Abraham Maslow: Motivation and personality. Chapter 7. Higher and lower needs

January 19, 2021

Hello, dear readers of the KtoNaNovenkogo.ru blog. From birth we experience different needs (for food, sleep, air, care).

Over time, they change, are supplemented, and strengthened. But it is their satisfaction that makes us act, move forward, go towards the goal.

Today we will talk about what it is, find out what needs are inherent in each person, what types they are divided into, and also take a detailed look at the pyramid of human needs from the famous American psychologist Abraham Maslow.

Maslow's theory

Maslow's theory of human needs was developed in 1943. An American psychologist distributed human needs in ascending order. He explained it this way: it is impossible to desire something highest if primary needs are not satisfied. The basis of the pyramid is physiological needs, such as the desire to satisfy hunger, thirst, and enter into sexual relations. Above them come security, affection and love, respect and approval, and knowledge.

Abraham Maslow's theory defines self-actualization as the highest need. Maslow clarifies that each person has an individual set of needs, some steps of the pyramid may change, and achieving 100% completion of each position is not necessary to move to the next level.

Controversies and criticism

The American psychologist's concept of values ​​is still a topic of much debate. The pyramid is subject to criticism from marketers and psychologists who insist on its subjective generality, on the basis of which inaccurate conclusions are drawn.

Each person is unique and therefore has special needs. Substituting everyone under one scheme of needs is wrong, since some people, due to their innate characteristics, do not fit into its provisions.

Photo by Nicolas Hans on Unsplash

The clergyman refuses carnal pleasures, thereby neglecting one of the important physiological needs, while developing spiritually, finding enlightenment. Great painters and writers of past centuries often lived in complete poverty, but at the same time, having neither money nor food, they created brilliant masterpieces, proving their high spiritual development.

In addition, each individual has individual degrees of need satisfaction. If for one, universal fame and recognition of the masses come first, for another, the modest praise of a loved one may be enough.


Maslow's pyramid: schematic representation

Maslow's pyramid is depicted everywhere in the form of a kind of diagram, where human needs are arranged in ascending and descending order. But with all its dissemination, it is necessary to clarify that Maslow himself did not draw pyramids and triangles in any publication. The scientist believed that the order of distribution of needs is very conditional and individual, and therefore can be structured differently depending on the preferences of the individual.

Thus, Abraham Maslow did not create a pyramid of needs as such, he simply identified similar traits in their formation in people who became successful. The very image of the pyramid with the inscriptions was created by its adherents for better visual perception.

Pyramid of needs: what does it consist of?

The pyramid of needs includes five main blocks:

  1. physiology;
  2. safety;
  3. belonging;
  4. Love;
  5. confession;
  6. self-actualization.

As primitive needs (such as the desire to eat and drink) are satisfied, a person has a need to satisfy other needs - psychological, moral, social in nature.

Psychologists agree that the practical use of the pyramid invented by A. Maslow is possible only in limited cases. There is no evidence that every person needs recognition and respect; many people live well without these needs. There are people who deliberately starve, which means their basic needs are not satisfied, but they still feel good.

There is a version that Maslow himself subsequently did not recognize his theory as correct, refined its postulates, but it was never brought to the ideal.


After a person has successfully integrated into society and sowed the seeds of social life, there is a need to bring into it something special, something significant, something that would help elevate the individual above others. This is a natural need, there is nothing selfish or immoral about it. This is not about worship, but about praise, approval, admiration for the talents and skills another person has worked hard to develop.

Photo by John Price on Unsplash

At this stage of development, the individual is in dire need of praise and respect, without which he will not be able to further develop his personal and creative potential. In addition, receiving approval and respect for one's work significantly increases a person's confidence and self-esteem, which has a beneficial effect on other areas of his life.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

So, let's take a closer look at what the hierarchy of needs developed by Abraham Maslow is.

  • The main need is physiological, according to which a person needs food, water, sex. These are the basic needs, without which, according to the scientist, a person cannot live. It is quite logical that a hungry person would prefer to eat better than to gain the respect of colleagues or acquaintances. Physiology is above all. Moreover, without food and water, the very existence of man is in question.
  • The second need is security. It is important for a person to feel protected. Therefore, he tries to avoid any dangers or potentially dangerous situations.

Some scientists also attribute the need for security to physiological needs, believing that it originates in primitive society. In those days, it was important for a person to eat, sleep, drink water, have offspring and stay away from wild animals, bad weather and other dangers. The man was afraid for his life, so he looked for refuge, caves in which he could feel safe.

  • The third need is love and respect. Maslow believed that modern man, having satisfied the first two stages, will seek love and respect. People tend to have feelings, enter into relationships, have families and children, feel respect for others and see respect or disrespect for themselves. To this end, everyone is looking for the group of people that comes closest to meeting these needs. Man is a social being; it is important for him to be part of society and occupy a certain place in it. It is in an effort to get rid of loneliness that people become part of clubs, movements, circles.
  • The fourth stage of the pyramid involves the development of people’s need for recognition, achieving certain levels of development, position. It is important for a person to realize that he has the ability to develop and is gradually gaining a certain reputation in society. Of course, everyone has their own, since everyone has their own concept and desire to achieve something.

Status in society gives a person confidence in himself and his own strengths, helps him achieve his goals and reach new heights. This could be career growth, hobby, sports, cultural achievements. If a person is unable to achieve recognition and achieve goals, he becomes weak and may develop neuroses and depression.

  • The fifth and highest stage of the pyramid is the need for self-actualization, when a person, having satisfied everything else to varying degrees, begins to look for opportunities for self-realization.

A person who has reached the fifth stage begins to develop creative abilities, engage in spiritual growth, and self-improvement. He can go to art exhibitions, attend the theater, cultural events, and master classes on personal growth. Some people are searching for the meaning of life, their place in society and purpose.

Often a person who has reached the fifth stage of the pyramid radically changes his opinion and attitude towards the world around him and some things.

Desire for belonging and love

When a person is satiated, warmed up, and convinced of his own safety, a higher degree of needs arises - social. A person without society feels cut off from the outside world by a glass wall. It is impossible to develop and improve your life while living under a dome, without friends, acquaintances, or a couple. One way or another, a feeling of inferiority and fear of loneliness will overtake a person.

Man and girl in bed

The third stage of Maslow’s pyramid includes precisely these, more spiritual than physical desires: to find a couple, start a family, have friends and acquaintances, feel part of a social group. When a person feels needed and desired, feels the warmth of love affection and the value of his contribution to the development of the group, he thinks about higher desires, but without satisfying them, further development is impossible.

Basic human needs

Basic needs are those needs without which a person cannot exist. They are main and mainly of a physiological nature, although depending on temperament and personality type, they may be of a different type.

First of all, scientists consider the basic needs to be innate: to breathe, drink, eat, sleep, wear clothes and shoes. For some people, the basic need to be alone with themselves and restore strength, for others - to plunge into communication. For some, it is vital to exercise daily.

Thus, each individual may have his own sets of basic needs, which include conventional and other needs.

Psychologists say that the list of needs that people can classify as basic is replenished and grows with enviable consistency. ​​​​​​​

Physiological needs are the main ones in Maslow's theory

Physiological needs occupy the first place in Abraham Maslow's hierarchy. This is what helps a person live and survive. A person has the same physiological needs as animals - to breathe, eat, drink, sleep, procreate.

It is known that the recommended rate of water consumption is at least 1.5 liters per day, food - 2300 kcal. A person needs fresh air, at least 8 hours of sleep and physical activity of 10 thousand steps.

When a person is provided with food, water, oxygen, and sleeps enough, he develops a need for sex. Of course, lack of sex life has never put anyone at risk of death. But in itself it can cause a neurotic disorder and change the psyche. A sexually dissatisfied person is at risk of developing frustration, which manifests itself in increased anxiety, irritability and depression.

Social needs

Social needs are determined by the fact that in life a person constantly interacts with other members of society. Society influences the formation of personality, habits, and methods of communication. Psychologists have proven that only through interaction with people can a harmonious and developed personality be formed. These needs are acquired, not innate.

Although social needs do not affect the nature of life and death (a person is unlikely to die if he does not talk to anyone for a week), these needs play an important role in life. Among the social needs are friendship, love, communication, approval, care, and spending time together.

A distinctive feature of social needs is that their satisfaction is possible only through interaction with other representatives of society. By experiencing friendly and loving feelings, respect, and pleasure from joint activities with someone, a person is able to increase self-esteem, become more self-confident, and learn to achieve goals.

Social need is expressed in the desire to work, to work, to be active and indifferent to social problems and the problems of individual people. People join communities and clubs of interest in order to follow a common goal and, thus, satisfy their own needs, as well as the needs of society.

On the contrary, if the social need is not satisfied, a person experiences irritation, apathy, becomes lonely and unsociable, experiences stress and often gets sick.

Social needs are divided into 3 categories:

  1. For myself. When a person needs to understand himself, realize his place in society, achieve a certain status and position.
  2. For others. When a person plays the roles of a friend, spouse, son/daughter, parent. Here, helping others, caring for them, and devotion come first.
  3. Collective needs. These include the need for freedom, peace, security of society as a whole, justice
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