Identifying human needs for the purpose of understanding human motivation has been a topic of research for many decades. The most popular approach is that of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but it is not without its critics. Other approaches appear to have more empirical support and are worthy of consideration.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs

Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) attempted to synthesize a large body of research related to human motivation. Prior to Maslow’s work, researchers generally focused separately on such factors as biology, achievement, or power to explain what energizes, directs, and sustains human behavior. Maslow posited a hierarchy of human needs based on two groupings: deficiency needs and growth needs. Within the deficiency needs, each lower need must be met before moving to the ...

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