Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Eric Nguyen

Maslow proposed a theory that human motivation is driven by certain needs, which he organized into a hierarchical manner. The first 4 stages are classified as the deficiency needs, fundamental needs that must be achieved before the last stage. The last stage, self-actualization, represents personal growth and self discovery throughout an individual's life.
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The Deficiency Needs

These needs must be attained first before the stage of self-actualization. Within the deficiency needs, the basic needs must first be satisfied before higher level needs.


The most lowest and basic needs are physiological needs which include human bodily functions and needs necessary for survival, including breathing, sleep, homeostasis, food, and water.

The second tier are considered the safety needs which involve needs of comfort, security, and stability within one's life. This would also include personal safety, job security, as well as order in the society the individual is living in.

The third tier are classified as the love and belongingness needs (or social needs), encompassing an individual's desire for building relationships. This includes friendships, familial relationships, and sexual partnerships.

The fourth and final tier of the deficiency needs are the esteem needs, where an individual strives for the acceptance and respect of others as well as prestige and accomplishments.

The Growth Needs

The final stage include the growth needs or self-actualization needs. This is the highest and most complex tier of needs. Maslow states that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. Self-actualized people are those who were fulfilled and doing all they were capable of. It is the discovery of the meaning of one's life which is why it is the hardest stage to achieve (Maslow says that 1 out of 1 hundred people achieve self-actualization).

Public Criticism

Maslow's theory, like all theories, met opposition from critics and the general populace. Many argued that humans do not follow this hierarchy in the set order as Maslow proposed. Maslow also applied his theory to a small demographic of subjects who he deemed "self-actualized". This introduces bias elements regarding the final stage and therefore, it is difficult to distinguish individuals who have achieved self-actualization.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs