Mental Health
Guide

Self-esteem

1 Lesson Intermediate

About this course

Maslow (1943, 1954) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others.

Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behaviour. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.

1.  Physiological needs  – these are biological requirements for human survival, e.g. air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, sleep.

If these needs are not satisfied the human body cannot function optimally. Maslow considered physiological needs the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.

2.  Safety needs  – Once an individual’s physiological needs are satisfied, the needs for security and safety become salient. People want to experience order, predictability and control in their lives. These needs can be fulfilled by the family and society (e.g. police, schools, business and medical care).

For example, emotional security, financial security (e.g. employment, social welfare), law and order, freedom from fear, social stability, property, health and wellbeing (e.g. safety against accidents and injury).

3.  Love and belongingness needs – after physiological and safety needs have been fulfilled, the third level of human needs is social and involves feelings of belongingness. The need for interpersonal relationships motivates behaviour

Examples include friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).

4.  Esteem needs  are the fourth level in Maslow’s hierarchy – which Maslow classified into two categories:

(i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence)

(ii) the desire for reputation or respect from others (e.g., status, prestige).

Maslow indicated that the need for respect or reputation is most important for children and adolescents and precedes real self-esteem or dignity.

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5.  Self-actualization needs are the highest level in Maslow’s hierarchy, and refer to the realization of a person’s potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. Maslow (1943) describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be.

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