Abraham Maslow wrote the book "Motivation and Personality," first published in 1954. The seminal work sets forth Maslow's theory that individuals have a hierarchy of needs. The hierarchy is displayed as a pyramid with 5 levels, where the most basic needs -- the physiological need for food and shelter -- form the base, followed by the need for safety, the need to belong or be loved, the need for self esteem and achievement, and at the top, the need for self-actualization and fulfillment.
Group Brainstorming Activity
Students should be broken up into five groups. Each group should be assigned to one of the needs from Maslow's hierarchy. Have each group brainstorm a list of needs that corresponds to that level of the hierarchy and in what way those needs can be met. Have the group share their findings by writing their needs on a board or large sheet of paper that can then be shared with the other groups.
Another group activity that works well with five groups is to ask each group to create a collage. Once again, each group should be assigned to a particular level of Maslow's hierarchy. Distribute old magazines to each group. Have the groups look through the magazines, looking for pictures that illustrate the needs that correspond to their assigned hierarchy level. Have the group cut out these pictures and glue them to a separate piece of paper. The finished collage should depict several different needs that illustrate that level of the hierarchy.
Divide students into five or more groups. Assign each group a particular level of Maslow's pyramid. There can be more than one group assigned to each level of the pyramid, but be sure to use each level at least once. Distribute magazines to each group. Instruct the groups to look through the magazines until they locate an advertisement in which objective is to address the level of the hierarchy they have been assigned. Have each group share their advertisement with the rest of the groups and explain why they have chosen this particular advertisement.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs can also be used in training individuals as managers or leaders. Break the class up into groups and have each group brainstorm what is meant by the term motivation. After briefly reviewing Maslow's hierarchy of needs with the entire class, have each team brainstorm different actions that could motivate their employees or charges at each level of the hierarchy. Then have each group share their ideas with the class.