Hierarchy of Needs Theory - Motivation Theory

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the most well-known theory of motivation. He hypothesized that within every human being there exists a hierarchy of five needs:


  • Physiological: Includes hunger, thirst, shelter, sex, and other bodily needs

  • Safety: Includes security and protection from physical and emotional harm

  • Social: Includes affection, belongingness, acceptance, and friendship

  • Esteem: Includes internal esteem factors such as self-respect, autonomy, and achievement; and external esteem factors such as status, recognition, and attention

  • Self-actualization: The drive to become what one is capable of becoming; includes growth, achieving one’s potential, and self-fulfillment

As a need becomes substantially satisfied, the next need becomes dominant. No need is ever

fully gratified; a substantially satisfied need no longer motivates.



Maslow separated the five needs into higher and lower orders.

  • Physiological and safety needs are described as lower-order.

  • Social, esteem, and self-actualization are as higher-order needs

  • Higher-order needs are satisfied internally.

  • Lower-order needs are predominantly satisfied externally.

Maslow’s need theory has received wide recognition, particularly among practicing managers. Research does not generally validate the theory.


Maslow provided no empirical substantiation, and several studies that sought to validate the theory found no support for it.


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