The Satisfaction of Human Needs in Physical and Virtual Spaces

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This article attempts to explore the spatial dimension of Maslow's theory on the hierarchy of human needs, in light of the growing role of virtual space via the Internet in the contemporary information age. Generally speaking, virtual space constitutes a space for the gratification of human needs, side by side with physical space. Its role, as compared to physical space, grows along the hierarchy of human needs: physiology, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Thus, its role for the gratification of physiological needs is complementary, whereas its role for self-actualization is significant. The growing role of virtual space has evolved into an equivalent hierarchical relationship with physical space: complementarity, competition, substitution, escape, and, potentially also exclusivity. Escape from physical to virtual space, as both need and relationship, has been brought about by social networking, being similar to the physical escape offered by tourism. It does not seem real to foresee that virtual space will offer exclusive fulfillment of as of yet unforeseen new human needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-546
Number of pages9
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Association of American Geographers.


  • competition
  • complementarity
  • escape
  • exclusivity
  • substitution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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