Wi-Fi and a charged battery are now both regarded to be part of our ‘basic survival needs’ in 2016.

Although I personally hate it when I cannot freely use any of the data apps on my phone, or worse, have a dead battery; the notion that humanity couldn’t survive without either of these two things is just unacceptable. Having said that, we all know that one person who is plugged into their phone as if it were a life support machine.

Although it’s a sad truth, it’s a truth nonetheless and I wonder what Maslow would have made of it all if he were alive today – one thing is certain; he would definitely have found it quite interesting.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people. He believed that people possess a set of motivation systems unrelated to rewards or unconscious desires.

His theories paralleled many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans and in his 1943 “A Theory of Human Motivation” paper, Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fulfil the next one, and so on.

Five Motivational Needs

The earliest and most widespread version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1943-1954) includes five motivational needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

This five-stage model can be divided into basic or deficiency needs:

  1. Physiological – Breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis and excretion.
  2. Safety – Security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health and property.
  3. Love/Belonging – Friendship, family, and sexual intimacy.
  4. Esteem – Self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others and respect by others.
  5. Growth needs (Self-actualisation) – Morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts.

The deficiency, or basic needs are said to motivate people when they are unmet. In addition, the need to fulfil such needs will become stronger the longer the duration they are denied. For example, the longer a person goes without food the hungrier they will become further increasing the lengths they will go to fulfil this need.


One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest-level called self-actualisation.

Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualisation. Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs. Life experiences, including divorce and loss of job may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of the hierarchy.

Maslow noted only one in a hundred people become fully self-actualised because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs.

“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” – Abraham Maslow

Simply put, in order to achieve self-actualisation, what is necessary to change a person is to change their awareness of themselves.