Abraham Maslow’s theory of personality

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Major Principles of the theory

Maslow’s theory of personality is a theory that is used to explain the fact that human beings are in constant struggle of moving from one level to another especially from the lower levels to the upper level in life. He indicates that the human actions are motivated so that they can achieve something hence they struggle to move from the lower levels to higher levels. From one level to the next, people need to fulfill the needs of the lower level in order to move to the next level. Therefore, this theorist is more interested in stating what makes the people happy and what they are focused on achieving. He believes that people have an inborn desire that makes them need to be self-actualized hence put efforts to be what they can be. There are a number of basic needs that they must consider in order to achieve these goals such as the need for love, food and self-esteem. He presents his human levels in form of a pyramid and the needs of the lowest level are the most basic and the highest level or level at the top contains the most complicated needs (Boundless, 2016). The main needs at the lower level of the pyramid are basic such as the physical requirements which may include the needs for food, sleep, water and warmth. People should be able to fulfill these needs before they can move to the next level. The needs change as people move up the pyramid and they become more psychological and social. As a result, people desire for love, intimacy and friendship and consider these needs to be more important. The next level makes people to desire for self-esteem and needs to accomplish something that they desire. The moving from one level to another is termed as the process of growing and developing in order to be able to achieve any individually set goals and potential (Boundless, 2016). There are a number of principles that are involved in this theory.

The first principle in the lower level indicates the psychological needs of the people. The psychological needs the most basic needs of the human beings which are the most vital for their survival. Such needs include food, water, air and sleep among others. The theorist believes that all these needs must be fullfiled before the human beings are able to desire anything else. They are believed to be the most basic which the human beings cannot live without therefore no secondary need is to be achieved before having these needs first. Most of them are apparent as the human race cannot survive without them (Kenrick, et al., 2010).

The next principle suggests the need for security by the human beings. Human beings are in constant need of safety and security hence in constant such of the things that can satisfy these needs such as a steady employment, safe neighborhood, shelter and health care. These needs are realized because people feel that they need control and order in their lives and therefore need for financial stability, safe places to live in, physical safety and staying a healthy live. They need to achieve these needs before they can move to the next level of life (Friedman & Schustack, 2016).

The next principle is about the social needs of the people where they desire for love, friendship and intimacy among others. These needs are less basic than the ones discussed in the first and the second level and therefore some human beings can survive without achieving them. However, this needs such as friendship, romantic attachments and supportive families helps one to fulfill the needs for companionship and acceptance. Involvement in the social, the community and the religious groups makes one feel that they part of a certain family and they are not alone (Fromm, 2013).

The next principle states the needs for self-esteem that comes to a person after they have fullfiled the needs of the three lower levels. At this stage, people are more focused at gaining the respect and appreciation of others. This cases comes when people need recognition after they have achieved something and hence, they engage in a number of activities such as going to school, participating in a number of sports, enjoying their hobbies among other professional activities in order to be recognized. Recognition helps people to achieve self-esteem hence becoming more confident. If one fails to achieve these needs, they may end up feeling inferior (Kenrick, et al., 2010).

Finally, the principles in which there is desire for self-actualization. In this case, people are self-aware and hence more concerned with their personal growth and less concerned about what opinions that they can get from others in case they take a certain step. Therefore, people become more interested in full filling their potential without caring for recognition or appreciation from others. At this stage, people already feel less inferior and would like to achieve the life time goals (Kenrick, et al., 2010).

Differences in gender and culture

There are no differences in gender indicated as Maslow discusses his principle of personality. He takes all people to be similar and their needs to change in a similar manner from one level to the next. People progresses similarly from the lower level to achieve self-actualization at the higher level. In his theory, he discusses that all people have the same desire and inner drive to achieve various needs in life hence they all struggle despite the gender and culture to achieve what they want to achieve. They all have the same will and drive that motivates them towards what they desire. The majority of the people however occur on the lower level needs as most desire to have their basic needs fullfiled and some may not have a will or desire to pursue the goals that are occurring at the much higher levels. Some feel satisfied after their basic needs such as food, air and shelter are fullfiled and therefore remain comfortable and with no drive to achieve what is on the next level. Gender and culture have no connection in the inner drive of the person as inner drive is comprised of want one wants to achieve in life. In addition, the culture is not considered in this theory as it seems to be more universal and can be applied in any culture. People from all cultures have needs especially all cultures are found in the lower level each struggling to achieve the basic needs. The basic needs are necessary for survival and therefore there is no way that they can be avoided by any culture (Tay & Diener, 2011).

Critics to the theory

The theory presents the development of personality step by step but some levels in the pyramidal presentation are confusing. One is the fact that he has presented the needs for security at a lower level than the needs for self-esteem. Security needs include employment which cannot be achieved without having self-esteem and having attended school. Therefore, self-esteem which involves going to school should be put at a lower level than security as the needs in self-esteem are the once tat mostly lead to achieving security. From this view, one may say that the needs are not placed in a hierarchical order and they are mixed in one way or another. Most people tend to attend school before they can achieve security such as securing employment. Another critic is that it is difficult to scientifically prove what is needed in self-actualization. He does not include conclusive evidence on the last level and clearly does not indicate what drives people to achieve these needs at this level. Despite the critics, his theory helps present an important shift of psychology as the human brain develops from one stage to the next. It helps in the development of healthy individuals. It presents the needs that are well known and that human beings mostly need in order to be able to survive in their different environments and neighborhoods (Fromm, 2013).

Changes in personality over the lifespan

In order for one to move from one level to the next as described by the theory, they must have a self-drive that drives them towards achieving a certain need. The will and the inner motivation ensures that people have what they need to achieve the needs of the level in which they are in so that they can move to the next level. People have different desires towards achieving life and personal goals. Despite the fact that there are different drives in people towards achievement of personal goals, people respond to their drives or will towards personal development differently. There are some who may decide to pursue their desires further and there are some who might decide to ignore theirs because they just feel satisfied after achieving the basic needs at the lower level. In addition, most people may decide to pursue their desires at different rates hence making others achieve their goals faster than others. The human brain develops from infancy, to childhood and then to adulthood and the development rates seem to be different from one individual to the next. Despite this fact, all human beings have needs that they need to fulfill in life and therefore each struggles in their own way in order to reach a level in which they feel most comfortable (Fromm, 2013).

My thinking/opinion of this theory

In my opinion, the theory makes a lot of sense and it has a high validity. The needs of the human beings are there and are likely to remain similar or increase to the future due to technological changes and therefore the theory will be applicable in all times. Some of the needs such as the needs in the lowest level will never change because they are basic for survival of the human beings. The theory explains all aspects of the personality of the human beings since it addresses all the requirements that human beings desire as they develop from one stage to the next. First, it illustrates that human beings have basic needs that they first focus on achieving before they can think about anything else. After achieving these needs, their comes a desire for more achievements hence they pursue these other desires until they reach self-actualization. The theory needs to arrange the needs in a more hierarchical manner to explain what comes first and what is to be achieved first to create way for another. In addition, the theory should consider the fact that not all human beings move at the same rate and therefore not all of them can reach the same level at the same time. The theory remains valid because most of the needs in the levels are still the same needs that most human beings desire up to date. Some of the needs may change due to technological changes but most will remain the same hence making the theory’s validity remain into the future.

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  1. Friedman, H. S., & Schustack, M. W. (2016). Personality: Classic theories and modern research. City state Pearson.
  2. Fromm, E. (2013). Sigmund Freud’s mission: An analysis of his personality and influence. City-state Open Road Media.
  3. Boundless. (2016). Maslow’s Humanistic Theory of Personality. Boundless. Retrieved from/psychology/textbooks/boundless-psychology-textbook/personality16/humanisticperspectives-on-personality-78/maslow-s-humanistic-theory-of-personality-307-12842/
  4. Tay, L.; Diener, E. (2011). “Needs and subjective well-being around the world”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 101 (2): 354–365. doi:10.1037/a0023779
  5. Kenrick, D. T.; Griskevicius, V.; Neuberg, S. L.; Schaller, M. (2010). “Renovating the pyramid of needs: Contemporary extensions built upon ancient foundations”. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 5: 292. doi:10.1177/1745691610369469
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