Maslow studied only exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglas. He didn't study mentally ill and neurotic people, writing that "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy."
In spite of the perpetual cycle of human wars, murder, deceit, etc, Maslow believed that humans tend toward growth and love, and that violence is not natural for human nature. Humans only get violent when their needs are thwarted. He did not believe that humans use violence, lie, cheat or steal simply because they enjoy doing it.
As you can see in the picture above, Maslow categorized human needs into five levels:
- Physiological needs - These are the basic survival needs such as food, water, air, shelter, constant body temperature, etc.
They usually tend to be satisfied with most people, but when unmet they become predominant.
This is the strongest level on the pyramid because if these needs go unmet, the individual can easily die.
- Safety needs -The second level, safety needs, is the need to feel secure at work, home, etc.
These needs are also usually met except in times of emergency, natural disaster, rioting, or other immediate dangers.
This does not only mean personal security, it also applies to job security, financial security, and general health.
- Love needs - This third level deals with feelings of love and belongingness.
The individual seeks to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation and to become a part of the group. These feelings can be achieved through relationships, such as friends, family, and romance. The individual needs to love and be loved.
- Esteem needs - This is the need to be respected and to have respect for oneself. It is a desire to be accepted and valued by others.
This establishes confidence in oneself and motivates the individual to succeed.
The individual needs to be recognized for his or her accomplishments and deprivation of this need can lead to an inferiority complex and poor performance.
- Self-actualization -The fifth and top need on the pyramid is self-actualization-the need to realize and reach one’s fullest potential.
This need, unlike the others, is not driven by a lack of the need but by the desire for personal growth.
This is also the hardest need to meet, as it requires the most effort and the means of fulfilling it are not always known to the individual.