Hierarchy of needs

February 20, 2012

In his 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” American psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed the idea of a psychological hierarchy of needs in human beings. This hierarchy of need principles specifies that a design must serve the low-level needs (i.e., it must function), before the higher level needs, such as desirability, can begin to be addressed.

  • Physiological needs are the requirements for human survival. They include breathing, food, water, shelter, sex, clothing, sleep and comfort.
  • Safety needs can be seen as a way to meet tomorrow’s physiological needs. They include personal and financial security, health, order, law and protection from elements.
  • Love and belonging needs are about social interactions. We don’t want to go through life alone. Social needs include friendship, love, intimacy, family, community, belonging and relationships.
  • Esteem needs include self-esteem as well as recognition from others. Esteem can come in the form of achievement, status, prestige, recognition, mastery, independence and responsibility.
  • Self-actualization needs relate to becoming more than what we are, and they can come from peace, knowledge, self-fulfillment, realization of personal potential, personal growth and peak experiences.

Hierearchy of User Experience

  • Functionality needs focus on meeting the most basic design requirements. For example, NFC in a customer’s mobile device must provide the capability to make a connection with another NFC object.
  • Usability needs have to do with how easy and forgiving a design is to use. For example, configuring your mobile payment preferences to facilitate types of payments and choice of merchants, the interface should be tolerant of errors and mistakes.
  • Reliability needs are about establishing stable and consistent performance. For example, if lack of interoperability between mobile payment partners results in a service that behaves erratically or is subject to frequent failure, reliability needs will not be satisfied.
  • Confidence needs address security, customer support, contact methods, policies, and giving users control. For example, a mobile payment service must ensure privacy and security of customer’s personal and financial information. A breach in this will result in lack of trust and result in non-adoption.
  • Desirability needs focus on personalization, community, flexibility, and customization. For example, if a mobile payment service allows customers to personalize and control their payment experience, and creates a seamless experience across product, services, and channels, desirability needs will be satisfied.

From: Perry Chan and Steven Bradley

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One Response to “Hierarchy of needs”

  1. Tony Ahn Says:

    Maslow’s hierarchy was discredited a long time ago, and nobody ever informed marketers of that. I recently wrote an article about all the criticism of Maslow’s hierarchy:
    http://bit.ly/ACIwku If you’re betting on Maslow’s research, you need to read that article. The research was flawed and Maslow was wrong.


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