Maslow theory of human motivation

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Maslow's hierarchy of needs hypothesis of human motivation is founded on the concept that all human beings are driven by needs that serve as the foundation for their engagements and activities in life. Notably, the demands are organized in a pre-potency hierarchy, with the most common and easily achieved by almost every man at the bottom of the pyramid and the most complex and uncommon need at the top. When one need is met, it makes way for another, which is classified as psychological needs, safety needs, love and affection requirements, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs (Compton & Hoffman, 2013). These are the most basic of needs for human survival and at the bottom of the pyramid. Human beings are first motivated to attain homeostasis which implies the need for shelter, warmth and many others to maintain a constant or regular state of the bloodstream (Lomas, 2015). Additionally, the appetite for food is another need on this level which motivates individuals to toil and meet this basic need to solve hunger. Importantly, these needs are independent of each other and also forms the basis or channels for the achievement of different needs.

Safety Need

Safety needs imply the want for self-protection against harm or unfortunate eventuality that will cause pain and suffering to the individual. These needs make a man be a safety-seeking mechanism also explaining why scientists have made inventions both in the weaponry and food security fronts (Kenrick, 2010). Primarily, this is meant to cover any possibility of problems in the future that will plunge humankind into hardships and sufferings. Need for safety is an active mobilizer of man's resources in emergencies, wars, disease outbreaks and natural catastrophe.

The love and belongingness need

The love and belongingness need also forms one of the most important needs that impact on human being psychology and eventual attitude and productivity issues. Humans motivated by this need strive to make an influence in the society thereby shaping their behaviors (Keyes, 2013). Consequently, an individual will put efforts so that they are recognized and appreciated for their input in the society making them achieve self-esteem and the sense of worthiness thus become happy and satisfied in life.

The esteem needs

Esteem needs are the desire to form a positive and influential reputation among peers. Fundamentally, an individual is motivated by the desire for strength, achievement, confidence, and autonomy thereby making them be deemed successful in the society earning them reputation, prestige, respect, and attention. Notably, the thwarting of these needs generate feelings of inferiority, helplessness, discouragement (Bauer et al., 2008).

The need for self-actualization

Self-actualization is the complex need at the apex of the Maslow's pyramid of needs and the most uncommon. Essentially, an individual is motivated to by the desire for self-fulfilment and achieve the full potential of his capabilities and strengths. Therefore, a person strives to realize their purpose in life or to actualize what they are capable of becoming.

Hedonic theory of happiness

Happiness is primarily pivotal to the acquisition of positive psychology; more specifically, a series of frequencies of happiness gives an individual the perception that they are on the right course to achieving their goals in life. However, factors that make people happy vary from one person to another and might include descent income, sound health, family and positive social relationships (Tay & Diener, 2011)

The hedonic theory is mainly based on the subjective well-being of an individual. The theorists assert that happiness in an individual is formed as a result of the presence or absence of a positive mood and the general satisfaction with virtually everything in their lives. Ideally, there are two components; high positive and low negative; which ignites the feeling of happiness when the elements are at their extreme ends. Implying that, individual experiencing pleasurable experience with little or absence of pain or suffering is mostly happy. Noteworthy though, the theory disregards the means or consequence of an individual's happiness meaning it does not consider ethical considerations.

Eudemonic theory

The eudemonic theory is psychological based which is aroused by different factors closely tied to an individual's life. An individual becomes happy if they cruise through challenges to achieve their objectives and goals in life including growth and autonomy. Therefore, they develop the feeling and attitude of self-worth and competence thereby boosting their morale making them happy in life. Additionally, the social aspects of life give them satisfaction because of they are accepted and appreciated for gaining achievement and becoming autonomous.

Additionally, the theory advocate for the right values and positive ethics which motivates individuals to achieve their goals and purpose in life, therefore, attaining happiness. An individual applying this theory remain positive in their daily lives and practice ethics and wisdom to resolve everyday issues, and conflicts are consequently leading to the individual's life flourishing and becoming better (Christopher & Huchen, 2016).

Comparison of the theory of Positive psychology and Maslow's theory of Motivation.

Fulfillment of needs brings satisfaction and happiness

The Maslow's motivation theory and the Eudemonic and Hedonic happiness theory share certain beliefs and concepts. Firstly, both arguments recognize that satisfaction and happiness is the bottom line or makes the outcome of the methods. Eudemonic and Hedonic approaches explain human beings attain happiness through consequential and non-consequential means. Example, the Hedonic theory focuses on the happiness of an individual and the factors that will enhance their pleasure while subsidizing their stresses in life regardless of the consequences. Notably, an individual can engage in drug abuse or immoral acts to achieve pleasurable experiences but end up destroying their lives. Whereas, Eudemonic theory observes moral and ethical means to achieve one's goals and objectives in life thereby bringing happiness and satisfaction.

In Maslow's theory, individuals derive satisfaction and become happy when they fulfil their needs. Example, achieving the love and belongingness needs makes individuals even more comfortable because of affection and care they receive and reciprocate. In the Eudemonic and Hedonic happiness theory, a series of achieved happiness reinforces positive psychology while consistent achievement of needs in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs enriches an individual’s psychological strength and stability due to the added experience and advancement of knowledge especially when an individual realizes self-actualization (Bauer et al., 2008).

In the Maslow's motivational theory, individuals are inspired by specific factors to achieve the needs. Example, the need for warmth and protection from harm from the environment motivates an individual to acquire home or shelter; equally, the need for love and affection makes an individual strive to identify with groups and association and also inspires them to make their contribution.

In Hedonic theory, individuals are inspired by the need to experience happiness leading them to advance efforts towards the achievement of happiness. Notably, in this theory, an individual with use all means safe and unsafe, legal and illegal to enhance their pleasure while significantly reduce their stresses and problems (Laria & Paolo, 2017). The eudemonic theory asserts that individuals are inspired by the challenges and the need to succeed which eventually earning them happiness in life.

Contrasting Maslow’s theory and theory of Positive psychology

Maslow's theory lists the needs in following form whereby achievement of one requirement leads to the motivation of achieving another one; ideally, a need is met one at a time. Eudemonic and Hedonic happiness theory lacks the sequence and observes that the factors contributing to happiness and satisfaction can be compounded attained. Example, an individual can have a good job, great friends, a series of leisure activities and enormous spending power. Also, Eudemonic and Hedonic happiness theory have the element of morality and virtues in the attainment of happiness and satisfaction. It notes ethics and morality is key to the achievement of happiness in the Eudemonic theory while overlooks it in the Hedonic happiness theory. The Maslow's argument does not mention or discuss the impact or relevance of ethics and morality in an individual's attainment of the needs.

The Maslow accords the needs different degree of influence with the bottom need being less relevant to the one at the apex of the hierarchy of needs pyramid. Contrary, the Eudemonic, and Hedonic happiness theories do not directly on the level of importance of the factors contributing to happiness. Example, the Hedonic theory does not explain the degree of the significance of factors including leisure activities, having and hanging out with many friends to the contribution of happiness.

The impact of current research on positive psychology on Maslow's theory

Notably, the current research on positive psychology proves Maslow's assertion of motivation. Essentially, a recent study on positive psychology also reveals that specific needs motivate individuals and become happy and satisfied with achieving them. Also, the two types of research attain consensus on the fact that continuous achievement of the needs and happiness reinforces positive psychology making individuals be further motivated and develop a feeling they are achieving their goals, objectives, and purpose in life.

Criticism of Positive psychology

The research has been faulted for not explaining its position on negativity. Further, its critics note that a series of high positivity distorts reality because of the probability of positive illusion. Also, some studies have revealed that the presence of negativity at times help in the dynamics of human flourishing, therefore, the theory has gaps.


Bauer J., McAdams D. & Pals J. (2008). Narrative identity and eudemonic well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, pp. 81-104.

Christopher J. & Huchen W. (2016). "Examining hedonic and utilitarian motivations for the m-commerce fashion retail app engagement." Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, An International Journal, Vol. 20 Issue: 4, pp.487-506

Compton W. & Hoffman E. (2013). Positive psychology, The science of the happiness and flourishing. Wadsworth Cengage Learning

Kenrick D. (2010). "Rebuilding Maslow's pyramid on an evolutionary foundation."

Keyes C. (2013). "Promoting and the Protecting Mental Health as Flourishing: A Complementary Strategy for Improving National Mental Health," American Psychologist, pp. 95-108.

Laria B. & Paolo A. (2017). High-fit charitable initiatives increase hedonic consumption through guilt reduction. European Journal of Marketing.

Lomas T., Hefferon K. & In Lomas T. (2015). Positive psychology.

Tay L. & Diener E. (2011). "Needs and subjective well-being around the world". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, pp. 354-365.

April 26, 2023

Psychology Science

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