Learn Psychology: Maslow’s Hierarchy

The most discussed psychological principle in crime dramas is the criminal’s motive. A murderer needs a motive to murder someone. Similarly, we all need motivation to do everything that we do. But human motivation isn’t that simple to understand. The reason we do a particular thing is built up by many factors in our environment and our mind. So to simplify the study of these factors and to understand how they influence our motives, Abraham Maslow (an American Psychologist)  devised a hierarchy of needs

The reason we do a particular thing is built up by many factors in our environment and our mind. So to simplify the study of these factors and to understand how they influence our motives, Abraham Maslow (an American Psychologist)  devised a hierarchy of needs. The needs are arranged in ascending order according to the highest priority. And he also said that our motives follow this priority list. (Given below)



In this diagram, the needs are arranged in a pyramid. Those at the bottom have the highest priority. And the priority goes on decreasing as we go up the pyramid.

So the Maslow’s Hierarchy consists of the following factors:

Physiological needs

A person always craves for physiological satisfaction. That is if you are hungry or thirsty or in dire need of sleep, then those concerns will always be your first priority. In such a state,  your motives will be directed towards fulfilling hunger, thirst or the need for sleep. There are many other physiological needs mentioned in the pyramid above. After the physiological needs are met, you move on to safety needs.


After having secured your food for the moment, you move on to think about securing food supply for a longer period of time – such as a month or a year. This need to secure the satisfaction of your physiological needs is called the need for safety.

You instinctively yearn for a safe, unchanging environment. And in this stage, your motives are directed towards securing the satisfaction of your physiological needs in the future. Also, after our physiological needs are met, we tend to minimise dangerous situations in our life. We do this by moving to a safe city, putting on the seat belt, taking medicine when a disease strikes etc.

After you’re done ensuring a safe environment, you seek to love and belonging.

Love and Belonging

Humans are social animals. Love and belonging is what keeps us hopeful in life. It is extremely satisfying to have a community to belong to and people that love you and that you can love in return. After satisfaction of physiological and safety needs is met, you will seek to belong. Some people do that by engaging in social activities, spending time with their friends and family or someone they love. In this stage, all your actions are directed towards attaining that feeling of love and belonging.


After the previous needs are fulfilled, the mind becomes conscious of its self-image and image in the society. Now all your motives are directed towards gaining the respect of your friends or family or community. You do this by being useful or getting a job, securing a promotion, winning awards etc. Also in this stage, you become conscious of your own body. This means that you will also try to improve your appearance in some way or the other.

And after you have gained the respect of your society and your own, you turn to seek the one thing that will make your life meaningful: your calling


This is the least priority in the sense that this need is fulfilled only after first four needs in the pyramid are fulfilled. Then you arrive at the top of the pyramid. You have come to such a stage in life that you have physiological satisfaction, your future and environment is secure, you have enough love to give and receive and you have enough self-respect and the respect of your society. Now the only thing you need is a calling.

This calling is what you can do best and what is most beneficial for you. It might be painting for someone or music composition, writing a novel etc. This is also what you call ambition, or in simple terms, what you must be ( according to Maslow).

At this stage, finding your calling and making your life meaningful is a major motivation. All your thoughts, actions and mental processes are directed towards the attaining of your dream.

Not all of us make it to self-actualisation. For example, a tribal kid in Africa can’t even satisfy his hunger. So he won’t dream of becoming a fighter pilot. A man who isn’t respected by his peers will find it hard to make his life meaningful ( exceptions are the history’s great who have faced disrespect until the very moment of their self-actualisation.)

The End

Maslow’s hierarchy cannot accurately predict human behaviour as human behaviour is too nuanced. But in all, the theory does predict the general direction of behaviour. For example, Maslow’s hierarchy predicts that after your hunger is satisfied, you will start to look for security. But exactly how you will do that and precisely how your safety needs are satisfied will be influenced by numerous small and big factors. Maslow’s hierarchy cannot predict human behaviour precisely and should only be used as a fundamental theory of motivation and behaviour.



If you like what I write or disagree with me and my motives, please do comment in the comments section below. Your feedback is sincerely important to me. You can also contact me at mindfeedwp.gmail.com or get in touch through my social profiles ( links to my facebook, twitter, instagram and linked in accounts are on the right side of the post, and also beside the search bar.)



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