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Motivational Model - What is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?

Abraham Maslow developed the Hierarchy of Needs model in the 1940-50s USA, and the Hierarchy of Needs theory remains valid today for understanding human motivation, management training, and personal development.

Indeed, Maslow's ideas surrounding the Hierarchy of Needs, concerning the responsibility of employers to provide a workplace environment that encourages and enables employees to fulfil their own unique potential (self-actualisation), are today more relevant than ever.

  • Each of us is motivated by needs. 
  • Our most basic needs are inborn, having evolved over tens of thousands of years. 
  • Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs helps to explain how these needs motivate us all
  • Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs states that we must satisfy each need, in turn, starting with the first, which deals with the most obvious needs for survival itself.
  • Only when the lower-order needs of physical and emotional well-being are satisfied are we concerned with the higher-order needs of influence and personal development. 
  • Conversely, if the things that satisfy our lower-order needs are swept away, we are no longer concerned about the maintenance of our higher-order needs.

Maslow's original Hierarchy of Needs model was developed between 1943-1954 and was first widely published in Motivation and Personality in 1954. At this time the Hierarchy of Needs model comprised five needs. This original version remains for most people the definitive Hierarchy of Needs.


Download this diagram here:

'The Five Needs' Identified by Maslow

  1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
  2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.
  3. Belongingness and Love needs - work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.
  4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
  5. Self-Actualization needs - realising personal potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences

Where Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is shown with more than five levels these models have been extended through an interpretation of Maslow's work by other people. These augmented models and diagrams are shown as the adapted seven and eight-stage Hierarchy of Needs pyramid diagrams and models below.