Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs .
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These are needs that do not involve balance or homeostasis. Once engaged, they continue to be felt. Now, in keeping with his theory up to this point, if you want to be truly self-actualizing, you need to have your lower needs taken care of, at least to a considerable extent. Maslow at one point suggested only about two percent! The question becomes, of course, what exactly does Maslow mean by self-actualization. To answer that, we need to look at the kind of people he called self-actualizers.
Fortunately, he did this for us, using a qualitative method called biographical analysis. He began by picking out a group of people, some historical figures, some people he knew, whom he felt clearly met the standard of self-actualization. He then looked at their biographies, writings, the acts and words of those he knew personally, and so on. From these sources, he developed a list of qualities that seemed characteristic of these people, as opposed to the great mass of us.
These people were reality-centered , which means they could differentiate what is fake and dishonest from what is real and genuine. And they had a different perception of means and ends. The self-actualizers also had a different way of relating to others.
First, they enjoyed solitude , and were comfortable being alone. And they enjoyed deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.
They enjoyed autonomy , a relative independence from physical and social needs. And they resisted enculturation , that is, they were not susceptible to social pressure to be "well adjusted" or to "fit in" -- they were, in fact, nonconformists in the best sense.
They had an unhostile sense of humor -- preferring to joke at their own expense, or at the human condition, and never directing their humor at others. They had a quality he called acceptance of self and others , by which he meant that these people would be more likely to take you as you are than try to change you into what they thought you should be.
This same acceptance applied to their attitudes towards themselves: On the other hand, they were often strongly motivated to change negative qualities in themselves that could be changed. Along with this comes spontaneity and simplicity: They preferred being themselves rather than being pretentious or artificial.
In fact, for all their nonconformity, he found that they tended to be conventional on the surface, just where less self-actualizing nonconformists tend to be the most dramatic. Further, they had a sense of humility and respect towards others -- something Maslow also called democratic values -- meaning that they were open to ethnic and individual variety, even treasuring it.
They had a quality Maslow called human kinship or Gemeinschaftsgefühl -- social interest, compassion, humanity. And this was accompanied by a strong ethics , which was spiritual but seldom conventionally religious in nature. And these people had a certain freshness of appreciation , an ability to see things, even ordinary things, with wonder. Along with this comes their ability to be creative , inventive, and original. And, finally, these people tended to have more peak experiences than the average person.
A peak experience is one that takes you out of yourself, that makes you feel very tiny, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God. It gives you a feeling of being a part of the infinite and the eternal. These experiences tend to leave their mark on a person, change them for the better, and many people actively seek them out.
They are also called mystical experiences, and are an important part of many religious and philosophical traditions. There were several flaws or imperfections he discovered along the way as well: First, they often suffered considerable anxiety and guilt -- but realistic anxiety and guilt, rather than misplaced or neurotic versions.
Some of them were absentminded and overly kind. And finally, some of them had unexpected moments of ruthlessness, surgical coldness, and loss of humor.
Two other points he makes about these self-actualizers: Their values were "natural" and seemed to flow effortlessly from their personalities. And they appeared to transcend many of the dichotomies others accept as being undeniable, such as the differences between the spiritual and the physical, the selfish and the unselfish, and the masculine and the feminine. Another way in which Maslow approach the problem of what is self-actualization is to talk about the special, driving needs B-needs, of course of the self-actualizers.
They need the following in their lives in order to be happy:. Truth , rather than dishonesty. Goodness , rather than evil. Beauty , not ugliness or vulgarity. Unity, wholeness, and transcendence of opposites , not arbitrariness or forced choices. Aliveness , not deadness or the mechanization of life. Uniqueness , not bland uniformity.
Perfection and necessity , not sloppiness, inconsistency, or accident. Completion , rather than incompleteness. Justice and order , not injustice and lawlessness. Simplicity , not unnecessary complexity. Richness , not environmental impoverishment. Effortlessness , not strain.
Playfulness , not grim, humorless, drudgery. Self-sufficiency , not dependency. Meaningfulness , rather than senselessness. At first glance, you might think that everyone obviously needs these. If you are living through an economic depression or a war, or are living in a ghetto or in rural poverty, do you worry about these issues, or do you worry about getting enough to eat and a roof over your head?
Let me summarize it by saying that, when forced to live without these values, the self-actualizer develops depression, despair, disgust,alienation, and a degree of cynicism. Over time, he devoted increasing attention, not to his own theory, but to humanistic psychology and the human potentials movement.
Toward the end of his life, he inaugurated what he called the fourth force in psychology: The fourth force was the transpersonal psychologies which, taking their cue from Eastern philosophies, investigated such things as meditation, higher levels of consciousness, and even parapsychological phenomena. Maslow has been a very inspirational figure in personality theories. They were looking for meaning and purpose in their lives, even a higher, more mystical meaning. Maslow was one of the pioneers in that movement to bring the human being back into psychology, and the person back into personality!
At approximately the same time, another movement was getting underway, one inspired by some of the very things that turned Maslow off: This, of course, became the cognitive movement in psychology. But the message should not be lost: Psychology is, first and foremost, about people, real people in real lives, and not about computer models, statistical analyses, rat behavior, test scores, and laboratories.
The most common criticism concerns his methodology: Picking a small number of people that he himself declared self-actualizing, then reading about them or talking with them, and coming to conclusions about what self-actualization is in the first place does not sound like good science to many people. In his defense, I should point out that he understood this, and thought of his work as simply pointing the way. He hoped that others would take up the cause and complete what he had begun in a more rigorous fashion.
He did indeed believe in science, and often grounded his ideas in biology. He only meant to broaden psychology to include the best in us, as well as the pathological! Another criticism, a little harder to respond to, is that Maslow placed such constraints on self-actualization. First, Kurt Goldstein and Carl Rogers used the phrase to refer to what every living creature does: To try to grow, to become more, to fulfill its biological destiny.
Maslow limits it to something only two percent of the human species achieves. And while Rogers felt that babies were the best examples of human self-actualization, Maslow saw it as something achieved only rarely by the young. Another point is that he asks that we pretty much take care of our lower needs before self-actualization comes to the forefront.
And yet we can find many examples of people who exhibited at very least aspects of self-actualization who were far from having their lower needs taken care of. Many of our best artists and authors, for example, suffered from poverty, bad upbringing, neuroses, and depression. Some could even be called psychotic! The idea of artists and poets and philosophers and psychologists! We also have the example of a number of people who were creative in some fashion even while in concentration camps.
Trachtenberg, for example, developed a new way of doing arithmetic in a camp. Viktor Frankl developed his approach to therapy while in a camp. There are many more examples.
And there are examples of people who were creative when unknown, became successful only to stop being creative. Perhaps all these examples are exceptions, and the hierarchy of needs stands up well to the general trend. But the exceptions certainly do put some doubt into our minds. I would like to suggest a variation on Maslow's theory that might help. If we take the idea of actualization as Goldstein and Rogers use it, i.
As such, the original five-level Hierarchy of Needs model remains a definitive classical representation of human motivation; and the later adaptations perhaps serve best to illustrate aspects of self-actualization.
Maslow said that needs must be satisfied in the given order. Aims and drive always shift to next higher order needs. Levels 1 to 4 are deficiency motivators; level 5, and by implication 6 to 8, are growth motivators and relatively rarely found.
The thwarting of needs is usually a cause of stress, and is particularly so at level 4. You can't motivate someone to achieve their sales target level 4 when they're having problems with their marriage level 3. You can't expect someone to work as a team member level 3 when they're having their house re-possessed level 2.
These films were made in and are helpful on several levels, and both wonderful teaching and learning aids. These materials also help to illustrate the far-reaching and visionary nature of Maslow's thinking, several decades ago. The above materials are published by Maurice Bassett on behalf of the estate of Abraham Maslow. Businessballs takes no commission and recommends them simply because they are wonderful materials for all students and followers of Maslow's very special work.
To help with training of Maslow's theory look for Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs motivators in advertising. This is a great basis for Maslow and motivation training exercises:.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is an excellent model for understanding human motivation, but it is a broad concept. If you are puzzled as to how to relate given behaviour to the Hierarchy it could be that your definition of the behaviour needs refining. For example, 'where does 'doing things for fun' fit into the model? The answer is that it can't until you define 'doing things for fun' more accurately. You'd need to define more precisely each given situation where a person is 'doing things for fun' in order to analyse motivation according to Maslow's Hierarchy, since the 'fun' activity motive can potentially be part any of the five original Maslow needs.
Understanding whether striving to achieve a particular need or aim is 'fun' can provide a helpful basis for identifying a Maslow driver within a given behaviour, and thereby to assess where a particular behaviour fits into the model:. However in order to relate a particular 'doing it for fun' behaviour the Hierarchy of Needs we need to consider what makes it 'fun' i. If a behaviour is 'for fun', then consider what makes it 'fun' for the person - is the 'fun' rooted in 'belongingness', or is it from 'recognition', i.
Or is the fun at a deeper level, from the sense of self-fulfilment, i. Apply this approach to any behaviour that doesn't immediately fit the model, and it will help you to see where it does fit.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs will be a blunt instrument if used as such. The way you use the Hierarchy of Needs determines the subtlety and sophistication of the model. However an overly rigid application of this interpretation will produce a rigid analysis, and people and motivation are more complex.
So while it is broadly true that people move up or down the hierarchy, depending what's happening to them in their lives, it is also true that most people's motivational 'set' at any time comprises elements of all of the motivational drivers. Like any simple model, Maslow's theory not a fully responsive system - it's a guide which requires some interpretation and thought, given which, it remains extremely useful and applicable for understanding, explaining and handling many human behaviour situations.
There are certainly some behaviours that are quite tricky to relate to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Normally, we would consider that selflessly helping others, as a form of personal growth motivation, would be found as part of self-actualisation, or perhaps even 'transcendence' if you subscribe to the extended hierarchy. So how can we explain the examples of people who seem to be far short of self-actualising, and yet are still able to help others in a meaningful and unselfish sense?
Interestingly this concept seems to be used increasingly as an effective way to help people deal with depression, low self-esteem, poor life circumstances, etc. The principle has also been applied quite recently to developing disaffected school-children, whom, as part of their own development, have been encouraged and enabled to 'teach' other younger children which can arguably be interpreted as their acting at a self-actualising level - selflessly helping others.
The disaffected children, theoretically striving to belong and be accepted level 3 - belongingness were actually remarkably good at helping other children, despite their own negative feelings and issues. Under certain circumstances, a person striving to satisfy their needs at level 3 - belongingness, seems able to self-actualise - level 5 and perhaps beyond, into 'transcendence' by selflessly helping others, and at the same time begins to satisfy their own needs for belongingness and self-esteem.
Such examples demonstrate the need for careful interpretation and application of the Maslow model. The Hierarchy of Needs is not a catch-all, but it does remain a wonderfully useful framework for analysing and trying to understand the subtleties - as well as the broader aspects - of human behaviour and growth.
Maslow's concept of self-actualisation relates directly to the present day challenges and opportunities for employers and organisations - to provide real meaning, purpose and true personal development for their employees.
For life - not just for work. Maslow saw these issues fifty years ago: The best modern employers and organisations are beginning to learn at last: In fact, virtually all personal growth, whether in a hobby, a special talent or interest, or a new experience, produces new skills, attributes, behaviours and wisdom that is directly transferable to any sort of job role. The best modern employers recognise this and as such offer development support to their staff in any direction whatsoever that the person seeks to grow and become more fulfilled.
Both filmed in , after Maslow's heart attack, and obviously prior to his death in , these superb Maslow DVDs show Dr Maslow being interviewed, respectively by Dr Everett Shostrom, and also interestingly, Warren Bennis. The remarkable content, and the s styling and production add to the seductive and powerful effect of these films, which stems chiefly from Maslow's brilliant thinking and natural charismatic presence.
It is utterly compelling and shows Maslow's staggering perception of the issues which challenge society and humankind today - and this was recorded in The film, basically irresistible throughout, includes some marvelous moments, such as Maslow's questioning observation as to " The Good Society now has to be one world - it has to be one world or it won't work - nationalism is dead - it just doesn't know it yet The structure is excellent - ideal for teaching and training.
Self-Actualization is presented by Maslow through a series of answers, working through the concept in four sections: Maslow brings these headings to life, conveying some very complex intangible ideas - such as objectivity, detachment, maturity, love, acceptance, modesty and grace - in the most understandable way.
Personally this video is one of the most powerful things I've ever seen. For anyone teaching or studying motivation, psychology, Maslow, and related areas - or simply interested in living a fulfilled and good life - these films will be fascinating, and for some people deeply inspirational too.
Both films are available here. The above dvd materials are published by Maurice Bassett on behalf of the estate of Abraham Maslow. In August further exciting Maslow material became available for download in mp3 format after extensive work by publisher Maurice Bassett.
Volumes One and Two include a total of 28 and a half hours of Abraham Maslow's talks and workshops at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California, from the mid and lates. The mp3 materials above are published by Maurice Bassett on behalf of the estate of Abraham Maslow. When you read Maslow's work, and particularly when you hear him speak about it, the relevance of his thinking to our modern world of work and management is astounding.
The term 'Maslow's Hammer' is a simple quick example. Other writers have made similar observations, but 'Maslow's Hammer' is the most widely referenced comment on the subject. Maslow's explanations and interpretations of the human condition remain fundamentally helpful in understanding and addressing all sorts of social and behavioural questions - forty or fifty years after his death.
Maslow is obviously most famous for his Hierarchy of Needs theory, rightly so, because it is a wonderfully simple and elegant model for understanding so many aspects of human motivation, especially in the workplace.
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