in all areas of life. It is not because of lack that we desire to reach this stage, but it is our need to grow that leads us to the top level of the pyramid.
Some people argue that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is incomplete and inaccurate. It is argued that social needs are the same as basic needs at the bottom level because without human interaction we are unable to survive. During his research, Maslow only studied the healthiest college students ignoring people with illnesses as to not interfere with his findings. The order of needs may change due to circumstances, and the tiers may not have the same importance across different cultures.
As we progress up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we feel our anxiety lessen. This anxiety motivates us to satisfy our needs from the deficit stages through to the self-growth stage. We progress as we meet every need starting from the bottom of the pyramid. We start by ensuring we have enough food, clean air, water and plenty of rest to nourish our bodies. Once these needs have been fulfilled, we move up to attain suitable shelter, a sense of stability and safety. The next step is to enrich our need to be loved by being social. Being social helps us to have a sense of self-esteem. The last step allows us to express ourselves creatively and grow to our full potential.
Abraham Maslow was born in 1908 in New York, New York, United States. He studied psychology and introduced new theories including Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. His study of psychotherapy concluded that its goal should be the integration of the self. The study of humanistic psychology benefitted from Abraham Maslow’s contributions. He studied psychology at the University of Wisconsin and the New School for Social Research. In 1937 he worked at Brooklyn College before becoming the head of the psychology department at Brandeis University. He died in 1970 at the age of 62.
Abraham Maslow had a lot to say about self-actualization and what happens to us if we don’t succeed in fulfilling this need. He said:
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