Another stop on the ASWB exam content train: Basic human needs. You might think this material has been covered elsewhere in the outline (and on this blog). Yes. Yes, it has. But apparently the ASWB really wants you have a good look at this content. So...let's. 

Basic Human Needs (Maslow)

What we're talking about there are the fundamental requirements essential for survival and well-being. The framework for basic human needs most widely recognized is Abraham Maslow's hierarchy. Maslow's hierarchy is arranged in a pyramid from the most fundamental needs (#1--pysiological) to higher-level needs (all the way up to #6--or above, if you're counting late additions):

  1. Physiological Needs:

    • Air
    • Water
    • Food
    • Shelter
    • Sleep
    • Clothing
  2. Safety Needs:

    • Personal security
    • Employment
    • Resources
    • Health
    • Property
  3. Love and Belonging:

    • Friendship
    • Intimacy
    • Family
    • Sense of connection
  4. Esteem Needs:

    • Respect
    • Self-esteem
    • Status
    • Recognition
    • Strength
  5. Self-Actualization:

    • Morality
    • Creativity
    • Spontaneity
    • Problem-solving
    • Acceptance of facts and realities

Maslow later added additional levels to his hierarchy. In between Esteem (4) and Self-Actualization (5):

  • Cognitive Needs:

    • Knowledge
    • Curiosity
    • Exploration
    • Understanding
  • Aesthetic Needs:

    • Beauty
    • Creativity
    • Appreciation of art and aesthetics

Maslow also added a new, final stage, which goes after Self-Actualization. Transcendence involves values that transcend the personal self.

  • Transcendence:

    • Altruism
    • Spirituality
    • Transcendence beyond the self

The additional levels--or even the strict order of the more familiar ones--aren't likely to be tested for by the ASWB. More important is an understanding of what is crucial for people. Knowledge of Maslow, of example, may help you on a "what to do FIRST" type question. The answer: first things first!

Other Approaches

Various other theories and models have been proposed to explain and categorize basic human needs. Among those other perspectives (included here for curiosity value, not as important knowledge for social work exam preparation):

  • ERG Theory (Existence, Relatedness, Growth): Developed by Clayton Alderfer as a modification of Maslow's hierarchy, the ERG theory condenses the five levels of Maslow's model into three categories:

    • Existence Needs: Basic needs for survival (similar to Maslow's physiological and safety needs).
    • Relatedness Needs: Social and interpersonal needs (similar to Maslow's love and belongingness).
    • Growth Needs: Internal development and personal growth (incorporates Maslow's esteem, self-actualization, and self-transcendence).
  • Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory: Frederick Herzberg proposed that there are two sets of (oddly named) factors influencing human motivation and satisfaction:

    • Hygiene Factors: Related to the work environment and include factors like salary, job security, and working conditions. Their absence can lead to dissatisfaction.
    • Motivational Factors: Intrinsic to the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, and responsibility. Their presence can lead to satisfaction and motivation.
  • McClelland's Theory of Needs: David McClelland identified three primary needs that motivate human behavior:

    • Need for Achievement (nAch): The drive to excel and succeed.
    • Need for Affiliation (nAff): The desire for social connections and relationships.
    • Need for Power (nPower): The drive to influence and control others.
  • Self-Determination Theory (SDT): SDT focuses on the role of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in human motivation. It suggests that individuals are motivated when they feel in control of their actions (autonomy), competent in their abilities (competence), and connected to others (relatedness).

  • Hierarchy of Basic Human Values by Schwartz: Shalom H. Schwartz proposed a theory of basic human values, encompassing ten broad motivational types. These values include benevolence, self-direction, security, conformity, tradition, stimulation, hedonism, achievement, power, and universalism.

Now you know!

On the Exam

Don't expect Maslow memorization questions. As we said above, this material will more likely show up in prioritization questions like these:

  • A single mother seeks assistance from a social worker. She recently lost her job and is struggling to provide for her two children. The client expresses feelings of hopelessness and worries about eviction. How should the social worker prioritize addressing the client's needs?
  • A military veteran seeks counseling due to difficulties adjusting to civilian life. The client describes feeling isolated and lacking a sense of purpose. What intervention aligns best with addressing the client's needs?

  • At a residential facility, a 16-year-old, frequently exhibits aggressive behavior and struggles with academic performance. What intervention should the social worker consider to address the teen's needs?

Trickier than "which is the third level in Maslow's Hierarchy" questions! How to prepare for questions like these? Practice. SWTP has lots of that. Sign up to get started now.

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January 8, 2024
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