Application Review of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


This paper reviews the hypothesis’, methodologies, and conclusions of five scholarly articles that utilize the concepts of motivation as developed by Abraham Maslow, known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Differences and similarities of the research conducted, uniqueness of research approaches to Maslow’s concepts, similarities, and differences in research findings as well as conclusion synopsis of the use of Maslow’s Theory as related to researched findings are reviewed.  The five published papers were: Examining Maslow’s Hierarchy Need Theory in the Social Media Adoption (Ghatak & Singh, 2019),  Millennial Employment Through Maslow’s Eyes (Guy & Pentz, 2017), Factors of Job Satisfaction and Their Effects on Employees’ Behavior in a Manufacturing Company in the Republic of Macedonia (Ristovsk & Eftimov, 2019), Cultivating employees using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Stewart et al., 2018), and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in 21ST Century: The Examination of Vocational Differences (Uysal et al., 2017). 


                In 1943, Abraham Maslow published A Theory of Human Motivation.  The concept theory he introduced was that of a hierarchy of needs that humans fulfill based on motivations.  He proposed that there were five levels of needs that are fulfilled as a matter of necessity or need.  The levels of needs in order of ascendancy are Physiological Needs (basic requirements of food, water, shelter, sustenance), Safety Needs (protections from harm, disease, calamity), Love Needs (love, affection, belonging, reciprocal relationships), Esteem Needs (self-confidence, worth, strength, capability and respect) and lastly, Self-Actualization (The potential a person can and must be) (Maslow, 1943).

                The theory Maslow presented was a framework that attempted to explain the general stages of motivation, resulting from the satisfying of hierarchy needs.  It was these motivations that resulted in the growth of an individual to the point that they have the ability to become their potential & purpose.  This purpose is different for everyone.  Some people never reach a level of described self-actualization, but the concept was a framework that help apply logical methodology to human motivations and reasoning for these activities.

Differences & similarities in research done regarding the concept

                Researchers use of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to explain or apply in research methods is quite diverse.  Of five articles reviewed, one might question the application or interpretation of all articles.  Application of motivational theory is quite often interpreted from extrapolated methods.  Carol Steward in a Southern Connecticut University study attempted to measure employee happiness with metrics of job satisfaction.  These levels of satisfaction were then correlated to Maslow’s Theory (Stewart et al., 2018).  Other studies were conducted in similar manners with attempts to measure employee job satisfaction in manufacturing environments (Ristovska & Eftimov, 2019). Another study focuses on vocational differences (Uysal et al., 2017).  Two other articles correlate Maslow’s needs with Millennial job satisfaction (Guy & Pentz, 2017) and social media affinity (Ghatak & Singh, 2019).  Maslow defined his concept as a conceptualization of needs that motivate humans.  There appears to be substantial research with attempts to measure levels of happiness, contentment, or satisfaction.  As a result, conclusions seem to be tangential to the explanations offered by Maslow.  While the methodology of questionnaire submission was at the core of how information was obtained, the target audiences were both similar and different.  Four of the articles focused on business employees, while one targeted adults age 18-40 with discerning questions about their social interaction through the internet (Ghata & Singh, 2019).  There is a common desire to use Maslow’s concepts of motivation for application purposes.  In all cases, behavior was applied to the theory, rather than the theory providing and explanation for the motivations. 

Uniqueness of each article regarding author’s approach to concept

                Upon reviewing the methodologies of information gathering, the absolute uniqueness between studies would undoubtedly be the types of questions forwarded to participants.  In the study by Ghata and Singh, questions with the goal of quantifying behavior were solicited, along with qualitative questions concerning the degree of happiness or fulfillment. The Millennial job satisfaction study by Guy & Pentz was one that consisted of observation rather than that of measurable data, the conclusions were interpretations.  Ristovska & Eftimov concluded that their study, conducted in Macedonia, regardless of gender or position, concluded that money was the goal of nearly everyone, thereby clouding any interpretation of hierarchy needs.

Similarities in the research findings

                The similarity in all studies was the attempt to predict or apply Maslow’s Theory to manipulate behavior.  In the research involving employees there was a stated desire that findings could be interpreted as usable methods or avenue to elicit a favorable employee behavior.  In the research conducted by Ghata and Singh, they stated that their findings should be used in social platform development, capitalizing on the belonging needs of individuals and the need that an online platform can satisfy.  The study involving Millennials by Guy and Pentz was most interesting from an application view in that there is an understood behavior associated with Millennial workers that is foreign to older generations.  This study assigns some meaning behind these otherwise baffling Millennial behaviors.

Differences in research findings

                The actual understanding of Maslow’s theory varied among the compared articles.    There was an assumptive common theme of satisfaction and happiness that was the target of measurement.  Maslow’s Hierarchy is not meant to measure either of those variables.   Particularly in the studies involving employees, a direct correlation was attempted to measure happiness.  In the study entitled Cultivating Employees Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the statement is made at the beginning paper, that clearly connects Maslow’s Theory with stated levels of happiness (Steward et al., 2018).  The word happiness is not mentioned once in Maslow’s publication (Maslow, 1943).   Given the absence of defining happiness, one might have difficulty correlating job satisfaction. 


                Maslow’s Theory is an important concept that helps explain and prioritize our motivations.  The hierarchy is true in that basic needs typically require attention before elective needs are addressed.  There is no rigidity in these levels.  Some researchers claim that one level must be satisfied before needs of another level can be addressed, this is not the case.  Maslow specifically acknowledges that it is entirely feasible that one may have accomplished the fulfillment of some or most elements of a level and therefore focus on multiple levels at once. 

                The interesting commonality in the research reviewed was the attempts to apply Maslow’s theory to elicit a behavior or level of satisfaction amongst employees.  The way this was measured involved discernment in the form of questionnaires. Questions that attempted to measure contentment by asking if employees are happy with their wages are inherently flawed.  These types of questions in the workplace are tainted by power distance relationships (Bateman et al., 2020) as well as interpretations of work-related reprisals.  If data were collected that allowed participants the ability to share what they would do or what choices they might make given the means, there may have been different conclusions.  The fact that money is the driver for enabling us to achieve, must be taken into consideration.  Satisfying needs or job position with extra responsibility may be positive in the scheme of office enthusiasm, but its relation to Maslow’s Theory is questionable.


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           Ghatak, S., & Singh, S. (2019). Examining Maslow’s Hierarchy Need Theory in the Social Media Adoption. FIIB Business Review, 8(4), 292–302.

            Guy, Z., & Pentz, T. G. (2017). MILLENIAL EMPLOYMENT THROUGH MASLOW’S EYES. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 33(2), 22-25. Retrieved from

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Ristovska A, Eftimov L. Factors of Job Satisfaction and Their Effects on Employees’ Behavior in a Manufacturing Company in the Republic of Macedonia. Zbornik Radova Ekonomskog Fakulteta u Istocnom Sarajevu. 2019;(19):43-54. doi:10.7251/ZREFIS1919043R.

          Stewart, C., Nodoushani, O., & Stumpf, J. (2018). Cultivating employees using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Competition Forum, 16(2), 67-75. Retrieved from



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