The Infamous Pyramid

             Possibly the most cited and referenced psychological model is that of Abraham H. Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. Any individual who takes an introductory course in psychology and even business class will more than likely hear about Maslow’s pyramid of needs. From that point on you can never outrun it. Maslow first introduced his pyramid in 1943, but further expanded on the model in Motivation and Personality, which he published in 1954. Maslow centered his motivation model off studies he performed on the lives of people such as Fredrick Douglas, Albert Einstein, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

            Maslow’s hierarchy proposes a 5-layer model of human needs. Each need must be met before the next need can be dealt with. The first four levels are physiological, safety, love/belonging, and esteem. These needs are referred to as “deficiency needs.” The pinnacle of the model is “self-actualization,” which can only be met after the other four are fully met.

            The first layer of Maslow’s pyramid is “physiological needs.” Things such as shelter, food, water, and reproduction are all put under this layer. Once these needs are met then you can move on to satisfying “safety needs.” These include personal security, health/wellbeing, and financial security. After “safety” comes “love and belonging needs.” This layer deals with emotions and relationships. This includes love, friendship/family, and intimacy. The second highest level is esteem. This layer deals with people’s desire to be accepted and valued by their peers.

            All humans desire to succeed and fulfill, or find, their purpose in life. This can also be called “self-actualization.” “Self-actualization” is the top level of Maslow’s model. It is the desire to maximize and reach their full potential. It is still debatable whether “self-actualization” is actually possible, and whether the hierarchy is accurate at all. However, it is vastly agreed upon that Maslow laid a fascinating and intriguing foundation for studying and understanding human motivation.

Why It Matters:

            Maslow’s hierarchy is possibly the most cited model in psychological, motivational, and even educational realms. Many people are skeptical of the hierarchy and question its validity because it has been stretched and modified to fit into different plans, ideas, and theories. Whether the model is valid or not, it gives a phenomenal framework from in which future psychologists can build their own theories and models. Maslow opened up the human psyche and began to explain what drives humans at the most basic and fundamental levels.

The Infamous Pyramid