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Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory about what sorts of things motivate us as human beings and what sorts of needs we have. Maslow presents a hierarchy of needs in which each level of need must be fulfilled before the individual can think about achieving goals at the next level. Maslow's hierarchy is particularly important for educators.
According to Maslow, the levels of the hierarchy are:
- Physiological needs. These are things that are necessary for human survival like food and water.
- Safety needs. These are things that allow us to feel that we are safe and that there is no danger to us.
- Esteem needs. These are needs that have to do with how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us. These are needs having to do with how worthwhile and important we feel.
- Self-actualization needs. These needs are related to developing ourselves and our talents as fully as possible.
In each case, we must fulfill our needs at one level before we can aspire to the next. For example, until we feel that we are safe and secure, we cannot worry about how other people view us. Until we feel that other people view us positively, we cannot devote our energy to fully developing ourselves.
According to Maslow, there are five levels of needs that can be put in his hierarchy. They are:
- Physiological needs. These are things we need for physical survival like food, water, and shelter.
- Safety needs. This is our need to feel that we are secure and that our world is stable.
- Love and belonging needs. These are our needs to feel that we belong and are accepted. We need to love and be loved.
- Esteem needs. We need to feel that other people respect us.
- Self-actualization needs. This is our need to reach our full potential as people.
Abraham Maslow developed his Hierarchy of Needs theory starting in the 1930's. Like a pyramid, higher functioning needs are placed on top of a broader support of basic needs. These divisions break roughly into "Being" and "Deficit" needs, and with this theory he went on, for example, to describe what happens when needs remain unfulfilled in an individual (neurosis) and groups (panic). See full discussion and examples at the link:
The previous answer gives the basic outline of the theory. Here is more detail: base of pyramid-physiological needs: oxygen, food, water; next level-pyramid-safety needs: protection from wild animals, enemies, abusers; next level-need for love, affection and belongingness: desire for relationship within family, friends, coupling; next level up-need for esteem: desire to receive recognition for efforts and achievements, acceptance in spite of failure; top level-need for self actualization: desire to actually be the person one believes they were "meant" to be.
Maslow was a humanist who denied God and living for God as a reality. His theory is based on humans meeting their own needs out of their own effort--or having them met by others. When needs on one level are not met maladaptive behaviors/psychological disorders or the inability to focus on achieving higher level needs results.
However, if a person lives a life under the belief that God controls all things, incuding the meeting of all our needs, then lack in one area is acceptable as a sacrifice for achieving the desires of God for us and in meeting the needs of others. This reality comletely derails Maslow's theory with regards to true Christians in particular--and many of other faiths in general. However, for those who live without a relationship with God--it is a relevant theory.
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