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, one could not transcend and help others become self-actualized unless he/she had achieved self-actualization themselves. Maslow believed that the understanding and the enhancement of our personality’s development was important to developing a healthy personality.
If one’s lower level needs were not adequately met, they would become stuck at that level and their personality would become dominated by the needs of that level. The hierarchy of needs has several strengths that have made this theory integral to the field of psychology. The biggest strength of Maslow’s need theory relates to its intuitive nature – awareness of emotions. It is this strength that supports practitioners in using the theory despite the lack of supportive evidence (O’Connor & Ybatel, 2007).
Another strength of Maslow’s theory is that it focuses on the individual’s own constructs and experiences instead of focusing on the mentally ill. On the other hand, Maslow’s theory does have several weaknesses. First, due to the lack of specificity in Maslow’s theory, it is easily applied in various ways making it difficult to test and study. Another weakness is that just as norms between individuals fluctuate, so do norms between cultures. Variables such as esteem and self-actualization may have very different meanings amongst different cultures, thus making it difficult to standardize Maslow’s theory and the definitions of the components.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory was developed by American theorists and the research was conducted only with American participants. The different value systems of other cultures result in different needs. For example, in collective societies, belonging is a basic need while self-esteem is less important. Lastly, in this day and age, most Americans are lucky enough to have a majority of their basic needs satisfied (if poor, there are programs available to provide shelter and food), this causes many people to work on needs in other levels of the hierarchy.
Those in life-risking employments (police officers, military members, etc. ) or self-sacrificing employments (teachers, rural doctors), risk their lives every day to save others. This exception shows that there are people who will sacrifice their own basic needs for the welfare of others. Known for coining the term personology, Henry Murray theorized that environmental motives, needs, and forces play a significant role in the expression of one’s psychogenic needs (needs that originate in our minds, and/or from our emotions). He referred to these forces as “press”, in reference to the pressures that force us to act/behave.
Personology was to be understood as the interaction between internal needs and environmental presses. A person’s expression was dependent upon their interaction with their environment, which would facilitate and/or impair the satisfaction of their needs. Murray identified approximately 27 psychogenic needs (dependent on the time frame being researched, Murray originally identified twenty needs which remain highly representative and are in bold below). According to Straker, Murray’s needs are divided into six groups: Ambitious needs, Materialistic needs, Power needs, Status Defense needs, Affection needs, and Information needs (2002):
Group I: Ambitious needs – achievement*, exhibition, and recognition. Group II: Materialistic needs – acquisition, retention, order, and construction. Group III: Power needs – abasement, aggression, autonomy, blame avoidance, contrariance, deference, dominance* (also known as power), harmavoidance, and infavoidance. Group IV: Status Defense needs – counteraction, and defendance. Group V: Affection needs – affiliation*, nurturance, play, rejection, sex, succorance, and sentience. Group VI: Information needs – cognizance, understanding, and exposition.
Three of Murray’s Psychogenic Needs have been the focus of considerable research: The need for Power (nPow), Affiliation (nAff) and Achievement (nAch) (Hall & Lindzey, 1978). There are also cultural and gender differences among these three needs. For example, the United States rates higher in nAch than other countries who focus more on relationships and nAff. Men and women tend to demonstrate their needs differently from each other. Men with high nPow tend to be risk-takers and act out more readily; women with high nPow tend to be more active in volunteer activities (Heffner, 2002).
Unlike Maslow, Murray did not believe there was a hierarchy system amongst needs as they were all as important as one’s biological needs. Also, Maslow believed these needs could co-exist in a healthy— and unhealthy— person. Another difference between Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs and Murray’s theory of psychogenic needs is that Murray believed that though people work towards the reduction of physiological and psychological tension, this did not always result in our achievement of a tension-free state.
Instead, the process of acting to reduce inner turmoil was in itself satisfying rather than the attainment of a condition free of all tension (Murray, 1938). Maslow on the other hand, as stated above, believed that should a person not successfully complete the needs of each level in order, they would be unable to move forward towards the next level of needs, thus that person would suffer inner turmoil for as long as they were stuck on a level, and be psychologically unhealthy. Despite the differences between the two theorists’ concepts, both share similarities.
Maslow and Murray believed our needs were at an unconscious level and biologically-based. They both believed that behavior was a function of the person as well as the environment. Psychological needs were not dissimilar to the needs for foods and vitamins. Both believed that as an individual continues to develop over the span of their life, their psychological needs would be ever changing, thus there would never really be a static cessation of need satisfaction (Frager, 2005).
Murray had distinguished his needs into two categories: primary and secondary needs, and reactive and proactive needs (Hall & Lindzey, 1978). Primary needs consisted of survival and internal bodily process needs (i. e. food, air, sex); secondary needs consisted of emotional and psychogenic needs (i. e. achievement, affiliation); reactive needs consisted of needs that involved a response to a specific object (i. e. defendance would be aroused in response to a threat); and proactive needs were spontaneous needs that elicited appropriate behaviors when aroused (i. . power needs or affection needs) (Hall & Lindzey, 1978). Although not labeled as such, one can see a similarity between Murray and Maslow’s categories. As Murray labeled certain needs as primaries, Maslow’s first and second level needs entail the same variables and meaning; Murray’s secondary needs are the same as Maslow’s third level variables; Maslow’s fourth and fifth levels contain variables that may be categorized as reactive needs, and levels six through eight can be interpreted as proactive needs.
There are differing views about what drives humans to think and behave the way they do. Abraham Maslow concurred that striving for self-enhancement consisted of the combinations of needs humans drew upon in their quest for self-improvement, described through his concept of a hierarchy of needs. Henry Murray’s theory was that we behave in ways which reflect a combination of past experiences and future goals. Murray’s theory of needs and wants were described in his theory of psychogenic needs.
While the two theories differ, the basis for each of these concepts is shared. Works Referenced Boeree, G. (2006). Abraham Maslow. Retrieved from http://webspace. ship. edu/cgboer/maslow. html Frager, R. , & Fadiman, J. (2005). Personality and Personal Growth (6th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Hall, C. , & Lindzey, G. (1978). Theories of Personality (3rd ed. ). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons. Heffner, C. (2002) Trait Theory.
In Personality Synopsis (Chapter 7, Section 3). Retrieved from http://allpsych. com/personalitysynopsis/murray. html. Murray, H. (1938). Explorations in Personality. New York: Oxford University Press. Straker, D. (2002). Changing Minds. Retrieved from http://changingminds. org/and/students. htm#ref O’Connor, D. , & Yballe, L.. (2007). Maslow Revisited: Construction a Road Map of Human Nature. Journal of Management Education, 31(6), 738-756. Retrieved January 21, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global.
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