Physiological needs are the very basic needs such as air, water, food, sleep, sex, etc. When these are not satisfied we may feel sickness, irritation, pain, discomfort, etc. These feelings motivate us to alleviate them as soon as possible to establish homeostasis. Once they are alleviated, we may think about other things.
Safety needs have to do with establishing stability and consistency in a chaotic world. These needs are mostly psychological in nature. We need the security of a home and family. However, if a family is dysfunctional, family members cannot move to the next level because they have safety concerns. Love and belongingness have to wait until they are no longer in fear. Many in our society cry out for law and order because they do not feel safe enough to go for a walk in their neighborhood. Unfortunately many people, particularly those in the inner cities, are stuck at this level.
Need to Belong
Love and sense of belonging are next on the ladder. Humans have a desire to belong to groups: clubs, work groups, religious groups, family, gangs, etc. We need to feel loved (non-sexual) by others, to be accepted by others. Performers appreciate applause. We need to be needed. We see numerous examples in advertising where our need for group belonging is tied to consumption of a particular product.
There are two types of esteem needs. First is self-esteem which results from competence or mastery of a task. Second, there’s the attention and recognition that comes from others. This is similar to the sense of belonging level, however, wanting admiration has to do with the need for power. People who have all of their lower needs satisfied, often drive very expensive cars because doing so raises their level of esteem.
The need for self-actualisations is “the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” People who have everything can maximize their potential. They can seek knowledge, peace, aesthetic experiences, self-fulfilment, oneness with God etc. It is usually middle-class to upper-class students who take up environmental causes, go off to a monastery, etc.