The Legacy of Abraham Maslow

In a nutshell, the legacy of Abraham Maslow, was the creation of the hierarchy of needs that added human value and self-determination, to the two existing schools of behavioral science and psychoanalysis.

Abraham Maslow and his model of the hierarchy of needs, ushered in the humanistic approach to psychology, and it would be regarded as the third force’ in psychology.

The first force was defined as behavioral science with its empiricist methods of observation and measurement as in laboratory-controlled experiments.

The second force was defined as psychoanalysis that looked within to internal forces to explain the personality.

The third force, combined elements of both behavioral science and psychoanalysis to form a humanistic psychology.

Abraham Maslow, along with Carl Rogers, Rollo May and others, formed the third force’ in 1961 when they launched the American Association for Humanistic Psychology.

Hierarchy of Needs:

“Motivation and Personality” was published in 1954 and contained Maslow’s model of hierarchy of needs. The graphic representation of the hierarchy model is often represented in a pyramid with the most basic needs at the base of the pyramid, and self-actualization at the top.

The hierarchy of needs is a theory of development that places humans on one of the levels of hierarchy with the capability and goal of moving all the way to self-actualization. This model is directed at the “self” and it’s needs.

As an example, suppose you’re at the second level, safety. That position on the hierarchy signifies that the first basic need has been met. At your current level, all other needs are irrelevant, safety is all that matters to you at this point.

P – physiological most basic needs of air, food, drink, sleep,
S – Safety, security, shelter, freedom from fear, anxiety
L – Love, relationships with mate, family, friends
E – esteem, strength, stature, self worth, satisfaction, accomplishment
SA – self-actualization

When all needs of the hierarchy have been met, self-actualization is attained. A person may pursue the work for which he is suited, without worry and within his choice.

As a motivational model, the hierarchy of needs show individual humans how they need to move from one level and which needs are a priority.

Education application:

This model has broad educational concepts. Its premise: the goal of education is for children to learn in a safe environment where feelings are important as well as knowledge.

The ideal school would be a place where creativity takes precedence over structured curriculum, where students want to learn and where there was only self-evaluation.

The main criticism of the hierarchy model is that it has no measurement or method to quantify or verify the results.

Here’s a question, I have about the concept in education: how would a student qualify for a career in space aviation, or neurosurgery if no evaluation or measurement was required to verify his qualifications?

My own conclusion is that Maslow’s theory reduces humans to a set of individual human “needs”. Once self-actualization takes place, what then? Is it the humanistic version of utopia?