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Abraham Maslow Case

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Abraham Maslow

Why do some people go to college? Why do some people play professional sports? Why do some people work three jobs? The most obvious answer is to make as much money as one can. However, Maslow's theories of human behavior and motivation let us see that there is much more to life than making money.

On April fool's day 1908, Abraham Harold Maslow was born in Brooklyn, New York. He was the oldest of seven children. His parents were uneducated Jewish immigrants from Russia and because they wanted their children to have a better life than they had, they pushed him to study hard and do well. (, 2008) Because of this academic push he did not have a happy childhood although he became very smart but, he also became very shy, lonely and unhappy. , "During all my first twenty years (I was) depressed, terribly unhappy, lonely, isolated, (and) self-rejected". (RIN, 2001)

When Maslow graduated from high school he attended City College in New York, where he studied law. He never really wanted to study law he just did this to please his parents. After three semesters, Maslow transferred to Cornell, did not like it there either and transferred back to City College. Maslow then fell in love with Bertha Goodman, his first cousin and asked her to be his wife. Still not satisfied with City College he transferred to the University of Wisconsin. At Wisconsin he became interested in psychology so he started working with Harry Harlow who became famous for working with baby monkeys and attachment behavior. Maslow had finally found something that made him happy and between 1930 and 1934 he worked hard and received his BA, MA, and PhD all in psychology. (Boeree, 2006)

After earning his PhD, Maslow, his wife and two daughters, returned to New York and he began working with E. L. Thorndike researching human sexuality. In 1937, Maslow taught at Brooklyn College. In 1951, he became the head of the psychology department at the newly founded Brandeis University, a Jewish college in Massachusetts. Maslow retired in 1969 and spent the last years of his life semi-retired in California. (Boeree, 2006)

During his life time Maslow contributed much to the field of psychology and anthropology. He is considered a pioneer in the field of human behavior. Maslow wrote and published several books and articles. His most famous books were Toward a Psychology of Being (1968), Motivation and Personality (first edition, 1954, and second edition, 1970), and The Further Reaches of Human Nature (1971). Most of his articles were published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, which he also cofounded. His most important work is still used today, not only in psychology but in the fields of education, social work, business and even marketing. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs was published in 1943 in a paper called a Theory of Human Motivation. (

During his studies of baby monkeys with Harry Haslow, Maslow noticed that some basic needs are more important than others. One thing that he noticed was that when the monkeys were hungry and thirsty they would take care of their thirst before their hunger. He knew that dealing with thirst was more important to sustaining life than hunger. (Boeree, 2006) He took this information and other observations and created his famous Hierarchy of Needs. In his Hierarchy of Needs there are five layers. At the bottom is the most needed and the top is the least needed. The five layers are physiological needs, safety needs, belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization. The first four levels have been called the deficiency needs and the last level is referred to as the personal growth needs. (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs at Learning, 2008) The picture below shows the levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. (Goes, 2007)

The deficiency needs are needs that must be met or the organism will feel anxious, sick, irritable or uncomfortable. These needs start at the very basic level called physiological needs or body needs. In this level an organism, Maslow found this to be true of animals as well as humans, must take care of its needs to breath, eat, drink, sleep and have sex. Although Maslow makes it clear that his theory is meant only for human beings. (Maslow A. H., 1943) Once these very basic needs have been met an organism will move to the next level. The second level is the need for safety. Safety means the security of a home and family. Every organism needs a place to live that is safe and family to be with. This level does not focus on family but it does address the need to keep ones family safe. (Simmons, 1987) This level also addresses the need for a routine and predictability. Safety in today's society also means safe from crime, job-security, health insurance, financial security for the future, and the ability to protect oneself in war, or some natural or unnatural disasters. (, 2008) Once these needs



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