Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Marie Byrd-Blake & Larry McNeal
Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) originated the concept of self-actualization from his study of humanistic psychology. This element of psychology focuses on the well-being of people and purports that humans are intrinsically good and have unrealized potential. When humans meet this unrealized potential, selfactualization occurs. In 1943, while a professor at Brooklyn College, Maslow developed a keen interest in two mentors: anthropologist Ruth Benedict and psychologist Max Wertheimer. He viewed them as being highly fulfilled people and began extensive studies on understanding their characteristics, habits, personalities, and abilities as well as those of other adults who were similarly exceptional. From those early studies, his theory of the self-actualization arose. In “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Maslow characterized self-actualization as a motivational state that comes forth when the more basic needs have been satisfied. He contended that all people are born with a set of basic needs that they seek to fulfill. Once ...