Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs As A Classical Theories Of Motivation

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Abraham Harold Maslow

Early Life, Education, And Formative Experiences

Born on April 1, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York, Abraham Maslow was the eldest of seven kids. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Kiev in the first generation, then part of the Russian Empire (now Ukraine), who fled from Czarist persecution within the early twentieth century. They decided to live in New York City and in a multi-ethnic working-class neighbour. His dad and mom were poor and no longer intellectually focused, but they valued education. Maslow attended the City College of New York after his high school. In 1926 he commenced taking legal research lessons at night in addition to his undergraduate course load. He hated it and almost immediately dropped out. In 1927 he transferred to Cornell, however he left after just one semester because of bad grades and excessive expenses. He studied psychology and Gestalt psychology at the University of Wisconsin and the New School for Social Research, respectively (Encyclopædia Brittanica). He was an American psychologist who was acknowledged for developing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a concept of psychological health predicated on innate human wishes in precedence, culminating in self-actualization. Maslow taught psychology at Alliant International University, Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research, and Columbia University. He highlighted the significance of focusing at the high qualities in people, in place of treating them as a bag of signs. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Maslow as the tenth most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

He was originally interested in philosophy as an adolescent, but soon became frustrated with “all the talking that didn’t get any place” and soon switched his focus to psychology, which he felt was more applicable to the real world (Frick, 2000). Maslow become first drawn to behaviourism in psychology but soon rejected it, even though he still “retained a robust loyalty to positivism during the duration of his life”. Maslow considered himself a “very timid boy” while he first started out his education, and he in part attributes his later hobby in self-actualization and the optimization of the human experience to this timidity and the isolation it triggered.

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It was not until World War II, but, while “as a 33-year father with two kids… the horrors of mass war gave him a experience of urgency” and he pivoted his attention to human motivation and self-actualization. It is clear that Maslow’s research interests were affected by means of his experiences, which helps explain his contributions to humanistic psychology.


Abraham Harold Maslow died on 8th June,1970 in Menlo Park, California by a heart attack while he was jogging at the age of 62.

His Contributions

Humanistic psychology:

Maslow’s thinking become unique. Most psychologists earlier than him had been worried with the abnormal and the sick. He urged human beings to consider their fundamental needs earlier than addressing higher level needs and ultimately self-actualization needs. Humanistic psychology gave upward push to numerous extraordinary therapies, all guided by means of the idea that humans possess the internal sources for growth and restoration and that the point of therapy is to help remove barriers to people attaining them. The most acknowledged of these therapies was developed by Carl Rogers, his client cantered therapy.

The principles behind humanistic psychology are:

  1. Someone’s present is their most important element. As a end result, humanists emphasize the here and now instead of examining the past or trying to predict the future.
  2. To have a peace of mind, people should take responsibility for their actions, no matter whether or not the actions are negative or positive.
  3. Each man or woman, simply with the aid of being, is inherently worthy. While any given movement may be terrible, those moves do not cancel out the worth of a person.
  4. The final aim of living is to obtain personal growth. Only through constant self-development and self-understanding can an individual ever be certainly satisfied.

Humanistic psychology concept fits folks who see the effective aspect of humanity and believe in free will. This idea surely contrasts with Freud’s theory of biological determinism. Another importance is that humanistic psychology concept is well matched with other school of thoughts. Maslow’s Hierarchy is likewise relevant to different subjects, consisting of finance, economics, or maybe in history or criminology. Humanist psychology, also coined high quality psychology, has criticized for its loss of empirical validation and therefore its lack of usefulness in treating some problems. It can also fail to assist or diagnose people who’ve extreme mental issues.

The Hierarchy of Needs

The hierarchy of needs comes from Maslow’s belief that: “the fundamental desires of human beings are similar despite the multitude of conscious desires” (Zalenski & Raspa, 2006). Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology given by Abraham.H. Maslow in his 1943 paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ in Psychological Review. Maslow at the end extended the concept to include his observations of human beings’ innate interest. His theories were parallel to many different theories of human developmental psychology, a number at which describes the stages of growth in people. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is used to have a look at how people intrinsically partake in behavioural motivation. Maslow used the phrases ‘physiological’, ‘security’, ‘belonging and love’, ‘social needs’ or ‘esteem’, and ‘self-actualization’ to explain the pattern by which human motivations typically move. According to this theory, in order for motivation to arise at the next level, every stage has to be satisfied in the humans themselves. Also, this idea is a foundation in understanding how drive and motivation are related while discussing human behaviour. Each of these tiers consists of a sure amount of internal sensation that must be met so as for a person to finish their hierarchy. The goal in Maslow’s concept is to reap the 5th stage or level: self-actualization. Maslow’s idea was fully explained in his 1954 book Motivation and Personality. The hierarchy state a very famous framework in sociology studies, control management training and higher psychology instruction.

Various Levels Under Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

1. Physiological needs

Physiological need is a concept to provide an explanation for the foundation for motivation. This concept is primarily the bodily requirement for human survival. This means that Physiological needs are typical human needs. Physiological desires are considered as the step one in inner motivation as per Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This idea states that people are compelled to satisfy these basic needs first in order to pursue satisfaction on a better stage. If these desires aren’t satisfied, it leads to a sense of dissatisfaction within a human. In order to pursue intrinsic motivation higher up Maslow’s hierarchy, Physiological wishes need to be met first. This means that if an individual is struggling to fulfill his physiological wishes, then they’re not likely to pursue security, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. Physiological needs mainly include the need for food, shelter, health, sleep, clothes, water and sex.

2. Safety needs

Once a person’s physiological desires are satisfied, their safety desires take priority and dominate conduct. In the absence of physical protection – because of war, natural catastrophe, family violence, early life abuse, institutional racism and so on. – human beings may (re-)experience post-traumatic stress or trans generational trauma. In the absence of economic safety – because of an economic crisis and absence of work opportunities – these protection needs take place themselves in methods such as a preference for job security, complaint approaches for protecting the man or woman from unilateral authority, coverage policies, disability accommodation, and so on. This stage is much more likely to predominate in children as they normally have an extra need to sense safe. Safety and security needs are mainly about keeping us secure and safe. These include refuge, job protection, health, and secure environments. If a person does not feel secured in his surroundings, he will seek to find protection earlier than they try to meet any better level of survival, but the need for safety is not as vital as basic physiological wishes. Safety and Security needs mainly include Personal safety, Emotional security, Financial safety, Health and well-being and Safety needs against accidents/sickness and their detrimental impacts.

3. Love/ Belongingness Needs

After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third stage of human desires are seen to be interpersonal and includes feelings of belongingness. Social Belonging needs includes- Friendships, Intimacy and Family. According to Maslow, humans want a sense of belonging and recognition among social groups, regardless of whether or not those groups are large or small. Many people end up liable to loneliness, social tension, and clinical depression in the absence of this love or belonging detail.

4. Esteem needs

Esteem needs are ego or repute needs. People develop a concern with getting popularity, importance, recognition and admire from others. Most human beings have a desire to be respected in society. Esteem provides the common human need to be accepted and valued by others. People often engage in a profession or hobby to gain recognition. Maslow classified the esteem needs into 2 categories: (i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, and independence) and (ii) the need for respect from others (reputation, status). Maslow indicated that the want for popularity is most vital for children and teenagers.

5. Self-Actualisation Needs:

Maslow describes this as the preference to achieve everything that one can. an Individual understands or focuses on this need very specifically. People may have a preference to become an excellent parent, succeed athletically, or create paintings, images, or innovations. Maslow emphasized that in order to fulfill this level of need, an individual must not only succeed in the previous needs but master them. Self-actualization can be defined as a value-based system while discussing its importance in motivation, self-actualization is defined as the final motive or goal, and the previous stages in Maslow’s Hierarchy fall in line to come to be the step by step technique by which self-actualization is achieved. Self-actualization mainly includes: Mate Acquisition, Parenting, Utilizing & Developing Abilities, Utilizing & Developing Talents, and Pursuing goals.

Critical Review Of Maslow’s Theory

Although many have appreciated the Need Hierarchy Theory given by Maslow, the theory is still debatable. Following are some critical evaluation of Maslow’s need hierarchy theory:

  1. This theory is not empirically tested: Second criticism of this theory is that it is not empirically tested (empirically tested means that it is not made in a room but it is being tested in field). Maslow has proposed this theory out of his own intuition. Maslow has not conducted any experimentation to validate this theory. Usually theories are formed after a lot of experimentation and researches this theory is intuitive. He had never tested this theory. In fact there were many tests conducted to validate this theory but they all came out with opposing results. This is one of the major criticisms of Maslow’s theory.It is accepted worldwide although there is no experimentation done by Maslow to prove it.
  2. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Is culturally biased. The higher-order (self-esteem and self-actualization) and lower-order (physiological, safety, and love) needs classification of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is not typical and can be different across different cultures because of individual variations and availability of resources within the area or geopolitical entity.
  3. According to Maslow, in order to move up the pyramid the lower level needs must be fulfilled, but needs are not always in a hierarchical form. Any individual can have a higher-level motivation anytime and anywhere. Hertzberg in his theory explained that there can be unsatisfaction in both higher and lower level needs. His theory clearly contradicts Maslow’s theory of Need Hierarchy as here if lower level needs are satisfied then only an individual is motivated to achieve the higher-level needs. For instance, army officers who fights for the country at the border remains hungry throughout the war days, but they are still willing to die for their country. Here, we can also take an example of Mahatma Gandhi. He was a person for whom self esteem was more important than safety needs. Another example can be of Mr. Anand Kumar, who recently visited our campus, if we look at his hierarchy it might be very different from that said by Maslow as for him self-esteem and self actualization might come much above money. He is not motivated by safety and security needs but motivated by much higher order level needs though he may not have achieved lower level needs.
  4. Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of Needs is not flexible. Its validity is difficult to be tested by the researchers like self-actualization which is difficult to be evaluated and measured. The behavior of human beings is unstable and uncertain and with this sort of rigid concept, the dynamic desires of employees are tough to be identified.
  5. Another Trouble is that there is a lack of direct cause and effect relationship between need and behaviour. One particular want can lead to a different form of behaviour in different people. Moreover, as a particular human behaviour can be because of the result of various needs. Thus, Harold’s need hierarchy isn’t as simple as it seems to be.
  6. Need and satisfaction of needs is a psychological feeling. Sometimes even an individual may not be aware of his personal needs. How can the managers come to know about these needs?
  7. Some people may be disadvantaged in terms of lower stage of needs but might still be looking for the self-actualization, for instance many creative people like artists and authors have lived in poverty during their life but they have achieved self-actualisation by doing what they love.


The Theory of Need Hierarchy is one of the first few classical theories of motivation. The theory despite being proposed on the basis of the personal opinion of Harold Maslow is widely accepted because of its simplicity, It provides basic manifesto to a manager how to fulfill his duties and needs in effective and efficient manner. The theory will only be applicable if it is changed according to time and changing attitudes of people.


  1. McLeod, S. A. (2018, May 21). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieved from


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