What is Abraham Maslow’s theory of “hierarchy of needs”?
Maslow believed that an individual struggles to reach what he referred to as a state of self-actualization. Self-actualisation essentially refers to the notion that people attempt to fulfil themselves to their highest possible level of achievement in their personal life, work life, etc. according to Maslow only a few individuals ever reach self-actualisation. There were five basic classes of needs. An individual strives to achieve the more basic class of needs before gradually ascending the hierarchy to reach her or his state of self-actualisation. The basic needs are similar to those striven for in the animal kingdom, whereas the higher classes of needs are thought to be distinct to humans.
At the lowest level, an individual strives to achieve her or his basic physiological needs such as food, water, oxygen, activity, and sleep. Once these needs have been satisfied, she or he can strive to achieve their next class of needs.
The second class of needs relate to safety, which essentially refers to having a secure and safe childhood, as well as security and safety as an adult.
Love and Belonging
The third set of needs relate to the feeling that one belongs somewhere and is loved by others. Thus, having a good social life and good, stable relationships with others (sexual and non-sexual) would be primary aims at this stage of one’s progression.
The penultimate stage is esteem. This refers to the need to be respected by others, to be seen as honourable and as someone who makes a positive contribution to the well-being of others. If the individual reaches this level and fulfils her or his needs at this level, then she or he becomes self-actualised. Maslow’s major contribution to psychology was the motivation he provided for the development of humanistic psychology itself.