• Born April 1st – 1908 in Brooklyn, NY.
  • Eldest of seven siblings, born to uneducated Jewish immigrant parents from Russia.
  • Parents pushed him hard for academic success.
  • He studied law at the CCNY (city college of New York) and after three semesters, he transferred over to Cornell, then back to CCNY.
  • Maslow ended up marrying his first cousin Bertha which was against his parents wishes.
  • He had two daughters with Bertha.
  • Moved to Wisconsin to attend University of Wisconsin.
  • Developed an interest for psychology.
  • Worked with Harry Harlow – famous for his experiments (baby rhesus monkeys and attachment behavior)
  • Received his BA in 1930, his MA in 1931 and his PhD in 1934 all in psychology.
  • He moved back to New York to work with E.L Thorndike at Columbia University where Maslow became interested in human sexuality
  • Maslow served as the head of the psychology department at Brandeis University from 1951 to 1969.
  • He spent his final years in California, until on June 8, 1970 he died of a heart attack after years of ill health.

Major Contribution to Psychology

Physiological Needs

According to his theory, if these needs are not satisfied then one’s motivation will arise from the quest to satisfy them. Higher needs such as social needs and esteem are not felt until one’s bodily functioning needs are met.


Once physiological needs are met, one’s attention turns to safety and security in order to be free from the threat of physical and emotional harm. According to Maslow’s hierarchy, if a person feels that he or she is in harm’s way, higher needs will not be met.


Once a person has met the lower level physiological and safety needs, higher level needs start becoming important. Social needs are those related to interaction with other people and may include:

-Need for friends: belonging

-Need to give and receive love/ affection.


Once a person feels a sense of belonging, the need to feel important arises. Esteem needs may be classified as internal or external. Internal esteem needs are those related to self-esteem such as self respect and achievement. External esteem needs are those such as social status and recognition. Maslow later refined his model to include a level between esteem needs and self actualization: the need for knowledge and aesthetics.

Self Actualization

Self actualization is the summit of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is the quest of reaching one’s full potential as a person. unlike lower level needs, this need is never fully satisfied; as one grows psychologically there are always new opportunities to continue to grow. Self actualized people have frequent occurrences of peak experiences, which are energized moments of profound happiness and harmony. According to Maslow, only a small percentage of the population reaches the level of self actualization.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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