Maslow: A Classification of Motive Needs

“Classic economic theory, based as it is on an inadequate theory of human motivation, could be revolutionized by accepting the reality of higher human needs, including the impulse to self-actualization and the love for the highest values”

Abraham Maslow


A.    The classification of fundamental human needs most often cited today is probably the one developed by psychologist Abraham H. Maslow.

1.     Maslow presents the following categories of needs and wants which impel human beings to think, act, and respond as they do:

a.      Physiological Needs: for food, drink, air, sleep, sex-the basic bodily “tissue” requirements.

b.     Safety Needs: for security, stability, protection from harm or injury; need for structure, orderliness, law, predictability; freedom from fear and chaos.

c.      Belongingness and Love Needs: for abiding devotion and warm affection with spouse, children, parents, and close friends; need to feel a part of social groups; need for acceptance and approval.

d.     Esteem Needs: for self-esteem based on achievement, mastery, competence, confidence, freedom, independence; desire for esteem of others (reputation, prestige, recognition, status).

e.      Self-Actualization Needs: for self-fulfillment, actually to become what you potentially can be; desire to actualize your capabilities; being true to your essential nature; what you can be you must be.

B.    You can read Maslow’s seminal paper here:

C.    According to Maslow, the hierarchy is prepotent: lower-level needs must be largely fulfilled before higher-level needs become operative.

D.    Finally, it should be noted that motives do not always automatically produce certain courses of action. Physiologically, an individual may sense a sharp feeling of pain from not having eaten for two days; yet, because of social-cultural needs or pressures, this person will not gobble down a chocolate cake when presented with one, but will sit politely with fork and napkin. The need for social approval may control the way a person satisfies physiological needs. Nevertheless, the hierarchy of prepotency is useful in conceptualizing human motivation, even if individuals vary in ways they manifest those needs.

E.     Many scholars point out that Maslow’s hierarchy lacks empirical verification. These needs may not always operate in a hierarchy, as Maslow says. For example, esteem needs may still motivate even when lower order needs remain unmet. However, it continues to be a popular model for understanding human motivation.

F.     Maslow adapted his ideas to Management in “Eupsychian Management”

1.     Eupsychian” literally means “good souled

2.     Assumptions, Eupsychian Management (p. 17, et. seq.)

a.      Assume everyone is to be trusted.

b.     Assume everyone is to be informed as completely as possible of as many facts and truths as possible, i.e., everything relevant to the situation.

c.      Assume in all your people the impulse to achieve...

d.     Assume that there is no dominance-subordination hierarchy in the jungle sense or authoritarian sense (or “baboon” sense).

e.      Assume that everyone will have the same ultimate managerial objectives and will identify with them no matter where they are in the organization or in the hierarchy.

f.       Eupsychian economics must assume good will among all the members of the organization rather than rivalry or jealousy.

i.       Synergy is also assumed.

g.      Assume that the individuals involved are healthy enough.

h.      Assume that the organization is healthy enough, whatever this means.

i.       Assume the “ability to admire”...

j.       We must assume that the people in eupsychian plants are not fixated at the safety-need level.

k.      Assume an active trend to self-actualization—freedom to effectuate one’s own ideas, to select one’s own friends and one’s own kind of people, to “grow,” to try things out, to make experiments and mistakes, etc.

l.       Assume that everyone can enjoy good teamwork, friendship, good group spirit, good group homonomy, good belongingness, and group love.

m.    Assume hostility to be primarily reactive rather than character-based.

n.      Assume that people can take it, that they are tough, stronger than most people give them credit for.

o.     Eupsychian management assumes that people are improvable.

p.     Assume that everyone prefers to feel important, needed, useful, successful,   proud, respected, rather than unimportant, interchangeable anonymous, wasted, unused, expendable, disrespected.

q.     That everyone prefers or perhaps even needs to love his boss (rather than to hate him), and that everyone prefers to respect his boss (rather than to disrespect him)...

r.      Assume that everyone dislikes fearing anyone (more than he likes fearing anyone), but that he prefers fearing the boss to despising the boss.

s.      Eupsychian management assumes everyone prefers to be a prime mover rather than a passive helper, a tool, a cork tossed about on the waves.

t.       Assume a tendency to improve things, to straighten the crooked picture on the wall, to clean up the dirty mess, to put things right, make things better, to do things better.

u.      Assume that growth occurs through delight and through boredom.

v.     Assume preference for being a whole person and not a part, not a thing or an implement, or tool, or “hand.”

w.    Assume the preference for working rather than being idle.

x.      All human beings, not only eupsychian ones, prefer meaningful work to meaningless work.

y.      Assume the preference for personhood, uniqueness as a person, identity (in contrast to being anonymous or interchangeable).

z.      We must make the assumption that the person is courageous enough for eupsychian processes.

aa.   We must make the specific assumptions of nonpsychopathy (a person must have a conscience, must be able to feel shame, embarrassment, sadness, etc.)

bb.  We must assume the wisdom and the efficacy of self-choice.

cc.   We must assume that everyone likes to be justly and fairly appreciated, preferably in public.

dd.  We must assume the defense and growth dialectic for all these positive trends that we have already listed above.

ee.   Assume that everyone but especially the more developed persons prefer responsibility to dependency and passivity most of the time.

ff.     The general assumption is that people will get more pleasure out of loving than they will out of hating (although the pleasures of hating are real and should not be overlooked).

gg.   Assume that fairly well-developed people would rather create than destroy.

hh.   Assume that fairly well-developed people would rather be interested than be bored.

ii.     We must ultimately assume at the highest theoretical levels of eupsychian theory, a preference or a tendency to identify with more and more of the world, moving toward the ultimate of mysticism, a fusion with the world, or peak experience, cosmic consciousness, etc.

jj.     Finally we shall have to work out the assumption of the metamotives and the metapathologies, of the yearning for the “B-values,” i.e., truth, beauty, justice, perfection, and so on.

G.    Resources

1.     Maslow on Management:





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