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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Motivational Model

For an extended article on Maslow's Hierarchy click here.

  • Abraham Maslow developed the Hierarchy of Needs model in 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), is today more relevant than ever. 

The Basic Idea Behind Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

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 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 diagrams of the Hierarchy of Needs by clicking here. 

The Needs

  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 - group, family, affection, relationships, works etc.
  4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
  5. Self-Actualisation 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 the 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.

Further Resources 

See also the free Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Quiz, which can be used to test/reinforce the learning offered in this article.