Hierarchy of Needs
SOUTH GEORGIA TECHNICAL COLLEGE
Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow was born on April 1, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the first born of seven. His parents were uneducated Jewish immigrants from Russia to the United States before he was born. They came to America to get away from the harsh conditions and socio-political turmoil. His parents, hoping for their children to do better than they did, pushed for educational excellence. He grew up with almost no friends to play with because his father would make him study for long hours. When Maslow wasn’t busy studying, he was assisting his father to make end meet. He was a very lonely boy who spent a lot of his time with his nose in a book. He read works of Freud, Jung, Pavlov. He took a huge interest in psychology. To please his parents he first studied Law at the City College in New York City. After three semesters he couldn’t bare to take another Law class therefore he switched his major to psychology and transferred to Cornell, and then back to the City College. In 1930, Maslow finished up his bachelors in psychology from the University of Wisconsin. Maslow had a thirst for knowledge and received his masters in 1931 and then his doctorate in 1934 both in psychology.
Abraham Maslow is known for establishing the theory of a hierarchy of needs, writing that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied; this was a major reason I wanted to pick Maslow to write about because of his theory. This theory interests me, and I understand the meaning of it clearly. Maslow studied exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglas rather than mentally ill or neurotic people. This was a radical departure from two of the chief schools of psychology of his day: Freud and B.F. Skinner. Freud saw little difference between the motivations of humans and animals. We are supposedly rational beings; however, we do not act that way. Such pessimism, Maslow believed, was the result of Freud's study of mentally ill people. "The study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy" (Maslow, Abraham. Motivation and Personality). Skinner, on the other hand, studied how pigeons and white rats learn. His motivational models were based on simple rewards such as food and water, sex, and avoidance of pain. Say "sit" to your dog and give the dog a treat when it sits, and-after several repetitions--the dog will sit when you command it to do so. Maslow thought that psychologists should instead study the playfulness, affection, etc., of animals. He also believed that Skinner discounted things that make humans different from each other. Instead, Skinner relied on statistical descriptions of people.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs was an alternative to the depressing determinism of Freud and Skinner. He felt that people are basically trustworthy, self-protecting, and self-governing. Humans tend toward growth and love. Although there is a continuous cycle of human wars, murder, deceit, etc., he believed that violence is not what human nature is meant to be like. Violence and other evils occur when human needs are thwarted. In other words, people who are deprived of lower needs such as safety may defend themselves by violent means. He did not believe that humans are violent because they enjoy violence. Or that they lie, cheat, and steal because they enjoy doing it.
According to Maslow, there are general types of needs (physiological, safety, love, and esteem) that must be satisfied before a person can act unselfishly. He called these needs "deficiency needs." As long as we are motivated to satisfy these cravings, we are moving towards growth, toward self-actualization. Satisfying needs is healthy; blocking gratification makes us sick or evil. In other words, we are all "needs junkies" with cravings that must be satisfied and should be satisfied. Else, we become sick.
Needs are proponent. A proponent need is one that has the greatest influence over our actions. Everyone has a proponent need, but that need will vary among individuals. A teenager may have a need to feel that a group accepts him. A heroin addict will need to satisfy his/her cravings for heroin to function normally in society, and will not worry about acceptance by other people. According to Maslow, when the deficiency needs are met:
At once other and higher needs emerge, and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new and still higher needs emerge, and so on. As one desire is satisfied, another pops up to take its place.
Physiological needs 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.
Safety needs have to do with establishing stability and consistency in a chaotic world. These needs are mostly psychological in nature. We need the security of a home and family. However, if a family is dysfunction, i.e., an abusive husband, the wife cannot move to the next level because she is constantly concerned for her safety. Love and belongings have to wait until she is no longer cringing 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. Many people, particularly those in the inner cities, unfortunately, are stuck at this level. In addition, safety needs sometimes motivate people to be religious. Religions comfort us with the promise of a safe secure place after we die and leave the insecurity of this world.
Love and belongings are next on the ladder. Humans have a desire to belong to groups: clubs, work groups, religious groups, family, gangs, etc. We need to feel loved non-sexual by others, to be accepted by others. Performers appreciate applause. We need to be needed. Beer commercials, in addition to playing on sex, also often show how beer makes for camaraderie. When was the last time you saw a beer commercial with someone drinking beer alone?
There are two types of esteem needs. First is self-esteem, which results from competence or mastery of a task. Second, there's the attention and recognition that comes from others. This is similar to the belongings level, however, wanting admiration has to do with the need for power. People who have all of their lower needs satisfied, often drive very expensive cars because doing so raises their level of esteem.
Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who is considered to be the father of humanistic psychology. His greatest contribution to the humanist movement was his hierarchy of needs, which said that basic physical needs must be met first before people can realize their full potential; In which it was widely accepted (Boyd, Natalie. 2014, October 14).
People who have everything can maximize their potential. They can seek knowledge, peace, esthetic experiences, self-fulfillment, and oneness with God, etc. It is usually middle-class to upper-class students who take up environmental causes, join the Peace Corps, go off to a monastery, etc. This leaves us wondering why we need self-actualization in our lives? Self-actualization is the desire to understand yourself, who you are and who you’re capable of becoming.
Work Cited Page
Boyd, Natalie (2014, October 14) Abraham Maslow's Contribution to the Humanistic Movement in Psychology. https://study.com/academy/lesson/abraham-maslows-contribution-to-the-humanistic-movement-in-psychology.html
Maslow, Abraham. (1954). Motivation and personality. Oxford, England: Harpers.