The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow (April 1, 1908June 8, 1970) was a psychologist. He is mostly noted today for his proposal of a hierarchy of human needs.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Maslow was the first of seven children of Jewish Russian immigrants to the United States. His parents were uneducated, but they insisted that he study law. At first, Abraham acceded to their wishes and enrolled in the City College of New York. However, after three semesters, he transferred to the University of Wisconsin, where he received his B.A. (1930), his M.A. (1931), and his Ph.D. (1934) in psychology. He studied with Harry Harlow, who was famous for his studies of rhesus monkeys and attachment behavior. A year after graduation, he returned to New York to work with E. L. Thorndike at Columbia.

Maslow first taught at Brooklyn College. During this time he met many leading European psychologists, including Alfred Adler and Erich Fromm. In 1951, Maslow became the chairman of the psychology department at Brandeis University, where he began his theoretical work. There, he met Kurt Goldstein , who introduced him to the idea of self-actualization.

He retired to California, where he died of a heart attack after years of ill health.


Hierarchy of Human Needs

Maslow's primary contribution to psychology is his Hierarchy of Human Needs, which he often presented as a pyramid, with self-actualization at the top as the highest of those needs. The base of the pyramid is the physiological needs, which are necessary for survival. Once these are taken care of, an individual can concentrate on the second layer, the need for safety and security. The third layer is the need for love and belonging, followed by the need for esteem. Finally, self-actualization forms the apex of the pyramid.

In this scheme, the first four layers are what Maslow called deficency needs or D-needs . If they are not filled, you feel anxiety and attempt to fill them. If they are filled, you feel nothing; you feel only the lack. Each layer also takes precedence over the layer above it; you do not feel the lack of safety and security until your physiological needs are taken care of, for example. In Maslow's terminology, a need does not become salient until the needs below it are met.

Needs beyond the D-needs are "growth needs ", "being values" or B-needs. When fulfilled, they do not go away, rather, they motivate further. He outlines about 14 of these values or B-needs , including beauty, meaning, truth, wholeness, justice, order, simplicity, richness, etc.


Aggridants is a term coined by Maslow to refer to the biologically superior and dominant individual.


The Right to be Human by Edward Hoffman


Further reading

  • Mook, D.G. (1987). Motivation: The Organization of Action. London: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd (ISBN: 0393954749)
  • Wahba, M.A. & Bridwell, L. G. (1976). Maslow Reconsidered: A Review of Research on the Need Hierarchy Theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 15, 212-240

Interesting quotes

"If every tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

External links

Last updated: 10-16-2005 04:05:42
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