Recalling educational memories from school learnings, we tend to remember best the subjects that held our interests the most and/or excelled in. Many of those favorite courses led to what we eventually leaned toward in selecting colleges or occupations. One of the subjects that stands out for me was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This humanistic psychology subject was never mentioned in primary or secondary schools but in college studies, this subject was mentioned in almost every elective taken. It began in Psychology 101 and was interwoven somehow in each and every class. One could guess where it would show up as the course studies advanced. The Maslow course centered on humanistic needs lowest to highest – beginning with physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
With all the good things Americans may have accesss to every day, have you ever thought about what motivates you and how many factors give you the best life and make you happy?
Maslow’s Hierarchy is based on positive human motivation psychology which does not focus on increasing well-being solely for eliminating anxiety, but instead focuses on increasing well-being for the sake of improving people’s lives and improving society. Abraham Maslow was driven by a similar desire to help people live the best lives they could, acknowledging their unique humanity along the way. The personal experiences that most shaped this desire for Maslow were his childhood isolation and his powerful reaction to the horrors of World War II.
Motivation theory suggests five interdependent levels of basic human needs (motivators) from the bottom upwards that must be satisfied in a strict sequence starting with the lowest levels. This came about when Maslow, a 33-year-old father with two children observed the horrors of mass warfare and gave him a sense of urgency. He changed his focus to human motivation and self-actualization (a person’s desire to use all their abilities to achieve and be everything that they possibly can). Maslow’s research interests were driven by personal experience and shared experiences, which helps explain his contributions to humanistic psychology.
Maslow explains his Hierarchy of Motivation theory by suggesting the five interdependent levels of basic human needs that must be satisfied in this sequence:
The first two basic (and lowest) levels of need are considered basic needs or Physiological, which are based on the need for survival and safety. (for example – Air, Water, Food, Clothing and Shelter.) The second stage is: Safety & Security – Personal and Financial Security, and Health & Safety Net.
The third stage is the social stage: It is also called love/belonging and is not based on basic needs but instead on psychological or emotional needs. The primary source of behavior at this stage of development is the need for emotional connections such as friendships, family, social organizations, romantic attachments, or other interpersonal relationships,
The fourth stage: Esteem – Maslow considered lower-level esteem need for the respect of others through status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention, while he described higher-level esteem needs as the need for self esteem strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom.
The fifth and highest stage: Self-actualization – is a person’s desire to use all their abilities to achieve and be everything that they possibly can. Maslow suggested that actually achieving total self-actualization was exceedingly rare. Rather than thinking of self-actualization as a destination, it can be helpful to think of it as a journey.
While humanistic psychology is past its peak of influence, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is still a major, well-known aspect of modern psychology. The hierarchy of needs has recently been adapted for use in hospice care, for use in urban planning, development, and management, and even for the study of policing.