Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often portrayed in the shape of a
pyramid with the largest, most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom
and the need for self-actualization at the top.
While the pyramid has become the de facto way to represent the
hierarchy, Maslow himself never used a pyramid to describe these levels
in any of his writings on the subject.
The most fundamental and basic four layers of the pyramid contain
what Maslow called "deficiency needs" or "d-needs": esteem, friendship
and love, security, and physical needs. If these "deficiency needs" are
not met – with the exception of the most fundamental (physiological)
need – there may not be a physical indication, but the individual will
feel anxious and tense. Maslow's theory suggests that the most basic
level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire
(or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.
also coined the term "metamotivation" to describe the motivation of people who go beyond the scope of the basic needs and strive for constant betterment.
The human mind and brain are complex and have parallel processes
running at the same time, thus many different motivations from various
levels of Maslow's hierarchy can occur at the same time. Maslow spoke
clearly about these levels and their satisfaction in terms such as
"relative," "general," and "primarily." Instead of stating that the
individual focuses on a certain need at any given time, Maslow stated
that a certain need "dominates" the human organism.
Thus Maslow acknowledged the likelihood that the different levels of
motivation could occur at any time in the human mind, but he focused on
identifying the basic types of motivation and the order in which they
should be met.