What Is the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs?


Quick Answer

The Maslow Hierarchy of Needs is a theory proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation." It is a construct that expresses a pattern of needs that must be fulfilled in order for people to live fulfilled lives. The hierarchy has five ordered levels composed of physiological needs at the bottom, then safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs and the need for self-actualization.

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The Hierarchy of Needs is portrayed in the shape of a pyramid with the largest, most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom and the need for self-actualization at the top. Each level cannot be accessed until the previous level has been fulfilled. The original five-stage model was introduced in the 1940s with seven- and eight-stage models appearing in the 1960s and 1970s

Examples of physiological needs are air, water and food, shelter and warmth, sex and sleep. These needs are the physical requirements for human survival.

Protection from elements, security, order, law and stability represent the second level, safety needs.

Love and belongingness needs are friendship, intimacy, affection and love from work groups, family, friends and romantic relationships.

Self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence and status, as well as dominance, prestige and managerial responsibility, are included in esteem needs.

The uppermost level, self-actualization includes realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, pursuing personal growth and peak experiences. Maslow theorized that less than 10 percent of people achieve full self-actualization.

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