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Levels of Needs

In 1943, a psychologist named Abraham Maslow developed a chart with five different levels to list and organize the needs of human beings. The chart is in the shape of a triangle. The wider base at the bottom includes things we all need for physical survival. The pointed part at the top is the level where humans can reach their highest potential.

At the bottom of the triangle are the most basic “Physiological” (physical) needs–things that humans cannot live without, such as air, water, food, and going to the bathroom (elimination).  The next level up is “Security.”  Security is like safety. Here, Maslow includes needs such as shelter, employment, law and order, and freedom from fear. Having a home that keeps you warm and safe would be in this level.  Two more examples are having a job and feeling safe from violence.

Moving up in the triangle, the next level is “Social.”  This category includes family, friends, love, and acceptance.  Approval from others and affection are also grouped here. The fourth level from the base is “Esteem.”  This level contains many of the most important needs that people have: possessions, success, respect from others, confidence, and rewards.  An example of a reward at work might be an annual holiday bonus check or a free vacation for being the best employee.  

At the very top of the triangle–the highest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy–is the level that includes independence, achievement, morality, problem-solving, and personal excellence.  If a person is able to reach this level, after successfully meeting needs in the lower levels, he or she will reach “Self-Fulfillment,” the highest potential of a human being.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners