Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 541–555 | Cite as

Comparing the effects of low-level and high-level worker need-satisfaction: A synthesis of the self-determination and Maslow need theories

  • Elena Rasskazova
  • Tatiana Ivanova
  • Kennon SheldonEmail author
Original Paper


According to Maslow’s (Psychol Rev 50:370–396, 1943) hierarchical theory of needs, people do not become sensitized to “higher” level needs until they have satisfied their “lower” level needs (a moderator hypothesis); until then, they are unprepared to benefit from higher-level satisfactions. But according to the self-determination theory (SDT) model, high-level psychological needs, when met, are non-contingently beneficial (a main effect-only hypothesis). In two large-N studies of Russian energy companies, we measured low-level need-satisfaction in terms of felt security and felt financial satisfaction, and measured high-level need satisfaction in terms of SDT’s basic needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. In both studies, both the lower level and higher level need-satisfaction sets had strong main effects upon many positive work outcomes, including intrinsic motivation, organizational commitment, and SWB. In Study 2, Maslow’s “prepared to benefit” hypothesis was supported, in that satisfaction of high-level needs had slightly larger effects on outcomes when combined with satisfaction of low-level needs. However this was not found in Study 1. Potentials for integrating the SDT and Maslow need theories are discussed.


Psychological needs Basic needs Maslow’s theory Self-determination theory Organizations in Russia Well-being at work Work engagement 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standard

Compliance with ethical standards: All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Rasskazova
    • 1
  • Tatiana Ivanova
    • 1
  • Kennon Sheldon
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and MotivationNational Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia
  2. 2.University of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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