Human beings perform different actions. We strive for different goals and we all live different lives. However, we all have something in common: motivation. We all behave the way we do because of motivation.
People have been trying to understand human motivation for a long time. Many motivation theories have been formulated to try and explain why human beings act the way they do.
One of the more well known motivation theories was written by Abraham Maslow. His motivation theory, popularly called “The hierarchy of needs” attempts to explain motivation through a pyramid or stepladder scheme.
He says in the motivation theory that a person will not be motivated to fulfill one need unless he or she is able to fulfill the need below it. Here are the different needs according to Abraham Maslow’s motivation theory.
1) Physiological – This is the primary need in Maslow’s motivation theory. The physiological needs are the things that man must fulfill in order to survive. This includes food, shelter and clothing. People are motivated to fulfill these needs in a very basic level. Only when a person fulfills these needs will he or she be able to move on to higher goals.
2) Safety – This level on the motivation theory involves a person’s needs for security and safety. The motivation theory states that once a person has fulfilled the basic needs of life, he or she will look for order, structure predictability and security. These, in fact are at the core of civilization today. Because of our need for safety and security, we are motivated to form governments and we are motivated to maintain order within our world.
3) Belonging – This level of Maslow’s motivation theory indicates a person’s need for social interaction. This motivation can be observed today through what we call “peer pressure”. A person is motivated to do certain things in order to fulfill the need for social interaction. He or she would be motivated to achieve a certain goal if it would assure him or her of being accepted in a group. This is the motivation that people have in obeying cultural norms. Becoming an outcast of society is thought to be one of the most painful things that can happen to a person.
4) Esteem – Maslow’s motivation theory points out that a person’s esteem needs would be the next to motivate a person to perform an action. A person’s need to be respected is often observed to push certain people to do different things. This is often seen in the streets, where respect “demands” certain actions. People who are motivated by the need for respect often tend to act rashly, thinking about the respect they are going to get, but not the consequences of what they have to do to get it.
5) Self-actualization – All people are capable of self-actualization. This level of Maslow’s motivation theory involves doing something in order to achieve self-fulfillment. People who are motivated by self-actualization often include religious people and the actions they perform may be very hard to oppose. This is because an action which is motivated by self-actualization has removed the greatest barrier to a man’s action which is the self.
As we can see from Abraham Maslow’s motivation theory, there are certain motivational needs that man inherently finds more important than others. This explains why man finds some incentives to be more motivational than others (e.g. cash vs. a pat on the back).