Maslow's theory about human needs

Maslow's theory about human needs

In accordance with Maslow and his theory about human needs, our needs are distributed in a pyramid, depending on the importance and influence they have on human behavior. At the base of the pyramid are the most elementary and recurring needs (called primary needs), while at the top are the most sophisticated and abstract (secondary needs).


  • 1 Physiological needs
  • 2 Security Needs
  • 3 Social needs
  • 4 Self-esteem needs
  • 5 Self-realization needs
  • 6 Summary of Maslow's theory

Physiological needs

They constitute the lowest level of human needs. They are innate needs, such as the need for food, sleep and rest, shelter, or sexual desire. They are also called biological or basic needs, which require repeated and cyclical satisfaction to guarantee the survival of the individual. Human life is a continuous and constant search for the satisfaction of these elementary but inaccessible needs. At the moment when some of them cannot be satisfied, the direction of the person's behavior dominates.

Security needs

They constitute the second level of human needs. They lead the person to protect themselves from any real or imaginary, physical or abstract danger. The search for protection against threat or deprivation, escape from danger, the search for an orderly and predictable world, are typical manifestations of these needs. They arise in human behavior when physiological needs are relatively satisfied. Like those, they are also closely linked to people's survival. Security needs are of great importance, since in organizational life people depend on the organization, and arbitrary administrative decisions or inconsistent or inconsistent decisions can cause uncertainty or insecurity in people regarding their permanence at work.

Social needs

They are related to the life of the individual in society, along with other people. They are the needs of association, participation, acceptance by colleagues, friendship, affection and love. They arise in behavior when the elementary needs (physiological and safety) are relatively satisfied. When social needs are not sufficiently satisfied, the person becomes reluctant, antagonistic and hostile to the people around him. The frustration of these needs generally leads to social maladjustment and loneliness. The need to give and receive affection is an important motivator of human behavior when participatory administration is applied.

Self-esteem needs

They are related to the way the person looks and evaluates, that is, self-assessment and self esteem. They include self-confidence, self-confidence, the need for approval and social recognition, status, prestige, reputation and consideration. The satisfaction of these needs leads to feelings of self-confidence, courage, strength, prestige, power, capacity and usefulness. Their frustration can cause feelings of inferiority, weakness, dependence and helplessness, which at the same time can lead to discouragement or to execute compensatory activities.

Self-realization needs

They are the highest human needs; They are at the top of the hierarchy. These needs lead people to develop their own potential and realize themselves as human creatures throughout their lives.. This tendency is expressed by the impulse to overcome more and more and to realize all the potential of the person. The needs of self-realization are related to autonomy, independence, self-control, competence and full realization of the potential of each person, of individual talents. While the four previous needs can be met through external (extrinsic) rewards to the person, who have a concrete reality (money, food, friendships, praise from other people), self-realization needs can only be met through intrinsic rewards that people they give themselves (for example, feeling of accomplishment), and that they are not observable or controllable by others.

The other needs do not motivate the behavior when they have been satisfied; On the other hand, the needs of self-realization can be insatiable, since the more rewards the person obtains, the more important they become and they will want to meet those needs more and more. No matter how satisfied the person is, he will always want more.

Summary of Maslow's theory

A satisfied need does not motivate any behavior; only unmet needs influence behavior and lead it towards the achievement of individual goals.

The individual is born with a set of innate or hereditary physiological needs. At first, their behavior revolves around their cyclic satisfaction (hunger, thirst, sleep cycle activity, sex, etc.).

From a certain age, the individual begins a long learning of new patterns of needs. The need for security arises, focused on protection against danger, against threats and against deprivation. The physiological and safety needs constitute the primary needs of the individual, and are related to their personal conservation.

As the individual manages to control their physiological and safety needs, higher and higher needs appear slowly and gradually: social, self-esteem and self-realization. When the individual manages to meet their social needs, self-realization needs arise; This means that the needs of self-esteem are complementary to social needs, while those of self-realization complement those of self-esteem. The highest levels of needs only arise when the individual controls relatively the lowest levels. Not all individuals manage to reach the level of self-realization needs, not even the level of self-esteem needs, since these are individual conquests.

Higher needs arise as lower ones are satisfied., because they predominate, according to the hierarchy of needs. Various concomitant needs influence the individual simultaneously; however, the lowest have predominant activation versus the highest.

The lower needs (eating, sleeping, etc.) require a relatively fast motivational cycle, while the higher ones need a much longer one. If any of the lowest needs ceases to be satisfied for a long period, it becomes imperative and neutralizes the effect of the highest. The energies of an individual are directed to fight to meet a lower need, when it exists.