Abraham Maslow Biography of the Scientist

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Abraham Maslow was a psychologist, the father of humanistic psychology, who lived in the 20th century, his ideas revolutionized some aspects of the discipline, and many found application in the business environment. His most recognized contribution is the pyramid of needs. Every middle manager today knows Maslow's Pyramid, but Maslow himself soon abandoned his first attempt to build a holistic model of human motivation because it did not stand up to the test of facts. And he developed another, then a third, but only professionals know them, and even then, not all of them.

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Biography of the Scientist

Abraham Maslow was born on April 1, 1908, in New York to Jewish immigrant parents from Kyiv, Ukraine, Samuel Maslow, and Rose. Abraham’s modest childhood passed without many friends due to his Jewish heritage. Maslow had family conflicts caused by the attraction he felt for his cousin Bertha Goodman, whom he married in 1928. Having taken this step, he felt the strength in himself to leave the influence of his parents and return to his studies. He managed to complete his studies and receive his doctorate in 1934, during the studies he conducted experimental research on the behavior of primates. He also published his first article "Delayed Response" in Comparative Psychology in 1932 (Cherry). Maslow appeared to have been fascinated by human reactions to the surrounding world as well as people’s motivation.

In 1935, Maslow began working under Edward Thorndike at Columbia University. Here he developed extensive research into women's sexuality, at which point Maslow put forward some ideas about personal fulfillment that were dismissed as unscientific. In 1937, he published "Personality and Cultural Patterns" in Ross Stagner's The Psychology of Personality. In the first version of his theory of motivation, Maslow divided basic needs into five groups:

  • physiological;
  • security needs;
  • in contacts and love;
  • in respect and self-respect;
  • in self-actualization.

They form a hierarchy: lower needs are more urgent, and until they are closed, all forces are directed to their satisfaction; then the turn comes to the next levels (Stoyanov 42). However, the idea of ​​a sequential order of satisfaction of needs did not come together well practically, hence, Maslow had to change the approach.

Maslow discovered a special type of people (there are no more than 1%) who most fully embody the highest human characteristics. He called them self-actualizing personalities, borrowing from the German psychologist Kurt Goldstein the concept of self-actualization, motivation to develop all the possibilities inherent in the body. The number of such people is small because the majority of the needs of lower levels are not satisfied, and it does not come to self-actualization. However, in a new version of his theory, Maslow recognized that self-actualization is available to everyone, even those who sometimes lack the necessary (Stoyanov 60). This theory supported the notion of human consciousness being the highest driving force behind motivation, with human thrive to self-actualize being a deliberate choice regardless of the circumstances.

In every person's life, there are the most acute sensations of happiness and ecstasy that can change our whole life. At the moments of these peak experiences, the picture of the world is transformed in such a way that an ordinary person becomes self-actualizing for some time. Everyone has such moments, but some accept them, while others are frightened and try to protect themselves from them (Stoyanov 64). As a result of self-actualization, a mature personality enters a fundamentally different level of being, at which everything, and above all the person himself, changes so much that new psychology needs to be created for him. There are completely different driving forces, not needs, but existential values. The question "To be or not to be?" takes on new meaning at this level.


Maslow is considered the father of humanistic psychology, which postulates the existence of a basic human tendency towards mental health in the form of self-actualization processes. People will work better if conditions are created for updating and expanding their capabilities. Maslow refuted the notion that a person is lazy and self-serving and needs to be forced with a carrot and a stick to do what the employer needs. The corporate practice has proven over time that this approach is fundamentally much more effective than the traditional one.

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Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. "Abraham Maslow Is The Founder Of Humanistic Psychology". Verywell Mind, 2020, https://www.verywellmind.com/biography-of-abraham-maslow-1908-1970-2795524.

Stoyanov, Stoyan. An Analysis Of Abraham H. Maslow's A Theory Of Human Motivation. CRC Press, 2017.

June 23, 2022

Psychology Science

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