Psychology Study Material: Abraham Harold Maslow and Maslow՚S Hierarchy of Needs

Dr. Manishika Jain- Join online Paper 1 intensive course. Includes tests and expected questions.

Abraham Harold Maslow (1908 - 1970)

  • American psychologist, and leading exponent of humanistic approach.
  • Gave comprehensive theory of motivation.
  • Found the prevalent psychology to be too pessimistic and negatively oriented.
  • Key Points of Maslow՚s Theory.
  • Psychology and the psychologist should look at the positive side of the human beings.
  • There must be more to living than just being battered by a hostile environment, or by depraved instincts which may actually be leading to self-destruction.
  • People՚s needs are not low level and base. We have positive needs that may become neutral in the worst cases but will not turn negative or base.
  • Human behaviour does respond to needs but we will be wrong in saying that all our needs are only physiological in nature
  • Needs motivate human action; such needs are very few in number.

Maslow՚S Hierarchy of Needs

  • Basically, a stage theory.
  • The needs at one level have to be met in order for one to move on to higher order.
  • The needs at the lowest/primary/base level are the physiological needs, whereas the highest order needs are the self-actualization needs.
  • Interactions and needs of Behaviour
  • Physiological needs: Fulfilled through = hunger/food: Pathology associated = Over- eating, Anorexia.
  • Safety needs: Fulfilled through = profession, job; Pathology associated = Phobias.
  • Love and belongingness: Fulfilled through = Marriage, Friendship: Pathology associated = Antisocial personality.
  • Esteem needs: Fulfilled through = Awards, Honours, Scholarships; Pathology associated = Depression.
  • Self-actualization needs: Fulfilled through = Painting, writing, singing: Pathology associated = Isolation, Alienation, Cynicism.

Criticism Against Maslow՚S Theory

  • Although a comprehensive and well-formed theory, it has been criticized at some points
  • Can we actually, for all case, distribute and neatly order these needs? There is little empirical evidence to support Maslow՚s way of ranking needs

Extensions of Humanistic Approach

  • Existential Psychology (Jean Paul Sartre, Rollo May)
  • Frankl՚s Logotherapy
  • Positive Psychology (Martin Seligman)

Cognitive Approach

From the 1920s through the 1960s, behaviourism dominated psychology in the United States. Eventually, however, psychologists began to move away from strict behaviourism. Many became increasingly interested in cognition, a term used to describe all the mental processes involved in acquiring, storing, and using knowledge.

Cognitive Approach

Such processes include perception, memory, thinking, problem solving, imagining, and language. This shift in emphasis toward cognition had such a profound influence on psychology that it has often been called the cognitive revolution. The psychological study of cognition became known as cognitive psychology.

Cognitive Processes vs. Computer

  • One reason for psychologists՚ renewed interest in mental processes was the invention of the computer, which provided an intriguing metaphor for the human mind. The hardware of the computer was likened to the brain, and computer programs provided a step-by-step model of how information from the environment is put in, stored, and retrieved to produce a response. Based on the computer metaphor, psychologists began to formulate information-processing models of human thought and behaviour.
  • The pioneering work of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget also inspired psychologists to study cognition. During the 1920s, while administering intelligence tests in schools, Piaget became interested in how children think. He designed various tasks and interview questions to reveal how children of different ages reason about time, nature, numbers, causality, morality, and other concepts. Based on his many studies, Piaget theorized that from infancy to adolescence, children advance through a predictable series of cognitive stages.
  • The cognitive revolution also gained momentum from developments in the study of language. Behaviourist B. F. Skinner had claimed that language is acquired according to the laws of operant conditioning, in much the same way that rats learn to press a bar for food pellets. In 1959, however, American linguist Noam Chomsky charged that Skinner՚s account of language development was wrong. Chomsky noted that children all over the world start to speak at roughly the same age and proceed through roughly the same stages without being explicitly taught or rewarded for the effort. According to Chomsky, the human capacity for learning language is innate. He theorized that the human brain is “hardwired” for language as a product of evolution. By pointing to the primary importance of biological dispositions in the development of language, Chomsky՚s theory dealt a serious blow to the behaviourist assumption that all human behaviours are formed and maintained by reinforcement.
  • Cognition means “the known” , “knowledge” , or “the process of knowing”

Cognitive approach emphasizes on:

  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Thinking
  • Values
  • Expectations etc; factors that determine the personality of the individual.

Developed by: