Abraham Maslow was a clinical psychologist of USA and his theory of individual need is probably the most popular one. Maslow has suggested that have a complex set of needs which are exceptionally strong and the behaviour of individuals at a given time is generally determined by the strongest needs of the individual. Psychologist believe that human needs have a priority and first of all basic needs are satisfied and then the individual tries to satisfy his higher needs. In case the basic needs remain unfulfilled all efforts for satisfying higher needs also have to be postponed. Maslow has given five basic levels of the needs of individuals which they try to satisfy in a Hierarchical order. Maslow has proposed that these needs can be arranged starting from the lowest level and moving towards the needs of the highest level. This hierarchy of individual needs is explained by Maslow as mentioned below:
(i) Physiological needs: The physiological needs of individual are the starting step for the need based theory of motivation. Physiological needs are the strongest needs of the individuals. These include the basic bodily needs including food, water, air, shelter, clothing and other necessity of life. Individuals try to satisfies these basic needs first of all and then only they move towards the satisfaction of the second level needs
(ii) Safety needs: The second level of needs comprises the safety and securities needs. Once the physiological needs are satisfied upto a reasonable level individuals make efforts to satisfied their second level needs. Here it should be noted that the reasonable satisfaction of physiological needs is a subjective matter and the level of reasonable satisfaction varies from person to person. In the modern civilized society individual are generally protected from threats of violence or physical danger and the safety and security needs include economic and job security, security regarding the source of income, insurance against risk, provisions for old age and other protected measures which can safeguards the satisfaction of physiological needs in future also.
(iii) Social needs: After the fulfillment of second level needs human beings make effort to satisfy social needs. Human being are social animals and they always strive to belong to a social group to fulfill their emotional needs of love, affection, friendship and warmth. These social needs can be satisfied by individuals when they are in the company of their friends, relatives or any other group like a voluntary group or a work group.
(iv) Esteem needs: Ego or self esteem needs are the fourth needs in this hierarchy. These needs are related with recognition, self respect, self confidence, prestige, applause, appreciation, power and control. Through the fulfillment of these needs and individuals achieves a sense of ego satisfaction and self worth.
(v) Self Actualization needs: These needs are at the top of this hierarchy. These include the need to fulfill what is considered by a person as the mission of his life. The desire for personal achievement arises after all other needs of the individual are satisfied. At this stage the person is looking for something challenging as it gives him initiative and enough push to work and is beneficial for the individual as well as the society. This sense of achievement provides and individual psychological sense of satisfaction.
In this way Maslow has suggested five levels of needs which he has arranged in a hierarchy. When one need is satisfied it no longer remain a motivating factor and after the satisfaction of one level of needs the next level needs emerge which seek to be satisfied. The physiological and security needs of individuals are limited but other needs of the higher order are unlimited. These needs are more likely to be dominant among the persons functioning at a higher level in the organizations. Maslow suggests that the various levels of needs are interdependent and overlapping. The next level of needs emerge after the complete satisfaction of lower level needs.