Maslow felt as though conditioning theories did not adequately capture the complexity of human behaviour. Maslow therefore looked to determine what it is humans seek in life. After much theorizing, he concluded that we search for things that will fulfil our needs for survival, as well as our emotional happiness and self-satisfaction. He then went on to introduce his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper titled “A Theory of Human Motivation”. Thus presenting the idea that human actions are directed towards goal achievement, believing that people have certain needs which must be met before they can go on to fulfil their potential.
This could be through any given behaviour which could satisfy several functions at the same time; for instance, once you’ve acquired a hobby that you’re exceptionally good at, i.e. football, dance, etc. you begin to meet one’s needs for self-esteem and social interaction. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has often been represented in a hierarchical pyramid made up of five levels. The lowest levels of the pyramid represent the most basic needs, while the more complex needs are located at the top of the pyramid. The needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic physical requirements including the need for food, water, sleep, and warmth. Once these lower-level needs have been met, people can move on to the next level of needs, which are for safety and security.
As people progress up the pyramid, needs become increasingly psychological and social. Soon, the need for love, friendship, and intimacy become important. Further up the pyramid, the need for personal esteem and feelings of accomplishment take priority. Maslow emphasised the importance of self-actualization, which is a process of growing and developing as a person in order to achieve ones individual potential. Maslow believed that these needs are similar to instincts and play a major role in motivating behavior.
Physiological, security, social, and esteem needs are deficiency needs, meaning that these needs arise due to deprivation. It is important to satisfy the lower-level needs in order to avoid unpleasant feelings or consequences. He termed the highest-level of the pyramid as growth needs. These are self-fulfillment needs and do not stem from a lack of something, but rather the desire to grow as a person.
There are five different levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
– Physiological Needs:
These include the most basic needs that are vital to survival, such as the need for water, air, food, and sleep. These needs are the most basic and instinctive needs in the hierarchy because all needs become secondary until these physiological needs are met.
– Security Needs:
These include needs for safety and security. Security needs are important for survival, but they are not as demanding as the physiological needs. Safety needs are what we need to feel protected against external influences, i.e. the desire for steady employment, health care, safe neighborhoods, being secure and comfortable.
– Social Needs:
These include needs for belonging, love, and affection. These needs are considered to be less basic than physiological and security needs. Relationships such as friendships, romantic attachments, and families help fulfill this need for companionship and acceptance, as does the involvement in social, community, or religious groups.
– Esteem Needs:
After the first three needs have been satisfied, esteem needs becomes increasingly important. These include the need for things that reflect on self-esteem, personal worth, social recognition, and accomplishment
. – Self-Actualization Needs:
This is the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Self-actualizing people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others, and interested in fulfilling their potential. Maslow’s theory is relatable in my work as a nanny. I am considered a primary caregiver for the children I care for along with their parents. It is my job to make sure all their basic needs such as food, water, sleep etc are met; these needs are called Physiological needs on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and are considered the most important. Once I, along with the parents meet these needs, we then continue on to the child’s need to feel safe and secure. The way in which we meet these needs is by providing consistent care to the child/children and for that care to be given by the same few people i.e. parents, nanny, grandparents, and nursery.
This allows the child/children to build a relationship with his/her primary caregivers whereby they trust them and feel safe with them. By being with the child for their first years, there is a bond that they develop through us meeting their needs and being a consistent figure in their life, they receive love and affection from those around them and this gives them a sense of belonging. As the child gets older I promote and encourage them to participate in activities that interest them such as dance or football, whereby they are building on their social skills by interacting with children of their age and who share similar interests.
This is where we meet the social needs that Maslow states in his hierarchy. When I look at the fourth level in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which he calls the ‘Esteem Needs’ I see this is based on how a child feels about themselves and also how they believe others see them. By meeting their social needs successfully the child/children will already have started to complete this level in their development because of the confidence and acceptance they have already achieved.
This is where my encouragement and praise help the child/children in my care to recognise their achievements and this also helps to build their self-worth and self-esteem along with both mine and their parent’s recognition. All the previous levels lead up to us helping a child complete their final stage which Maslow calls ‘Self-Actualization’ however this level is where the child/young adult has to help themselves this could be achieved through a number of ways which could include continuing to further their education or going out into the world and finding a job but they will not be completely alone as they will have their parents and my support however by this stage I may no longer be with the family.