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Understanding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, psychological theory 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a psychological theory that explains human motivation and behavior. It consists of a five-tier model, often depicted as a pyramid, with each level representing a different human need. The hierarchy starts with physiological needs (such as food, clothing, and shelter) at the bottom, followed by safety needs (job security), love and belongingness needs (friendship), esteem needs (self-worth), and self-actualization needs (realizing one’s full potential). According to Maslow, lower-level needs must be satisfied before individuals can focus on higher-level needs.

Maslow’s theory differs from purely physiological theories of motivation by emphasizing the importance of human growth and development, in addition to tension reduction and survival. He proposed two sets of needs: deficiency needs and growth needs. Deficiency needs are related to basic survival, while growth needs are more psychological and focused on self-actualization.

Self-actualization, the highest level in the hierarchy, refers to the realization of one’s full potential and self-fulfillment. Self-actualized individuals are characterized by traits such as perceiving reality efficiently, acceptance of oneself and others, spontaneity, problem-centeredness, and concern for the welfare of humanity. Maslow believed that only a small percentage of people would reach the state of self-actualization.

Critics of Maslow’s theory argue that his methodology was subjective and biased, as he based his characteristics of self-actualized individuals on a limited sample of highly educated white males. The theory’s focus on individual needs and potential has also been criticized for promoting a self-centered outlook. Additionally, research has shown that the order of needs in the hierarchy may be flexible and that people can be motivated by multiple needs simultaneously.

Despite its limitations, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been widely used in fields such as education and social work as a framework for understanding and addressing human needs. It has contributed to discussions on motivation and human behavior, emphasizing the importance of meeting basic needs before individuals can thrive and reach their full potential.


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McLeod, S. (2023). Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from 

CNsmrBhvr. (n.d.). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from 

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Wiki Hyphen Website | Updates 21th May 2023 | Understanding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, psychological theory :

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