Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Road to Self-Actualization PSY 330: Theories of Personality January 30th, 2012 Abraham Maslow: Hierarchy of Needs and the Road to Self-Actualization Abraham Maslow was an American theorist that was one of the advocates of humanistic psychology. He believed that self-actualization is “a situation that exists when a person is acting in accordance with his or her full potential” (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2011).
I will illustrate the key concepts of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs of humans, research the methodologies of his concept, and address how self-actualization has conceptualized on this type of personality development. His contribution to humanistic psychology has helped self-help enthusiasts, educators, and business proprietors alike. Maslow’s hierarchy of need was one of the main theories that assisted in paving the route to what he believed was self-actualization.
Because Positive regard assists in the growth of motivation, there are certain essential functional needs that human needs, and Humans can fulfill their full potential in a positive manner. Who was Abraham H. Maslow? Abraham Maslow was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 1, 1908. His parents were immigrants from Russia who were poor and had six other children after Abraham. He spent his time mostly by himself and liked to read. Being that he was Jewish in a neighborhood that was not he felt unhappy and lonely.
As a child he had parents that were emotionally and verbally abusive towards him and over time he grew to have strong feelings of hatred especially for his mother. He eventually made amends with his father, but never did so with his mother. When Maslow transferred from City College of New York to Cornell University in 1927; his introduction to Psychology was unexceptional at best. Maslow’s professor Edward B. Tichener lectured “scientific introspection” that he found to be “cold and boring, and caused him to lose interest in psychology temporarily” (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2011). A year later he went back to City College of New York.
He went on to the University of Wisconsin where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in 1930, his Master’s Degree in 1931, and his Doctoral Degree in 1934. While living in Wisconsin, “Maslow married his first cousin and childhood sweetheart, Bertha Goodman, and they eventually had two children” (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2011). In the mid 1930’s, Maslow worked as a Carnegie fellow for 18 months under theorist Edward L. Thorndike. Thorndike’s theories were similar to the studies of theorists Pavlov and B. F. Skinner. He theorized “animal intelligence and applied animal to human educational experiences” (Indiana. edu, 2012).
Thorndike emphasis was on Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis. The type of people he was interested in like Albert Einstein were people that had solid evidence of them doing whatever they needed to do to achieve their highest potential. Maslow found their innovative ways of creativity to be one that needed to be studied and examined. Throughout the 1940’s and early 1950’s he continued to strengthen his interest with people that he considered to be “self-actualizers, looking back at history, he studied individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, Jane Adams, Albert Einstein and Albert Schweitzer” (strenghtfoundation. rg).
By the late 1950’s, along with Clark Moustakeas, who was another revolutionary psychologist, set up “two meetings that were held in Detroit among psychologists who were interested in founding a professional association dedicated to a more meaningful, more humanistic vision” (strenghtfoundation. org). This was where the “Third Force”, Humanistic Psychology began to take form. Many topics were discussed that fell under the same umbrella on how self-actualization is manifested and what were the building blocks of one’s originality.
Three years after the meetings Brandels University sponsored the introduction of the “American Association for Humanistic Psychology” (strenghtfoundation. org). This was the beginning of one of the groundbreaking contributions to Psychology Abraham Maslow has done. Another way that Maslow has contributed to Psychology by making sure through gatherings, meetings, lectures, and theory that the matter of humanistic psychology is just as valuable and needed to be taught as that of Pavlov’s theory of behaviorism and that of Freudian’s psychoanalysis theory.
As a prophet of human potential, Maslow believed the realization of one’s total potential variously described as self-realization to be the ultimate goal of all human kind” (Dhiman, 2007). He did this with extensive research and by working with theorist that shared the same interests, like Carl Rogers. He did his bit on teaching at a university, but quickly found out that he did not like it very much and had the students teach the class as he monitored. The times that he did lecture the class, he asked questions that broaden the horizons of how the student saw themselves in the future.
The questions were similar to “Who wants to be president? “Or a great composer”, and even an aspiration to be a saint? ” (Dhiman, 2007). I believe this gave the students a platform to start thinking of a broader prospective for them and create what they needed to build their motivation to do and be anything that they can imagine to be. This drive or push in their self-esteem is one of the best ways to feel like they are needed and wanted. According to a book written and reviewed by R.J Lowry, it was an assembly of eight articles that were written by Maslow and his research on humans and the “character structure”; one of the articles depicted his “theory of human motivation and his concept on the hierarchy of human needs” (Lowry, 1975).
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human needs is one of his most popular theories. Maslow’s focal point on his theory of motivation was the concept was that humans have a set of needs. According to our text, the “hierarchy of human needs is an arrangement of the needs from lowest to highest in terms of their potency” (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2011). see figure1). Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [pic] Figure 1, Maslow Enhanced 2011. This figure illustrates the various levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was one of the main theories that assisted in paving the route to what he believed was self-actualization.
The lowest part of the pyramid is the Biological and Physiological needs. One would think that basic life needs like “air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, etc. , would be an essential need. How would we as humans, be able to live without it. To Maslow he didn’t look at it that way. According to Maslow, psychology has overemphasized the importance of such needs in determining the behavior of humans in a modern society; a person’s life cannot be dominated by hunger or thirst” (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2011). He was interested in knowing what happens when the needs of the physiological nature have been met. The second tier on the pyramid is Safety Needs. Feeling safe and secure means so much for many. Having that need builds a sense of trust that everything is going to be alright. It is of great gratification for humans that are able to not worry about harm.
Inching closer to the top and in actuality right in the middle is my favorite, Love Needs and Belongingness. This tier incorporates the need of affection, relationships, family, etc. Making a connection to a person and/or group is a very important need to some individuals. I’ve seen that the lack of this need has left some individuals feeling lonely and not having a sense of purpose. In some cases, these individuals ended up being very depressed. The fourth tier that is closest to the top and the second most important tier is Esteem Needs.
According to the Journal of Asset Management, esteem needs are “the desire for achievement, confidence to face the world, independence, freedom, the desire for reputation and prestige, recognition, attention, and importance” (De Brouwer, 2009). I would think that these are the needs that one needs in order to build self-esteem. These needs include “respect, recognition, and confidence” (strenghtfoundation. org). Having this type of need is important in any dynamic of family, employees, friendship, and companionship. Feeling validated and a sense of importance can be viewed as really important, it did to Maslow.
He advised that lack of esteem needs “results in discouragement and feelings of inferiority” (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2011). The final and top tier is self-actualization. Self-actualization “the highest level in the hierarchy of needs, which can be reached only if the preceding need levels have been adequately satisfied” (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2011). This is where the individual is living and being at their highest potential. The tier describes it as reaching the need of personal growth and fulfillment. As a student, I know that I am doing whatever there is possible to reach this need.
I did once with my job. I felt that whatever task and/or issue that I was given gave me the necessary tools and resources to help me feel that I was on the right track of achieving this very need. Since then I was laid off with hundreds of others. I have yet found a job that I could feel that way again. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been used as a backdrop for corporate markets, economic structures, and personality development. For example, Maslow’s theory has been used to “predict development of Quality of Life in countries over time” (Hagerty, 1999).
This prediction was done to a series of “88 countries from 1960-1994” (Hagerty, 1999). All were being researched against Maslow’s level of needs. Could humans and/or even countries strive and achieve growth and potential coming from a terrible circumstance. Do they have to have these needs in place to transition to the next level? Some people thought that Maslow’s theory could be challenged. A writer of an article about Maslow wrote: “that there were many people who have grown despite or even because of tough circumstances” (strenghtfoundation. org).
Maslow did have some doubts but still stood by on how people thrive through a hopeful atmosphere. Human nature has shown differences and what are alike in this hierarchy of needs. Most of the examples are in social atmospheres. Teenagers for example seek acceptance from their peers. As a teen, I wanted to feel I was part of my group and I wanted them to like me. I saw how the treated those that they didn’t care for and I did not want that to happen to me. As I grew older I didn’t really have that need of acceptance. I see that my son as a young boy doesn’t care if he is accepted or not.
He has friends, but he feels that he doesn’t have to jump through hoop to keep them or make them like him. Generally, it is common for most individuals to want to feel safe and secure. Having a sense of fear is not healthy. It can bring forth anxiety that could be detrimental to other areas in their life. Many humans see that they can’t live without the physiological need. If I was asked before reading more about the hierarchy of needs, I would say that that would be the most important need. If we don’t eat we will not survive. Maslow has me thinking twice.
This need is a never ending cycle and we have to meet it. The other needs to some could be conditional or something that they don’t deem to be important. A healthy outlook would be that of seeing these needs as a transitional platform to move on to the next goal. Some of the time we don’t get everything aligned together and needs met when they are supposed to. These are the times when an individual can find that this experience could be difficult to deal with. This would be an example to be unhealthy. Some people would obsess on the fact that they are lacking, lonely, and not achieving their highest potential.
Most people don’t really know how to handle these circumstances and deal with them on a negative way. Others know how to look at the glass as half full then half empty and take a more positive approach to achieving their needs. Maslow believed that “all human needs including the need for self-actualization were instinctoid, it must be the environment (society, culture) that determines the highest level of attainment in the hierarchy of needs” (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2011). In my experience, the needs that are described in Maslow’s hierarchy are those that I am constantly tried to move up to and maintain for as long as I remember.
The some such as love needs, physiological, and safety needs are constantly going in and out of not being met. I know that I don’t live my life dwelling on what I don’t have. I believe very much in myself that I would be able to have those needs met. In conclusion, theory of the achieving the goal to self-actualization relies on the hierarchy of needs that I have illustrated in depth. Individuals are given the opportunity to achieve these needs and move up higher in the tier. Maslow’s hierarchy of need was one of the main theories that assisted in paving the route to what he believed was self-actualization.
Because Positive regard assists in the growth of motivation, there are certain essential functional needs that human needs, and humans can fulfill their full potential in a positive manner. References: Hergenhahn, B. & Olson, M. (2011). An introduction to theories of personality (8th ed). De Brouwer, P.. (2009). Maslowian Portfolio Theory: An alternative formulation of the Behavioural Portfolio Theory. Journal of Asset Management, 9(6), 359-365. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1645869911). Dhiman, S.. (2007). Personal Mastery: Our Quest for Self-Actualization,
Meaning, and Highest Purpose. Interbeing, 1(1), 25-35. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1680535071 Lowry, R. J. (1975). Dominance, Self Esteem, Self-Actualization: Germinal Papers. Contemporary Sociology, 4(5), 556-557. Retrieved January 24, 2012, from the Jstor database. Hagerty, Michael R. (1999). Testing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: National quality-of-life across time. Social Indicators Research, 46(3), 249-271. Retrieved January 30, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 42213750). Figure 1, Maslow Enhanced | CIBU – California International Business University. (2011, March 14).
Bachelor Degree, MBA Program, Doctor of Business Administration: CIBU – California International Business University. Retrieved January 27, 2012, from http://cibu. edu/general-posts/maslow-enhanced/ Human Intelligence: Edward L. Thorndike. (2012, January 26). Indiana University. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from http://www. indiana. edu/~intell/ethorndike Abraham Maslow’s work on strengths – The Strengths Foundation. (n. d. ). Welcome to The Strengths Foundation – Sharing the Strengths Way of Encouraging People. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from http://www. thestrengthsfoundation. org/3-tips-for-understanding-abraham-maslows-work-on-strengths
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