Theories of Motivation: Abraham Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Model

In 1943, Abraham Maslow’s article, “A Theory of Human Motivation ” appeared in the Psychological Review, which were further expanded upon in his book: Toward a psychology of well being, Abraham H. Maslow attempted to formulate a needs-based framework of human motivation and based upon his clinical experiences with people, rather than as did the prior psychology theories of his day from authors such as Freud and B.F. Skinner, which were largely theoretical or based upon animal behavior.

The basis of Maslow’s motivation theory is that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower factors need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied. According to Maslow, there are general types of needs (physiological, survival, safety, love, and esteem) that must be satisfied before a person can act unselfishly. He called these needs “deficiency needs.” As long as we are motivated to satisfy these cravings, we are moving towards growth, toward self-actualization. Satisfying needs is healthy, while preventing gratification makes us sick or act evilly.

Maslow’s need hierarchy model of motivation indicates that fundamental, lower-order needs like safety and physiological requirements have to be satisfied in order to pursue higher-level motivators along the lines of self-fulfillment. As depicted in the following hierarchical diagram, sometime called ‘Maslow’s Needs Pyramid’ or ‘Maslow’s Needs Triangle’, after a need is satisfied it stops acting as a motivator and the next need one rank higher starts to motivate. The need hierarchy is as follows:Abraham Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Model

  1. Basic physiological needs: the physiological needs relate to the survival and maintenance of human life. These needs include such things as food, clothing, air, water and other necessaries of life, which are biological in nature. These needs are primary needs.
  2. Safety and security needs: after satisfying the physiological needs, people want the assurance of maintaining a given economic level. They want job security, personal bodily security, security of source of income, provision for old age, insurance against risks, etc.
  3. Social needs: man is a social being. He is, therefore, interested in conversation, sociability, exchange of feelings and grievances, companionship, recognition, belongingness, etc.
  4. Esteem and status needs: these needs embrace such things as self-confidence, independence, achievement, competence, knowledge and success. These needs boost the ego of individual. They are also known as egoistic needs. They are concerned with prestige and status of the individual.
  5. Self-fulfillment needs: the final step under the need priority model is the need for self-fulfillment or the need to fulfill what a person considers being his mission in life. It involves realizing one’s potentialities for continued self-development and for being creative in the broadest senses of the word. After his other needs are fulfilled, a man has the desire for personal achievement. He wants to do something, which is challenging and since this challenge gives him enough dash and initiative to work, it is beneficial to him in particular and to the society in general. The sense of achievement gives him psychological satisfaction.

Maslow proposed that all human needs are kept as per rank of importance and human behavior is to fulfill its needs as per importance rank and so he continuous in a proper sequence but after fulfillment of a need another need arise. Moreover satisfied need will no longer be a motivator and needs and wants are infinity.

Appraisal of Need Hierarchy Model

The need priority model may not apply at all times in all places. Surveys in continental European countries and Japan have shown that the model does not apply very well to their managers. Their degrees of satisfaction of needs do not vary according to the need priority mode. For example, workers in Spain and Belgium felt that their esteem needs are better satisfied than their security and social needs. Apparently, cultural differences are an important cause of these differences. Thus, need hierarchy may not follow the sequence postulated by Maslow. Even if safety need is not satisfied, the egoistic or social need may emerge.

Proposition that one need is satisfied at one time is also of doubtful validity. The phenomenon of multiple motivation is of great practical importance in understanding the behaviour of man. Man’s behaviour at any time is mostly guided by multiplicity of motives. However one or two motives in any situation may be prepotent, while others may be of secondary importance. Moreover, at different levels of needs, the motivation will be defferent. Money can act as a motivator only for physiological and social needs, not for satisfying higher level needs. Employees are enthusiastically motivated by what they are seeking, more than by what they already have. They may react cautiously in order to keep what they already have, but they move forward with enthusiasm when they are seeking something else. In other words, man works for bread alone as long as it is not available.

There are always some people in whom, for instance, need for self-esteem seems to be more prominent then that of love. There are important also creative people in whom the drive for creativeness seems to be more important. In certain people, the level of operation may be permanently lower. For instance, a person who has experienced chronic unemployment may continue to be satisfied for the rest of his life if only he can get enough food. Another cause of reversal of need hierarchy is that when a need has been satisfied for a long time, it may be under-valued.

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