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Abraham Maslow on Human Motivation Theories

According to Maslow (1954: 80-122), his proposed hierarchy of needs had five need levels:

1. The physical needs such as hunger, thirst, the need for shelter and sex. If an individual could not satisfy these needs, he was at risk of becoming preoccupied with them. Preoccupation with the physical needs was said to block growth.

2. The safety needs such as the need for security, and protection from physical as well as psychoemotional harm. If these needs are not satisfied, again the individual will become preoccupied with them. Maslow (1954: 80-122) said that preoccupation with this particular category of needs could lead to neurosis.

3. Belongingness needs such as the need for affection, acceptance and friendship. Prolonged deprivation of satisfaction for these social needs was said to lead to severe psychological disturbances.

4. Achievement Needs which were internal (e.g., needs for self-esteem such as self-respect, autonomy) and external (e.g., needs for status, recognition and attention). If these needs were not gratified, the theory held that people would develop feelings of inferiority and helplessness, which may manifest themselves in depression.

5. The need for self-actualization which was conceptualized as the need to do that which maximizes one's potential and fulfills innate aspirations. The hierarchy of needs theory held that this was the most difficult need to satisfy and it could not be fulfilled until all of the other needs had been satisfied.

Maslow (1954: 80-122) attempted to more thoroughly defined self-actualization by specifying a set of characteristics and traits that typified the self-actualized person. Specifically, a self-actualized person was said to: have a more efficient perception of reality; demonstrate greater acceptance of self, others and nature; be more spontaneous than average; pay more attention to problems outside of self; feel more comfortable with solitude and privacy; show greate...

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Abraham Maslow on Human Motivation Theories. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:09, December 01, 2015, from
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