Personal Growth

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

By Suzanne E. Harrill

Recently, I looked online to review Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I was giving a talk and wanted to use Abraham Maslow’s ideas to help others understand how important it is to look at our needs when we want to discover what motivates us. While in graduate school in the 1970’s, I was introduced to Abraham Maslow as a personality theorist and liked that he studied healthy people. His theory of human needs, first presented in the early 1950’s, had five levels. At the bottom of the pyramid were physiological needs, then moving up to safety needs, next belongingness and love needs, next esteem needs, and finally self-actualization needs. His theory, I learned, was updated to include more detail. Following is a brief synopsis of his theory, along with the updates.

Abraham Maslow used a pyramid to illustrate a hierarchy of human needs based on two groupings: deficiency needs and growth needs. Within the deficiency needs, each lower need must be met before moving to the next higher level. Once each of these needs has been satisfied, then, if at some future time a deficiency is detected, the individual will act to remove the deficiency. The first four levels that build on each other are:

Physiological: air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, bodily comforts

Safety/security: protection, order, law, limits, stability, out of danger

Belongingness and Love: family, affection, relationships, affiliate with others, be accepted and part of a group

Esteem: achievement, status, responsibility, be competent, gain approval and recognition

According to Maslow, an individual is ready to act upon the growth needs if, and only if, the deficiency needs are met. Originally he included only one growth need – self-actualization. Self-actualized people are characterized by: (1) being problem-focused; (2) incorporating an ongoing appreciation of life; (3) having a concern about personal growth; and (4) being able to have peak experiences.

Later Maslow named two lower-level growth needs prior to the general level of self-actualization (5 & 6) and one beyond that level (8). They are:

Cognitive: to know, to understand, to explore, to find meaning

Aesthetic: appreciation and search for beauty, balance, symmetry, order

Self-actualization: seek personal growth and fulfillment, realize personal potential

Self-transcendence: to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others to achieve self-fulfillment and self-actualize.

It may be helpful in your self-exploration to use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to understand yourself and others better. One example in being able to apply his theory may be when you find yourself being overly self-critical for not acting on some of your goals. Look at the level beneath your current level of operation (level 4) to see if there is a deficiency in love and support from others. If you are having trouble in your marriage, the emotional disconnection may contribute to your inability to meet your goals for esteem. Working on your relationship to feel more safety (2) and belonging and love (3) may help you find it easier to focus on achievement or gaining recognition for your strengths and talents. For more information Google Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as there are many sites with helpful information.





Love Offerings and Tithes Appreciated
Send to

View Alphabetical Article List from InnerWords Messenger


View Back Issues

Tell A Friend

Innerworks Publishing         Site Credits

E-mail your articles, questions or humor to:

Copyright © 2003-2017 Innerworks Publishing -- All Rights Reserved