Summary: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (often represented as a pyramid with five levels of needs) is a motivational theory in psychology that argues that while people aim to meet basic needs, they seek to meet successively higher needs in the form of a pyramid.

Originator: Abraham Maslow in 1943.

Key terms: deficiency needs, growth needs, physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, self-actualization

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham H. Maslow felt as though conditioning theories did not adequately acapture the complexity of human behavior. In a 1943 paper called A Theory of Human Motivation, Maslow presented the idea that human actions are directed toward goal attainment. Any given behavior could satisfy several functions at the same time; for instance, going to a bar could satisfy one’s needs for self-esteem and for social interaction.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has often been represented in a hierarchial pyramid with five levels. The four levels (lower-order needs) are considered physiological needs, while the top level of the pyramid is considered growth needs. The lower level needs must be satisfied before higher-order needs can influence behavior. The levels are as follows (see pyramid in Figure 1 below).

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