Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Ben Hayes
February 2, 2022

Maslow’s Hierarchy is a look into the psychology and motivation of humans that is presented in the shape of a pyramid. Abraham Maslow is the person behind the idea who wanted to find out the curiosity and thinking of human behaviour. His theories collaborate with other theories of human development psychology which some of them focus on describing the stages of human growth. The pyramid of needs is split between deficiency needs and growth needs. Despite being shown on a pyramid Maslow himself never illustrated it like this.

The hierarchy is a psychological idea but also a valuable assessment tool, which is used in many fields that are working and taking care of people which are but not limited to: health care workers, educators, social workers, life skill coaches and many more. The pyramid is used so much as it visualises the needs to reach self-actualisation. Maslow studied monkeys by monitoring their unusual behaviour patterns to figure out the needs based on priorities. 

Physiological Needs

The bottom of the hierarchy is physiological needs. They are the biological component of human survival. Physiological needs are taken into account with internal motivation according to Maslow’s hierarchy. Physiological needs are satisfied by humans first as they feel they have to so they can fulfil higher levels of intrinsic satisfaction which is. Physiological needs must be met first in order to progress to higher-level needs. But if these are a struggle to be met then they will be unwilling to seek safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization of their own.

Physiological needs:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Food
  • Sexual Intercourse
  • Sleep
  • Clothes
  • Shelter

The human body needs these for it to remain stable. Air is an example of a physiological need that is required more urgently than higher-level needs like social belonging. To meet the basic essentials of life, physiological needs are critical towards this. So everyday cravings such as hunger and thirst to be fulfilled without disrupting the regular flow of the body. 

Safety Needs

Safety needs take pole position and control behaviour after physiological needs are met. In the absence of physical safety the preference for job security, saving accounts, insurance policies, disability accomodations can be more dominant in children as they are more likely to want to feel safe and more likely if they have disabilities. Economic matters also affect adults as they are not shielded from the need of safety which includes shelter, job security, health and safe environments. Humans will not try to attempt higher levels of survival if they don’t feel safe in their current environment. This makes having a stable life allows the goal of safety more achievable. Our bodies need stability.

Safety Needs:

  • Health
  • Personal Security
  • Emotional Security
  • Financial Security 

Belongingness and Love Needs

When Physiological and safety needs are met, the next level of human needs is interpersonal and also feelings of being part of something. Humans have a feeling of being part of something or accepted within social groups regardless of the group size or the interest that brings people together. Belongingness is being comfortable and connecting with others to receive acceptance, respect and love as a result. Large social group examples are clubs, co-workers, religious groups, professional organisations, sports teams, gangs and online communities and some examples of smaller groups are family members, intimate partners, mentors, colleagues and confidants.Humans need love and this can come sexually and non-sexual. When humans have an absence of love they may become the victim of loneliness, social anxiety and clinical depression. Childhood can make this need more important and the need for safety brush over as seen in children who cling to abusive parents. An individual’s ability to form and maintain emotional relationships could be affected from deficiencies of hospitalism, neglect, shunning, otractism etc. People’s needs and development can be affected by their mental health. Depression can be caused during puberty if needs are not met. Depression is more likely to be lower if they grow up within a higher-income family as their basic needs are met. Depression rates tend to be higher when families have financial stress for a long period of time as their needs are not met and also the parent-child relationship can break down. This can also result in the parent worrying about providing for their children which leads to less time at home as they are working to provide for their family.

Social Belongings:

  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Intimacy
  • Trust
  • Acceptance
  • Receiving and giving love and affection

Physiological and security needs may be overlooked by the need of belonging, depending on the peer pressure put on an individual can cause self-esteem to be more important than belonging and in other cases some people’s creative side can overtake basic needs.

Esteem Needs 

Esteem is the respect and admiration of people but is also respect and self respect from others. People have the need for stable esteem which is based on real capacity or achievement. There are two versions of esteem that Mazlow noted the first one is ‘Lower’ which is the need for respect from others and also the need for status, recognition, fame, prestige and attention. Whereas the ‘Higher’ version is self respect and also strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence and freedom. Guidelines are taken in the higher version like “hierarchies are interrelated  rather than sharply separated”. This means they are not strictly separated but instead esteem and the levels are closely related.

Esteem is a learning opportunity to discover who we really are from our day to day experiences. This is crucial with children by letting them discover what they are capable of. Adults can be a great help with this by giving children opportunities to discover themselves. Parents and Educators must ensure the environment for children is encouraging for them to be respectful and capable individuals. The need for respect/reputation to give real self-esteem or dignity within children. This gives two sides of esteem for oneself and for others to reflect off.


“What a man can be, he must be”. This quotation gives the need for self-actualization. The realisation of an individual’s potential is referred to the level of need.Maslow describes this as the ability to accomplish everything they can so they can become the best version of themselves they can. People becoming the ideal parent, succeed athletically, create pictures, pictures or inventions is a strong aspiration. To understand the level of need they must succeed in previous so they can master those needs. Self-actualisation can also represent a value-based system when its role in motivation is mentioned. Self-actualisation is acknowledged as the goal or explicit move which allows self-actualisation to become achievable from the step by step process from the previous steps in the hierarchy. Explicit-move is the goal of a reward based system to achieve certain goals and values. People who have the motivation to achieve their goals will find out their needs, relationships and sense of self are demonstrated through their behaviour.


  • Partner Acquisition
  • Parenting 
  • Utilising and developing talent and abilities
  • Pursuing Goals

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