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Abraham Maslow. Father of Humanistic Psychology. Third Wave. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) Forerunner of positive psychology. Radically different view of human nature. Rejected ideas of Freud and Skinner. Harry Harlow’s lab.

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abraham maslow

Abraham Maslow

Father of Humanistic Psychology

third wave
Third Wave
  • Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)
  • Forerunner of positive psychology.
  • Radically different view of human nature.
  • Rejected ideas of Freud and Skinner.
harry harlow s lab
Harry Harlow’s lab
  • Maslow worked in Harlow’s lab as a student at the University of Wisconsin.
  • Harlow famous for the monkey studies using wire and cloth mothers.
  • Maslow didn’t see his future in experimental psychology.
maslow at brandeis
Maslow at Brandeis
  • Maslow began teaching in NYC area.
  • Met many leading neo-Freudians, including Alfred Adler and Erich Fromm.
  • In 1951, Maslow became the chairman of the psychology department at Brandeis University.
  • Met Gestalt Psychologist Kurt Goldstein who introduced him to the idea of self-actualization.

Goldstein first trained as a neurologist and was an early advocate of holistic medicine.

Have to deal with the whole organism.

maslow rejected freud s ideas
Maslow rejected Freud’s ideas
  • Psychoanalysis based on what went wrong.
  • Theories based on clinically ill patients.
  • Repressing strong sexual urges.
  • Animal passions.
  • “Why pick the wolf?”
humanistic psychology
Humanistic Psychology
  • Positive instincts to fulfill human potential.
  • Theories based on study of successful, healthy people (interviews).
  • Albert Schweitzer, Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • Strong motivating force to do good.
  • Be the best that they could be.
  • Self-actualization.
case studies
Case studies
  • Began with study of two close friends.
  • Expanded to 10 other anonymous living persons.
  • Historical figures: Lincoln, Jefferson.
  • Important personalities: Einstein.
  • Examined biographies, writings and interviewed those still living.
  • Biographic analysis: Qualitative research
guiding principles
Guiding principles
  • 1. Needs arranged according to potency and strength. Lower needs stronger and more urgently felt.
  • 2. Lower needs appear earlier in development.
  • Babies concerned with biological, toddlers with safety, seniors more likely to be self-actualized.
hierarchy of needs
Hierarchy of needs
  • 3. Needs are filled sequentially, lowest to highest.
  • Maslow did not believe that you had to completely satisfy each level before moving to a higher one.
  • Example: work for safety when 60% of physiological needs met.
physiological needs
Physiological needs
  • Body needs
  • Hunger and thirst
  • Need met by most people in US.
  • But may take dominance in emergencies.
  • Natural disasters.
  • Hurricane Katrina
safety needs
Safety needs
  • Security in our environment.
  • Stability and protection.
  • Job security, insurance, retirement plans.
  • Stock market crash wipes out nest egg.
  • Pathologies: OCD: no sense of security, PTSD and panic attacks.

Black Monday, 1987

love and belongingness
Love and Belongingness
  • Friends, life partner, children, social clubs, religious communities.
  • Stunting of this need leads to most behavior problems.
  • Importance of social bonds.
  • Some question whether you can love others until you love yourself  Esteem needs
esteem needs has two levels
Esteem needs has two levels
  • Lower level  need for respect from others
  • Such as recognition, attention, appreciation.
  • Higher level  self respect
  • Such as confidence, competence, mastery.
  • Pathologies: inferiority complex, depression.
  • Question: Can others respect you if you don’t respect yourself?
cycle of d motives
Cycle of D-motives
  • Deficit needs.
  • Deprivation leads to drive to satisfy need.
  • Achieve homeostasis.
  • Not just biological needs.
  • Essential for survival.
  • Even instinctual.
being motives
Being motives
  • Once D-needs fulfilled, being needs emerge.
  • Growth motivation
  • Not governed by homeostasis.
  • Becomes stronger as you fulfill them.
  • Strive now to be all that you can be.
  • Self-actualizers.
portrait of self actualizers
Portrait of self-actualizers
  • Small group according to Maslow.
  • 1-2% of the adult population.
  • Generally 60 plus years old
  • Reality and problem centered.
  • Enjoy solitude and have deep personal relationships with a few close friends.
self actualizers cont
Self-actualizers (cont.)
  • Autonomous, resisted enculturation.
  • Acceptance of self and others.
  • Strong ethics, spiritual, seldom religious.
  • Prefer spontaneity and simplicity.
  • Unhostile sense of humor.
  • Source: Prof. George Boeree http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/maslow.html
peak experiences
Peak experiences
  • Moments of transcendence.
  • To climb above culture.
  • Perceptual experiences, largely passive.
  • Spiritual realm for some but not necessarily religious.
  • People may be reluctant to report.
  • Unlike FLOW where you have superior functioning, self-absorbed.
peak experiences described
Peak experiences described
  • Davis (1991) interviewed 250 people.
  • 80% reported having a peak experience.
  • Might share contents with close friend.
  • Experience special, intimate and personal.
  • Not easy to describe in words.
  • Transcend normal language.
failure to actualize
Failure to actualize
  • Maslow many fail to actualize because
  • 1) Growth tendency is weaker than deficiency motives. Hard to transcend hunger.
  • 2) Normal culture downplays the importance of the inner life (voice). Just trying to gain control of our impulses.
  • 3) Growth requires taking risks than many are unwilling to do. Example: international education. Study in another culture.
jonah complex
Jonah Complex
  • Maslow used biblical story of Jonah to illustrate those unwilling to take risks.
  • Jonah tried to run away from risk.
  • Only after spending some time in the whale did he agree to complete his mission.
  • Maslow called this reluctance the Jonah Complex.
maslow s critics
Maslow’s critics
  • Need hierarchy is wildly popular.
  • Education, management, psychotherapy, and nursing.
  • Any research to suggest it’s true?
  • Maslow’s research case studies.
  • Others have done studies or larger and more diverse groups.
hierarchy of needs 5 or 2
Hierarchy of needs (5 or 2)
  • Little empirical support for 5 stages.
  • Stronger evidence for two levels: deficiency and growth.
  • Developmental growth does have much support either.
  • Older adults rate self-actualization as their lowest NOT highest need.
  • College students most concerned about esteem and security
other criticisms
Other criticisms
  • Elitist (1-2%): Very small club.
  • Growth motivation more wide spread than Maslow believed.
  • Carl Rogers: “every person has one basic tendency and striving– to actualize, maintain, and enhance the experienced self.”
client centered therapy
Client-Centered Therapy
  • Carl Rogers (1902-1987)
  • Humanistic attitude.
  • Unconditional positive regard.
  • Nondirective approach.
  • Reflective listening.
  • Healing will occur naturally.
winter at valley forge
Winter at Valley Forge
  • Washington’s Army was hungry, cold, away from families, in fear for their lives.
  • Mostly volunteers.
  • Some deserted but enough remained to form the core of a new army.

Sacrifice lower needs to meet those of a higher calling.

bias towards western culture
Bias towards Western Culture
  • Emphasis on individual achievement, getting credit for new idea.
  • Esteem in standing out.
  • Asian cultures all succeed together.
  • Emphasis on team work.
  • Japanese saying: “The nail that sticks up gets pounded down.”
third wave1
Positive side

Optimistic view of humankind.

Human abilities.

Growth potential.

Healthy personality.

Pyramid of needs

Negative side


Philosophy rather than psychology.

Need evidence to support beliefs.

Self-actualizers rare.

Practical applications.

Third Wave
fourth wave
Fourth Wave
  • Positive Psychology
  • Martin Seligman
  • Learned Optimism
  • Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi
  • Flow
  • Humanistic Psychology with empirical methods.
  • Practical applications for many, not just a few.