Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Definition, Theory & Pyramid

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  • 0:00 What Motivates Us?
  • 0:44 Abraham Maslow
  • 1:46 Hierarchy of Needs Detailed
  • 5:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tom Dragomir

Tom achieved a Bachelor degree in the field of Radio and Television Arts

Why is it that when some of our needs aren't met, it's almost impossible to concentrate on other ones? Psychologist Abraham Maslow spent his career looking for these answers. Watch this lesson to learn about some of his most important conclusions.

What Motivates Us?

Have you ever thought about what motivates you? Why do we get up and go to work or school? Why do we hang out with our friends? Why do schools provide recess or employers provide paid vacation days? The answers to these questions can be found within the study of motivation and more specifically, needs.

Some psychologists say motivation is driven by unsatisfied needs. Needs like food, shelter, happiness, and recognition. Understanding which needs are crucial and how these needs affect people's behavior is important to know. Teachers, leaders, businesses...everyone needs to be aware of needs.

Abraham Maslow

In the 1950s, a psychologist by the name of Abraham Maslow developed a theory called the hierarchy of needs. Maslow was one of the founders of humanistic psychology, which emphasizes the individual's potential and stresses the importance of growth and self-actualization. Maslow's theory grew out of his interest in developing a psychology that was not based in clinical studies but rather focused on normal human growth and development.

Maslow developed a list that classified all needs into five general groups, and most importantly, he asserted that there was a hierarchy of these five groups of needs in terms of their importance for human development. The higher needs at the top of the hierarchy were most important for the development of personality; however, these higher needs could not be satisfied until the lower needs, or deficiency needs, such as the physiological needs and safety needs were satisfied. If two different needs were in conflict, the lower need would dominate.

Hierarchy of Needs Detailed

Maslow identified five levels of needs in his hierarchy: physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.

Physiological needs include the most basic needs that are vital to survival, such as the need for water, air, food, and sleep. Maslow believed that these needs are the most basic and instinctive needs in the hierarchy because all needs become secondary until these physiological needs are met.

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