Biography of Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

Abraham Maslow is an American psychologist who developed a hierarchy of needs to explain human motivations. His theory suggests that people must meet some basic needs before they can upgrade their ranks to pursue more social, emotional, and self-actualization needs.

most famous

  • Hierarchy of needs
  • Founder of Humanistic Psychology
  • Peak experience
  • Self-actualization

Maslow’s early experience

Abraham Maslow was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 1, 1908, and grew up there. He was the first of seven children born to Jewish parents who emigrated from Russia. Maslow later described his childhood as unhappy and lonely. He spends most of his time immersed in books in the library.

Maslow studied law at the City College of New York (CCNY). After becoming interested in psychology, he transferred to the University of Wisconsin and found a tutor of psychologist Harry Harlow, who served as his doctoral tutor. Maslow received all three psychology degrees (bachelor, master, and doctorate) from the University of Wisconsin.

Occupation and Humanistic Theory

Abraham Maslow began teaching at Brooklyn College in 1937 and continued to serve as a faculty member of the college until 1951. During this period, he was deeply influenced by Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer and anthropologist Ruth Benedict.

Maslow believed that they were such outstanding people that he began to analyze and record their behavior. This analysis became the basis of his theory and research on human potential.

Humanistic psychology

In the 1950s, Maslow became one of the founders and promoters of the school of humanistic psychology. His theories—including the hierarchy of needs, self-realization, and peak experience—have become the basic themes of the humanist movement.

How does Maslow’s idea compare to other theories that were popular at the time? Some main differences:

  • Maslow believes that Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and Skinner’s theory of behavior pay too much attention to the negative or pathological aspects of existence.
  • He also felt that these theories ignored all the potential and creativity that humans possess.
  • Maslow’s theory focuses more on maximizing happiness and realizing the full potential of the individual.


The process of self-realization played a key role in Maslow’s theory. He defined this trend as “full utilization and development of talents, abilities, potentials, etc.”. In other words, people have been working hard to realize their full potential.

Self-actualization is not an end or a destination. This is a continuous process in which people continue to expand themselves and reach new heights in happiness, creativity and sense of accomplishment.

Maslow believes that self-actualizing people have many key characteristics. Some of these include self-acceptance, spontaneity, independence, and the ability to have peak experiences.

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Contribution to psychology

Maslow has made many important contributions to the field of psychology. Today, he is remembered as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century.His contributions include:

  • His theory focuses on the positive aspects of human nature. While most psychologists focus on the aspects of human nature that are considered abnormal, Abraham Maslow has turned his attention to the positive aspects of mental health.
  • His work has influenced our perception of mental health. His interest in human potential, peak experience, mental health improvement, and personal growth has had a lasting impact on psychology.
  • His work continues to have an impact today. Although Maslow’s work is not favored by many academic psychologists, and some believe that his hierarchy may need to be updated, his theory is recovering due to growing interest in positive psychology.

Maslow died of a heart attack in California on June 8, 1970.

Featured Publications

  • Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper.
  • Maslow, A. (1962). Towards existential psychology. New York: Van Nordstrand.