Explanation of Abraham Maslow’s Self Actualization Theory


Motivation and Self-Actualization

In year 1943, Abraham Maslow developed a theory that suggests people are motivated to satisfy 5 basic needs, which are arranged in a hierarchy. He suggests that people seek first to meet the lowest level of needs and once this is done, they aim to satisfy each higher level of need until they have met all 5 needs. In this model, safety, belonging, esteem and physiological needs should all be met before a person can behave selflessly and chase self-actualization.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

1. Physiological - (basic survival issues like breathing, sleep, water, food, stable employment, salary, etc.)

This need represents the hierarchy’s foundation from which the other levels are built upon. Anytime when one of a person’s physiological needs is threatened, the other needs will be unimportant and his physiological needs will be the main priority.

2. Security - (stable emotional and physical environment issues like security of body, health, family, resources, job, fair work practices, benefits)

In order for one’s security needs to be met, he needs to have a sense of security in his life and to live with no fear. Security needs can comprise physical safety from aggression and security of family, good health and employment.

3. Belongingness - (social acceptance issues like cooperation on the job, friendship, family, sexual intimacy)

Everyone has a need to feel loved both non-sexually and sexually by other people as well as to be genuinely acknowledged by them. When these social needs are not satisfied, most people are susceptible to depression and loneliness as a result.

4. Esteem-(respect, recognition and positive self-image issues like nice work spaces, job titles, prestigious job assignments, confidence)

To gain recognition for oneself and to be respected by others, people pursue hobbies, professional careers and activities that give them a sense of self-value. It also becomes a way to compare themselves with others.

5. Self-actualization - (achievement issues like challenging work, workplace autonomy, creativity, lack of prejudice, spontaneity, morality)

Self-actualizing people have a fresh perspective and admiration of others as being essentially good in life. The truth is clean to self-actualizing people where others can’t see it.

According to Maslow, self-actualization is the yearning for self-fulfillment, specifically the tendency for a person to become actualized in what he or she is potentially. This tendency could be phrased as the longing to be more and more what a person is – to be everything that you are capable of becoming.

After the basic needs (belongingness, safety, self-esteem and physical) are satisfied, metaneeds become involved and push a person into self-actualization. Maslow also described peak experiences as brief instances of self-actualization. The book written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow: The Psychology of the Optimal Experience”, outlines a similar idea – flow.

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is being totally involved in a certain activity for its sake. Every movement, thought and action follows unavoidably from the earlier one. A person’s entire being is involved and he is using his skills to the fullest.

Conditions of Flow

• Clear goals and instant feedback.
• Balance between capacity and opportunity.
• Merging of awareness and action.
• Focused concentration.
• Control is not a problem.
• Loss of ego.
• Time distortion.
• Self-rewarding experience.

The flow model of Csikszentmihalyi shows that the perceived challenge of a task and the person’s perceived skill must be balanced. Above all, flow can only take place with high challenge duties for which a person has a high level of skill.

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