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What Are Your Basic Needs

By: Janie Franz - Updated: 11 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
Abraham Maslow aesthetic Needs beauty

Psychologist Abraham Maslow first wrote about basic needs as early as 1943. He proposed that for human beings to progress fully they needed to have certain needs fulfilled in a certain order. Called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, humans had to have simple basic needs met in order to free their minds to pursue higher growth. He proposed seven levels of need, though most psychologists and business coaches grasp only the first five. Recently, an eighth level of need has been recognized.

Maslow's list of needs follow a pyramid, with the broadest and most basic needs on the bottom and the most narrowly defined on the top. They are:

  1. Biological and Physiological Needs
  2. Safety Needs
  3. Belonging and Love Needs
  4. Esteem Needs
  5. Self-Actualization
  6. Cognitive Needs
  7. Aesthetic Needs
  8. Transcendence
The first four needs are often called deficiency needs or basic needs. These must be met in order for us to survive and grow. They deal with keeping our bodies alive and our minds safe and healthy. The last four are called being needs. These are psychological and spiritual needs. They stimulate our minds, develop our creativity, and expand our spirits.

Biological Needs

Your biological needs are things that you need in order to keep your body fueled, maintained, and functioning. You need to breath, maintain a regular body temperature, eat, sleep, drink, and remove body wastes. These things keep your body alive. Most people have access to resources to do this: food, drink, clothing and shelter, and bathroom facilities.

Medical problems can sometimes interfere with how these resources maintain your body. Therefore, medical care should be included as a basic physiological need also.

Choices that you make can compromise meeting these basic needs. Not getting enough sleep, skipping meals, not drinking enough water, or delaying bathroom breaks can stress your body and put its functioning at risk.

Safety Needs

These needs deal with shelter, security, law and order, and stability. Safety can also refer to financial security and employment, health, and safety in your environment. For children especially, there is a need for schedules, limits, and routine, as well as having the consistency of having a loving caregiver available. Many adults also thrive in constants in their lives, whether it is going to work every day or coming home to a peaceful sanctuary. Disruptions and changes to these safety needs or routines can cause stress.

Belonging Needs

A natural outgrowth of safety needs are belonging needs. We all need to feel that we are cared for or part of a family or group. This can be feeling that you are an integral part of your work team or that you share interests with others in a recreation or hobby. It can also be shared experiences in a religious or spiritual setting. Friendships are important as well as congenial family relationships. Marriage and having children can be a fulfillment of belonging needs. In addition, belonging can extend to feeling a part of a neighborhood or community.

Esteem Needs

These needs deal with feeling good about yourself and being respected by others. The first level of esteem needs deal with the desire for competence and mastery, independence, and confidence. The next level deals with respect by others, prestige, recognition, and appreciation. Esteem needs cross into all areas of your life from your family and friends to your work and hobbies.


This was where many people stopped Maslow's hierarchy. Self-actualization referred to using of your creative abilities and skills to reach your highest potential. Many trainers and psychologists took on this major task, recognizing that after all of the deficiency needs were met, people could then work on self-development.

However, jumping from confidence and healthy self-esteem to achieving your ultimate potential was a big leap. Maslow explained that this was only the beginning of human growth.

Cognitive Needs

This is the need for human beings to learn and find meaning. Maslow recognized that humans were curious and needed to know and understand themselves, the world around them, and what purpose was there. He also understood that humans had a desire to solve problems and try to make the world a better place.

Aesthetic Needs

Maslow also recognized that people have a basic aesthetic need. We are appreciate and crave beauty. We thrive in ordered surroundings and in the creation of art. We also can be healed psychologically and spiritually when surrounded by beauty.


This last need is the desire to reach out to others and help them. Transcendence also refers to spiritual or peak experiences that give our lives meaning.

Though meeting many of the being needs may take us a lifetime, meeting deficiency needs is most critical for every human being. They are also essential to helping minimize or manage stress.

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