What are your simple materialistic needs

Needs pyramid

Which different levels belong to Maslow's hierarchy of needs and what exactly do they say? This article gives you an overview and gives you various examples on the broad topic.

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Hierarchy of needs explained simply

The Needs pyramid is also known as the hierarchy of needs or in English "hierarchy of needs". This social psychological model of Abraham Maslow arranges the human Needs and motivations into classes and presents them hierarchically in a pyramid. It dealt with the question of what actually drives people. In total, we're talking about five different ones Need classes, that build on each other:

  • Physiological needs
  • Security needs
  • Social needs
  • Individual needs
  • Self-actualization

The lowest levels are also referred to as deficit needs, the top level of the pyramid as Growth needs.

Physiological needs

The lowest level the pyramid form the physiological needs (English: physiological needs). You put the elementary basic needs According to Maslow, these must be met, among other things, to ensure human survival.
Examples for physiological needs are:

  • air
  • water
  • food
  • or sleep

If these needs are constantly met, one can move on to the next stage.

Security needs

The second step Maslow's hierarchy of needs is what we call Security needs (English: safety needs). As the name suggests, this includes needs of the physical and mental integrity. The following can be mentioned as examples:

  • protection
  • security
  • job
  • flat
  • order
  • and structure

According to the theory, individuals prefer everything to them knownt is always in front of the unknown. You have a Need for security and familiarity and shy away from inconsistency, true to the motto “What the farmer doesn't know, he doesn't eat.” In professional life, for example, there is not always security. Usually there is constant pressure to perform or employees are afraid of making mistakes. In this case, for example, a long-term employment contract could help.

Social needs

If the first two classes of needs are largely satisfied, you can move on to the next level: Social needs (English: love and belonging). This group includes:

  • affection
  • family
  • Friendship
  • love
  • social exchange
  • and relationships

It is important to people Part of a social group to be and a Sense of belonging to feel. It's the same at work. It is essential to take on a social role in a group. The more compact the group and the more pleasant the working atmosphere, the more productivity is increased.

Individual needs

The fourth stage, which at the same time forms the last class of deficit needs, is called Individual needs (English: esteem). At this level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, people strive for, among other things:

  • Appreciation
  • Danger
  • trust
  • success
  • freedom
  • Prestigious
  • and recognition

As an employer, you could, for example, make sure praise or - if appropriate - to distribute bonuses for good performance. The needs at this stage depend very much on each individual person and have an influence on that A person's self-esteem. Every individual ascribes different meanings to needs. One aspect is particularly important to some, but not to others. For this reason, this category is called individual needs.


The last and top level of the Maslow hierarchy of needs is that Self-actualization (English: self-actualization). As soon as all deficit needs are satisfied, according to Maslow, a new unrest spreads in people. One will now try at the highest level to do that own potential to exploit. This is where the expansion and development of

  • Skills
  • Personalities
  • Talents
  • and creativity

an important role.

Hierarchy of needs

The hierarchy of needs model assumes that the various Need classes must be fulfilled from the bottom up. According to the theory, the needs of one level must always be met before the next needs are activated and motivated. However, the steps do not necessarily have to be 100 percent satisfied. You should also note that the higher levels -In contrast to the lowest levels- are not absolutely necessary for the survival of an individual.

A desire only drives action as long as it has not been satisfied. The more a level has been fulfilled, the lower the present one becomes Motivation for it. For example, suppose you have been exercising and are now thirsty. After the first liter of water, your feeling of thirst subsides and you usually don't feel the need to continue drinking afterwards.

Deficit and Growth Needs

The different classes of needs can also be divided into two groups. The first four classes fall under the umbrella term Deficit needs (or lack needs). The last category will be theGrowth needs (or insatiable needs).

Deficit needs (deficiency needs)

As already mentioned, the individual levels of the pyramid can be divided into two groups. The bottom four (physiological needs to individual needs) can be assigned to the group Deficit needs assign. According to the theory, if a person strives for satisfaction, these needs must be met.

If an individual is unable to do this, this not only leads to unsatisfaction of the individual categories, but can also cause physical or psychological consequences. Due to the shortage that occurs, this group is therefore also included under the term Deficiency needs known.

Growth needs (insatiable needs)

The second group, which includes only the needs of the last level of the pyramid, is known asGrowth needs. You want to strive for this as soon as the deficit needs have been safely satisfied. If they are not yet, people initially subjectively assess growth needs as less important. Only after fulfilling the lower four classes of needs do the growth needs come to the fore.

According to the model, by satisfying growth needs, people should have the Degree of satisfaction out to be happy. But you should note that the needs of this category never completely satisfied can be. For this reason, they are also known as “insatiable needs”.

Hierarchy of needs: examples

The Maslow's hierarchy of needs is used in many ways these days and the model is also very popular in economics. The pyramid is not unknown to any management industry and is considered one of the most popular management approaches.

The model can be used to Key questions like "What motivates my employees?" or "How can I increase the productivity of my employees?" This makes it possible, for example, to be able to respond better to colleagues, employees or team members productivity to promote. It can also be identified where there may be Motivational potential for your own employees. Marketing or consumer psychology, for example, also analyze the purchasing behavior of customers. You can thus target customer needs in a targeted manner and ideally meet them.


As well known as the hierarchy of needs is and has supporters, as many Criticisms can be led by different opinions. In the last paragraph we will now show you the most frequently cited objections to the model.

Fulfillment of the pyramid levels

  • First of all, many mistakenly assume that the individual stages the hierarchy of needs must first be completely fulfilled and satisfied before the motivation for the next class arises. As mentioned before, the 100% does not have to be reached until one moves on to the next level.
  • The strict hierarchythat the model implies does not apply every time. In certain situations it can happen that the order of the pyramid is not followed as the theory shows. For example, if a person undergoes a nose operation based on an ideal of beauty, it can be argued that self-actualization is preferred to health. When someone jeopardizes their own safety for another loved one, the level of social needs is preferred to that of safety needs.

Meaningfulness of the model

  • Furthermore, it is not realistic to assume that the individual classes stay permanently satisfied. Rather, it is an ongoing task.
  • Most of them have come across the hierarchy of needs in their school career and are familiar to almost everyone. The form and the content support each other in this case, so that it is plausible and easy to understand for the reader. The model seems plausible to many and is accordingly known. Despite the popularity, it is amazing that the findings are based on Maslow's empirical knowledge (observations and interviews) and the empirical evidence of the model is insufficient.
  • Another point that can be made is the general formulation of the model. The theory is written in a very general way so that it is more or less as an explanation for any behavior could serve. Critics are of the opinion that the hierarchy of needs is not suitable as an instrument for predicting or deriving measures to promote improvement.
  • In addition, the model assumes that all people are driven by the same or similar motives and needs. However, if one compares different cultures, for example, one quickly sees that the model assumes a more western status-oriented approach and individualism. However, this is not transferable to all.