Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Obtaining self-actualization in a sequential manner
Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs based on humanistic principles.* The hierarchy is very practical in its application across a wide spectrum of different disciplines, especially in education. The theory behind the hierarchy stipulates that all human beings have the potential or capabilities to achieve high levels of "consciousness," "success," or "wisdom." However, in order to achieve these upper echelons of "existence," the environment in which human beings exist has to be congruent with meeting five sequential and essential "needs." The sequential aspect of "needs" is important in Maslow's hierarchy because human beings cannot reach higher levels until the "needs" associated with the lower levels are met.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
These are the most basic "needs" associated with sustaining life. Food, water, clothing, shelter, and relative health are considered physiological needs. These "needs" are the foundation of the hierarchy and must be met in order to progress to subsequent tiers.
Safety and security in both the immediate environment (everyday life) and in social structures (society) is the next set of "needs." Human beings have an innate need to seek out safe and secure environments, where the aforementioned physiological "needs" can be readily met.
Love, Affection, and Belongingness
Within the existential context of physiological and safety needs being met, human beings seek out social interaction and interpersonal relations. Doing so deters feelings of isolation and reinforces social desirability. The mutual giving and receiving of love, affection, kindness, bonding, and social acceptance is central to moving forward in "consciousness."
With the solid foundation of love, affection, social acceptance, relative safety and security, and physiological well-being, human beings are free to seek out reinforcement in the environment from both intrapersonal (self-esteem) and interpersonal (social) perspectives. Building a positive sense of "self" greatly assists in garnering positive social reinforcement from others in the environment. Acquiring reinforcement in the environment and in social circles further builds self-esteem.
At the apex of "consciousness" and "existence," human beings can obtain self-actualization, or the ability to do what they were meant to do or what they want to do. Physiological, safety, love, affection, belongingness, social success, and self-esteem needs are met through "existing" and being "conscious."
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*Maslow, AH. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.