Abraham Maslow Biography

(American Psychologist Who was Known for Creating Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)

Birthday: April 1, 1908 (Aries)

Born In: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Abraham Maslow was a renowned psychologist whose biggest contribution to the field of psychology is the Maslow’s Need Hierarchy theory. He believed that all human beings strive to achieve satisfaction in life through the fulfillment of certain needs. He had an intensely sad and unhappy childhood and had to face several hurdles while growing up. His difficult childhood experiences instilled in him a sensitivity which was often reflected in his works. In spite of having an indifferent father who always belittled him and an uncaring and cruel mother who never gave him any love, the youngster grew up to be a compassionate soul who focused on the positive traits in people no matter what. His first career choice was to become a lawyer, partly influenced by his wish to impress his father. However legal studies did not suit the young man and he soon shifted to study psychology. He found mentors in the noted psychologists Alfred Adler, Max Wertheimer, and the anthropologist Ruth Benedict who deeply influenced his thinking. Maslow developed a positivist mindset and became a driving force behind the school of humanistic psychology. His major theories which were of immense significance to humanistic psychology were the hierarchy of needs, self-actualization and peak experiences.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Abraham Harold Maslow

Died At Age: 62


Spouse/Ex-: Bertha

Quotes By Abraham Maslow Psychologists

Died on: June 8, 1970

place of death: Menlo Park, California, United States

Ancestry: Ukrainian American, Russian American

City: Brooklyn, New York City

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

U.S. State: New Yorkers

Founder/Co-Founder: Journal of Humanistic Psychology

More Facts

education: University Of Wisconsin–Madison

  • 1

    What is the hierarchy of needs proposed by Abraham Maslow?

    Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs consisting of five levels: physiological needs, safety needs, love and belongingness needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.

  • 2

    What is the concept of self-actualization in Maslow's theory?

    Self-actualization is the highest level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, representing the realization of one's potential, self-fulfillment, personal growth, and achieving one's highest aspirations.

  • 3

    How did Maslow's hierarchy of needs influence psychology and human development?

    Maslow's hierarchy of needs revolutionized psychology by emphasizing the importance of individual growth, motivation, and self-fulfillment in understanding human behavior and development.

  • 4

    What are some criticisms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory?

    Some criticisms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory include its cultural bias, oversimplification of human motivation, lack of empirical evidence, and the assumption that needs are linear and hierarchical in nature.

  • 5

    How did Maslow's theory impact the field of organizational behavior and management?

    Maslow's theory influenced organizational behavior and management by highlighting the significance of employee motivation, satisfaction, and well-being in the workplace, leading to the development of humanistic approaches and employee-centered practices.

Childhood & Early Life
He was born as the eldest of the seven children of Samuel and Rose Maslow in New York. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia.
He was raised in a multiethnic neighbourhood. His family was poor and his parents were very uncaring and indifferent. His father verbally abused and degraded him to the extent that the boy felt very unworthy. His mother was a selfish and cruel woman who never gave the children any love or care.
As the only Jewish boy in his neighbourhood, he was also made the victim of rampant anti-Semitism and was bullied by other boys because of his religion.
The various difficulties of his life forced him to seek refuge in the library where he discovered his love for reading.
He attended the Boys High school where he was a member of several academic clubs. He also edited the Latin Magazine and the school’s Physics paper for a year.
He went to the City College of New York and also began taking legal classes in evening. He realized legal studies were not for him and dropped out soon.
He later went to the University of Wisconsin to study psychology. There his field of study was experimental-behaviorism. He developed a strong positivist mindset due to his experience with behaviorism. He received his master’s degree in psychology in 1931.
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He became a member of the faculty at Brooklyn College in 1937 and worked there till 1951.
When the U.S. entered the World War II in 1941, Maslow was too old to enlist and was ineligible for the military. However, the horrors of wars, inspired a vision of peace un him and influenced his psychological ideas and helped him develop the discipline of humanistic psychology.
He was deeply influenced by his two mentors, the psychologist Max Wertheimer and anthropologist Ruth Benedict whose behaviour formed the basis for his research about mental health and human potential.
He proposed a theory of needs hierarchy in his 1943 paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ in ‘Psychological Review’. This theory was explained in detail in his 1954 book ‘Motivation and Personality’.
He was of the view that human beings have a set of needs that need to be fulfilled hierarchically in order to achieve self-actualization. According to him the needs could be classified as: Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem, Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence needs.
As a humanistic psychologist he believed that each individual has a strong desire to realize their full potential to reach a level of self-actualization. He propounded this theory by studying individuals like Albert Einstein, Henry David Thoreau, Ruth Benedict, etc. whom he believed had achieved self-actualization.
He was appointed a professor at Brandeis University in 1951. He taught there till 1969 before becoming a resident fellow at the Laughlin Institute in California.
Maslow and Tony Sutich founded the ‘Journal of Humanistic Psychology’ in 1961. The journal continues to publish academic papers till date.
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Major Works
His biggest contribution to the field of psychology is his Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy Theory which he first proposed in 1943. The hierarchy is a very popular framework in research and education in various fields like sociology, management, psychology, psychiatry, etc.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married his first cousin Bertha in 1928 when he was just 20 years old. His marriage marked the beginning of a very happy family life for him. The couple had two daughters and shared a loving marriage that lasted till his death.
He had a history of heart problems and suffered a major heart attack in 1967. Three years later, in 1970 he had another heart attack and died.
The American Psychological Association presents the Abraham Maslow award to individuals for their outstanding and lasting contribution to the exploration of the farther reaches of human spirit.
Facts About Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow was an avid cat lover and often spoke about the positive impact his feline companions had on his life and well-being.

Maslow was known for his unconventional approach to research, often conducting studies in unique settings such as art galleries and religious centers to gain a deeper understanding of human behavior.

In addition to his groundbreaking work in psychology, Maslow also had a keen interest in philosophy and spirituality, drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources beyond traditional academia.

Maslow had a reputation for being a bit of a rebel in the academic world, challenging conventional wisdom and pushing boundaries to explore new ideas and concepts in psychology.

See the events in life of Abraham Maslow in Chronological Order

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