Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Transcendence

This blog gives a detailed review of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs transcendence. In this blog, you will be told about what is transcendence and why Maslow wanted to add in his model.

The blog will give a brief introduction to Maslow’s needs of hierarchy model to make it easier for you to understand the concept of transcendence and its importance in Maslow’s model.

What is the Meaning of Self-Transcendence?

Self-transcendence is defined differently by different people, in terms of their values.

Despite its different definitions, the idea about self-transcendence is the same. Self-transcendence is referred to as transcending oneself to a level considered higher than the self.

In other words, self-transcendence is the realization that an individual is just a tiny part of a greater whole and acting according to this realization.

In the phrase, the individual is the small part of a greater whole, the greater whole could be referred to as a variety of things that are bigger than the self.

These include human beings, nature, the universe, the holy power and so forth.

The things do not matter, only what matters is that the things are greater than the self. 

Self-Transcendence in Psychology

In psychology, self-transcendence can be referred to as the ignored sibling of self-actualization.

We all are aware of the word self-actualization. It was the top need mentioned in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model. 

We often have ignored self-transcendence but many researchers who had been working on spirituality, human development, and positive behavioral traits are already familiar with self-transcendence. 

Not only aware but the researchers have also used the concept of self-transcendence in their work.

Especially the researchers who had been working in association with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model are closely familiar with this concept.  

Characteristics of Self-Transcendence 

Self-transcendence is not a very common concept but it can be distinguished by its four major characteristics.

The following are the four characteristics of self-transcendence that can help identify the acts of self-transcendence and clarify the concept of self-transcendence:

1. Self-transcendent people focus more on others than themselves.

They stop being selfish and egoistic and start focusing on the needs of people.

This is the most important characteristic of self-transcendence. 

2. Self-transcendent people experience a shift in their values. Such people are driven more due to intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic motivation.

They seek internal pleasure rather than external rewards and materialistic wishes. 

3. Self-transcendent people consider moral values more than other people.

They stand high in terms of morality and only focus on doing and saying things that are right in real terms.

4. Self-transcendent people experience high-intensity emotions. These high-intensity emotions can be a result of all of the above-mentioned characteristics.

The emotions they experience include ecstasy, awe, amazement, feeling high and so forth.  

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow introduced a triangle showing the hierarchy of needs.

The base of the triangle listed the primary needs of the individual that needs to be fulfilled before going on the higher levels. 

The tip of the triangle referred to the self-actualization needs, which was considered the highest level of need until Maslow discovered self-transcendence.

Maslow wanted to add self-transcendence as the highest hierarchy of need in his model before his death. 

Abraham Maslow presented Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943, in “Psychological Review” and then in his book “Motivation and Personality” in 1954.

His model was appreciated and used as a popular framework in researches related to sociology and management training. 

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there is a hierarchy of needs that needs to be fulfilled, starting from the very basic needs of the individual to the highest level of needs.

According to his model, the primary needs of the individuals need to be fulfilled in order to reach a higher level and this continues until the individual reaches the topmost need, which is self-actualization.

The fulfillment of primary needs motivates the individual to achieve the secondary needs and when the individual achieves them, he craves to accomplish the even higher needs.

The motivation to achieve higher-order needs and rise higher towards improvement was termed as  “meta motivation” by Maslow.  

Maslow presented his hierarchy of needs in the form of a triangle or a pyramid, to make the hierarchy easier to understand although the pyramid failed to represent that motivations from various levels of need can also occur at the same time. 

The different levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are physiological needs, safety needs, love and belongingness, esteem needs, and self-actualization. These needs are in order of primary to high-order needs. 

Physiological needs refer to the primary needs including air, sleep, food, water, shelter, clothes and so forth.

Safety needs include protection from being hurt, financial security, health, and well-being.

Love and belongingness needs include the need to be loved, friendship, intimacy, and relationships.

Esteem needs include the need to be respected, the need to be accepted by society, importance, and status.

Self-actualization needs include the need to identify the full potential of oneself.

What is Transcendence?

Transcendence can be defined in various ways by various people. According to Maslow: 

  • “Transcendence refers the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos. (Holism in the sense of hierarchical integration is assumed; so also is cognitive and value isomorphism.)”
  • “Transcendence of self—living at the level of Being—is assumed to be most possible for the person with a strong and free identity, i.e., for the self-actualizing person.”

When Maslow developed the hierarchy of needs model, he mentioned self-actualization as the highest level of need.

Maslow stated various characteristics of self-actualized people but later on discovered that he mixed up the characteristics of self-transcendent people with those of self-actualized people.

In real terms, Maslow identified that self-transcendence is a higher level need, having more defined peak experiences than self-actualization. 

According to Maslow, the peak experiences are defined as the “feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision, the feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before, the feeling of great ecstasy and wonder and awe, the loss of placing in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject is to some extent transformed and strengthened even in his daily life by such experiences.”

Since self-actualized people experience what he had explained in his saying, he started believing that peak experiences indicate that the individual has crossed the level of self and has become more than self. In his words:

“As (self-actualized individual) gets to be more purely and singly himself he is more able to fuse with the world, with what was formerly not-self, for example, the lovers come closer to forming a unit rather than two people, the I-Thou monism becomes more possible, the creator becomes one with his work being created, the mother feels one with her child.”

This is considered as the missing part of Maslow’s humanistic psychology tradition.

Self- transcendence is experienced in a number of cultures especially eastern cultures and the cultures in which shamans are worshipped, hence it would be an act of ignorance if self-transcendence is not added to any model of human development such as Maslow’s hierarchy f needs model.

Later on, Maslow realized how he could restore the western idea of self-actualization. In his words: 

“The goal of identity [self-actualization] seems to be simultaneously an end-goal in itself, and also a transitional goal, a rite of passage, a step along the path to the transcendence of identity. … If our goal is the Eastern one of ego-transcendence and obliteration, of leaving behind self-consciousness and self-observation, … then it looks as if the best path to this goal for most people is via achieving identity, a strong real self, and via basic-need-gratification.”

Hence human beings feel a need to identify their true self and express themselves as their true selves but once this need is satisfied,  some of the people wish to go beyond their self, so they can achieve goals that they feel they can not accomplish like this. 

The following are some books you can read to increase you knowledge about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs transcendence. 

What are transcendence needs?

Self-transcendence is referred to as putting one’s needs aside and focusing on the needs of others.

It means to serve others rather than living life for oneself. In doing so, individuals start to experience what Maslow called peak experiences.

This is when they reach they have rised above the level of self. 

What is an example of transcendence?

Transcendence means to be extraordinary to be above the level of self. An example of transcendence includes being able to talk to God. 

What is the concept of transcendence?

The word transcendence is derived from a Latin prefix “trans”, that means “beyond” and the word “scandare” which means “to climb”.

Self-transcendence is referred to as crossing the level of self. It means to go beyond ordinary limitations.

The word transcendence is often used for describing the state of spirituality or religiousness or a condition in which the individual moves beyond the physical needs and realities. 

How do you achieve self-actualization?

Self-actualization can be achieved in five steps. First of all, you need to identify your strengths. Then learn how to remain in your circle.

After this form a personalized vision for the kind of person, you are becoming.

Next, create a personal developement plan and at the last, walk towards the path of self-mastery. 

What are the 3 aspects of transcendence?

The three kinds of transcendence are ego transcendence, self-transcendence, and spiritual transcendence.

What is the main idea of self-actualization?

Self-actualization is a concept put forward by humanistic psychology and has been used by Maslow in his hierarchy of needs model.

In view of Maslow, self-actualization is the highest level of need. It is the need to become aware of oneself, the need to find the meaning of life.

This blog aimed to give you a detail on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs transcendence.

This blog included Maslow’s sayings to help you understand his views about self-transcendence, more clearly.

Your reviews about this blog are welcomed in the comments section. If you have any queries, let us know. We will be glad to assist you.  


What is transcendence? The True Top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs BY KYLE KOWALSKI

Maslow’s forgotten pinnacle: Self-transcendence by MATT DAVIS (2019)

Self-Transcendence, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Experience Economy by Sean Van Tyne (2018) 

What is Self-Transcendence? Definition and 6 Examples (+ PDF) by Courtney E. Ackerman (2020)

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