What Are Social Needs?

Andrew Tallon/Moment/Getty Images

Social needs are things such as acceptance, appreciation, belonging and companionship. Essentially, social needs are met by forging relationships with other people. Social needs are most often discussed in reference to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This theory ranks the needs of all humans in order or importance.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory that attempts to explain human behavior. According to this theory, human action is dependent on meeting a goal. Maslow’s theory is typically displayed in a pyramid with five levels. Social needs are placed at the third level. Social needs are ranked as less important than safety needs and physiological needs but below esteem and self-actualization needs.

Social needs are also considered to be deficiency needs or something that is essential for growth and development. According to Maslow’s theory, social needs are important because forging emotional relationships is essential for preventing anxiety, depression and loneliness. Maslow also argues that humans reciprocate emotions with the goal of fulfilling their own social needs.

Social needs are met in a variety of ways. Families meet the social needs of children, but later in life, romantic partners, friends and co-workers further meet social needs. Joining groups, such as a church or athletic team, also meets social needs.