Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who lived in the 20th century. His ideas revolutionized some aspects of his discipline. Some of them were applied in the business environment. His most recognized contribution is the pyramid of needs. He is considered the father of humanistic psychology.
Abraham Maslow was born on April 1, 1908, in the borough of Brooklyn (New York). He was the first-born of seven children of Jewish Russian immigrant parents, Samuel Maslow and Rose Schilojsky. His humble childhood passed without many friends, due to his Hebrew origins. Therefore, he dedicated his time to reading and studying. This situation generated an attitude not very prone to human contact in any field. His difficult family relationships marked him deeply.
He is considered the father of humanistic psychology, a psychological trend that postulates the existence of a basic human tendency towards mental health, which would manifest itself as a series of processes in search of self-actualization and self-actualization.
Law by obligation, psychology by vocation
Family pressure made him start his law studies. For this reason, he enrolled at New York University in 1926. However, realizing that he could not complete the course, he requested a transfer to Cornell University, in Ithaca (New York). In it he took an introductory course to psychology.
Despite the change, Maslow maintained a dejected attitude, so he returned to his city. There, frustrated by his experience, he decided to resume his studies in Law. This feeling was also helped by family conflicts caused by the attraction he felt towards his cousin, Bertha Goodman, whom he married in 1928. As he took this step, he felt the strength to move away from the influence of his parents and return to study psychology. time at the University of Wisconsin (Madison). He managed to finish his degree and obtain a doctorate in 1934. During his studies he carried out experimental research on the behavior of primates. He also published his first article, "Delayed reaction," in the Journal of Comparative Psychology in 1932.
In 1935, Maslow became a resident of Columbia University. Here he worked under the direction of Edward Thorndike. He developed extensive research on the sexuality of women. At the same time, he obtained new influences, such as the anthropology of Ruth Benedict and the psychology of Gestalt, of Max Wertheimer. During this stage, Maslow launched some ideas about personal self-realization that were dismissed as unscientific. In 1937 he published "Personality and patterns of culture" in Ross Stagner’s book "Psychology of Personality."
A theory applied to the business environment
He returned to New York in 1937 to teach, for fourteen years, in the Department of Psychology at Brooklyn College. In 1947 he takes a break due to a heart attack. In 1951, he accepted the position of chairman of the Department of Psychology at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts. This new stage was dedicated to the study of motivation, personality and self-realization. His ideas reached the ears of Douglas McGregor, professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who spread them by applying them to the business world.
In collaboration with McGregor, Maslow obtained funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and was able to develop his theory on the hierarchy of needs. His prestige was increasing, so in 1966 he was elected president of the American Psychological Association (APA). His delicate health led him to withdraw from academia. However, in 1969, he accepted the invitation to be a resident of the Laughlin Foundation, in California. From his office on Sand Hill Road, the psychologist popularized his views on business and people management, which were spread in Silicon Valley. In 1970, he accepted a position at Saga Administrative Corporation. However, shortly after he suffered a heart attack, which killed him at the age of 62.
The main contributions of Abraham Maslow
Maslow was able to escape the law to pursue his passion: psychology. In this field he has bequeathed us important contributions, which are still followed today in the business and work environment.
Abraham Maslow is one of the fathers of humanistic psychology. According to this current, the healthy individual is the one who achieves self-realization. This implies the full development of their own potentialities, the one that becomes what it really is. In this sense, he described a series of traits of the people who achieve it. He noted that they maintain a more accurate perception of reality. Also that they do not maintain defensive and artificial attitudes. On the contrary, they are autonomous people, with a marked critical and creative intelligence. At the same time, they are more willing to establish more collaborative, rich and liberating relationships.
For him, the ideal society would be one in which all its members are capable of self-realization. He gave this utopia a name: Eupsichia.
The pyramid of Abraham Maslow and the theory of needs
Without a doubt, one of the best known contributions is Maslow’s pyramid. In 1943, he published "Theory of Human Motivation" (later reissued as "Motivation and Personality"). Here he described the different levels of needs that people must satisfy, in a staggered fashion.
See Maslow’s pyramid
Abraham Maslow represented these needs with a pyramid. At the base he placed the primary needs (of a physiological nature, such as eating, sleeping, breathing, sexuality, etc.). After them, once satisfied, others appear, such as the need for security, affection, belonging, esteem and, at the top, that of self-realization. In his opinion, a human being must be able to perform freely, so if he feels like a musician, he should make music; if he feels like a poet, he should write poetry, etc. Undoubtedly, the pressure of his parents to study law greatly influenced the development of this theory.