Abraham Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory!

Abraham Maslow, a famous U.S. psychologist developed a general theory of motivation known as need Hierarchy Theory in his paper published in 1943.

According to him:

(i) People have many needs which motivate them to work, (if) Human needs can be divided into various categories, (iii) Human needs can be arranged into hierarchy, (iv) Human beings start satisfying their needs step by step, (v) A satisfied need does not motivate human behaviour.


The division of human needs by Maslow was appreciated largely. He divided the needs into the following categories:

(i) Physiological Needs:

These needs are concerned with survival and maintenance of life. These include food, < I >clothing< I >shelter, water etc.

(ii) Safety Needs:

These relate to physical safety against fire, accident, unemployment etc.

(iii) Social Needs:

These are also known as affiliation needs and include need for love, affection, friendship, association or belonging with family, friends and other social groups.

(iv) Ego or Esteem Needs:


These are the needs derived from status, self esteem, recognition, achievement, power, prestige etc.

(v) Self-Actulization Needs or Self-Fulfilment Needs:

These are the needs to fulfil what a person considers to be his real mission in life. It inspires an individual to realise one’s potentialities to the maximum.

Maslow is of the view that these needs have a hierarchy and are satisfied one by one. After the lower level needs are satisfied the needs at the higher level take their place. A man whose stomach is full becomes conscious of other needs.

Maslow’s need preference is simple and logical. It can be compared with the economic theory of demand. The theory contains some fundamental truths. His critics state that it is another simplification of human needs and motivation.


The priority of needs is not always fixed. They also say that this theory is not empirically tested. Inspite of all this criticism, Maslow explains inter-personal and intra-personal variations in human behaviour clearly.