Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

An interpretation of American Psychologist Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, represented as a pyramid. The most basic needs appear as the base of the pyramid, while the "higher level" needs appear stacked on top.

Needs are the things that are required for an organism to live a healthy life. Needs are distinguished from wants as the lack of a need results in negative consequence whereas the lack of a want does not. Needs are the very basic items, or essential aspects of life that we need to survive. In comparison, wants are things that we desire but are not essential for survival. For example, we need Water to survive and function properly, it is thought of as a being one of the most basic human needs. If humans go without water, the negative consequence will be that they will become dehydrated and will die after a period of about three days.[1] Carbonated drinks, on the other hand, are a want because they are an item that we desire but is not necessary for our survival. While we may be unhappy if we have to go without an indulgence like carbonated drinks, we will suffer no real negative consequences. Another example would be that while having clothing is considered a basic human need as it acts acts a protection barrier between individuals and their environment, the desire to have a certain brand or type of clothing would be considered a want. Again this is true because while there are negative consequences to individuals not wearing clothing, they will be more likely to hurt themselves and get sick, there is no such consequence from them not having the specific type or brand of clothing that they want.

Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsEdit

Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American Psychologist in pre-pandemic years. While other psychologists, such as infamous Sigmund Freud had previously focused their theories on the negative aspects of human nature, Malsow's ideas instead centered on the positive aspects and he conducted research using an optimistic view of human nature. Maslow was quoted explaining his reasoning on why he took this perspective saying: "To oversimplify the matter somewhat, it's as if Freud supplied to us the sick half of psychology and we must now fill in the healthy half."[2]

Maslow was most widely known for his theory that human motives are organized into a hierarchy of needs. Maslow described this hierarchy as being a systematic arrangement of needs based on priority. In this hierarchy, the basic needs must be met before more complex needs are aroused.[3] Dubbed as "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs", this theory is most often represented as being a pyramid where the basic needs form the base and increasingly complex needs are stacked on top.[4]

Basic NeedsEdit

The category of "Basic Needs" contains needs that directly relate to physiological drives. These needs must be met before an individual concerns themselves with meeting higher-level needs.

Physiological NeedsEdit

  • Air
  • Sleep
  • Food
  • Water
  • The need to fulfill biological functions
  • Maintain Homeostasis

Safety and Security NeedsEdit

  • Shelter
  • Protection (clothes, a means of defense)
  • Health (medicine, first aid)

Psychological NeedsEdit

The category of "Psychological Needs" contains needs contains needs that are not directly related to the fulfilling of individuals' physiological drives and are only able to be met after the more basic needs are fulfilled. Higher-level Psychological needs are not directly related to an individual's survival, but to an individual's psychological health.

Belongingness and Love NeedsEdit

  • Intimate relationships
  • Friendships

Esteem NeedsEdit

  • Feelings of esteem
  • Feelings of Accomplishment

Self-Fulfillment NeedsEdit

The highest level need is the need of "Self-Actualization", which is an individual's need to fulfill their potential. Maslow describes the need for self-actualization as follows: "Even if all these needs are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization". [5]

The Need for Self-ActualizationEdit

  • The need to fulfill one's personal potential
  • Includes various creative actives


  2. Wayne Weiten and Doug McCann, Psychology: Themes and Variations, Third Canadian Edition (Toronto: Nelson Education, 2012), 570.
  3. Wayne Weiten and Doug McCann, Psychology: Themes and Variations, Third Canadian Edition (Toronto: Nelson Education, 2012), 570.
  4. Maslow, Abraham. "A Theory of Motivation." Psychological Review 50 (1943): 370—96. Retrieved from
  5. Maslow, Abraham. "A Theory of Motivation." Psychological Review 50 (1943): 370—96. Retrieved from