Top 6 Features of Maslow’s Theory of Motivation – Explained

The features of Maslow’s Theory of Motivation in Human Resource Management are as follows:

According to Abraham Maslow, a U.S psychologist, man is a wanting animal. He has a variety of wants or needs.


All motivated behaviour of man is directed towards the satisfaction of his needs. The theory postulated that people are motivated by multiple needs, which could be arranged in a hierarchy.

Maslow offers a general theory of motivation called the ‘need hierarchy theory’.


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1. People have a wide range of needs which motivate them to strive for fulfillment.

2. Human needs can be definitely categorised into five types:


(a) Physical needs,

(b) Safety or security needs,

(c) Affiliation or social needs,

(d) Esteem needs and


(e) Self-actual inaction needs.

3. These needs can be arranged into a hierarchy. Physical needs are at the base whereas self-actualisation needs are at the apex.

4. People gratify their physical needs first, when that need is satisfied, they feel the urge for the next higher level need.

5. Relative satisfaction of lower level need is necessary to activate the next higher level need.

6. A satisfied need does not motivate human behaviour. It only triggers or acti­vates the urge for the next higher level of needs.

Deficit and Progression Principles:

In order to comprehend the full meaning of Maslow’s theory, it is necessary to understand the deficit and progression principles.

Deficit Principle:

According to Maslow, once a need is fairly well satisfied, it is no longer a stronger motivator of behaviour. People are motivated to satisfy only those needs that are perceived to be deficient.

Progression Principle:

Maslow contends that the five categories of needs exist in a hierarchy. A need at a given level is not activated until the need directly below it is fairly well gratified. Thus, the person is expected to progress step-by-step up the need hierarchy.

The need-hierarchy theory must not be viewed as a rigid structure to be applied universally in all situations. The hierarchy represents a typical pattern that operates most of the time.