Abraham Maslow

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Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970) was born in Brooklyn, New York. He had seven siblings of which he was the eldest... His parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia and expected him to do well in his studies and be successful in the land of opportunity. Maslow first studied law at the City College of New York, transferring to Cornell University and then back to New York. He received his B.A. in psychology in 1930, his M.A. in psychology in 1931 and his PhD. in psychology in 1934. Dr. Maslow married his first cousin, Bertha Goodman, and had two children. (Boeree 2006)

Early in his career, Maslow studied with Harry Harlow and aided in research with Rhesus monkeys and observations of their behavior dealing with attachment. According to (Boeree 2006), it was during this time that Maslow’s interest in behavior began to increase. Dr. Maslow noticed that there were definite needs that took precedence over others such as water, food and shelter. It was during this time period that Maslow began to form his signature work, The Hierarchy of Needs. (Table i)

The Hierarchy of Needs developed by Abraham Maslow affirms that we as human beings are motivated by certain needs and that these needs are prioritized by importance. According to Boeree, the Hierarchy of Needs model aids our understanding of how these needs affect our everyday lives. Many different versions of Maslow’s original model have been developed to serve business and industry as well as personnel management entities. The original model stated that there were five stages of needs that built on one another.

The first of these needs is grounded in the physical domain and is labeled Biological and Physiological. This area is concerned with the basic needs of life such as: air, water, food, shelter, sleep, warmth, sex and etc. The next in Maslow’s Hierarchy is the Safety needs: they include law, security, order, limits and stability, as lower order needs are met the other needs in the hierarchy can be addressed. Belongingness and love are the next needs in the hierarchy and include need for family, affection, relationships, work relationships and groups. Esteem needs that include achievement, status, responsibility and reputation are next to last in the hierarchy of needs followed by self-actualization that includes personal growth and fulfillment.

In this inventory of needs the previous needs must be met before progress to the next level can begin At the lowest level of the hierarchy are psychological needs such as hunger and thirst, which must be attended to before one can deal with safety needs; those dealing with security and protection. The remaining levels are belonging and love, self-esteem and the need for self-actualization. This final need can be seen in a person’s desire to become all that he or she is capable of becoming.

The motivation to learn is intrinsic, it emanates from the learner. Self-actualization is the goal of learning, and educators should strive to bring this about. For Maslow, learning is not only a form of psychology but learning contributes to psychological health. (Chapman 2004)

According to Maslow, people are either primarily growth motivated or deficiency motivated; with deficiency-oriented people are more at the mercy or social and environmental forces. The higher impulses for truth, for love, for beauty were assumed to be intrinsically different in nature from these animal needs. The cumulative effect of these discrepancies is mediated by social and psychological variables such as age, sex, social class, sub environmental variables and the like. In this sense, the needs were assumed to be antagonistic, mutually exclusive and in conflict with each other. Maslow argues that complex human behavior is not reducible to simpler parts: “All culture, with all its instruments, is seen from such a point of view as on the side of the higher and against the lower. It is therefore necessarily an inhibitor and a frustrator, and is best an unfortunate necessity.” (Maslow 1954 p. 56)

In contrast to behaviorism views, Maslow’s emphasis is on human nature, human potential, human emotions, and effect. Maslow understood that learning involves more than cognitive processes and overt behavior. Maslow believed that human needs build upon one another, as one need is met and attained we as humans move on to fulfillment of other needs. As stated in Maslows, Toward a Psychology of Being, “the main prerequisite of healthy growth is gratification of these basic needs.” (Maslow, 1968) If needs are deficient or not met, we dedicate our actions toward accomplishing them. Much of Maslow’s theory, especially his ideas surrounding the Hierarchy of Needs, is being advanced in today’s training and adult vocational education. The role of the teacher must be, then, to arrange the learning environment to enable the student to fulfill his or her own unique potential through individual discovery and goal attainment.

As discussed in Politics and Innocence, Maslow supports a political view that encourages all citizens to participate and use their talents to improve conditions in which they exist. Each person should participate fully and be engaged in each decision that affects them. Group members should learn that sharing of power is more rewarding than using power to control others. People should be aware of the consequences that decisions they make produce and the effect those decisions have on other people. (May, Rogers, Maslow, 1986)


Boeree, C. George. (2006). Abraham Maslow. Biography. Retrieved October 6, 2008,

from http://www.webspace.ship.edu/egboer/maslow.html

Chapman, A. (2008).Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of

Needs motivational model. Retrieved October 6, 2008, from http://www.webspace.ship.edu/egboer/maslow.html

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (original five-stage model), alan chapman 2001-4, based

on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved October 6, 2008 from http://www.businessballs.com/maslow.html

May,R., Rogers, C., Maslow, A. (1986). Politics and Innocence, A Humanistic Debate.

Dallas: Saybrook Publishers.

Maslow, A. (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being. (3rd edition.). New York: John Wiley

and Sons, Inc.

Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and Personality. (3rd edition.). New York: Addison-

Wesley Educational Publishers Inc.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

(original five-stage model)

Esteem needs
achievement, status, responsibility, reputation

personal growth and fulfilment

Belongingness and Love needs
family, affection, relationships, work group, etc.

Safety needs
protection, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.

Biological and Physiological needs
basic life needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

According to Chapman 2004, Maslow’s development of his hierarchy of needs occurred between 1943 and 1954. In the 1970’s other needs were added to this list and include Cognitive – knowledge and meaning and Aesthetic – appreciation and search for beauty, balance and form

© design Alan Chapman 2001-7, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Not to be sold or published. More free online training resources are at www.businessballs.com. Alan Chapman accepts no liability.

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