Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory proposed by Abraham Maslow, in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” this theory was developed in between the years 1943-1954. It is represented in the shape of a pyramid, (example given below in figure 1.1), showing the largest and lowest levels of needs at the bottom.

Figure 1.1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


The Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs shows that each human has a need, which then tends to become a motivational factor in most people’s lives. Our most basic needs are born with us, which include the needs for food, clothing and shelter. The theory proposed by Abraham Maslow explains how these needs motivate us. The theory states that one must satisfy each need in turn, starting with the first and most essential needs which deal with the most apparent needs for survival. Other needs, such as safety love/belonging etc. are only dealt with when, the lower order of needs of physical and emotional well-being are satisfied. On the other hand, if the things that satisfy ones basic needs are swept away, then the need to maintain the higher order of needs ends. The Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model is explained below:

Physiological needs

Primarily, physiological needs are obvious; they are the basic requirements for human survival. In any case these requirements are not met then the human body cannot continue to function though it is apparent that the need for air, water and food are metabolic requirements for survival in animals as well. However the most basic physiological needs include the following:
•    Food
•    Clothing
•    Shelter
•    Breathing
•    Sleep
•    Excretion

Safety Needs

When the physical needs are satisfied, the individual’s safety needs take precedence. These needs are basically induced in humans because of social cultures rather than being a personal need. These needs include:
•    Personal Security
•    Health & well-being
•    Financial security

Social Needs

This is the third layer of human needs; it involves emotional based relationships and the need to feel the sense of belonging to someone or something. These include the following:
•    Family
•    Intimacy


This need is about being respected and having self-respect. However Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, one being the lower and the other the higher. The lower demands respect from others and include the need for prestige, fame, attention, status, recognition etc. while the higher one is the need for self-respect; it includes the need for self-confidence, independence and freedom etc. “Maslow stresses the dangers associated with self-esteem based on fame and outer recognition instead of inner competence. He sees healthy self-respect as based on earned respect.”


[adsense1]This level of need pertains to what a persons full potential is and the general realization of that potential. This need deals with the desire of an individual to become everything that he/she is capable of. For example, one individual may have a desire to become a competent athlete whereas another would feel the need to be an ideal wife or mother etc. However, to first realize this need, one needs to achieve and master all other basic needs.

Though Maslow’s theory makes one understand the factors of such needs leading to motivation in humans, it still has its detractors;  For example, “in their extensive review of research based on Maslow’s theory, Wahba and Bridgewell found little evidence for the ranking of needs Maslow described, or even for the existence of a definite hierarchy at all. Chilean economist and philosopher Manfred Max-Neef has also argued fundamental human needs are non-hierarchical, and are ontologically universal and invariant in nature – part of the condition of being human; poverty, he argues, may result from any one of these needs being frustrated, denied or unfulfilled.”