Understanding the Tenets of Human Motivation



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Analysis of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

During the 20th century, dominant psychology theories were Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis and Watson and Skinner’s behaviorism theories. In both of these theories, they portrayed human beings as faulty machines. Freud’s view saw human beings as being driven entirely by primitive urges like aggression and sex. Therefore, while living together in a civilized society, the ever-present impulses must be managed, and it leaves many people hopelessly conflicted at an unconscious level. The view of the behaviorists sees humans are oversized lab rats – programmed to behave the way they do by factors that are beyond their control. Since people are like programmed machines, they can be manipulated into doing anything. From here, Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) became dismayed by attempts made to reduce human psychology to simple mechanisms. Therefore, he wanted to understand and know what constituted positive mental health and happiness and not only mental misery and illness. It is through these assumptions that Maslow was inspired to start a completely new movement in psychology, which he called third wave — humanistic psychology.

Maslow’s theory acknowledged human or existential urge to grow, seek fulfillment and happiness and live to their potential. In essence, Maslow concluded that various factors drive human beings at different times and the forces are hierarchical hence, we start at the bottom layer and work up to the top of the pyramid. The model is called the Hierarchy of Needs. It captures different levels of human motivation propelled into action by factors like biological drives, psychological needs, and higher goals. Maslow’s research reveals that to achieve full potential humans need to be interdisciplinary people and thinkers. Self-actualization growth requires personal growth and discovery present throughout a persons’ life. The measurement of self-actualization is through the concept of peak experiences and occurs when a person experiences the world entirely. As such, self-actualization is a process that is continuous of becoming. In some instances, Maslow’s assumption of lower needs being satisfied before a person achieves their potential and self-actualize is not always the case. As such, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been falsified in some aspects.

Basic (Physiological) needs

Basic psychological needs are those found at the starting point for the motivation theory. Recent research lines make it necessary to revise conventional notions and the first us the development of the concept of homeostasis and second is the finding that appetites are a somewhat useful indication if actual needs. Homeostasis is the body’s natural efforts to maintain a constant, healthy state of the blood stream and described by Canon as the water, salt, sugar, protein, fat, calcium, oxygen contents, constant hydrogen-ion level and a constant temperature of the blood. Examples include sexual desire, sheer activity and sleepiness, and material behavior in animals. Appetite work has been summarized in its relation to body needs, and examples include food, drink among other basic life needs (Maslow, 1943). According to Maslow, these needs are the most instinctive because all needs become secondary until the basic needs are met.

In the field of psychology, Maslow’s model is used by building on theoretical and empirical developments at the interface of evolutionary anthropology, biology, and psychology. The revision made has seen the retention of several genuine needs such as physiological, safety and esteem and basic human motives is examined at three different levels of analysis. They are often conflated in Maslow’s work. Concerning physicians, social media a modified hierarchy of needs is used and at the bottom level is Security. This level has managed to help physicians to use social media while protecting patient privacy and we understand the behaviors that jeopardize our careers (Chretien & Kind, 2014, p. 1318).

For example, water is a basic need that every individual need in his/her life especially for those working under extreme temperatures. There was a time when I was doing my research, and it involved walking for long distances to gather information. I became very thirsty and needed water to drink, and this need was so urgent that little mattered for the rest of the journey until I had something to drink. Therefore, this level of needs is vital for any human being and in my life, without the basic essential needs, it is most difficult for one to continue living. From this experience, I was able to appreciate the basic nutrition, air and temperature regulation that exist under the basic requirements. Moreover, sexual reproduction is an essential component of this level of needs because it results in the propagation of species. If I had died of thirst, I would not have propagated my species to succeed me in future.

Safety needs

These are the need for security and protection. When physiological needs for water and food are met, the safety needs to dominate our behavior. Safety needs all have to do with people’s natural desire for a predictable, orderly world that is within our control. In the present world, safety needs manifest themselves as a savings account, job security, financial security, insurance policies, health, and well-being. Safety and security needs concern keeping people safe from any harm, and if an individual does not feel safe in a given environment, they seek to find safety before they attempt to meet higher-level needs in the pyramid. The security needs are essential components for survival, but they are less important than the basic physiological needs.

According to Chretien and Kind (2014), security for the social media and medicine landscape gave focus to the unprofessional online behaviors, and this resulted in the development of social media policies and educational interventions (p. 1319). The educational efforts involved critical reflections of trainees’ online presence and explored issues such as personal boundaries and the development of professional identity. Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg and Scaller’s article looks at security concerning self-protection and safety motives (2010, p. 296). In the article, they assert that human beings have motivational systems that deal with threats and the systems include rapid learning of associations for stimuli that would most likely have threatened our ancestors. Moreover, it looked at attentional systems that are attuned to the angry expression on the faces of unknown males who posed as a great threat.

The idea of securing a bright future all entails finding a job and through that job, an individual obtains health insurance and health cover. The first time I got a job I decided to make some savings towards my children’s future and hence, the money was deposited into a savings account. The motivation that made me do the savings was to move into a safer neighborhood, and this action was motivated by the security and safety needs.

Love and belonging needs

After meeting all the above-stated levels of hierarchical needs, then individuals are motivated to meet the needs represented at higher levels of the pyramid. Through solid relationships, they the love and belonging needs are met such as relationships with family members, peers, teachers, friends and other people individuals interact. A satisfactory relationship is an acceptance by others and after meeting their physiological and security needs, people decide to venture out and seek relationships for which their need for love and belonging are met.

Affiliation and belonging motives are in the next levels; Maslow treats the needs for affection, love and belongingness in one category. The social motivations in this level differ from the first two levels because they are not necessary for the survival of individuals. For example, many other animals have managed to live solitary lives outside their mating season. Nonetheless, for humans, this is not the case because they are exquisitely sensitive to cues of social rejection (Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg & Scaller, 2010). When we talk of trade-offs, solitary life will avoid costs such as competition for local resources, socially transmitted diseases, and exploitation by other group members. However, the benefits to social life and human groups involve the extensive sharing of resources, parenting chores, and knowledge with other group members.

A relationship between romantic partners and even family members is governed by distinct affective states and cognitive decision biases. Sexual jealousy and arousal are distinctly designed to deal with arising opportunities and threats in such relationships, but they do not exist in family relationships. The uneven distribution of costs and benefits that are taken for granted by children and parents triggers emotional reactions associated with the injustices that occur between friends, and they could be grounds for friendship termination. Different developmental periods relate to friendship, romantic love, and familial bonds, but they are worthy to distinguish them in the hierarchy of motives. Another example would be that of hunter-gatherer societies where food sharing within groups is provided as an essential survival policy: this would provide an essential insurance policy for survival.

Esteem needs

After meeting the more basic needs of humans, esteem needs to become important to individuals. After individuals meet their need for belonging and love, they can begin to develop positive feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. The esteem needs act to foster pride in their work and to them as individuals, and the needs include respect, confidence, self-esteem, achievement, accomplishment, and recognition. In this level, people want to sense that others value them in the society, and they want to feel they are contributing to the world. When it comes to the participation in professional activities, team participation, academic accomplishments and personal hobbies, all can play a role in fulfilling these needs. The individuals who satisfy these needs tend to feel confident in their abilities, and the ones who lack self-esteem and respect of others develop inferiority feelings. The psychological need of the hierarchy is made up of the esteem and social needs.

The discipline of psychological science looks at the fourth level of status and esteem motives. According to the article by Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg and Scaller (2010), the level consists of two similar sets, one containing desires for strength, mastery, and achievement while the other consists of desires for status, reputation, glory, and dominance. Human status arises from physical dominance and threat and among hunter-gatherers; many of the activities performed are dependent on highly technical information such as hunting, fishing, and food preparation (Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg, & Schaller, 2010).

In my line of duty, I work for a famous person who deserves all respect and through this person in the organization help in the smooth running of activities and operations. In the end, businesses want to achieve their goals and objectives and therefore, it is vital for individuals to ascertain the importance of having such a business. This level of needs relates to everyday life because it includes things that are significant to the success of any given company.

Self-Actualization needs

This is the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy needs and it pertains to what constitutes a person’s full potential and realizing the potential. The maxim for this level of need is that “What a man can be, he must be” and this becomes the basis. According to Maslow, this level describes the desire to become everything one is capable of becoming. Examples of the need include self-fulfillment, realizing personal potential, personal growth, peak experiences; pursue talent and creativity among others. As Maslow was developing his hierarchy of needs theory, he studied biographies of famous historical individuals, and he believed they were good examples of self-actualized people. The figures included Eleanor Roosevelt, Fredrick Douglass, and Albert Einstein among others.

In this article, the authors look at the desire to fulfill an individual’s unique potential, which is disconnected from biological needs (Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg, & Schaller, 2010). The functional analysis of this level asks the adaptive pay-offs associated with self-actualization motives. Concerning this, self-actualization is a by-product of other mechanisms, and hence higher orders of phenomena exist because they serve specific fitness-relevant functions. Researchers use this perspective to enable them to understand the origins of complex psychological phenomena such as morality and religion.

In my career, I always strive to attain the best. Through this, self-fulfillment is obtained and individuals realize their personal potential. This realization helps one grow at a personal level and hence they will pursue their talent by being creative in their line of duty.


Being an interdisciplinary person and thinker is essential as asserted by Maslow’s research that helps people achieve their full potential. From all the above descriptions, it is evident that an individual needs to be an interdisciplinary thinker to enable them to be creative when it comes to meeting their needs at different levels. In essence, being an interdisciplinary scholar and person, one is guaranteed of having the levels encountered in various sections and disciplines. Moreover, the full potential of any individual is evident among interdisciplinary people and thinkers because they know what they are looking at the end of their achievements.

Research conducted by Maslow indicates that the key to self-actualization is interdisciplinary because it relates to different aspects of life and the meeting of needs. Thereby, the individual become actualized in their potential and thus, their desire to become more and more what one is in becoming everything an individual is capable of becoming. While seeking to achieve this need it is necessary to prior satisfaction of the physiological, safety, love and esteem needs and hence, once people are satisfied with these needs, they become creative.

Self-actualization is the last stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and asserts that interdisciplinary is essential for the need to be met. It needs to be considered that self-fulfillment is something that an individual does in a creative way, and hence, they need to think beyond their imagination. Interdisciplinary of people will mean that the need is actualized in a systematic way that results in the achievement of the need that is vital for growth and development. For example, going to business operations will require an intelligent person who is a thinker and looks at achieving their full potential in personal growth. Development of an individual is important because it relates to the personal growth. Self-actualization is vital for an individual because it means that they have reached their full potential and maintains their standards by fulfilling all their previous level needs. Since it is the last stage, it means the individual will have gone through many challenges and problems and is confident in meeting all their needs.

References List:

Chretien, K. C. & Kind, T. (2014). Climbing Social Media in Medicines Hierarchy of Needs. Academic Medicine, 89(10), 1318-1320.

Kenrick, D. T., Griskevicius, V., Neuberg, S. L. & Schaller, M. (2010). Renovating The Pyramid of Needs Contemporary Extensions Built Upon Ancient Foundations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(3), 292-314.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.

Serlin, I. (2011). The History and Future of Humanistic Psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 51(4), 428-431.

Yeagle, E. H., Privette, G. & Dunham, F. Y. (1989). Highest Happiness and Analysis of Artists’ Peak Experience. Psychological Reports, 65, 523-530.

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