In detail

Abraham Maslow's Theory of Human Needs

Abraham Maslow's Theory of Human Needs

It was in the 20th century, between the 40s and 50s, when a new psychological current appears: Humanist Psychology.

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), an American psychologist, known as one of the founders and leading exponents of Humanist Psychology, strongly opposed the predominant models until that time: the Behavioral Model and Psychoanalysis. Humanist Psychology is a psychological current that postulates the existence of a basic human tendency focused on mental health. His posture is usually classified in psychology as a "third force."


  • 1 The pyramid of needs
  • 2 First level: physiological needs
  • 3 Second level: security and protection needs
  • 4 Third level: need for affection and belonging
  • 5 Fourth level: need for recognition
  • 6 Fifth level: self-realization
  • 7 Final reflection

The pyramid of needs

Maslow's best-known work is the Pyramid of Needs, a model that poses a hierarchy of human needs, in which the satisfaction of the most basic or subordinate needs results in the successive generation of higher or higher needs. Thus, according to Maslow, the NEED is what if it is not covered or satisfied, the person will get sick or die.

Maslow says we have a innate tendency towards self-realization: the innate motivation of every human being to realize his potential using his aptitudes and capacities. That is, what moves us or the reasons we have to act, is the willingness to have those needs we have covered.

Therefore, to reach self-realization, we must meet lower needs to level up in the Maslow's pyramid.

The basic idea of ‚Äč‚Äčthis hierarchy is that the highest needs occupy our attention only when the lower needs of the pyramid have been satisfied. The growth forces give rise to an upward movement in the hierarchy, while the regressive forces push the prepotent needs down in the hierarchy. According to Maslow's pyramid:

The physiological, safety and protection needs, and those of love and belonging (the 3 needs starting at the base of the pyramid) are considered lack motivations and recognition and self-realization are considered knowledge motivations.

In this way, we have to meet every need starting at the base of the pyramid, before the next need motivates us. Finally we will reach the top of the pyramid: the self realisation, a moment in life where you feel happy and totally self-realized.

To meet the needs we find three types of behaviors:

  • Constructive: you can meet the needs and everyone benefits.
  • Destructive: you can meet the needs but not everyone benefits.
  • Failed: the objective of satisfying needs is not achieved.

In practice, this theory consists in looking for a constructive behavior, avoiding the destructive and failed for each of the pyramid levels.

Next we will explain with examples what each need consists of and the possible types of behaviors: Constructive, destructive and failed.

First level: physiological needs

This is the lower level, where there is the need to satisfy the most basic biological or physiological impulses, such as food or housing.

    • Constructive: A girl arrives at the student apartment and there is no food, so she decides to go buy the food for herself and all her roommates, so they can also eat
    • Destructive: A girl arrives at the student floor and there is no food, so she decides to go to buy the right and necessary food so she can eat, without thinking about her classmates.
    • Failed: A girl arrives at the student apartment and there is nothing to eat, but she doesn't have time to go shopping because she has to take the train. So pack your bags and go without eating anything.

Second level: security and protection needs

On the second level it places the need to live in a stable and threat-free environment.

  • Constructive: They raise the salary to all the workers of a restaurant, thanks to the proper functioning of it.
  • Destructive: The operation of the restaurant begins to faint, so part of the staff is fired for it is well economically.
  • Failed: The operation of the restaurant is not going well, so they are forced to close it.

Third level: need for affection and belonging

In the third, the need for affiliation, the interest in living in societies, of relating to others or having friends.

  • Constructive: A very affectionate mother, every day includes her three children.
  • Destructive: A very affectionate mother, each day includes only two children, the other never shows love and affection
  • Failed: A mother never hugs or gives affection to her children

Fourth level: need for recognition

Next is the need for self-esteem, assessment and personal recognition.

  • Constructive: A high school teacher is asserted and respected by her students, in a harmonious environment.
  • Destructive: A high school teacher enforces and respects by shouting and ridiculing her students.
  • Failed: A high school teacher is not respected by her students for lack of authority.

Fifth level: self-realization

And finally on the upper level is the need for personal self-realization. It should be noted that these needs are hierarchized in such a way that the most basic need is first met to progressively rise until the need for self-realization is reached, as above the pyramid, the more motivated is the individual.

  • Constructive: A good actor who makes a very famous American film.
  • Destructive: A model makes her partner fall, to keep her place.
  • Failed: A girl whose desire is to be a dancer, rehearses for a long time for a casting, but does not end up beating her.

Final reflection

Many people agree on the operation of the pyramid according to Maslow, that we don't pay attention to the next step if the previous one is not covered, since people feel that we always need more, that is, when we have more, more and more we want. But it has also been seen that the fact of arriving at the top of the pyramid does not mean that the person has the satisfaction of having everything, because when we achieve a goal, others that are further away appear automatically, that is, we always have to go climbing.

If we look at the less developed countries, I am sure that children who have always had only the physiological needs covered, the moment when someone meets their security and affiliation needs, usually experience the same happiness as the person He has always had these basic needs met and one day he reaches the top of the pyramid.

Looking at this pyramid it seems that the person who reaches the top must be the one who experiences great happiness, but it is not always the case, since a person can have the first three scales of the pyramid very developed and be happier than the person who It is at the top. Since the latter has perhaps achieved the dream of his life, as a model, but does not receive the same affection as the person who is continuing to fight for his dreams.

Also, with respect to practice, it has been observed how people can have different behaviors while "climbing" the pyramid. Since when it comes to getting a need, the selfishness (only think about the benefit of oneself) or the empathy (you think of others while climbing the pyramid), it depends on many factors.

Thus, the classification of it is good to know what position the person is in, but it is also very important to take into account the degree of satisfaction of each of these needs, regardless of the position of the person at the different scales , the conditions in which the person is, and the behavior used in the pyramid.

Anna Mirror

Related tests
  • Personality test
  • Self-esteem test
  • Couple Compatibility Test
  • Self-knowledge test
  • Friendship test
  • Am i in love