Abraham Maslow: Biography Review

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The paper looks into rise of Abraham Maslow to a famous American psychologist. Also the paper discuses Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs theory, and how the theory is applicable. Abraham with much help from his mentors and borrowing ideas from other psychologists did much research and wrote on human needs and potential. By taking a group of certain people and analyzing their behavior he came about with his theory of hierarchy of human needs.

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He generalized human needs are arranged in a ladder with most basic needs at the lower level. He his theory he suggest that these needs are in five levels: the most bottom one called them the psychological needs which includes; water, air, food etc. The second level called safety needs which include the need for security of employment and life.

Love/ belonging are the third level which arise the need to have friends, family and being accepted in the community. The fourth level is the need to self-esteem where one wants to be respected as he/she respects others. And finally the self-actualization needs where one strive to become complete having fulfilled other four levels of needs.

The paper also looks in a case of application of the theory in an organization.

Abraham Maslow the theorist

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist, who is known for his framework on hierarchy of human needs. Born and raised on America in a family of seven, he describes his young age life as unhappy one. “I was the little Jewish boy in the non-Jewish neighborhood. “It was a little like being the first Negro enrolled in the all-white school I was isolated and unhappy” (Maslow, 1971, p.14).

His parents thought he would study law but he went ahead to attain his undergraduate degree in psychology. Abraham did an extraordinary thing by marring his own only cousin. With help of different mentors in every college he attended, he did much research on primate dominance.

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In New York, he met two mentors; one an Anthropologist and a psychologist. Their behavior and personality formed his basis on in research about mental health and human potential. Through borrowing from other psychologist in areas of hierarchy of needs, self actualization and experiences, he wrote much on his subject.

The Theory

Maslow believed that human needs arranged themselves in a ladder with the basic needs at the bottom and the most basic at top. “The most basic needs, at the bottom, were physical — air, water, food, sleep. Then safety needs of security, stability — followed by psychological or social needs — for belonging, love, and acceptance. At the top of it all were the self-actualizing needs — the need to fulfill oneself, to become all that one is capable of becoming” (Wahba, 1976, p. 214 ).

He felt that if one need at lower level was unfulfilled it would bar one from attaining or fulfilling another need at higher level. By observing certain kind of peoples personality he concluded that, the characteristics of self-actualizing people, were that; they focused more on problems outside of themselves and were creative. The peak of ones needs was reached at moments of happiness, love, understanding one feels more self sufficient and above all he is aware of truth and justice.

In his study he noticed that some needs were more basic than others. He realized when one is faced with two kinds of needs he was in position to decide which one to fulfill first depending on urgency of the need. For example he compared somebody experiencing both thirsty and hunger at same time and concluded that, one could go without food for some days but he couldn’t without water. Then from this deduction realized some needs were more basic than others.

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It from this experience he came about with the famous Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is depicted in form of a pyramid with five levels.

Self actualization

The lower level is associated with physiological needs while other levels of needs are termed as growth needs associated with psychological needs. One would focus on a higher need once he/ she has fulfilled the lower needs. Once one has reached a need at higher level the lower needs will no longer be prioritized.

The physiological needs include; water. Food, air, sleeps etc.

He believed that physiological needs took the most priority in human needs. Humans cannot survive without these needs and incase of lack of any of the needs, a deficiency will arise of things which the need provided. He also believed that physiological needs controlled behavior and could cause sickness if not fulfilled.

Safety needs include; financial security, health and well-being, safety against accidents and personal security from crime.

Once the physiological needs are satisfied then the security needs follow. One now is not concerned with water or food, but with ones fear. One would want to feel protected together with what he owns. People would yearn for a world where justice prevails, in work place jobs are guaranteed, people are given time to express themselves and so on.

One would wish to have a good retirement plan when he or she retires from work, to have homes in secure places, to have insurance policies for their lives.


Also known as social needs, it includes friendship, family and intimacy. Once the physiological and security needs have been taken care of another level of needs arises known as social needs, the third layer of Manlow’s hierarchy of human needs. One will start feeling the need to have friends, a lover, children and sense of community (sense of belonging and acceptance). One realizes there is world around him and hence cannot live alone he needs company to share ideals, problems and to enlighten him/her.

Due to these needs one will feel to marry and have children, join a certain groups such as, churches, teams, professional bodies etc. if these needs are absent people would feel lonely, neglected and depressed.

Esteem needs

All humans have a need to be respected, to have self-esteem, self-respect and to respect others” (Ian 1994, 27). People need to be appreciated, honored, recognized, have status, given attention etc. In addition people would like to be confident, competent, to achieve something and to be independent.

People would not like to be seen as inferior before others. Everybody is striving to have status in the society so that everyone recognizes his or her presence. People want to create wealth so that they can be independent.

Self-actualization: Includes; morality, creativity, problem solving and acceptance of facts. The needs are only realized if the others are fulfilled. If one has something to eat, is secured, is loved and high sense of self-esteem then one can devote to fulfilling ones potentials.

They are motivators of ones behavior and involve continues desire to fulfill potentials and become complete in life. One want to become what he can be if he had the opportunity to be. Self-actualized people would look for solutions to lives problems instead of fearing them and are comfortable being alone. They are independent and less likely to be influenced by social pressure. They are creative, innovative, complete, believe and original in truth.

Application of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory

An organization that takes in consideration on the Maslow hierarchy theory will tend to give their employees the chance to develop to their fullest. Take an example a person working in bank as an accountant.

The first level of hierarchy is physiological needs. The bank provides food to the accountant to sustain his energy. The bank gives the accountant freedom to relax after tired job of balancing accounts.

The second level is the safety. The bank provides security to the accountant during work hours to avoid theft. The work place should have an air-conditioner, provide housing to the accountant were to rest after work. The work should be stable i.e. the accountant is assured of work everyday and assured of retirement benefit when time comes to retire.

The bank should also look on the social needs of the worker. The account should be allowed to work side by side with other workers such as clerks and credit controllers to share ideas. He should also be given an opportunity to join professional bodies. This would give the accountant a chance to laugh and jeer. In that the accountant would fill accepted and have sense of belonging.

The jobs help the accountant to achieve self-esteem level. The accountant would receive from his juniors and also show respect to them. One would get more experience with time and become more confident in this field. The bank should trust in his ideas and adopt his suggestion for him to attain self-esteem. Finally he should be promoted to recognize his ability and achievements

The final level is the self-actualization. Here the accountant needs to have mastered the field of accounting. Be happy to go to work daily, hence a feeling of fulfillment in life. Appreciate the growth of the bank profits, branches as result of his efforts. Above all, the accountant should be allowed to study different techniques and trends.

Summary and conclusion

Abraham has presented human needs in form of a ladder such that as one climbs upwards he attains new needs. The basic needs which we require in today day lives a presented to be the first to be fulfilled for one to move to the next level of needs. Once all the needs have been fulfilled then we can say one has grown to fullest.

In conclusion we can say that, if an organization observes the Manslow hierarchy of needs it might help its employees to develop. A proper atmosphere for personnel in an organization would help them grow to self-actualization. As I finish this paper should give oversight to those who run or expect to start an organization on how to deal with their personnel for the firm and employees welfare.


Ian, Gough (1994 March 9), Economic Institutions and the Satisfaction of Human Needs. Journal of Economic Issues. vol. 28, pp. 25-66.

Maslow, A.H. (1971). “Self-actualizing and beyond”, the farther reaches of human nature. New York: Penguin Compass, p. 41.

Wahba, A. Bridgewell, L. (1976). “Maslow reconsidered: A review of research on the need hierarchy theory”. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 15: 212–240.

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1. PsychologyWriting. "Abraham Maslow: Biography Review." January 25, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/abraham-maslow-biography-review/.


PsychologyWriting. "Abraham Maslow: Biography Review." January 25, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/abraham-maslow-biography-review/.