1. Physiological needs (sleep, action, food, air, reproduction) For the most part, physiological needs are obvious, they are the literal requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body simply cannot continue to function. Physiological needs include: breathing, food, sexual activity. Lack of air and food will kill an individual. A lack of sexual activity would mean the extinction of humanity, probably explaining the strength of the that instinct in individuals.
2. Safety needs (security, protection) With their physical needs relatively satisfied, the individual’s safety needs take over and dominate their behavior. These needs have to do with people’s yearning for a predictable, orderly world in which injustice and inconsistency are under control, the familiar frequent and the unfamiliar rare. In the world of work, these safety needs manifest themselves in such things as a preference for job security, grievance procedures for protecting the individual from unilateral authority, savings accounts, insurance policies, and the like. These have been lacking for most of human history, but at this point are mostly satisfied in the First World, although the poor, both those who are poor as a class and those who are temporarily poor, must often still address these needs. Safety and Security needs include: personal security, financial security, health and well-being, safety net against accidents/illness and the adverse impacts.
3. Social needs (friends, family, belonging, relationship) After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third layer of human needs is social. This psychological aspect of Maslow’s hierarchy involves emotionally-based relationships in general, such as: Friendship, Intimacy, Having a supportive and communicative family. Humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance, whether it comes from a large social group, such as clubs, office culture, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, gangs, or small social connections (family members, intimate partners, mentors, close colleagues, confidants). They need to love and be loved by others. In the absence of these elements, many people become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression. This need for belonging can often overcome the physiological and security needs, depending on the strength of the peer pressure.
4. Esteem (respect, self confidence) All humans have a need to be respected, to have self-esteem, self-respect. Also known as the belonging need, esteem presents the normal human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People need to engage themselves to gain recognition and have an activity or activities that give the person a sense of contribution, to feel accepted and self-valued, be it in a profession or hobby. Imbalances at this level can result in low self-esteem or an inferiority complex. People with low self-esteem need respect from others. They may seek fame or glory, which again depends on others. It may be noted, however, that many people with low self-esteem will not be able to improve their view of themselves simply by receiving fame, respect, and glory externally, but must first accept themselves internally. Psychological imbalances such as depression can also prevent one from obtaining self-esteem on both levels. Most people have a need for a stable self-respect and self-esteem. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. The higher one is the need for self-esteem, strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence and freedom. The last one is higher because it rests more on inner competence won through experience. Deprivation of these needs can lead to an inferiority complex, weakness and helplessness. Maslow stresses the dangers associated with self-esteem based on fame and outer recognition instead of inner competence. Healthy self-respect is based on earned respect.
5. Self-actualization (creative, skills, achieving) The motivation to realize one’s own maximum potential and possibilities is considered to be the master motive or the only real motive, all other motives being its various forms. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need for self-actualization is the final need that manifests when lower level needs have been satisfied. Classical Adlerian psychotherapy promotes this level of psychological development, utilizing the foundation of a 12-stage therapeutic model to realistically satisfy the basic needs, leading to an advanced stage of meta-therapy, creative living, and self/other/task-actualization. Maslow’s writings are used as inspirational resources.
6. Self-transcendence (creative, transform, ethics) Near the end of his life Maslow proposed that there was a level on the hierarchy that was above self-actualization: self-transcendence. Transcenders may be said to be much more often aware of the realm of Being and to have or to have had peak experience (mystic, sacral, ecstatic) with illuminations or insights. Analysis of reality or cognitions which changed their view of the world and of themselves, perhaps occasionally, perhaps as a usual thing. Maslow later did a study on 12 people he believed possessed the qualities of Self-transcendence. Many of the qualities were guilt for the misfortune of someone, creativity, humility, intelligence, and divergent thinking. They were mainly loners, had deep relationships, and were very normal on the outside. Maslow estimated that only 2% of the population will ever achieve this level of the hierarchy in their lifetime, and that it was absolutely impossible for a child to possess these traits.