Maslow Theory | Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid | Self Actualization

Abraham Maslow: the Hierarchy of Needs.

Abraham Maslow is one of the most influential American psychologists ever to have lived and in this article, we will be focussing on the aspect of his career which brought him the fame and success which created his legacy.

The Basic Concept

There are two sides to the Maslow Theory. There is the basic concept, and the in-depth concept. Although we will be taking a look at both sides of it during this article, below is a basic understanding of what the theory is and how it is constructed.

Maslow Theory Pyramid of needs

– Self-actualization
– Esteem
– Love / Belonging
– Safety
– Physiology

This list is constructed based on the basic needs of a human, starting from the bottom and making its way upwards. Thus, the most basic of human needs is physiological and the less basic needs, and the one which Maslow states is one which not many people reach, is self-actualization.

The Maslow Theory

Whilst he was producing the Maslow Theory and putting in as much work as he could, Abraham Maslow targeted a specific type of person to conduct his study on. This is something which he was very well known for doing and in fact, is something which makes him unique in the psychology field.

During his studies, the Maslow Theory included, he would use students who were healthy and had no history of mental illness. What made this unusual is that typically, when it comes to psychological studies, psychologists use subjects who have a history of mental illness or who are currently suffering from a mental illness.

The Different Stages

Below we have provided a more in-depth explanation of each step and what they entail. As mentioned above, the stages begin from the bottom and thus so will our explanations.

Stage #1 – Physiology

This first stage, the one which is at the bottom of the theory pyramid, refers to the physical requirements which humans need to survive. Failing to meet the physical human needs would result in death and so failing to meet this stage would result in death.

Simple needs such as breathing, dietary needs, and basic requirements such as shelter; all which are included within this stage.

Stage #2 – Safety

Following on from the first stage, this second step refers to the ability to keep one’s self safe. While it does include the general assumption of keeping one’s health intact and generally being healthy, it also refers to financial safety as well as ensuring the wellbeing of your family.

Furthermore, this stage also includes the ability to have strong healthy and a healthy home environment which in retrospect would help to prevent illness.

Pyramid of needs self actualization

Stage #3 – Love / Belonging

Following on from safety is being able to feel love, love others, and feel as though you belong somewhere in this life. In other words, feeling as though you are a contributing member of society and have use in the world, as opposed to feeling useless.

There are several aspects to this.

First, friendship is important. Having friends who you can trust, who you can spend time with from a social point of view, and who you can confidently call your friend.

Secondly, intimacy. This can refer to friendship or to relationships. Having someone you can feel intimate with; whether it be having someone you can trust and talk to about issues you have, or having a romantic relationship with someone you trust.

Thirdly, and lastly, family. Family is important regardless of whether you choose for your family to be your blood relatives, or whether you have distanced yourself from relatives and have chosen to make your own family.

Given how common mental illness is becoming in our modern day and age, this stage in the Maslow Theory is incredibly crucial and is one which should be focused on.

Stage #4 – Esteem

The fourth stage, esteem. This stage refers to having the self-confidence to move on with your live and feel no shame in who you are or what you do, and be confident which those things. Low self-esteem commonly leads to depression and is a common symptom of many mental illnesses and so having the confidence to move on with your everyday life without second guessing yourself is important,

Maslow-the Hierarchy of Needs

Stage #5 – Self-actualization

The final stage, self-actualization, is the most discussed stage within the Maslow Theory and is one which only a handful of people (according to Abraham Maslow) reach. This step refers to one’s ability to realise the potential which they hold and where they can go in life, embrace the potential, and actually move forth and fulfil their potential.

There are very few people who Maslow stated have fulfilled this step; people such as Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and went as far as to include himself on that list (which in away, proves that he has the self-confidence to say so).

Self actualization

This stage can be applied to almost everything allow in Maslow’s eyes, in order for someone to reach this stage and truly understand it, they must not only become very good at something, but master the skills needed to be the best at it.

“What a man can be, he must be” – Abraham Maslow, in referral to self-actualization.

The Modern Impact of the Maslow Theory

Even to this day, the Maslow Theory continues to contribute to society. Many successful business leaders use this model on a daily basis to help them make certain business decisions and even go as far as crediting this theory for the success which they have had in their industry.

There is no arguing that Maslow Theory is largely responsible for the fame and success which Abraham Maslow received over the course of his career. Even though the rest of his career was admittedly part responsible for the success which he had, if it were not for the Maslow Theory he would not have gotten as much fame or been nearly as successful.

Aside from the Maslow Theory, Abraham Maslow showed through his education that he was a very determined man who wanted nothing more than to discover as much as he could, and have some input to the psychological industry.

All in all, all aspects of Abraham Maslow’s career and incredibly interested although the Maslow Theory tops it off. If you haven’t already invested some time in finding out who Abraham Maslow is and what made him the historical figure which he is today, it really is worth doing so.