The Human Heirarchy of Needs

A psychological theory developed in 1943, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is considered a popular staple in terms of analyzing and studying a human’s most basic to complex needs. In his paper titled “A Theory of MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svgHuman Motivation”, Abraham Maslow claims that there are five separate level of needs that people embody in their lives.

A need is, according to the oxford dictionary, the requirement of something due to it being essential and important, rather than simply due to its desirability. According to Maslow, a human’s Hierarchy of Needs is divided into five separate needs, forming a triangle-shaped pyramid chart, with the bottom being the simplest of the needs, and the top being the most complex.

Physiological Level:

The most basic human needs lie here. These include water, breathing, food, and sleep. Naturally, if one of the physiological needs are missing, the body will automatically want the missing need. Needs that lie in this level are the most important, because without achieving them, we can’t access any other higher level needs. People are not often aware when their physiological needs are being met. However, when these important needs are not met, it then becomes increasingly obvious. A simple example would be that most humans don’t think about all the inhaling and exhaling of oxygen, which satisfies their need to breathe. If oxygen supply were to cut off, however, people would immediately become aware of the need to breathe.

Safety Level:

In this level, safety-type needs are prominent. Such include the safety of one’s self, family, resources, jobs, health, and life. Safety needs are obvious to both adults and children, being just as important as physiological needs. However, contrasting to physiological needs, safety needs deal more with the mind, rather than the body. Everybody’s sense of safety differs depending on where they live. A child, for example, may have an illness that threatens their sense of safety, therefore, the child requires the presence of a parent to take care of them.

Love/Belonging Level:

This level deals with different forms of social needs. Such needs include the need for friendships, relationships, family, and other types of social inclusions. Such relationships may include both romantic and person relationships. The needs here are dynamic depending on the stages of life a person is in. A child’s love and belonging may derive from the family, however later on, the child’s love and belonging may derive from groups of friends, and both personal and romantic relationships.

Esteem Level:

This level revolves around how people need to feel that they are important to the world, involving the needs of strength, competence, confidence, fame prestige, recognition, and attention. All humans have a need to feel respected and accepted. Esteem presents the typical human desire to be known and indulged in fame and glory, to an extent. However, fame or glory is not capable of helping a person build his or her self-esteem until they accept who they are internally.

Self-Actualization Level:

A quote by Maslow himself states “What a man can be, he must be”. This level centers on a person realizing what goals they want to reach and accomplish in their lifetimes. Marlow claims that we cannot be truly happy without becoming everything that we want to become. People have different things they want to be such as a singer, artist, inventor, or astronaut. If someone’s life goal and desire is to be an astronaut, then becoming an astronaut will fulfill his or her self-actualization needs.


For one level to be reached, the others before need to be fulfilled. This can be interpreted as a ladder. Achieving the most basic human needs will open up to more complex ones. After all, a homeless individual, unlike us, will not take the accessibility of food for granted, and rather will attempt to fulfill his or her physiological needs first, then start thinking about the bigger things.