Maslow and the motivation hierarchy: measuring satisfaction of the needs

Am J Psychol. Summer 2013;126(2):155-77. doi: 10.5406/amerjpsyc.126.2.0155.


For each of the 5 needs in Maslow's motivational hierarchy (physiological, safety-security, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization), operational definitions were developed from Maslow's theory of motivation. New measures were created based on the operational definitions (1) to assess the satisfaction of each need, (2) to assess their expected correlations (a) with each of the other needs and (b) with four social and personality measures (i.e., family support, traditional values, anxiety/worry, and life satisfaction), and (3) to test the ability of the satisfaction level of each need to statistically predict the satisfaction level of the next higher-level need. Psychometric tests of the scales conducted on questionnaire results from 386 adult respondents from the general population lent strong support for the validity and reliability of all 5 needs measures. Significant positive correlations among the scales were also found; that is, the more each lower-level need was satisfied, the more the next higher-level need was satisfied. Additionally, as predicted, family support, traditional values, and life satisfaction had significant positive correlations with the satisfaction of all 5 needs, and the anxiety/worry facet of neuroticism had significant negative correlations with the satisfaction of all the needs. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the satisfaction of each higher-level need was statistically predicted by the satisfaction of the need immediately below it in the hierarchy, as expected from Maslow's theory.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Psychometrics / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires