Abraham Maslow was born April 1, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. He was 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 became very lonely as a boy, and finds his refuge in books.
To satisfy his parents, he first studied law at the City College of New York (CCNY). Later he moved to Wisconsin so that he can attend the University of Wisconsin. Here, he fell in love with psychology, and his work began to improve dramatically.
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 moved back to New York to work with E. L. Thorndike at Columbia, where Maslow became interested in research on human sexuality.
Starting 1951, Abraham Maslow served as the chairman of the psychology department at Brandeis for 10 years. Through this office he met Kurt Goldstein who introduced him to the idea of self-actualization and here is where Maslow began his own theoretical work. It is also here that he began his crusade for a humanistic psychology, which was ultimately much more important to him than his own theorizing.
The Hierarchy of Needs model of Abraham Maslow
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.
These are dealing with achieving of stability and of consistency in a complex world. These needs are mostly psychological in nature. We need the safety of a home, family, friends; the protection of the law and law enforcers; and the knowing and assurance that we are safe within our environment. The aggression of the Jewish state is arguably resulted from the feeling of belonging to historically unfriendly neighbourhood. The East Asian overseas Chinese conglomerates unwillingness to commit to long term thinking mode is said to have been caused by their experience of the limited acceptance of their adopted countries; the dualities of the law; and black sheep seeking political backlashes experience that remain fresh in the memory of many.
Love and belongingness needs
Next up on the ladder is the need of us human to belong to family/friends/packs/groups/clubs – to a community where we are assured of the existence of companions, warmth and comfort. We want to feel loved (not necessarily sexual) by others, to be accepted by others. Performing artists are appreciating applause. We need to be needed. Compare: Hawthorne Effect
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 need but wanting admiration is related to the need for power.
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, aesthetic experiences, spiritual and religious pursuits, etc.
Care should be taken not to stick too rigidly to this hierarchy:
In reality, people don’t work necessarily climb up from one Maslow’s needs steps to the next. We, in reality, are much less structured in the way they satisfy their needs. Different people with different cultural backgrounds and in different situations may have different hierarchies of need.
Other researchers claim that other needs are also significant or even more significant. See McClelland, who identified needs for achievement, affiliation and power. In fact by 1968, Maslow has himself added additional layers in his book: “Toward a Psychology of Being”.
Not-with-standing, the original five-layer-version remains for most people the original Hierarchy of Needs.