Comparison and Contrast of Maslow and Murray

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Comparing and Contrasting Maslow and Murray’s Theories of Needs

Organismic theorists Abraham Maslow and Henry Murray tried to define the psychological developmental growth of humans via their theories of Hierarchy of Needs and Psychogenic Needs, respectively. Although each personality theorist’s idea attempts to define human psychological development there are quite a few dissimilarities between the two concepts; however, as much dissimilarity that may exist between the hierarchy of needs and psychogenic needs, both Maslow and Murray endeavored towards the same goal: to show the importance of studying human psychological growth, and to successfully place the study of personality on the map of psychological education. More importantly, the basic message behind Murray’s and Maslow’s concepts was that when one undergoes psychological development successfully, it results in that person’s ability to attain their full human potential.

Abraham Maslow’s concept of a hierarchy of needs focuses on what motivates us as humans to reach our full potential via the fulfillment of basic needs to meet more advanced and complex needs. Maslow’s theory is usually displayed as a pyramid divided into eight stages. Maslow’s original pyramid had five levels of basic needs: Physiological needs, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem, which all lead to the last stage of Self Actualization. He later included three additional levels: Cognitive needs, and Aesthetic needs (appearing after the stage of Esteem), and the stage of Transcendence (appearing after Self Actualization).

The first stage of Maslow’s pyramid of hierarchical needs was comprised of the needs of our physiological demands such as oxygen, water, minerals and vitamins, maintaining our internal pH balance and body temperature, getting rid of bodily wastes, sleep, and sex. After one satisfied their physiological needs, they could move onto the second stage of needs, safety and security. Stability, protection, and desires for structure and limits would be of utmost concern in this stage. Fret over job security, securing a financial nest egg, establishing residence in a safe community, etc. would be examples of what an individual would experience within stage two of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The third stage of Maslow’s needs entailed love and belonging. A desire for friends, lovers, family, and community becomes important to an individual. The need to love and be loved is very important for people to achieve in order to be able to move into the fourth level. Peer and familial approval define personal success and status, in-turn cultivating our self-worth within the fourth stage of esteem. To seek knowledge and increase our intelligence would allow us to gain a better understanding of the world, thus attaining the fifth level of cognitive needs. The sixth need, aesthetic desire sanctions the appreciation of beauty in what the world offers. The successful accomplishment of the sixth stage would allow us to feel intimacy and unanimity with nature and all that is beautiful. The seventh stage, self-actualization, is the instinctual need to make the most of our abilities. At this stage, an individual could “experience extraordinary moments known as Peak Experiences which include transpersonal and ecstatic states tinged with themes of euphoria, harmonization and interconnectedness” (Boeree, 2006). Having achieved self-actualization, one would feel the need to help others achieve self-actualization within the last stage of transcendence. In helping others to achieve self-actualization, we experience a state beyond ego and normal human consciousness (Boeree, 2006).

Maslow theorized that an individual would not feel the needs in the next level until the demands of the preceding level had been satisfied. Thus, before a person was able to address their cognitive and aesthetic needs, their biological and safety needs must have been satisfactorily taken care of. Also,...
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