Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Brooklyn-born American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) started a new movement in psychology which he called humanistic psychology.

Maslow proposed that human beings are driven by different factors at different times. These driving forces are hierarchical, in the sense that we generally start at the bottom layer and work our way up.

The Hierarchy of Needs is a model in which Maslow attempted to capture these different levels of human motivation. It represents the idea that human beings are propelled into action by different motivating factors at different times – biological drives, psychological needs, higher goals.

Now the hierarchical arrangement is not meant to imply that those who focus on higher needs are somehow “better” than those who focus on lower needs. It’s not that kind of hierarchy. It’s a hierarchy within you, within your day-to-day experience.

It simply means that higher needs don’t appear unless and until unsatisfied lower needs are satisfied. If you are suffering from cold and hunger, for example, you just don’t have the time or energy to worry about your self-esteem. Your entire being is focused on food and warmth.

Hierarchy Of Needs

ST = Self-Transcendence

Maslow's pyramid - the Hierarchy of Needs

Basic Needs

The first level, at the bottom of the pyramid, consists of our short-term basic needs, also known as physiological needs: food, water, warmth, sex.

The second level consists of longer-term safety needs: security, order, stability.

The third level represents the social need for affiliation, also known as “love and belonging”. We want to be accepted by others around us. We want to have stable relationships.

The fourth level represents the need for esteem. Within our social groups we want to be recognized and admired as individuals who accomplish things. We want prestige and power.

Almost at the top of the pyramid, self-actualization is the desire to experience ever deeper fulfillment by realizing (actualizing) more and more of our human potential.

At the very top of the pyramid is the desire for self-transcendence — to experience, unite with and serve that which is beyond the individual self: the unity of all being.

Applied to Social Media

Physiological: Information that make users fearful or angry is shared more often than information which makes them happy, because we all need to feel physically safe and we have that neanderthal fight or flight thing still going on.

Safety: Information that helps others and is useful is shared informally or in a formal context such as online educating and learning for the workplace or the classroom, because we all like to feel safe and education is one way of ensuring our safety.

Social: People share information about their identity – likes and dislikes, in groups or individually, because we all want to be seen and heard, and to belong and feel loved.

Esteem: People share information as social currency: they look cool, they have the latest yoga pants or they have a skill, they blog about something they are knowledgeable, and can influence others, or they wish to be perceived as an influencer, because we need in society to respect ourselves and we like to respect and follow others.

Self-actualization:People like to share compelling narratives – anecdotes, stories, pictures, quotation which have helped them grow or to they share to encourage others grow.

Surprise (Self-Transcendence): The type of information which is shared more than anything else on social media is surprising information – in the form of stories, short videos, images, apparently, we all seek that twist in the tale.

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