Hierarchy of Needs

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Five layers of human needs. Explanation of Hierarchy of Needs of Maslow. ('54)



Abraham Maslow biography

Abraham Maslow Hierarchy of NeedsAbraham Maslow is born April 1, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. He is the first of seven children born to his parents, who themselves are poorly educated Jewish immigrants from Russia. His parents hope for the best for their children in the new world and push him hard for academic success. Not surprisingly, he becomes very lonely as a boy, and finds his refuge in books.

To satisfy his parents, he first studies law at the City College of New York (CCNY). He marries Bertha Goodman, his first grand niece, against his parents wishes. Abe and Bertha go on to have two daughters.

Abraham Maslow and Bertha move to Wisconsin so that he can attend the University of Wisconsin. Here, he becomes interested in psychology, and his school work begins to improve dramatically. There he is working with Harry Harlow. Harlow is famous for his experiments with baby rhesus monkeys and attachment behavior.

Abraham Maslow receives his BA in 1930, his MA in 1931, and his PhD in 1934, all in psychology, all from the University of Wisconsin. A year after graduation, he moves back to New York to work with E. L. Thorndike at Columbia, where Maslow becomes interested in research on human sexuality.

He begins teaching full time at Brooklyn College. During this period of his life, he comes into contact with the many European intellectuals that are immigrating towards the US and towards Brooklyn in particular. People such as Adler, Fromm, Horney, as well as several Gestalt psychologists and Freudian psychologists.

In 1951, Abraham Maslow serves as the chairman of the psychology department at Brandeis for 10 years, where he meets Kurt Goldstein. Goldstein introduces him to the idea of self-actualization and Maslow begins his own theoretical work. It is also here that he begins his crusade for a humanistic psychology, which was ultimately much more important to him than his own theorizing. He spends the last years of his life in semi-retirement in California. On June 8 1970, he dies of a heart attack after years of ill health.

The Hierarchy of Needs model of Abraham Maslow

Hierarchy of NeedsHierarchy of Needs - Physiological needs

These are the very basic needs such as air, water, food, sleep, sex, etc. When these are not satisfied we may feel sickness, irritation, pain, discomfort, etc. These feelings motivate us to alleviate them as soon as possible to establish homeostasis. Once they are alleviated, we may think about other things.

Hierarchy of Needs - Safety needs

These are dealing with achieving of stability and of consistency in a chaotic world. These needs are mostly psychological in nature. We need the safety of a home and family. However, if a family is dysfunctional caused by for example an abusive husband, the wife cannot move to the next level. Because she is constantly concerned for her safety. Love and belongingness have to wait until she is no longer in fear. Many in our society cry out for law and order because they do not feel safe enough to go for a walk in their neighborhood.

Hierarchy of Needs - Love and belongingness needs

These are next on the ladder. Humans have a desire to belong to groups: clubs, work groups, religious groups, family, gangs, etc. We want to feel loved (non-sexual) by others, to be accepted by others. Performing artists are appreciating applause. We need to be needed. Compare: Hawthorne Effect

Hierarchy of Needs - Self-Esteem needs

There are two types of esteem needs. The first is the self-esteem which is the result from competence or mastery of a task. Second, there's the attention and recognition that comes from others. This is similar to the belongingness level, however, wanting admiration is related to the need for power.

Hierarchy of Needs - The need for self-actualization

This is "the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming." People who have everything can maximize their potential. They can seek knowledge, peace, esthetic experiences, self-fulfillment, oneness with God, etc.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs model was developed between 1943-1954, and first widely published in Motivation and Personality in 1954. At this time the Hierarchy of Needs model comprised five needs. Maslow's most popular book is Toward a Psychology of Being (1968), in which more layers were added.

Limitations of the Hierarchy of Needs model. Disadvantages

Care should be taken not to stick too rigidly to this hierarchy:

  • In reality, people don't work necessarily one by one through these levels. They are much less structured in the way they satisfy their needs. (Graves)
  • Different people with different cultural backgrounds and in different situations may have different hierarchies of need. (Hofstede, Early)
  • Other researchers claim that other needs are also significant or even more significant. See McClelland, who identified needs for achievement, affiliation and power.
  • In 1968, Maslow has himself added additional layers in his book: "Toward a Psychology of Being".

Despite of the above, the original five-layer-version still remains for most people the original Hierarchy of Needs.

Book: Abraham Maslow - Toward a Psychology of Being -

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