Desires are what humans are made up of. What we want to achieve in life shows us the reality of things we desire in our hearts. It is those things that we think give our lives meaning. But if for some reason, our desires don’t get fulfilled we sometimes fixate in those levels. This fixation doesn’t let us grow in any other form.
So, What is Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs Theory?
Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs is proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. The theory suggests that first the most basic needs have to be made and then the person can go up to the higher level needs in the pyramid. Here is the pyramid of the same that helps to see the needs in the right order.
1. The first need is the Physiological need
It includes food, water, air, and sex. This is considered the most primary need of humans. The surviving mechanism as it is called. From the ancient times, mankind has been dependent on these needs to increase their chances of survival. The human body cannot function optimally if they are not met. It comes under the deficiency needs that arise due to deprivation and are said to motivate people. The desire or the motivation to fulfill this need becomes stronger the longer it is not met. For example: the longer a person is without food, the more hungry they become.
2. The second need is the Safety need
This means keeping yourself away from any harm it can be the natural disasters, family violence, war or economic crisis like lack of work opportunity. Job security, health, financial all these includes under the safety need. They will only come to this level when the physiological needs are satisfied. Also because this is less important compared to the first need. It is likely to predominate in children as they have a greater need to feel safe. Emotional security also comes under the safety need.
3. The third need is Belongingness need
The need to love and be loved in return. The need for interpersonal relationships motivates behavior. The acceptance among social groups is very satisfying and without that, it can lead to disbalance in the person’s emotional well being. This shows that this need is very important as the support group or peers can help in overpowering the other two needs as well. Both sexual and non-sexual relationships are important for an individual. The needs are met through fulfilling relationships with others. Examples of social needs: intimacy, affection, family, friends, love, relationships etc.
4. The fourth need is Self-esteem need
Once the needs of being loved are fulfilled then the person starts developing feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. The feeling of being recognized, given importance or the status that eventually gives the feeling of being pride. People usually join professions that gain them recognition and acceptance by others. Those with low self-esteem struggle with this need for their whole lives. It is important to first accept yourself internally and then seek it from others. These needs include respect, achievement, recognition, accomplishment. Fame, prestige, and attention are what this need indicates you to.
5. The fifth need is Self Actualization need
This is the final need, to attain the utmost position a man can take. And also the realization of its fullest potential and seeking personal growth and experiences. “What a man can be, he must be” is the basis of this need for self-actualization. A person comes to find the actual meaning of what life is to them. Maslow believed that to understand this need the person must not achieve the previous needs but also master them. It is a process of continuation rather than a perfect defined state. Examples of self-actualization include: pursue talent, growth, creativity, self-fulfillment, potential etc.
For every person, this level can be quite different. Some might want to achieve other greatness.
Maslow said that the order of needs can be flexible because of external circumstances and individual differences. For example, for some beings, the self-esteem need may dominate the belongingness need.
Deficiency needs and growth needs:
The hierarchy of needs model can be divided into two needs. The first four needs come under the deficiency needs and the next two under the growth needs.
The deficiency needs arise out of deprivation and are said to motivate one when the needs are not met. Maslow also clarified that it is not like one need has to 100% fulfilled then only the person can move to next need. The person can still emerge to the other need.
The growth need is not something that arises because of a lack of something rather it is a desire to grow as an individual. Progress is often hindered by the lower level needs because sometimes certain life experiences cause one to fluctuate back to the lower level need. Loss of a job takes you back to safety needs and then takes a toll on the esteem needs.
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Later on, Maslow’s needs were extended to other needs by some researchers. The pyramid has eight stage of the hierarchy of needs after the elaboration. That includes:
- Cognitive needs: The need to know and understand. Knowledge meaning, understanding etc.
- Aesthetic needs: The need to express oneself in pleasing ways.
- Transcendence needs: Helping others to achieve self-actualization. It comes after one has achieved self-actualization need for oneself.
- Critical evaluation of his work: Every work that gains popularity as also an equal no. of criticisms. It is no doubt that the work is still given importance in all the backgrounds of teaching. But clearly, a few things are there that is disagreed upon.
The methodology used is not reliable because it is based on what Maslow considered as the most self-actualized need. The personal opinion comes into the picture because he took the qualities of 18 humans he considered that as achieving the highest need. The analysis was highly subjective.
Maslow’s studies on self-actualized women are very much in question because of the small proportion of the sample he used. Therefore to generalize this theory to all females is not right. Also, the samples of small or lower class groups were not taken thus the validity is in doubt.
The inclusion of sex in the basic needs. While many have argued that it cannot be counted under the physiological need because it is not what everyone desires or needs. It is only an individual perspective that may or may not include sex in the physiological need.
“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life”.- ABRAHAM MASLOW
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