COVID-19 and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: How Is Our Motivation Changing?

Understanding human motivation has been one of the goals of psychology founding fathers and current theorists to date. Motivation is often at the core of studying psychological processes in humans and understanding why we do the things we do.

Motivation is defined as “the process of arousing, directing, and maintaining behavior toward a goal” (Greenberg, 2002). Although this definition seems simple, human motivation is often more complex. In light of the current crisis situation we all find ourselves in amid the COVID-19 pandemic, how can one understand their own motivations and the motivations of others?

One way to understand this is to apply a classic theory of human motivation: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The basic premise of the theory is that “people will not be happy or well-adjusted unless they have their needs met” (Greenberg, 2002). Not only are humans motivated by meeting their needs, but their needs are ordered in such a way that if basic needs aren’t met first, then humans will not have the motivation to meet needs that aren’t considered basic. Basic needs are described as lower-order needs, while needs beyond basic are described as higher-order needs. personal failures

In order to understand these hierarchical needs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s look at each need individually.

1. Physiological needs
The lowest order needs involve satisfying biological needs such as water, shelter, and food. Not only does this level of need require meeting basic needs, but it also requires that one’s body is healthy. A healthy body is also achieved through the proper amount of sleep, exercise, and appropriate balance of healthy foods, free of toxic substances.

2. Safety needs
Once one’s basic needs are met, Maslow believed that the next level of needs are triggered in an individual. The need for safety includes functioning in an environment that is physically and psychologically safe. In addition, the environment must be free of harm or perceived harm.

3. Social needs
These needs are activated once the first two needs are met. According to Maslow’s theory, if the first two needs are not met, then the person will not be activated to achieve higher order needs such as social needs. This need involves feeling loved by others and belonging to a social group. As social beings, humans have the need to connect with others.

4. Esteem needs
Once one feels accepted by their peers, the next higher-order need can be activated. The esteem need is characterized by feeling successful and having others recognize one’s accomplishments.

5. Self-actualization needs
The highest-order need for humans, once all of the above needs are met, is self-actualization. This need involves pursuing one’s maximum level of creativity and becoming all that one is intended to be.

1. Physiological needs during COVID-19
The current state of our world right now has caused many people to be motivated by more basic needs than they were before this pandemic. Due to the fact that many people’s employment situations have changed, meeting basic needs might now be more of a priority than it was before.

In addition, now that many people are on stay-at-home orders, the option of going to the gym or other things that one typically does to stay physiologically healthy might not be available at this time. Finding creative ways to keep yourself healthy might be all that you can focus on right now, and that is okay.


1 Comment

  1. Joan Permalink

    The British Psychological Society has a complete listing of chartered psychologists. You can input information such go now as your problem (broadly speaking) and your location to get a list with names you might consider.


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