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Chapter 7 Lecture:

  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

One of the best-known theories explaining the actions of people is that of Dr. Abraham Maslow (Motivation and Personality, New York, Harper & Row, 1954). Dr. Maslow hypothesized that a hierarchy of needs motivates people. When lowlevel needs are satisfied, they no longer motivate individuals. As each level of needs is met, individuals progress to higherlevel motivators. Here is Maslow's hierarchy:


1. Physiological needs include the need for food, clothing, and shelter.

2. Security and Safety needs include the need to be free from physical danger and to be secure in the feeling that physiological needs can be met.

3. Social needs involve the need to be loved, to be accepted, and to belong.

4. Ego needs involve the need to be heard, to be appreciated, and to be wanted.

5. Self-actualization needs involved the need to achieve one’s fullest potential.


In relation to persuasion and sales techniques, how does Maslow's theory apply? In trying to persuade someone to change a belief or to perform an action, successful communicators often rely, intentionally and unintentionally, on appeals to an individual's needs.


Most Americans no longer worry about their physiological, security, and safety needs. Fortunately, our culture and society are so advanced that these basic, lowlevel needs no longer motivate our actions, although the needs are always present. If we are hungry, we will respond to advertised food appeals that might otherwise be ignored.


Many individuals today are motivated primarily by social, ego, and selfactualizing needs. Everyone needs to be loved, to be accepted, and to belong. Individuals join social, religious, fraternal, and educational organizations to fulfill this psychological need. Analyze how important this need is in your own life. Do you like to be alone, or do you need people nearby?


Ego needs are a step higher in Maslow's hierarchy. In addition to being merely accepted and belonging, we want to be heard, to be appreciated, and to be wanted. We want to feel important. We need status. How do you respond when someone says that you have done a good job? What would you think of being given an impressive work title instead of a salary increase?


At the highest level are selfactualizing needs. People seek to achieve their highest potential through professional, philanthropic, political, educational, and artistic channels. These needs, according to Maslow's concept, become important only when all social and ego needs have been satisfied.


In applying Maslow's theory to persuasive appeals, you must:


1. Decide which appeal would be most effective for the intended receiver. This may mean predicting the needs level of your receiver at the time of your persuasive effort.

2. Shape a message that capitalizes on the receiver's needs.

3. Persuade the receiver that the desired action would satisfy those needs.


Analyze some of the sales messages you have received. To what needs do they appeal?