Types of Mental Models- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a concept that was introduced by psychologist Abraham Maslow. According to Maslow, people are more motivated to meet their basic needs as compared to other needs such as safety, self-esteem and self-actualization. With the help of this mental model, people can garner a firm grasp on what motivates people. This theory postulates that people are self-driven because they yearn to meet particular needs. The model is as depicted in the figure below.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s concept is often depicted in a pyramid with the lowest sections showing the most basic needs that will motivate people. Higher levels of the pyramid indicate complex needs. Naturally, people will strive to meet their psychological needs before doing anything else. These needs include food, water, sex, sleep, etc.

The second level of Maslow’s pyramid from the bottom indicates safety needs. In reality, this need is more complex as compared to food and water. People desire to live in safe environments. As such, they will work hard to make sure that they are financially stable. Similarly, their safety also touches on their motivation to live healthy lives. As people work to meet these needs, they push themselves to adopt certain behaviors. For instance, they look for jobs, save their money and shift to safe neighborhoods.

On the third tier, you will find love/belonging. This level features social needs such as the desire to be loved and accepted. Here, human behavior is mainly motivated by emotional relationships. For people to meet their social needs they want to have friends and family around them. In addition, they will want to be associated with other social groups in their community. Bearing this in mind, meeting these needs helps people to avoid common social problems such as anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

The next level in the hierarchy shows esteem needs. Maslow pointed out that people look for respect and admiration. Once people have met their basic and social needs, self-esteem desires begin to take shape. For that reason, people will want their individual efforts recognized and appreciated.

At the top level of the pyramid lies self-actualization needs. These are the needs where people aspire to be the best in their worlds. Accordingly, this need is met when people utilize their talents or any potential at their disposal.

Recognizing that people are motivated by different needs can help us to understand why they choose to behave in a certain way. For instance, some folks will be motivated to meet their love needs. As such, we can learn how to relate to them desirably.


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