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Thursday, April 22, 2010

T3 - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Esteem Needs

Now we're getting into the upper levels of needs according to Maslow. (If you missed the first three levels, click on the following to access them: Basic Needs, Safety Needs, and Social Needs.)

Aretha can sing it better than I can type here's what Maslow's fourth level in his pyramid is all about:

People want to be respected, esteemed by others. This type of external respect is the lower order of Esteem Needs. You might say this is the need for status, recognition and prestige. We want to be valued and accepted by others. This could come in the form of attention, reputation, dignity, and even dominance over others. A person can be famous or have national/international glory, but both require the opinions of others (the public) to make them so.

This is considered a "lower" need because it's based on the opinions of others and it's not intrinsic to yourself. This kind of esteem can come and go, and can certainly be lost. Just ask Tiger Woods.

A higher order Esteem Need is to have internal self-respect and self-esteem. This is when we want to feel that we've contributed something worthwhile, something of value. To have inner strength, competence, mastery, independence, freedom, and self-confidence. Something that we do--activities, club, our jobs, or hobbies--or something we live through and experience gives us this feeling of contribution and competency.

This is a "higher" level because the idea is once you respect yourself, it's harder to lose that respect.

These two levels of Esteem Needs aren't a package deal. You can have one and not have the other. A character who has low self-esteem will not be able to improve their view of themselves by receiving accolades and fame. A narcissist would think highly of themselves, but wouldn't have the external esteem to go with it because let's face it. Who really likes narcissists?

When this need isn't met, a person or character could have low self-esteem or an inferiority complex. Helplessness, depression, or emotional weakness can also happen if these needs are deprived of realization.

Q4U: Have you ever thought about the two types of respect needs? Internal v. external? Lots of plots revolve around this particular Need on Maslow's pyramid. Is yours one of them?

Wordle: signature


Martina Boone said...

Fantastic post! I like to work with two levels of need for my protag--the thing she thinks she needs (an external need, usually) and the thing she doesn't realize she needs (an internal need). Then she can sacrifice the external need and still come away with a win. Love it when characters drive the plot!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

thanks so much! internal and external goals/motivations are always a great way to move plots forward. who knew Maslow was on to great fiction writing craft? :)

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Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

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Eeleen Lee said...

conflict arises when different needs clash. And conflict, as we all know, is the basis for any story.

Eeleen Lee said...

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.