Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a very elementary theory that is used primarily in psychology and social studies. However, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has universal validity, and everyone should therefore become acquainted with the characteristics of the pyramid of needs.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory

Maslow’s theory deals with the hierarchy and relationships between the needs and motivations of human beings.

One can start by asking the question, what is the basis for motivation? And how does motivation affects  one’s personality?

These were questions that American psychologist Abraham Maslow tried to answer. This led to the creation of the theory.

In English, the ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ is also simply referred to as the needs pyramid or the Maslow’s pyramid.

In this article, we will look at Abraham Maslow, studying the needs pyramid and explaining its characteristics.

Who is Abraham Maslow?

Abraham Maslow was born in New York in the United States in 1908. He was the oldest of seven. The parents were Jews who had fled from Jewish persecution in Russia, and although they were poor, they placed great emphasis on education.

Abraham Maslow became harassed as a child and was declared at an early stage mentally unstable. He spent much time alone, and he used to immerse himself in books.

Maslow started at different universities with different studies, but ended up studying psychology at the University of Wisconsin. After completing his studies, he continued with his researches and wrote several texts and hypotheses.

It was only after the Second World War was broken that Maslow began his work on mental health, self-realization and fulfillment of needs. In 1943, he published the first book on motivation and needs, which later was followed up with more releases on the subject.

Maslow worked as a professor at various universities and was also offered a leading position in humanistic psychology, which he didnt accept. Maslow died of a stroke in 1970.

Maslow’s Theory

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs describes how human needs are divided into levels. The basic idea is that needs must be met from bottom to top. The most basic needs are the bottom of the model, such as food and water. The further up, the more advanced ones make a peek at self-realization, which could become applicable when all the other needs have been met.

First, the contents of the various steps will be reviewed from bottom to top. Then it will be discussed what this means in practice.

  • Physical needs : The most basic human needs for survival such as water, food, sleep, respiration, secretion of bodily fluids, etc. However, physical needs also include physical balance and sex.
  • Security / Safety Requirements: Needs such as personal safety and financial security. Including safety in work, house, family and resources. In addition, the safety of body and health as well as the safety of the presence of morality.
  • Social needs (love and affiliation): When both the physical needs and the security needs are met, there are some social needs for love, intimacy and affiliation. Examples of social needs include family, friendship, social life and a social affiliation.
  • Appreciation / Recognition: When all of the underlying needs are met, a desire for respect and recognition from other people arises, as well as increased focus on self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Self-realization: Only when the physical needs, security needs, social needs and recognition are met, one can search for the ultimate goals that exist at a more spiritual level. Self-realization is about becoming a better person and able to act with morality, creativity and spontaneity to solve problems while avoiding being prejudiced and arrogant.


The different needs of Maslow’s demand pyramid thus go from the most basic survival instincts to self-realization. Due to the fact that all these different needs must be met at each level. It shows that man is in a constant search for the fulfillment of these needs.

Maslow also believed that if any of the first four needs are not met, for example, the physical or social needs, it can affect a person both physically and mentally.

It is worth noting that Maslow described the different needs in a hierarchy, with self-realization at the top and basic physical needs at the bottom. But Maslow never enlisted them in a pyramid. It is a model that has been designed subsequently, but works well to describe the structure.

The ranking of the different needs may vary in people. For example, social needs in childhood or later in family life may be stronger than the need for safety and security. For example, it could possible that people who go back to a violent partner thus ignoring safety she fullfil her need for love.

When you go to higher education and still live at home with your parents, your physical needs are covered, and the same goes for most security needs. Perhaps you are looking for at the time after your own financial safety in the form of a leisure job. Once all the security needs are met, you are looking for an affair.

The different needs of the pyramid can denote the basic motivation that human beings have in order to improve and perform better.

Using the needs pyramid

You can use Maslow’s pyramid to get an overview of life, no matter on which stage of life you are. Maslow’s demand pyramid can be used to gain an overview of working life and thus used by companies to optimize workplace efficiency.

The different needs (bottom and up) and the levels of the needs pyramid can easily be transformed into practice:

  • The physical needs are wages and a good working environment.
  • The security needs are permanent employment and good conditions.
  • The social needs are good atmosphere at the workplace and a friendly environment.
  • Recognition of what you have achieved so far and a high position (bold title?).
  • Self-realization is the opportunity to unfold their creativity, personal progress and promotion.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can thus be adapted to the circumstances and used in countless contexts. You can try to use the pyramidof needs on something that takes you up and figure out what level and stage you’re on.

Maslow’s demand pyramid has been criticized for being adapted to American society and therefore not as well-suited in, for example, the Middle East. The cultural differences between the United States and the Middle East are fundamentally different, and the needs pyramid must therefore be adapted to the culture in which it is used.