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By Dr. Saul McLeod , updated December 29, Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological food and clothing , safety job security , love and belonging needs friendship , esteem, and self-actualization. Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up.
Table of contents. This five-stage model can be divided into deficiency needs and growth needs. The first four levels are often referred to as deficiency needs D-needs , and the top level is known as growth or being needs B-needs.
Deficiency needs arise due to deprivation and are said to motivate people when they are unmet. Also, the motivation to fulfill such needs will become stronger the longer the duration they are denied. For example, the longer a person goes without food, the more hungry they will become. Maslow initially stated that individuals must satisfy lower level deficit needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs.
When a deficit need has been 'more or less' satisfied it will go away, and our activities become habitually directed towards meeting the next set of needs that we have yet to satisfy. These then become our salient needs.
However, growth needs continue to be felt and may even become stronger once they have been engaged. Growth needs do not stem from a lack of something, but rather from a desire to grow as a person. Once these growth needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.
Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization. Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by a failure to meet lower level needs.
Life experiences, including divorce and loss of a job, may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of the hierarchy.
Therefore, not everyone will move through the hierarchy in a uni-directional manner but may move back and forth between the different types of needs. Maslow , stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior.
Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on. Physiological needs - these are biological requirements for human survival, e. If these needs are not satisfied the human body cannot function optimally. Maslow considered physiological needs the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.
People want to experience order, predictability and control in their lives. These needs can be fulfilled by the family and society e. For example, emotional security, financial security e.
Love and belongingness needs - after physiological and safety needs have been fulfilled, the third level of human needs is social and involves feelings of belongingness. The need for interpersonal relationships motivates behavior. Examples include friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group family, friends, work. Maslow indicated that the need for respect or reputation is most important for children and adolescents and precedes real self-esteem or dignity.
Self-actualization needs are the highest level in Maslow's hierarchy, and refer to the realization of a person's potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be.
Individuals may perceive or focus on this need very specifically. For example, one individual may have a strong desire to become an ideal parent.
In another, the desire may be expressed economically, academically or athletically. For others, it may be expressed creatively, in paintings, pictures, or inventions. This is what we mean by saying that the basic human needs are organized into a hierarchy of relative prepotency" Maslow, , p.
Maslow continued to refine his theory based on the concept of a hierarchy of needs over several decades Maslow, , , Maslow noted that the order of needs might be flexible based on external circumstances or individual differences. For example, he notes that for some individuals, the need for self-esteem is more important than the need for love. For others, the need for creative fulfillment may supersede even the most basic needs.
It is important to note that Maslow's , five-stage model has been expanded to include cognitive and aesthetic needs Maslow, a and later transcendence needs Maslow, b. Changes to the original five-stage model are highlighted and include a seven-stage model and an eight-stage model; both developed during the s and s. Biological and physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear. Love and belongingness needs - friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love.
Esteem needs - which Maslow classified into two categories: i esteem for oneself dignity, achievement, mastery, independence and ii the desire for reputation or respect from others e. Cognitive needs - knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability.
Self-actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. Instead of focusing on psychopathology and what goes wrong with people, Maslow formulated a more positive account of human behavior which focused on what goes right.
He was interested in human potential, and how we fulfill that potential. Psychologist Abraham Maslow , stated that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth.
Self-actualized people are those who were fulfilled and doing all they were capable of. For Maslow, a person is always 'becoming' and never remains static in these terms. In self-actualization, a person comes to find a meaning to life that is important to them. As each individual is unique, the motivation for self-actualization leads people in different directions Kenrick et al. For some people self-actualization can be achieved through creating works of art or literature, for others through sport, in the classroom, or within a corporate setting.
Maslow believed self-actualization could be measured through the concept of peak experiences. This occurs when a person experiences the world totally for what it is, and there are feelings of euphoria, joy, and wonder. It is important to note that self-actualization is a continual process of becoming rather than a perfect state one reaches of a 'happy ever after' Hoffman, The specific form that these needs will take will of course vary greatly from person to person.
In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions' Maslow, , p.
Although we are all, theoretically, capable of self-actualizing, most of us will not do so, or only to a limited degree. Maslow estimated that only two percent of people would reach the state of self-actualization. He was especially interested in the characteristics of people whom he considered to have achieved their potential as individuals. By studying 18 people he considered to be self-actualized including Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein Maslow identified 15 characteristics of a self-actualized person.
The characteristics of self-actualizers and the behaviors leading to self-actualization are shown in the list above.
Although people achieve self-actualization in their own unique way, they tend to share certain characteristics. However, self-actualization is a matter of degree, 'There are no perfect human beings' Maslow, a, p. It is not necessary to display all 15 characteristics to become self-actualized, and not only self-actualized people will display them. Maslow did not equate self-actualization with perfection. Self-actualization merely involves achieving one's potential.
Thus, someone can be silly, wasteful, vain and impolite, and still self-actualize. Less than two percent of the population achieve self-actualization. Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory has made a major contribution to teaching and classroom management in schools. Rather than reducing behavior to a response in the environment , Maslow a adopts a holistic approach to education and learning.
Maslow looks at the complete physical, emotional, social, and intellectual qualities of an individual and how they impact on learning.
Applications of Maslow's hierarchy theory to the work of the classroom teacher are obvious. Before a student's cognitive needs can be met, they must first fulfill their basic physiological needs.
For example, a tired and hungry student will find it difficult to focus on learning. Students need to feel emotionally and physically safe and accepted within the classroom to progress and reach their full potential.
Maslow suggests students must be shown that they are valued and respected in the classroom, and the teacher should create a supportive environment. Students with a low self-esteem will not progress academically at an optimum rate until their self-esteem is strengthened.
Maslow , p. The most significant limitation of Maslow's theory concerns his methodology. Maslow formulated the characteristics of self-actualized individuals from undertaking a qualitative method called biographical analysis. He looked at the biographies and writings of 18 people he identified as being self-actualized. From these sources, he developed a list of qualities that seemed characteristic of this specific group of people, as opposed to humanity in general.
From a scientific perspective , there are numerous problems with this particular approach. First, it could be argued that biographical analysis as a method is extremely subjective as it is based entirely on the opinion of the researcher. Personal opinion is always prone to bias, which reduces the validity of any data obtained. Therefore Maslow's operational definition of self-actualization must not be blindly accepted as scientific fact. Furthermore, Maslow's biographical analysis focused on a biased sample of self-actualized individuals, prominently limited to highly educated white males such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, William James , Aldous Huxley, Beethoven.
Although Maslow did study self-actualized females, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Mother Teresa, they comprised a small proportion of his sample.
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