Posted in life

Maslow’s Theory of Needs and Covid-19


The crisis we are facing right now could mean sudden changes, lockdown, restricted socialization, halt in regular activities like sports & recreation, unemployment, a shift to to what they call the “New Normal”. These changes coupled with fear of contracting the disease can lead to pressure and anxiety to some.

Theory of Needs according to Maslow

Abraham Maslow developed a theory of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. This theory is relevant in today’s covid-19 pandemic.

Let’s make this as simple as possible… In order to attend the higher needs in the pyramid, the individual must meet the lower basic needs. Like climbing a ladder or mountain.

Our actions are motivated in order to achieve certain needs. Understanding this theory can help us deal with today’s endless dilemmas and support other family or friends who may have a difficult time coping.

Grouped into three; Basic, Psychological and Self-fulfillment needs.

Basic Needs which lies in the bottom of the pyramid – as name suggests, relates to Physiological and Safety needs. Like food, water, shelter, clothing, security and safety.

Physiological Needs

This pandemic has caused a lot of problems for our Basic Needs. With millions acquiring the disease, people getting hungry and homeless, unemployed, etc.

One particular example of Basic Need – when people hoarded toilet paper, sanitizer and alcohol. Many were anxious about the uncertainties of pandemic and so in order to reassure their needs, they piled up as much stocks as they can.

Under Psychological Needs is Social and Esteem.

  1. Social Needs – include love, acceptance and belongingness.

At this level, the need for emotional relationships drives human behavior. Some of the things that satisfy this need include:

  • Friendships
  • Romantic attachments
  • Family
  • Social groups
  • Community groups
  • Churches and religious organizations

We are greatly affected in this level of hierarchical needs. As government restricts social movement like gatherings. We are confined to our houses and rooms while others isolated due to monitoring and precautionary procedures.

Having social connections online can help in meeting this need. Keep in regular contact with people close to you.

Since Maslow’s time, researchers have continued to explore how love and belonging needs impact well-being. For example, having social connections is related to better physical health and, conversely, feeling isolated (i.e. having unmet belonging needs) has negative consequences for health and well-being.

2. Esteem Needs – our need for appreciation and respect. People need to sense that they are valued and by others and feel that they are making a contribution to the world.

Participation in activities, academic accomplishments and hobbies can all play a role in fulfilling the esteem needs. Join Social Media communities where you can share hobbies or interests with each other. There are pages offering free online classes from photography, baking and cooking.

Photo by Alina Vilchenko on

Self-Actualization Needs

At the very peak of Maslow’s hierarchy are the self-actualization needs. “What a man can be, he must be,” Maslow explained, referring to the need people have to achieve their full potential as human beings.

According to Maslow’s definition of self-actualization, “It may be loosely described as the full use and exploitation of talents, capabilities, potentialities, etc. Such people seem to be fulfilling themselves and to be doing the best that they are capable of doing. They are people who have developed or are developing to the full stature of which they capable.”

These needs can be powerful motivators and differ in every individual.

As each individual is unique, the motivation for self-actualization leads people in different directions. For some people self-actualization can be achieved through creating works of art or literature, for others through sport, in the classroom, or within a corporate setting.

Maslow (1962) believed self-actualization could be measured through the concept of peak experiences. This occurs when a person experiences the world totally for what it is. Experiencing peace, joy or bliss.

The urge to help the community by services of our frontliners, risking their lives to support and help fight this battle – an example of Self-Actualization

In a span of few weeks, the world went from top level to the bottom of the pyramid. We are now focused on our Basic Requirements for survival.

Manila Jeepney drivers begging for help

Everything will be alright

It’s a frightening time indeed and we don’t know when this will end. But this is the perfect time to reflect and reevaluate our lives. According to Maslow’s biographer Edward Hoffman, Maslow spoke unequivocally about the importance of dealing with life’s uncertainties. That is, regarding stressful or challenging situations as opportunities for growth rather than retreating into passivity or pessimism.

we must stay optimistic and not let negativity rule our lockdown lives. A positive mindset can make us believe that everything will be alright, hoping for better days and encourage us to get up.

Let us be kind to one another and not discriminate the ones afflicted by the virus. They need more love and understanding especially in this trying times.

As World Health Organization suggests;

  • Be kind. Don’t discriminate against people because of your fears of the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Don’t discriminate against people who you think may have coronavirus.
  • Don’t discriminate against health workers. Health workers deserve our respect and gratitude.
  • COVID-19 has affected people from many countries. Don’t attribute it to any specific group.
  1. Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological review,50(4), 370.
  2. Maslow, A. H., Frager, R., & Cox, R. (1970). Motivation and personality (Vol. 2, pp. 1887-1904). J. Fadiman, & C. McReynolds (Eds.). New York: Harper & Row.
  3. Maslow, A. H. (2013). Toward a psychology of being. Start Publishing LLC.


Passionate about Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Family and Health. Received Certification in Nutrition and Health from Wageningen University, Introduction to Psychology, Managing Emotions from Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence, and Emotional and Social Intelligence by UC Davis. Currently studying Graphic Design under California Institute of Arts as her first love - Art <3 사랑

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