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Needs and Motivations From Maslow’s and the Scripture’s Perspectives


Humans crave various things in life, so numerous attempts at studying the nature of needs have been made. Particularly, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs remains the most inclusive yet structured approach. For this reason, many researchers put the classification into practice to study motifs that determine those needs. In this regard, biological urges and social interactions are addressed first as the primal stimuli for humans’ desires. Therefore needs and motivations coincide.

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Distinctions between Want, Need, and Motivation

A flourishing life depends on the fulfillment of specific needs. Addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Cutts divides these needs into two categories: biological drives to ensure survival and social aspirations to access self-actualization (2019). Yet, he distinguishes between “wants” and “needs,” rightfully stating that sometimes we reject things we need and crave things that are unnecessary at the moment. Cutts emphasizes humans should determine their needs and possess enough motivation to fulfill them (2019). He supports Maslow’s ideas on the hierarchical structure, with biological urges being the most potent and self-expressing desires becoming an ultimate goal to achieve.

Physiological and Safety Needs

The level in question comprises all biological urges and responses. Maslow states that vital needs cannot be perceived as purely homeostatic (2019); contrariwise, Skinner rejects this idea. He has researched the free will of individuals in line with his behavioral studies and has concluded that people function in a predetermined way. Various stimuli define our physiological needs as well as personal aspirations. Yet, Skinner develops a theory of reinforced behavior, stating that humans are not in control of their actions, conscious or otherwise, and their behavior falls in line with whatever (e.g., society) or whoever (another person) reinforces the power on them (2021). Behaviorism coincides with a religious point of view, as the divine can take on a role of reinforcement.

Safety needs constitute the next level and are less potent than physiological drives. Maslow suggests that they are less upfront and harder to separate (2019). In his judgment, they derive from our need to seek protection and guidance. God is viewed as an ultimate protector who brings desired safety in religion: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” ((King James Bible 1769/2017). Thus, safety needs constitute not self-reliance but a desire to acquire support from others.

Belongingness and Love Needs

Religion alternates Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as it brings other social aspects to light. The primal need is meant to bring peace and tranquility: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty… I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (King James Bible 1769/2017). The Scripture advises a human to trust God to fulfill the needs, thus stating that the divine’s sense of belonging and bond is at the top of a hierarchical structure.

The sense of belonging is a driving force of social interactions. Over emphasizes that the desire to belong satisfies two conditions: the need to engage in a positive cooperation and complex cooperation where they can share their psychological state with others and receive needed appreciation (2016). These arguments prove that belonging is one of the essential senses for a flourishing life.

Self-esteem and Self-actualization. The highest level of humans’ priorities comprises their aspirations dedicated to thriving as an individual. Maslow describes self-actualization as self-fulfillment and freedom of self-expression (2019). The sense in question is put on the highest level, as only after an individual has gained recognition in society can they be accepted as its unique part. Subsequently, this level is the most difficult to achieve as it reflects the individual’s absolute freedom.

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Summarizing all the ideas above, it is clear that needs are hierarchical, and various motivations determine their fulfillment. Our biological urges and social engagement are primal reasoning. From a religious point of view, the bond with the divine is more potent than human interaction, so the grace of God becomes the ultimate motivation. Yet, it cannot be overlooked that in modern society, the desire for personal freedom and the need for self-expression overrules the rest of the stimuli.


Cutts, J. (2019). Herbert Marcuse and “False Needs”. Social Theory and Practice, 45(3), 353-370.

Feist G., Feist, J., Roberts T. (2021). Theories of Personality. McGraw Hill.

King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online.

Maslow A., (2019). A Theory of Human Motivation. India: General Press.

Over, H. (2016). The origins of belonging: Social motivation in infants and young children. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 371(1686), 1-8.

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