Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Essay

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Abraham Maslow is known for establishing the theory of a hierarchy of needs. Maslow studied human subjects (exemplary people being Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglas) rather than mentally ill or neurotic people, which was radically different from the Freudian and Skinner schools of psychology. He claimed that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied. According to Maslow, there are general types of needs (physiological, safety, love, and esteem) that must be satisfied before a person can act unselfishly. He called these needs "deficiency needs." As long as an individual is motivated to satisfy these needs, he is on the path to growth ultimately reaching self-actualization (a growth need) once all the deficiency needs are met. He further claimed that these needs are prepotent. A prepotent need is one that has the greatest influence over our actions. Every individual has a prepotent need that may vary among individuals. For example a teenager may have a need to feel that he/she is accepted by a group whereas a heroin addict will need to satisfy his/her cravings for heroin to function normally in society, and will not worry about acceptance by other people. According to Maslow, once a deficiency need is met at once other needs (needs at the same level or higher level) emerge, and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. When these higher needs are in turn satisfied, again new (and still higher) needs emerge, and so on. In essence as one desire is satisfied, another pops up to take its place. The need layers in the hierarchy do not have strict transition points and the pyramid is mainly heuristic in nature. The five layers in the hierarchy of needs are explained as follows:
Physiological Needs
Physiological needs are the fundamental needs that allow an organism to survive. These needs include air, water, food,...

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