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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand the concept of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

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When two parties are in conflict, each party comes into the conflict feeling very strongly about what they must have in order to resolve things. And typically they're on opposite sides of whatever the issue is. So what's at the root of the conflict? Well at the root of the conflict are fundamental human needs that each party has. That each party wants to satisfy. Better understanding these human needs can help us better understand how to respond in conflict situations.

I'm Marlene, and today I'd like to look at a model of human needs with you called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Now Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a model of universal categories of human needs developed by Abraham Maslow. Abraham Maslow a psychologist who lived in the last century. He was born in 1908 and he studied people who were mentally healthy. In addition to people who had severe psychological issues. He wanted to focus on mentally healthy people. What made them tick. People who achieved greatness.

And as a result of these studies, he came up with this hierarchy of needs. He felt that people need to fulfill basic human needs-- we all have these needs-- and we do it in a particular hierarchical order. He also came to believe that as human beings we aren't here just to blindly react to situations. But that all of us are capable of, and indeed want, to accomplish greater things. So he believed in the positive potential of human beings. And his hierarchy of needs demonstrates that.

Let me introduce it to you. It's this hierarchy of needs. At the bottom here we have physiological needs. Let me just take you through the categories first. Physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

So at the physiological level we are talking about things like food, water, sleep, air-- basic needs that we all have to have. If we don't have these needs we're not going to be able to focus on anything else until they are satisfied. Once we have those basic physiological needs satisfied of course, we can move to safety.

Safety has to do with security, stability, and shelter. So we get jobs. We have homes. We pay the rent. We have resources that keep us feeling secure, keep our family safe. That's the next level of need. Following safety is belonging-- love and belonging.

Now in this category we have things like friends, family, love, and approval. We all have needs for being affiliated with others. Whether we join groups-- at our jobs, within our families, our community-- we all want that affection, friends, relationships, and approval. So that's the next need up. Once we've satisfied needs at that level, we move to esteem.

Esteem involves respect, recognition, and achievement. We all have a need to have people recognize us for what we can do-- for what we can accomplish.

And then the highest level here is self-actualization. Which would be human potential. What are we capable of? Can we give greater meaning to what we're doing here? So when we focus on these self-actualization needs, typically we have the other needs satisfied. We're not going to be able to focus very strongly on self-actualization if we're down here and we're trying to get housing, or we lose our job.

So we can move up and down this hierarchy of needs depending on what is happening to us at any particular time in our lives. For example, we may have a good job, a good income, we have a nice home, and then we lose our job. The company has layoffs. Perhaps we find ourselves in conflict with others at our workplace, that we were never in conflict with before, because we're all competing for fewer jobs. Who is going to get laid off? Who are they going to keep? There's conflict now because this basic need of security, stability in our lives, is being threatened. So we find ourselves focusing at this level. We probably aren't thinking about higher levels here because we want to keep the stability in our lives. We want to keep our job.

So that's an example of how something can happen in our life, and we find that our focus is at this particular level of needs. If there is a hurricane, a tornado, and we find ourselves stranded without a home, perhaps we don't have basic food, we don't have water, we could once again find ourselves here. I know we see around the world stories of refugee camps. Where simply trying to get water or food leads to conflict between people who would never fight over that sort of thing, except when there's a scarcity.

So we move back and forth along this hierarchy of needs. And what we are all looking for, of course, is to meet our potential at the higher levels. We all want love and belonging. We all want esteem. We want to feel like we're part of a group. We want to feel recognized. And when those needs are met, we are also looking for even a greater sense of what is my full potential? What else can I do? What is the meaning here in my life?

So Maslow believed that this hierarchy of needs reflects the needs that all humans have. And that we are constantly moving up the hierarchy, or down, depending on the context, what's happening in our life, and what our current needs are in any particular situation. So better understanding these needs can help us better understand what might be put be fueling any particular conflict.

So I've enjoyed being part of this tutorial. And I look forward to seeing you next time.

Terms to Know
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

A model of universal categories of human needs, developed by Abraham Maslow.