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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

You enter the car showroom looking for a vehicle. The first thing the salesperson will do is make sure you have something to drink, perhaps something to eat, and that that you are comfortable (thus the well lit showrooms with seating and tables). They are meeting your basic physiological needs.

The showroom and lot appear safe, good lighting, lots of people around, an island of safety in which to shop for a car or truck. The dealership is meeting your need for safety and security.

The salesperson calls you by name, discussed your family and "theirs", and if appropriate touch (handshake, shoulder and so forth).

The esteem level comes when you get behind the wheel. Their job is to talk you up and get you a vehicle you will love that will also enhance you self esteem and image. Does the vehicle give you confidence, make you feel successful, gain you the respect of others or earn you respect from those you wish to look up to or respect you?

Self Actualization is an issue beyond what anyone else can do for you. The explanation varies by field, by interpretation, by context. In a way if you feel good about yourself and if the vehicle meets your needs at the highest level it may contribute to your self-actualization. A person may feel self actualized with a used car, or a bicycle for that matter.

This in a nutsell is Maslow. A pyramid, not a triangle, built on a foundation that must be strong and with each new level needing to be on a sound foundation for the levels above to be strong and successful.

Most of the world lives at the bottom two levels. Most of the educated industrial world lives in the botom four levels. The top level is very difficult to achieve, if even possible.

The following is from:

Self-actualization is the summit of Maslow's motivation theory. It is about the quest of reaching one's full potential as a person. Unlike lower level needs, this need is never fully satisfied; as one grows psychologically there are always new opportunities to continue to grow.
Self-actualized people tend to have motivators such as:
  • Truth
  • Justice
  • Wisdom
  • Meaning
Self-actualized persons have frequent occurrences of peak experiences, which are energized moments of profound happiness and harmony. According to Maslow, only a small percentage of the population reaches the level of self-actualization.

Click here for further details, explanation and examples of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Esteem Needs

After a person feels that they "belong", the urge to attain a degree of importance emerges. Esteem needs can be categorized as external motivators and internal motivators.
Internally motivating esteem needs are those such as self-esteem, accomplishment, and self respect.  External esteem needs are those such as reputation and recognition.
Some examples of esteem needs are:
  • Recognition (external motivator) 
  • Attention (external motivator) 
  • Social Status (external motivator) 
  • Accomplishment (internal motivator) 
  • Self-respect (internal motivator)
Maslow later improved his model to add a layer in between self-actualization and esteem needs: the need for aesthetics and knowledge.

Social Needs

Once a person has met the lower level physiological and safety needs, higher level motivators awaken. The first level of higher level needs are social needs. Social needs are those related to interaction with others and may include:
  • Friendship
  • Belonging to a group
  • Giving and receiving love

Safety Needs

Once physiological needs are met, one's attention turns to safety and security in order to be free from the threat of physical and emotional harm. Such needs might be fulfilled by:
  • Living in a safe area
  • Medical insurance
  • Job security
  • Financial reserves
According to the Maslow hierarchy, if a person feels threatened, needs further up the pyramid will not receive attention until that need has been resolved.

Physiological Needs

Physiological needs are those required to sustain life, such as:
  • Air
  • Water
  • Food
  • Sleep
According to this theory, if these fundamental needs are not satisfied then one will surely be motivated to satisfy them. Higher needs such as social needs and esteem are not recognized until one satisfies the needs basic to existence.

Applying Maslow's Needs Hierarchy - Business Management Implications

If Maslow's theory is true, there are some very important leadership implications to enhance workplace motivation. There are staff motivation opportunities by motivating each employee through their style of management, compensation plans, role definition, and company activities.
  • Physiological Motivation: Provide ample breaks for lunch and recuperation and pay salaries that allow workers to buy life's essentials.
  • Safety Needs: Provide a working environment which is safe, relative job security, and freedom from threats.
  • Social Needs: Generate a feeling of acceptance, belonging, and community by reinforcing team dynamics.
  • Esteem Motivators: Recognize achievements, assign important projects, and provide status to make employees feel valued and appreciated.
  • Self-Actualization: Offer challenging and meaningful work assignments which enable innovation, creativity, and progress according to long-term goals.
Remember, everyone is not motivated by same needs.  At various points in their lives and careers, various employees will be motivated by completely different needs. It is imperative that you recognize each employee's needs currently being pursued. In order to motivate their employees, leadership must be understand the current level of needs at which the employee finds themselves, and leverage needs for workplace motivation.

Maslow's Theory - Limitations and Criticism

Though Maslow's hierarchy makes sense intuitively, little evidence supports its strict hierarchy. Actually, recent research challenges the order that the needs are imposed by Maslow's pyramid. As an example, in some cultures, social needs are placed more fundamentally than any others. Further, Maslow's hierarchy fails to explain the "starving artist" scenario, in which the aesthetic neglects their physical needs to pursuit of aesthetic or spiritual goals. Additionally, little evidence suggests that people satisfy exclusively one motivating need at a time, other than situations where needs conflict.
While scientific support fails to reinforce Maslow's hierarchy, his thery is very popular, being the introductory motivation theory for many students and managers, worldwide. To handle a number of the issues of present in the Needs Hierarchy, Clayton Alderfer devised the ERG theory, a consistent needs-based model that aligns more accurately with scientific research.


Kimberly said...

I love this theory. I find it extrememly interesting. However personally I believe that you and only you know when you are or are not fully satisfied in life. I feel there are no steps that need to be taken in order. You set your goals and you know what makes you truely happy.

jcdaniel62 said...

Over the years I've come to personally know, and count among friends many people who have managed to achieve the first tier. More recently many of us, while getting to that top tier, have had the fourth tier down (safety & security) pulled out from underneath. So I guess some of us are standing on top of pyramids that are not as tall as others.
jcdaniel comm 101 bc550

Anonymous said...

I believe this theory, however depending on the situation or time in your life, I think all people reach the level of self-actualization.

Chris Jackson

Linda B said...

I found this theory really interesting, and it makes sense that the bottom levels are the basis for the higher levels. In regards to the top most level,self-actualization, I can see why its so hard to attain, I do not know of anyone who doesn't have some kind of prejudice towards certain things.
Linda Ndenga.

Anonymous said...

I've learned about this theory before and found it very interesting. For one, each level is achieved at it's own pace fitting the person and their interest. And also that in order to move up the triangle, you must achieve the first level, which is true because in order to feel safe, you need to reach the basic aspects of life..

Ashley Ramos
Com 101

Anonymous said...


COM 101

Mitch Yang said...

I learned this theory somewhere before. HaHa Great theory

Michael J. Jones said...

Completely accurate! I run the corporate wellness for Lexus of Las Vegas and Lexus of Henderson and the public relations director, Andrea Gillman expressed that the layout, design, and customer service is designed around this model.

Anonymous said...

I think that this is the bases for any type of sales, especially politics. This pyrimd is a guideline of how to get other to do what you want, in my opinion.

Missy Brueggemeyer

Jessica Johnson COM 101 4041 said...

I just studied this in Business 101. Without achieving a lower level you cannot move up confidently to achieve the next level. It truely makes sense.

Danielle Scarano 4041 said...

i learned this in psychology my jr of high school

Randy M. BC 6003 said...

I believe everyones self actualization is gonna be different. Perhaps your standards are lower or you are generally a happy and content person with everything.

Maura Goldberg COM101 6002 said...

It's deep thinking on the highest have to do a complete re-construction of the self. My Philosophy teacher would go ape-doody over this!

taboada hn4041 said...

yea i learned this in my psychology book and to really reach the next level you have to have a concrete foundation on the earlier one and many people sometimes are all over the place that you reach one but can fall.

Anonymous said...

I have also learned about this theory in my Psychology class and I find it interesting that it ties into a cirtical thinking class. I enjoyed reading this.
Jasmine B

maslow hierarchy said...

Thanks for the amazing description of the topic as well as detailed images. This really helps one to prioritize what his/her persuits should be at their specific stage in their life - hence the heirarchy. Here is another good image of the pyramid where the main points are nicely grouped:

Berenice said...

this is helps me to remember!

Karen Johnson Com 101-4080 said...

After analyzing the pyramid I found it to be a credible model for most of the population in society. Maslow's theory of reaching the top for full potential is left up to those whose job it is for their benefit.

Tayari Freeman@phoenix said...

I believe we all reach self actualization sometime in our lives, but its hard to stay at the top of your full potential with all the trials and tribulations of life.

Jasmine (uop)Hum 114 said...

I totally agree with Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. It breaks it down into simple terms. It really can help one focus on parts that maybe need improvement. Simply by trying to improve on what you are lacking.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I really need this for review for the final.

Taylor Bishop
Com 101

Anonymous said...

When I learned this in psych class, it was interesting. A person has to achieve the lower part of the pyramid to get to the top.
Brianna Dirden

Anonymous said...

Used in psychology, sociology, business, communication, education, social anthropology, theology and sales.

Anonymous said...

In response to chris... I agree, but it might be too late... Bree- week 5

Anonymous said...

I agree with this theory but I think it's much easier to achieve self-actualization. I fell that the percentage of people that reach levels of self-actualization is much higher.

Brandon Fete

Eliza said...

Hi All,

Here you can find another graphical presentation of Maslow's theory.
Feel free to use it if you find it helpful.

Anonymous said...

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is commonly used in behavior management. It surprised me to see this related to communications. Good stuff!

JoeRandazzo, RT

N186P said...

I really like this theory. I agree with many aspects of it but am kind of unsure about some of it. I feel that only the individual could know when they are satisfied or unsatisfied. While guy A might be fully satisfied with working a 9-5 job and raising a family, guy B might be really unsatisfied witht the same scenario. I believe it all depends on the individuals needs and wants.


Anonymous said...

Maslow's Hierarchy of needs is a great way to ensure we're on the right path with ourselves. I think the reason most people don't reach self-actualization is because it is so difficult to keep everything else before it in well working order. Friends, family, health, money, ect...


bhavya said...

Maslow was wrong. See SSRN article, by bhavya nain , available at