Maslow's hierarchy of needs

A theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943 describing human motivation as a progression of needs.

Basic needs have two parts:

  1. Physiological needs: air, food, water, sleep, sex, health, shelter
  2. Safety needs: personal safety, emotional safety, financial safety

Psychological needs:

  1. Belonging, intimate relationships: family, friends, intimacy (separate from physical need for sex)
  2. Esteem: prestige and feeling of accomplishment


  1. Self-actualization: achieving one's full potential, acquiring a partner and parenting, pursuing goals, utilizing talents/abilities

Later, Maslow speculated on a sixth need for "transcendence", which a spiritual or religious need to be part of something beyond the individual.

Maslow argued that as a person progresses in their individual development, the needs higher up in the hierarchy become more important and dominant in that person's thinking. A highly developed person has their basic needs fully met, and spends most of their time pursuing esteem and self-actualization, or possibly transcendence. This is not at the exclusion of other needs (that person still needs to maintain their basic needs, eg. eat and sleep), but those drop out of focus.