Sample Essay on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is the most recognizable motivation theory as described by Abraham Maslow. Maslow was interested in what motivates humans and the driving force that makes them to the things they do.

In 1943, he stated that people are often motivated by the desire to achieve certain needs and once fulfilled, they move on the next one. The 1943, 1954 hierarchy of needs theory is divided into 5 stages which include:

  • Psychological and biological needs-food, air, shelter, sex, sleep, warmth, drink
  • Safety needs-Security, limits, freedom from fear, order, stability, protection from elements.
  • Social needs-Affection, belongingness and love from romantic relationships, work groups, friends, family
  • Esteem needs-Mastery, achievement, status, independence, self-respect, respect from others, dominance
  • Self actualization needs-Self fulfillment, realization of personal potential, peak experiences, seeking personal growth

Abraham Maslow studied what he termed as exemplary people like Jane Addams, Albert Einstein, Fredrick Douglas and Eleanor Roosevelt rather than neurotic people and those who were mentally ill. He wrote that studying people who were stunted, immature, crippled or unhealthy specimen could only lead to a crippled philosophy.

He instead studied 1% of the healthiest college student population. The theory was expressed in his book ‘Motivation and Personality’ 1954. The theory implies all needs at any one level must first be satisfied before the needs in the next level are satisfied.

He also indicated that different needs have varying levels satisfaction for instance most psychological needs would be satisfied with a decrease in fulfillment of needs that are found higher in the hierarchy. Maslow also stated that different people can have their needs arranged in different orders.

Self actualization

‘What a man can be, he must be’ is the quote that forms self-actualization basis. It refers to what the full potential of a person can be as well as the realization of such potential. Maslow describes self-actualization as the drive or desire to accomplish all that one can accomplish and become the most they can be. Majority of people focus on or perceive this need very specifically.

For instance, one might have the desire to become a great parent while in another the desire might be expressed athletically. Still in others it can be expressed in inventions, paintings or pictures. Maslow believed that for anyone to attain self actualization then they must be able to achieve all the other needs in the hierarchy and master them.

Recent research validates existence of human needs on a universal level though the hierarchy suggested by Maslow has been questioned. The high order (self-actualization and self esteem) and the low order (safety, love and physiological) needs of the theory are not necessarily universal and they might vary across different cultures as a result of individual differences and resources availability.

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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs