About.com.psychology Hierarchy of Needs
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What motivates behavior? According to humanist psychologist, our actions are motivated in order achieve certain needs. Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" and his subsequent book Motivation and Personality.
This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs.
While some of the existing school's of thought at the time (such as psychoanalysis and behaviorism) tended to focus on problematic behaviors, Maslow was much more interested in learning more about what makes people happy and the things that they do to achieve that aim.
As a humanist, Maslow believed that people have an inborn desire to be self-actualized, to be all they can be.
In order to achieve this ultimate goals, however, a number of more basic needs must be met first such as the need for food, safety, love, and self-esteem.
From Basic to More Complex Needs
This hierarchy is most often displayed as a pyramid. The lowest levels of the pyramid are made up of the most basic needs, while the more complex needs are located at the top of the pyramid.
Needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic physical requirements including the need for food, water, sleep, and warmth. Once these lower-level needs have been met, people can move on to the next level of needs, which are for safety and security.
As people progress up the pyramid, needs become increasingly psychological and social.
Like Carl Rogers, Maslow emphasized the importance of self-actualization, which is a process of growing and developing as a person in order to achieve individual potential.
Types of Needs
Maslow believed that these needs are similar to instincts and play a major role in motivating behavior. Physiological, security, social, and esteem needs are deficiency needs (also known as D-needs), meaning that these needs arise due to deprivation. Satisfying these lower-level needs is important in order to avoid unpleasant feelings or consequences.
Maslow termed the highest-level of the pyramid as growth needs (also known as being needs or B-needs). Growth needs do not stem from a lack of something, but rather from a desire to grow as a person.