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Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow

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The Hierarchy of Needs Model tries to explain human motivation and behavior. The model theorizes that people are motivated and driven by some general needs that are sought satisfied. Abraham Maslow assumed that all humans have emotions, desires, needs, and wants. To get what we need and want we must act, therefore humans will be motivated to take actions that will satisfy needs and wants. By examining the needs of a respective employee etc., managers may use this information to motivate his or her employee.


It is theorized that these human needs can coexist, especially the upper needs, and that humans may have several needs at the same time. However, Abraham Maslow argues that the lower needs, such as physiological needs, must be met, before humans will strive for the satisfaction of other needs in life.


Abraham Maslow classified the basic needs of humans into five groups calling it the Hierarchy of Needs:


Physiological needs

These needs are basic requirements for survival e.g.: food, water and shelter.


Safety needs

The needs for safety could be: general safety and security of home and family, order and stability of the surrounding environment.


Belongingness and love needs

This need concerns the human need for social belongingness and social needs. Needs in this category could be: love, affection and a sense of belonging to groups.


Esteem needs

Esteem needs could be: a desire for reputation and prestige, social status, fame and glory, dominance, recognition, attention, importance, dignity, or appreciation. Humans will therefore be motivated to get these needs covered, which will potentially motivate them in e.g. a job context.


Self-actualization needs

When all other needs are satisfied, humans will potentially pursue self-actualization needs. This need is the highest of all needs, and is seen as the final stage of human need accomplishment.




The Hierarchy of Needs Model is a very popular tool to diagnose human motivation, but it may not be generally applicable to a non-western mindset.  People coming from other parts of the world may not be motivated by the same factors, or may not have the same need for e.g. esteem or self-actualization.


This problem is elaborated by Nevis (1983), who conducted an analysis of the Chinese workforce. This analysis concluded that Chinese people may have a different hierarchy of needs than most Western and American employees.


This hierarchy of needs is oftentimes used to describe employee satisfaction and motivation, but it can potentially also describe motivational factors within consumer purchase processes.

Date Created: 2009-09-03
Posted by: Admin
Hierarchy of Needs

Related resources:

What is Frederick Herzberg┬┤s Motivation and Hygiene Factors?
Victor Vroom's Expectancy Theory (VIE-model)
Motivation and Personality
Maslow, Abraham; (1954); New York:. Harper
Cutural Assumption and Productivity: The United States and China
Nevis, E. C.: (1983): Sloan Management Review, Vol. 24, Number 3, s. 17-29

Online MBA, Online MBA Courses, Abraham Maslow, hierarchy of needs, Physiological needs, Safety needs, Belongingness and love needs, Esteem needs, Self-actualization needs, motivation, job motivation


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