Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs shows the basic and priority of needs we have as humans. At the bottom of the triangle – physiological (air, food, warmth); without these we would not survive.

The highest and most exclusive need we have is self-actualisation. Self-actualisation is when we are completely satisfied with our world and are at full peace within ourselves.

Abraham Maslow (1943) was a psychologist who thought about what people need in life to be healthy. He proposed we have five basic needs and that we need these needs to be met.

Click on the needs below to find out more about each stage of the Maslow’s hierarchy.

Needs for Self-Actualisation

Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.” “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” If these needs are not met a person feels on edge, tense, lacking something and restless. Older age can provide an opportunity for a person to focus on what they want to do, as the pressures of other commitments such as work and family can be less. 

Needs for Esteem

These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels self-confident and valuable as a person in the world. When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless. 

Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness

The next class of needs are for love, affection and belongingness. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging. 

Safety Needs

When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviours, the needs for security can become active. Adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or unstable times.

Physiological Needs

These are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the  physiological ones would come first in the person’s search for survival and satisfaction.