A Business Encyclopedia

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy

Definition: The Maslow’s Need Hierarchy is given by Abraham Maslow, who has explained the strength of certain needs at the different point of time.

Maslow has given a framework that helps to understand the strength of needs and how a person moves from one need to the other when the basic needs are fulfilled. These needs are arranged in the hierarchical form as shown below:

Maslow's Need Hierarchy

  1. Physiological Needs: These needs are the basic needs, a prerequisite for the survival of the human being. Air, water, food, sleep are the physiological needs which must be met, in order to go further in the hierarchy. If these needs are not met, then an individual will be highly motivated to satisfy these first, while the other levels of needs would provide him with a little motivation.
  2. Safety Needs: Once the physiological or basic needs are fulfilled, the other needs become important. The next comes the safety or security needs. People begin to feel the need for a safer place to live in, i.e. shelter, safe neighborhood, steady employment, etc. Thus, at this stage, the need for self-preservation i.e. a need for being free of physical danger, emerges.
  3. Social Needs: After the first two needs of the hierarchy are met, people tend to move further and seeks to satisfy their social needs. Since a human being is a social animal who lives in the society, has an urge to belong to and be accepted by all. The need for love, affection, belonging emerges at this stage. Thus, the relationships are formed at this level.
  4. Esteem Needs: Once the above needs are fulfilled, an individual strives to achieve the esteem needs, concerned with self-respect, self-confidence, a feeling of being unique, social recognition, personal worth, etc. On the satisfaction of these needs, an individual feels the sense of power and control and becomes more confident.
  5. Self-Actualization Needs: The next and the final need on the Maslow’s Need Hierarchy is the Self Actualization Need. It refers to the need to maximize one’s potential. These needs are related to the development of one’s intrinsic capabilities that can be utilized in different real life situations. It can be rephrased as, a desire of becoming, what one is capable of becoming.

Thus, according to this theory, the behavior of an individual is determined by his strongest needs, i.e. a person is motivated to fulfil the unsatisfied needs.

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