What if your own fulfillment was not only dependent on you but on the basic needs present for each human being? What if understanding your needs would allow you to approach more easily a feeling of well-being?

1. What is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was created by Abraham Maslow in the 1950s. Later, this theory will be represented (wrongly) by a pyramid. This pyramid makes it possible to categorize the needs of individuals in the form of 5 different levels. This pyramid took shape by working on a theory of hierarchy of needs and motivations of individuals. 

Needs are therefore central for Maslow. Its pyramid allows for hierarchizing the needs of individuals. Indeed, even if each individual is unique, our needs are common to all. In order to realize the different needs, those of the lower levels must first be satisfied. The satisfaction of these basic needs will allow the individual to access the well-being.

2. Maslow’s pyramid in detail

Here are the 5 needs named by Maslow

  • Physiological needs:

These needs constitute the foundation, the base of the pyramid. In these physiological needs therefore to maintain survival and the internal balance of the individual

How to satisfy its physiological needs? 

We can for example find the fact of eating, sleeping, drinking … If these needs are not satisfied, the individual’s main motivation will be to fulfill them, leaving no room for other needs.

  • Security needs:

Once physiological needs are met, the individual can begin to achieve some of his or her secure needs. These are part of a more social sphere, and will lead to specific behaviors that may vary from one culture to another. They are going to be dependent on the stability of the family circle, the income level or the mental health of the individual. There are two types of security, physical security and mental safety

How to satisfy this need for security ?

In these needs we can find the fact of having a security of housing, employment or physical security. These needs can be met individually or collectively

  • Need for social belonging:

These needs represent the third level of the pyramid. This level appeals to the social dimension of the individual. The need to belong is essential for the proper development of the individual. If this one is not satisfied, the person can create an attachment or an overdependence that will lead to a loss of autonomy. 

How to satisfy this need for social belonging?

The person will need to feel accepted in a group, to feel loved, to have a social status. Thus we all need love, affection, socialization, communication…

  • Esteem and self-esteem needs:

Once we are integrated into a company or group, weneed to be recognized as our own entity, to be appreciated and valued. So we need to be considered by other people, to have respect and value.

In this category also enters the self-esteem that is to say the self-evaluation of ourselves. An individual who is valued by others may not have high self-esteem and vice versa. 

How to satisfy this need for self-esteem? 

Different means can satisfy these needs. There will be material needs (housing, car…) and immaterial needs (social status, degree… ). The means to satisfy self-esteem vary according to cultures, times and people. Self-esteem can be fulfilled by what you have or what you are.

  • Needs for self-realization, accomplishment:

This level is the 5th and final level of Maslow’s needs pyramid. According to Maslow’s theory, this can only be achieved if the 4 previous ones have been satisfied. The realization of self is an active, not a passive process. The goal is to act!

How to satisfy this need for self-realization?

Thus the individual needs to develop himself, to increase his knowledge, to develop certain values, or to reach a personal goal. The person will seek to fulfill themselves as a person.

3. Criticisms of Maslow’s pyramid

This Pyramid of Needs is subject to much criticism from various professionals. 

  • Maslow does not sufficiently emphasize the importance of social relationships : Indeed, the culture can modify the basic needs of this pyramid. If the individual is in a collectivist society, for example, the group is going to be of much greater importance than in an individualist society. In the same way, according to the periods, the geographical places … The different needs will not have the same importance. 
  • A thinking of needs that is too linear and schematic : The human being and his psychological processes are complex and cannot fit into well defined cases. Some of our needs can manifest themselves in a joint way and not one after the other, having the same importance for the individual. 

Still, it is important to qualify this hierarchy of needs. Maslow explains in particular that the emergence of needs does not occur suddenly and unexpectedly but appears little by little in a gradual way. That is to say that as one need begins to be satisfied the next begins to surface little by little.

4. What does Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs provide?

This Maslow pyramid is part of his theory of motivation. Indeed, this pyramid allows us to understand what lies behind our motivations. Thus, a better understanding of the different needs of individuals would make it easier to find the levers of motivation and commitment on a daily basis. The more the needs are met, the more the person will be committed to the task. Conversely, if the previous needs are not sufficiently fulfilled, the person will present less commitment to the task, which can lead to more difficulties with change.