Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow provided a hierarchy that defines the different levels of human desires and needs to explain motivation. From the hierarchy, it is apparent that people are motivated to fulfill basic physiological needs and then advance to other needs with the highest level of self-actualization. However, as Maslow points out, there are instances where the hierarchy is inverted, and an individual is motivated to fulfill higher requirements over basic physiological desires (Rathus, 2020). The reason for the inversion in the hierarchy of needs is attributed to the desire to go higher on the social ladder. When an individual yearns to move higher in the social rankings, it is assumed that basic life needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and air are available. As a result, the desire and motivation to satisfy moral and self-actualization needs become paramount.

When an individual seeks to achieve or experience something at a level higher than normal, they will experience pleasure in the process. For instance, most drug users do not derive pleasure from the drug but rather from the original idea of using it to gain pleasure. This is based on a need to realize self-actualization before the need for love and belonging. There will be a more significant moral response when there is a strong urge to satisfy a need (Rathus, 2020). For instance, when a student has an upcoming deadline for an important exam, preparation for the exam becomes paramount. As a result, the student may even forego food and sleep to satisfy the need for the examination. This is an example where the student’s ambition outweighs the physiological needs. The same can be witnessed when individuals want to improve themselves once they undergo a life-changing situation. They will begin with self-actualization to help them solve their problems and find a way to deal with other needs in their lives, such as esteem and belonging.

From the discussion above, it is evident that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs portrays the motivations to fulfill different needs. However, there are instances and exceptions where secondary needs invert the basic needs, as shown in the examples. However, these exceptions are in line with Maslow’s acknowledgment of the same. Self-actualization is characterized by the ability to sufficiently meet the lower needs or find a way to cope without them. In my case, I would enjoy the ability to help people from different backgrounds through various programs.


Rathus, S. A. (2020). Psych, introductory psychology (6th ed.). Cengage.

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