The human being responds to his senses and to the incentives he receives from outside. Our behavior is governed by certain needs that are acquired innately. Although our behavior can be variable, we have a certain way of acting. To talk about the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Maslow Pyramid, we must contextualize its meaning and know everything about human behavior. Then we will understand how it works and how it is applied in all its areas, including in the world of psychology and the business world.

Who Was Maslow?

Abraham Harold Maslow was an American psychologist known as one of the founders and leading exponents of humanistic psychology, a psychological current that postulates the existence of a basic human tendency towards mental health, which would manifest itself as continuous processes for self-realization.

There are professionals who consider Maslow as the true founder of humanistic psychology. This is his most important theory and in it he proposes that the human being has the innate desire to self-realize, to foster his own personal development and individual growth to become who he wants to be.

Of course, the great approach he makes in this pyramid is that to achieve that desire for self-realization one must have covered other needs, considered basic, in order to feel motivated or prepared to achieve it.

What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Maslow Pyramid?

Maslow pyramid or also called the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory created by the American psychologist Abraham Maslow, which he published in 1943 in his book: a theory about human motivation. He quickly gained great visibility both in the world of psychology and in the field of marketing, human resources and the business world in general.

Maslow pyramid theory states that human actions are born of an innate motivation to meet our needs, which are ordered hierarchically depending on the importance they have for our well-being.

The needs of the human being are categorized and ranked according to the importance they have in our lives. Maslow proposed a pyramid of needs that explains what drives human behavior. This pyramid is divided into 5 levels ranging from more basic aspects such as survival to more complex motivations such as personal growth. In the first level of the pyramid are our most basic needs such as feeding or resting, we will only jump to the next level of needs once we have met the needs of the level we are in, and so on.

What levels do you have?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Maslow Pyramid is divided into five levels. As I mentioned, the main idea is that we only scale to higher needs once we have met the lower needs, therefore the human being will always aspire to meet the superior needs of the pyramid.

The five levels in which the Maslow pyramid is divided are divided according to the relevance and the place they occupy in our life and our personal development. Natural behavior is established according to a series of basic needs where aspects related to survival are found in the first steps of the pyramid, and as we ascend, the pyramid increases its degree of complexity and the importance of needs decreases.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs or Maslow Pyramid
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Maslow Pyramid

1. Physiological needs

The first level of the pyramid is the physiological needs. They are the most basic, such as breathing, hydrating, feeding, resting, protecting and reproducing. All those necessary for the survival of the human being. Within them we find:

  • Breathe, drink water, and feed.
  • Maintain the balance of pH and body temperature.
  • Sleep, rest and eliminate waste.
  • Avoid the pain

2. Security and Safety Needs

The second level of the Maslow pyramid is safety needs. They are all those related to the safety and stability of a person. These are the most significant:

  • Physical and health.
  • Employment, income, and resources.
  • Moral, family and private property.

3. Love and belongingness needs (Social needs)

The third level of the pyramid is Love and belongingness needs. Also known as affiliation and affection, among them, you can find:

  • Association
  • Participation
  • Acceptance
  • Love
  • Affected
  • Membership or affiliation with a certain social group

4. Esteem or Recognition needs

After covering the needs of the first three levels of the Maslow Pyramid, the needs of esteem or recognition appear. Maslow divides the estimate into two:

  • High, like the need for self-respect: trust, competence, expertise, achievements, independence, and freedom.
  • Low, like the need for respect for the rest of the people: attention, appreciation, recognition, reputation, status, dignity, fame, glory, and even dominance.

In meeting these needs, people feel confident and think that it is valuable within society; When these needs are not met, people feel inferior and worthless.

5. Self-actualization needs

Finally, the fifth level of the pyramid is the needs of self-realization. Also known as growth motivation or need to be. Through his satisfaction, there is a justification or a valid meaning to life. This level is reached when all other needs have been met. These are the most important:

  • Morality,
  • Creativity,
  • Search for a mission in life
  • Selfless help towards others
  • Spontaneity,
  • Lack of prejudice, Acceptance of facts and problem-solving.

All skills that allow personal development.

Examples of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Maslow Pyramid

Below we can see some examples in each of the levels:

  • Authorization: organize a charity celebration to help a social purpose.
  • Recognition: Become a relevant professional in your sector and win a prize.
  • Socials: Having a group of friends or belonging to a certain group such as a social club.
  • Safety: Get a job that ensures continuous income or move to a complex of houses with private security.
  • Physiological: for example eat, drink and rest every day.

General characteristics of the Maslow pyramid

Maslow pyramid of needs on human motivation fulfills a number of features in society. The main parameter is the statement that only unmet needs influence people’s behavior since the satisfied need does not generate any behavior.

The physiological needs are born with the person, the rest of the needs arise over time. For this reason, sexual behavior or food relationship is not included in the previous behavior group.

As the person manages to control their basic needs, higher-order needs appear gradually, originating to some extent the hierarchical differences of each individual. Not all people will feel the need for self-realization for example.

The highest needs do not arise to the extent that the lowest is being met. For example, an individual may have income or resource problems and, therefore, will not lack the need for integration into a collective, as a need located on a higher scale.

Finally, basic needs require a relatively short motivational cycle for your satisfaction, in contrast, higher needs require a longer cycle. Obviously, feeling self-realized requires a longer time period than covering any of the needs located at the base of the pyramid.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Maslow Pyramid application to marketing

What relationship do human needs have with marketing? The answer is very simple, marketing tries to meet our needs.

Despite being a psychological theory, the application of the Maslow pyramid in business is quite current and we can find them in many economic and business situations. They highlight for example their applications in the corporate development of human resources in companies and institutions.

The HR departments are based on a motivating system aimed at covering the needs of workers, establishing systems of improvement and work environment beyond small economic compensation.

In the current market, we can find products that respond to different levels, for example, we can find products that are based on their functionality, very sophisticated products, products that stand out for their design or products differentiated by the marketing itself, among others.

Marketing has used Maslow pyramid to meet consumer needs and thus adapt its products to uncertain values. If we look at the world of advertising, we will find millions of products that meet a basic need, but through marketing and advertising, totally different ones have been created.

The demand for products and services has been modified by the marketing and advertising used by brands. In an environment, where there is an infinity of brands within the same sector, choosing between one or the other, no longer means attending to the characteristics of the product, but to the value that has been granted through branding.

Choosing between a luxury car like a Mercedes or a utility vehicle such as a Fiat means much more than fulfilling its main function (moving from one place to another), means belonging to a higher social scale, where you can be socially recognized and valued positively.

Marketing has influenced the needs of the human being, we no longer look at the basic needs, but we go one step further.

I hope that with this article you have resolved your doubts about the Maslow pyramid, its application, and its different levels.

“The satisfaction of one need creates another”

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