In 1943 Abraham Maslow wrote a paper titled A Theory of Human Motivation in which he first proposed his hierarchy of needs. In it he describes the levels of motivation that people generally move through. Today the Hierarchy is used in a variety of fields ranging from sociology and psychology to management training. It has been studied and expanded upon over the years by various researchers and psychologists like Clayton Alderfer who’s ERG theory draws upon Maslow’s hierarchy. There are five levels in the hierarchy ranging from the basic survival needs up to higher needs of self.
The first and most basic of the needs is physiological; these are the basic needs that a human body needs to survive. Safety is next on the hierarchy and concerns the feeling of feeling safe from a variety of things such as, job security, personal safety from accidents, home security, and monetary security. Love and belonging follow after that and addresses a person’s need to belong in a group and have loving relationships with those close the person. Esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect are next on the list of importance for individuals to maintain a healthy mental state. At the top of the list we have Self-Actualization when a person can be someone who lives up to their full potential.
When Abraham Maslow created his hierarchy of needs he only studied the healthiest of subjects. This makes the study seem incomplete and possibly inaccurate. Further study has sought to compensate for this oversight. During the eighties it was shown that in different age groups levels on the hierarchy change places for example safety which is more important to seniors. Esteem is also very important for teenagers while love is more important during childhood and young adulthood.
Clayton Alderfer further expanded Maslow’s Hierarchy by categorizing it into his ERG (Existence, Relatedness, Growth) theory. Existence is the basic survival needs in order for a person to continue existing. Relatedness relates to the connection of people and the quality of their relationships. Finally, there is growth which is the desire for personal development, this includes Maslow’s self-actualization. Alderfer also proposed a regression theory to complement the ERG theory. In this theory when the higher needs aren’t being met then people will work even harder on the lower needs in hopes of fulfilling higher needs.
This is only a very basic run down of Maslow’s hierarchy and ERG theory, but if you are interested feel free to study further. Next week we will go into depth on self-actualization with a post to be named The Actualized Self. Hope that you will join us again soon.