Here are Some of the Weaknesses of Maslow’s Theory

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Known as the theory of needs, Maslow’s theory actually focuses on the importance of human needs. Maslow’s theory has 5 tiers of human needs, ideally should be met from the lower-level needs before meeting the higher-level needs.

Even though Maslow’s theory has a basic advantage about how well the theory serves to interpret human behaviour and motivation, this theory still has a bunch of  weaknesses, making his theory not so perfect. If you’re wondering about some weakness of Maslow’s theory, you can dive into our post to find them. Here you go!

Some Weaknesses of Maslow’s Theory

Weakness in the theory, means the difficulty of being able to support the theory empirically. So as with the lack of specificity included in Maslow’s theory, where it is easily applied in a variety of ways, making it difficult to test and study.

According to some sources, there are some weaknesses of Maslow’s Theory, including:

  • A basic weakness of Maslow’s theory is that it fails to explain cultural or social differences between individuals.
  • Another weakness to Maslow’s theory is the fact that there are some exceptions to the theory. For instance, what about the policemen, firefighters and the military who risk their lives every day to save others.
  • It fails to test how norms between individuals fluctuate, so do norms between cultures.
  • Since the Hierarchy of Needs was developed by American theorists and research was done only with Americans, sure it fails to prove the theory, as different cultures often value different needs.

Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs in 1943, where he claimed that people won’t be motivated by their higher-order needs like the need for self-actualization, until the lower-order needs like need for food and shelter have been met.

It is known that one criticized disadvantage of the needs theory is that in developing his hierarchy, Maslow only studied a narrow segment of the human population. Well, the terms in hierarchy such ‘security’ and ‘self-esteem’ have different definitions in cultures around the world.

That’s why it is difficult for researchers to value those needs or to generalize them across all human populations.

In addition to cultural differences, the hierarchy of needs also fails to take into measure individual differences. Sure, there is no proof that indicates every human being experiences the needs in the order that Maslow specified. In fact, there is any empirical evidence supporting Maslow’s theory at all.

Not only do different cultures offer different needs, but so the different generations do. As of now in age, most Americans have met their basic needs. In other words, they are still capable of love and belongingness exist in the other level of hierarchy, although some may be struggling to make ends meet.

Thus, research actually supports the notion that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs may not represent the individual needs accurately in a collective culture. Furthermore, the exceptions show that there are certain types of people who sacrifice their own basic needs for others.

Well, it’s also possible to reach self-actualization without having all of your lower needs met, so it falsifies the theory. For instance, there are a lot of artists and authors such as Van Gough and Rembrandt who live more of their lives in poverty that can be argued achieved their self-actualization.

However, some believe that Maslow saw his theory’s weakness. Others also believe that Maslow intended to modify his theory by adding a sixth need on the top of his pyramid, above self-actualization. Well, it is the need of self-transcendence that will address the issues with religion and placing other’s safety above one’s own.

Additionally, the elements like self-actualization and esteem probably have different meanings vastly across different cultures, making it hard to standardize his theory and the definition of the components. In collective societies where family members and other in-group members take care of each other in exchange for loyalty, belonging is a basic need while self-esteem is less important.

What Are the Advantages of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory?

Even though there are some weaknesses of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, you will also find some advantages of Maslow’s theory. According to some sources, one advantage of Maslow’s theory of needs is its perceptive insight into human nature.

The biggest strength of Maslow’s theory refers to intuitive nature, meaning the awareness of emotions. Well, it is the strength which supports practitioners in using the theory, despite the lack of supportive evidence.

In this case, everyone will have an individual motivation framework where they work and behave. Well, the framework actually differs from person to person and even for a single individual from day to day.

Practitioners of the theory who practice when working within their organizations actually understand this flexible individualized theory as a dynamic solution for motivating members of an organization.

Another strength of Maslow’s theory is the fact that the theory focuses on the individual’s own experiences and constructs, instead of focusing on mental illness.

What Are Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Level?

Here are Some of the Weaknesses of Maslow's Theory

There are two basic-order needs of Maslow’s theory, including:

  1. Physiological Needs are each individual’s needs such as oxygen, food and sleep. Each individual should meet this level of need before meeting to higher in order.
  2. Safety Needs are each individual’s need to feel safe and secure to make sure that basic physiological needs will remain met such as housing, physical ability, a regular routine and the need to have limits or law.
  3. Social Needs are about friendship and companionship. Each individual needs to communicate feelings and needs with others. Championship and a sense of belonging are one of the most basic human desires.
  4. Esteem Needs are about an individual needs to feel that they have a social status in the society. For example, they should feel that they are making a contribution at work or at home.
  5. Self-Actualized Needs is the final and highest level of needs. If you meet this level of need, it means you focus on personal growth, life appreciation, problem solving and peak experience for oneself.

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