Use the Need Hierarchy Theory. Write a 1,050- to 1,400-word paper wherein you trace the theory\’s origins, its key researchers, related research findings, and its possible effect in this century. Include a minimum of five scholarly sources. Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines. Need Hierarchy Theory As was the case with Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, Maslow’s (1943) theory of human motivation was based on conclusions he drew from his observations of individuals who came to him for assistance in coping with difficulties in their personal lives.
The theory was written during the Great Depression. From the outset of his paper, Maslow acknowledged that: It is far easier to prove and to criticize the aspects of motivation theory than to remedy them. Mostly this is because of the very serious lack of sound data in this area. I conceive this lack of sound facts to be due primarily to the absence of a valid theory of motivation. The present theory then must be considered to be a suggested program or framework for future research and must stand or fall, not so much on facts available or evidence presented, as upon researches yet to be done, researches suggested perhaps, by the questions raised in this paper (p. 371).
Rather than a focus on attitudes, Maslow posited that there is a hierarchy of five sets of goals for which people strive in seeking satisfaction of their basic needs. Needs determine the repertoire of behaviors that a person develops in order to satisfy each goal. Unlike the experimental psychologists such as Watson and Thorndike, he emphasized that: This theory starts with the human being rather than any lower and presumably “simpler” animal. Too many of the findings that have been made in animals have been proven true for animals but not for the human being. There is no reason whatsoever why we start with animals in order to study motivation. (p. 392)
Maslow proposed the following sequential hierarchical order of the development of five basic needs. 1. Physiological needs. All other needs become simply nonexistent or are pushed into the background until physiological needs are satisfied. A peculiar characteristic of the human organism when it is dominated by a certain need, Maslow said, is that the whole philosophy of the future tends also to change. “For our chronically and extremely hungry man, utopia can be defined very simply as a place where there is plenty of food” (p. 374).
When this need is met: “At once other (and ‘higher’) needs emerge and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism” (p. 375). Maslow’s belief that this lower-order need becomes stronger as deprivation increases was likely influenced by the laboratory findings of Hull and Spence with animals. 2. Safety needs. “Again, we may say of the receptors, the effectors, of the intellect and other capacities that they are primarily safety-seeking tools” (p. 376).
Confronting a child with new, unfamiliar, strange, or unmanageable stimuli frequently elicits the danger or terror reaction. The need for safety is manifested in “the common preference for a job with tenure and protection, the desire for a savings account, and for insurance of various kinds (medical, dental, unemployment, disability, old age)” (p. 379), as is “the tendency to have some religious or world-philosophy that organizes the universe and the men in it into some sort of satisfactorily coherent, meaningful whole” (p. 379). 3. Love needs.
Once the two lower needs are satisfied, there will emerge the love and affection and belongingness needs. The “thwarting of these needs is the most commonly found core in cases of maladjustment and more severe psychopathology” (p. 381). 4. Esteem needs. Most people have a need or desire for a firmly based high evaluation of themselves based on achievement that leads to respect from others and inculcates confidence to face the world. Thwarting this need produces feelings of inferiority, weakness, and helplessness.
5. Self-actualization. The clear emergence of this need rests upon man’s prior satisfaction of the other four. “It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially” (p. 382). The crux of this theory is that as one need becomes fulfilled, its strength diminishes while the strength of the next need higher in the hierarchy increases. Systematic research based on Maslow’s (1943) theory did not occur in organizational settings for another two decades.
Nevertheless, the theory and his subsequent book (Maslow, 1954), wherein he described the theory more fully, had a tremendous influence on McGregor’s (1957) formulation of Theory X and Theory Y. Latham, G. P. (2012). Work motivation: History, theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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