Maslow Abraham

Maslow Abraham

(1908-1970) American psychologist and member of the HUMANISTIC MOVEMENT in psychology, who developed a theory of motivation which was based on a hierarchy of needs (Motivation and Personality, 1954). He proposed that human needs can be categorized as: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and SELF-ACTUALIZATION. Higher needs cannot become important to the individual until lower needs have been satisfied. In Towards a Psychology of Being (1962) Maslow discussed how the uniqueness of the individual can be developed towards fulfilment, or self-actualization. This involves the achieving of potential, the fulfilling of being needs (which are distinguished from the deficiency needs of the lower levels of his hierarchy). To define his concept of self-actualization Maslow looked at the lives and personalities of people he considered to be self-actualized. He suggested that such people have greater acceptance of self and others, greater identification with humanity generally, higher levels of creativity and heightened perception, particularly of the natural world. Heightened awareness leads to peak experiences during which the individual feels ‘at one’ with the world.

Maslow's ideas have been taken up by a number of social philosophers and sociologists.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000