Abraham Maslow first began to be interested in Psychology at
the University of Wisconsin and was awarded junior and senior
degrees to PhD level there between 1930 and 1934. During these
years he was greatly influenced by the work of Harry Harlow
who was experimenting with the attachment behaviour of juvenile
What we now know as the Abraham Maslow hierarchy of need theory dates,
in its initial conception, from circa 1943. This concept is
applied to Human Beings and suggests that basic needs takes
precedence but, once these are met, other need come to the fore
in people's lives.
The most basic need is related to physiological survival - air to breate, water to drink, food to eat and sex to
Next in order of precedence comes a set of needs for such
things as safety and security.
Once an individual has taken care of his or her basic
physiological needs and feels safe and secure some degree of need
for love and belonging may well rise to the forefront of their
Need for the respect of our fellows, and for self-respect,
are seen as being next in order of precedence.
Maslow referred to the four levels of need already mentioned as deficit needs, or D-needs.
If you don't have enough of something -- i.e. you have a deficit -- you feel the need.
Maslow saw all these needs as essentially survival needs. Even love and esteem are
needed for the maintenance of health.
The last level of the pyramid is a bit different. Maslow used a variety of terms to refer to this
level:- growth motivation (in contrast to deficit motivation), being
needs (or B-needs, in contrast to D-needs), and self-actualization.
The remaining layer of need is different in that it is seen as
being intimately related to the self-actualization of the
individual. People might have enough of food, security, belonging
and respect but!!! enough of self-actualization is harder to
In point of fact self-actualization is seen as being somewhat
addictive, once experienced it is something that people tend to
want more and more of! Moreover people can only really pay
attention to self-actualization needs once their more basic needs
are satisfactorally met!
Abraham Maslow considered that very few people actually live,
move, and have their being, within the realms of such
self-actualization - mainly because people are generally involved
in meeting the other needs already outlined.
Several things are associable with "self-actualization" - being
independently confident in meeting life's challenges - in
choosing between that which is more and that which is less
worthwhile - and in feeling that one's time has been used
creatively and inventively.
The Abraham Maslow hierarchy of need theory was later adapted to include a
greater complexity in the area of self-actualisation. Under this
adaption human needs included a thirst for knowledge and a need
for aesthetical order and beauty prior to self-actualization and
a "Transcendence" need beyond self-actualization where people
would feel a need to help others to find fulfillment.