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By Sakshi Kanojia


Motivation is something we all want at times in our lives, but giving it a goal-oriented element is much more essential because it gives life a sense of direction. And one must go through Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory to comprehend the depth of a person's needs and how he or she works to meet them. This article discusses this theory of the five-tier model of needs, ranging from the most basic (deficiency needs) to the most complex (Growth needs).


  1. What is Motivation?
  1. What is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory?
  1. Who Introduced it?
  1. Deficiency Versus the Growth Needs
  1. The Five Needs of the Hierarchy
  1. Applications
  1. Indian Psychology of Motivation
  1. References


What is Motivation?

The desires or needs that guide action toward a target are referred to as motivation. It's a desire to act or behave in a way that will fulfill certain conditions, such as wants, aspirations, or goals

What is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is one of the most renowned theories of motivation. It is portrayed as a five-tiered model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical tiers inside a pyramid. According to this theory, there are five motives/needs that drive humans to behave in a particular way. 

These needs are Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem, and Self-actualization. According to the hierarchy of needs theory, before fulfilling the lower-order needs, an individual cannot move towards the higher-order needs. One can step up the ladder once the lower-level needs are met.

Who Introduced this Theory? 


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Abraham Maslow introduced this theory of motivation. He was born on April 1, 1908, in Brooklyn, New York, the first of seven children born to his Russian-born Jewish parents. Later in life, Maslow characterized his early childhood as sad and lonely. He spent a lot of time in the library, surrounded by books.

Maslow attended the City College of New York (CCNY) and majored in law. He transferred to the University of Wisconsin after cultivating an interest in psychology and finding a mentor in psychologist Harry Harlow, who acted as his doctoral advisor. Maslow earned his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees in psychology from the University of Wisconsin.

Abraham Maslow began teaching at Brooklyn College in 1937 and was on the school's staff until 1951. During this time, Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer, and anthropologist Ruth Benedict had a big impact on him.


Related Post: Humanistic Psychology: The Third Force of Psychology



Deficiency Versus the Growth Needs 

Maslow claimed that these desires are analogous to impulses and that they play a significant role in motivating action. Physiological, protection, social, and value needs are examples of deficiency needs that occur as a result of deprivation. It is important to meet these lower-level desires to prevent negative thoughts or effects.

Maslow referred to the top of the pyramid as "development requires." These needs are not driven by a lack of anything, but rather by a desire to develop as an individual.

Although the philosophy is often depicted as a very rigid hierarchy, Maslow observed that the order in which these needs are met does not necessarily obey this traditional progression. 


The Five Needs of the Hierarchy 

Abraham Maslow hypothesized in his hierarchy of needs theory that individuals are driven by five specific types of needs: physiological, safety, affection, respect, and self-actualization.



Physiological Needs

There are simple physical requirements such as drinking when thirsty or feeding when starving. Any of these demands, according to Maslow, include our attempts to satisfy the body's need for homeostasis, or sustaining stable levels in various bodily processes.

Maslow found physiological needs to be the most important of our requirements. If a person is deficient in more than one need, they would most likely prioritize meeting their physiological needs. For example, if someone is starving, it is difficult for them to think about something other than food. 


Safety Needs

Once people's physiological needs are fulfilled, the next prerequisite is a healthy climate. Our protection needs are evident even in infancy when children have a desire for stable and consistent conditions, and where these are not fulfilled, they usually respond with fear or anxiety. 

Maslow observed that in adults living in developing countries, protection requirements are most visible in emergency conditions (e.g., war and disasters), but this need may also justify why we like the familiar or why we do something like buy insurance and add to a savings account.


Love and Belonging Needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs continues with the desire to be cherished and welcomed. This requirement encompasses both intimate affairs and connections to friends and family members. It also requires our need to feel as if we are part of a social community. This need, it is important to note, includes both the need to be loved and the need to be loved by others.

For example, having social ties is associated with improved physical health, while feeling alone (i.e. having unmet belonging needs) harms health and well-being.


Esteem Needs

Our confidence requirements include a need to feel positive about ourselves. Maslow defines esteem needs as having two elements. The first entails feeling self-assured and positive for oneself. The second dimension is a sense of being acknowledged by others; that is, a sense that our accomplishments and sacrifices have been appreciated by others. 

When people's esteem needs are fulfilled, they become more positive and view their efforts and accomplishments as meaningful and important. However, if their confidence needs are not fulfilled, they can suffer "feelings of inferiority," as psychologist Alfred Adler put it.


Self-actualization Needs

Self-actualization refers to a sense of fulfillment or living up to one's potential. One distinguishing characteristic of self-actualization is that it appears differently for each person. For one person, self-actualization may entail supporting others; for another, it may entail accomplishments in an artistic or innovative field. Essentially, self-actualization refers to the belief that we are doing what we think we were born to do. 


Applications of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory is very useful from the perspective of organizational psychology. It can be used by teachers in a classroom setting to motivate the students to excel or it can also be used by leaders in a workplace setting to motivate their employees to perform well and boost their job satisfaction level. 

Maslow's theory plays a major role in enhancing workers' job satisfaction in any organization as a satisfied employee will be more productive and a reliable asset for the organization. A leader can make sure that firstly the primary needs of the employees are met i.e. the employees get adequate facilities to satisfy the hunger and other physiological needs. The employee should also get a safe working environment to function effectively. 

The leader should make the employee feel that they belong there and they are loved and cherished. They should give positive feedback from time to time and recognize the employee's work by giving various perks and rewards. 

And, keeping in mind the last need in Maslow's theory, the leader should help the employees realize their full potential and stand out by showcasing their exceptional performance. This results in improving the job satisfaction of an employee, eventually contributing to the growth of the organization.

Watch this video for a better understanding.

Indian Psychology of Motivation

According to a study done by Adhikari Srikanta Dash in the year 2008, that discusses how ancient Indian psychology maintains that analyzing one's behavior offers clues to one's motivations and that knowing one's motives allows one to predict one's conduct under various circumstances. Motives connoted three distinct forms of psychological phenomenon, all of which were closely related but not identical. 

  1. They are, first and foremost, motivations as inducements to actions aimed at meeting an individual's needs, which reveal the root of the individual's activeness in general and the needs that drive him to act in particular.
  2. Second, motives identify the objects of activeness and justify why an individual prefers a certain form of behavior. Motives, in this sense, correspond to motivations for the subject's choice of a specific course of action, and together they make up what is known in psychology as personality orientation. 
  3. Third, motivations arise as a tool for self-regulation, or the control of one's behavior and action by the person.

She further said that violation of actions is conduct that encompasses all three forms of motivation listed above. She further explains this example through the mentioned form as the origins of activity, its directional cues, and self-control mechanisms.














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