As human beings develop and our needs evolve, becoming their source of motivation, that which leads us to act as we do.

Surely, one of the most important theorists regarding human needs and motivation is Abraham Maslow , a humanist psychologist who proposed the “Theory of Human Needs”, better known as Maslow’s Pyramid.

  • If you want to know more about this figure of humanistic psychology, you can read our article: “Abraham Maslow’s theory of personality”

Types of human needs

In his famous pyramid, Maslow tells us about five human needs that are ordered in different levels , from the base of the figure to the highest part of it. These needs must be covered one by one in order to feel satisfied with ourselves and our life. According to him, it is only possible to access the top of the pyramid if the previous needs have been covered one by one.

However, there are other criteria for classifying human needs. Below we show you the different ways of classifying these needs. They are as follows:

According to their importance or nature

The needs may be vital or not, that is, they may carry an organic risk if they are not satisfied in some cases, and they may be accessory to the survival of the individual in others.

1. Primary Needs

These are the vital needs, that is, are those whose satisfaction depends on the survival of the person . For example, eating, sleeping, breathing, hydration, etc. These are needs related to maintaining the minimum standards that allow the body to function well.

2. Secondary Needs

They are not vital but increase the level of satisfaction and well-being of the person . They usually have a cultural component, so they can be different depending on the culture and even the time. For example, having a car, having a mobile phone, etc.

According to their origin

Depending on the source, human needs may be:

3. Individual needs

These are the needs that an individual or person has, and they can be of two kinds:

  • Natural : These are the primary needs: to eat, to drink water, etc.
  • Social : Those of a cultural nature: wearing a watch, celebrating a wedding, wearing a tie, etc.

4. Collective needs

These are the needs of individuals as a group or society, i.e. as citizens: public transport, security and order, etc.

According to their economic significance

Depending on whether they have an economic function or not, needs can be…

5. Economic needs

Are the needs that in order to carry them out it is necessary to perform an economic activity . For example, the mobile phone or eating (buying food at the market).

6. Non-economic needs

These needs do not require an economic activity . For example, to breathe, and fundamentally any area of life that is beyond commercial transactions.

According to their nature

Maslow’s theory also talks about deficit needs and the development of the person.

7. Deficit needs

They refer to the fact that there is a lack if we do not satisfy them, that is, we cannot live without them . They are the physiological, security, affiliation and recognition needs. Satisfying the deficient needs is important to avoid consequences or unpleasant feelings.

8. Development of the self

They are important for personal growth , and they do not have to do with the deficit of something, but with the desire to grow as a person. Therefore, they are basically based on ideas about the self and how these have an effect on the person’s emotional states.

According to Abraham Maslow

According to Maslow’s theory, there are different human needs:

9. Physiological needs

The first level of Abraham Maslow’s pyramid is composed of the basic needs that human beings require every day: food, clothing and shelter . These daily needs are primary and physiological, and consist of the physical requirements for the human body to function properly, including air, water and sleep. In other words, they are necessary for our survival, and if they are not met, we would not be able to stay alive. Therefore, human beings need to cover them at all times.

10. Safety needs

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid, the second level needs are the security needs. Human beings need to be sure of their well-being and security . For example, we don’t like to worry about burglars in our home or that we don’t have a house to be safe in. People value good health, as well as personal and financial security.

11. Membership requirements

The third level in the hierarchy of human needs is the affiliation needs or social needs . People need to love and be loved in return, they need to feel that others value them and need affection. Human beings also feel the need to belong to social groups and, consequently, we like to have a sense of connection and belonging with others.

We all need to fit in, interact and be accepted by the people around us. Family, friendship and relationships are important for us to meet our social needs.

12. Needs for recognition or appreciation

People need to be respected and esteemed . This need for respect and self-respect constitutes the fourth level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As with other needs of people, these needs are interrelated with other human needs and build a continuum with them. As a consequence, the needs for esteem have two phases.

The first, which extends from a person’s social needs, is the need to gain the respect of others. This kind of need for respect drives individuals to seek fame, honor and prestige. The second, which demands respect for oneself, not just from other people.

13. Self-realization needs

These are the needs found at the top of the pyramid. They have to do with what people want to become. When individuals have met their previous needs, they feel a strong desire to be the person they dream of being.

In other words, they feel the need to fulfil themselves, to update their potentialities and to bring out their talent and the fullness of their nature. Maslow thinks that whatever potential a person has, he must bring it out. It is what the individual is born to do and what will make him or her happy.

  • If you want to know what self-made people are like, you can visit our post: “13 characteristics of self-made people according to Abraham Maslow”