Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchical Theory (1954)

As well as being one of the founding fathers of the movement, he is perhaps most well-known for his theory of motivation. The theory states we have a hierarchal system of needs. Beginning with our most basic needs for survival and moving upwards to self-actualisation. Each need in the system must be satisfied before we can progress towards the end goal. The needs are as follows beginning with the most basic need first).

Need for survival (physiological): food, water, sleeps shelter.

Need for safety. Safe environment free from harm psychological or physical.

Need for belonging (need for love and acceptance). Can come from groups, friends or family.

Need for esteem. Self-confidence. Approval of one’s self and others.

Need for self-actualisation. Fulfilling one’s unique potential.


The above five need model is probably the best well known of version Maslow’s model. Some years later it was adapted to contain another three needs.

Cognitive: This relates to our pursuit of knowledge.

Aesthetics: As humans we naturally desire to seek out beauty. This could be in the form of art of nature.

Transcendence or spirituality needs: This need replaced self-actualisation as our ultimate need.

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Hierarchical Needs