Maslow's Theory of Needs

  • Proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation.
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory that argues that while people aim to meet basic needs, they seek to meet successively higher needs in the form of a hierarchy.
  • Maslow's theory has been applied in nursing to guide the prioritization of patient care needs
  • It is often represented as a pyramid with five levels of needs.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a based on the theory that one level of needs must be met before moving on to the next step.
  • Self-actualization – e.g. morality, creativity, problem solving.
  • Esteem – e.g. confidence, self-esteem, achievement, respect.
  • Belongingness – e.g. love, friendship, intimacy, family.
  • Safety – e.g. security of environment, employment, resources, health, property.
  • Physiological – e.g. air, food, water, sex, sleep, other factors towards homeostasis.
  • Maslow’s theory maintains that a person does not feel a higher need until the needs of the current level have been satisfied.
B and D Needs
Deficiency or deprivation needs 
The first four levels are considered deficiency or deprivation needs (“D-needs”) in that their lack of satisfaction causes a deficiency that motivates people to meet these needs
Growth Needs or B-Needs or Being Needs
  • The needs Maslow believed to be higher, healthier, and more likely to emerge in self-actualizing people were being needs, or B-needs.
  • Growth needs are the highest level, which is self-actualization, or the self-fulfillment.
  • Maslow suggested that only two percent of the people in the world achieve self actualization. E.g. Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • Self actualized people were reality and problem centered.
  • They enjoyed being by themselves, and having deeper relationships with a few people instead of more shallow relations with many people.
  • They tended to be spontaneous and simple.
Application in Nursing
  • Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a useful organizational framework that can be applied to the various nursing models for assessment of a patient’s strengths, limitations, and need for nursing interventions. (Smeltzer SC, Bare BG, 2004)
  1. Health Care Delivery and Nursing Practice. In Brunner & Suddarth’s Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing, (Edtrs. Smeltzer SC, Bare BG.) 10th Edition. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.  Philadelphia. 2003.
  2. Psychiatry, Third Edition. Edited by Allan Tasman, Jerald Kay, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, Michael B. First and Mario Maj. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2008.
  3. Maslow, A. H.. A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 1943. pp. 370.


Post a Comment