Mazlo’s hierarchy of needs

When looking at why people do things, you can first check where they are in this hierarchy, don’t expect as much from people who are struggling to meet the first level.

What we need, and what motivates us, in order from most basic upwards:


First we seek to satisfy our basic physical needs – food and water.


Then we’re looking for shelter from the elements so we’re warm and dry.


Once we’ve established that we have food water and somewhere safe to sleep, then we start looking towards other people and become social.


If we’re settled and have a group of friends, we then start to look for activities that enhance our self-esteem, we do things that make us feel proud.

Self Actualization

At the top of the pyramid, when all the other needs are taken care of we  are then able to look for the things that make us feel worthwhile. The activities that we can take part in freely, where we feel as if we’re “putting something back”.

Next time you’re trying to persuade someone to do something, think about where they might be in relation to the list above and start from there.

Of course, Mazlo probably got it wrong, sometimes human beings are beyond all understanding.