CHAPTER 3We can choose what we value

The hierarchy of values.

In 1943 a psychologist by the name of Abraham Maslow, in a paper titled ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’, proposed his famous hierarchy of needs pyramid, which is still quite well known today.

He asked the questions, What motivates people? What makes people value what they do? What drives humans to value things like security, comfort, belonging, status, esteem or freedom? Maslow believed that people were motivated by what they valued at any one time, and proposed that what they valued in turn depended on what needs they had already met.

Maslow split our needs into a series of levels that transition from what he called ‘lower order’ needs to ‘higher order’ needs. According to Maslow, a person has to satisfy basic physiological needs such as the need for food and water or sleep before they can value or be motivated to pursue other things.

Once fed and rested, he said, we tend to value safety, security, employment and health. Then, if those needs are met, we can start to care about our position in the group: valuing love and belonging, seeking out friendships and connections.

Only after meeting those needs do we start to value meeting higher level needs, such as self-esteem and confidence, and further self-actualisation, including creativity, spontaneity, problem solving and so on.

The figure shows Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs through a pyramid that is horizontally divided into five layers, labeled (from top to bottom) "Self-actualization," "Esteem," "Love/belonging," “Safety” and "Physiological."

So is what we value determined for ...

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