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Abraham Maslow: Life And Contributions

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Abraham Maslow was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 1, 1908. His parents were Jewish emigrants from Russia. Abraham was the first of seven children describing his young childhood as unhappy and lonely. He spent much of his time in the library absorbed in books. Maslow studied law at City College of New York. According to Cherry (2014), Maslow married his first cousin Martha Goodman. (Cherry, 2014) Maslow switched to the University of Wisconsin where his major changed to psychology. Abraham Maslow obtained his bachelor’s, Master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology from the University of Wisconsin. Maslow began teaching at Brooklyn College in 1937 and remained a member of the faculty until 1951. In an article stated in About Health, Cherry (2014) stated that Maslow’s Theory includes the hierarchy of needs, self-actualization, and peek experiences, all of which became important factors to the humanist. (Cherry, 2014) Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs states that people are motivated to complete basic needs before moving on to other more developed needs. (Cherry, 2014) According to an article in About Health (Cherry, 2015), there are 5 levels of the Hierarchy of Needs which include- 1. Psychological needs- basic needs such as food, water, and rest. 2. Security needs- safety and security which are needed to survive. 3. Esteem needs- Things such as personal worth. 4. Social needs- such as “belonging” and these needs include feelings of love and affection. 5. Self-actualizing needs- self-aware concerned with self-growth, rather than opinions of others. (Cherry, 2015)

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory has made a large contribution to schools. As stated in the article in “Simply Psychology” by McLeod (2014), Maslow’s theory states that to reduce the behavior, one must focus on the individual’s whole physical, emotional, social, and intellectual qualities. The Hierarchy of needs pyramid set up helps also by showing that before a student’s cognitive needs are met they must fulfill basic psychological needs. An example of this is when a child is hungry or tired they may have trouble focusing on a task. (McLeod, 2014) One of the criticisms of the Hierarchy of needs theory is the pyramid model. The fact that Maslow believed that lower-level needs needed to be met before higher needs is not always true. (McLeod, 2014) It has been seen in plenty of places where poverty is widespread or economic restrictions are prevalent. Just because one is poor and they don’t have food doesn’t mean they are incapable of loving or being loved. According to Maslow, these needs should be met first but that’s not always the case. (McLeod, 2014)

After reading the different levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, I fully believe that is theory was tested and implemented correctly. Basic needs should always be met first because they are easier to achieve. The pyramid levels support each other; you can’t have one without the other. Though the limitations to the Theory make sense, in my opinion, if I’m homeless or poor with no food, where do I belong, who would love me? Self-esteem is built when one sees their self-worth. If I don’t see it how can I believe it or feel it. I haven’t mastered level three on the pyramid, which is self-esteem how can I reach level five which is self-actualizing. I’m going to constantly feel worthless and worry about other people’s opinions because I don’t feel good about myself. How can I reach a goal or accomplish anything if I haven’t rested well or eaten anything? These are things that are included in level one of the pyramid’s psychological needs. Maslow’s theory focuses on the whole person and not just one aspect because people are so diverse that behavior is controlled by more than one factor.

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John Watson was born to a poor family in Greenville, SC in 1978. John’s mother was very religious but his father wasn’t. John’s father drank and had extramarital affairs. He was raised by his parents until his father left home in 1891. John attended college at the University of Chicago where he met and married his first wife Mary Ikes. They had two children, Mary and John. John was unfaithful to his marriage to Mary which resulted in a divorce. John remarried one of his graduate students, Rosalie Rayner. They had two children, James and William. While attending the University of Chicago, John became interested in the field of comparative psychology and studying animals. John pursued a doctorate and graduated in 1903. He then became an associate professor of psychology at Johns Hopkins University. According to Psychology Encyclopedia, John became known as the founder of Behaviorism.

John did a study that was called the Little Albert Experiment. He theorized that children have three basic emotional reactions which are fear, rage, and love. (Psychology Encyclopedia, 2015) According to Berk and Meyers, behaviorism is a directly observable event as the focus of study. Behaviorism is a theory of learning that all behaviors are obtained during conditioning. Behaviorists believe that our responses to environmental stimuli shape our actions. According to Berk and Meyers, Watson was inspired by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov’s study of animal learning and wondered if his discovery of classical conditioning could be applied to children’s behavior. Watson did a study on an eleven-month-old infant, Albert, to fear a soft white rat. The first time the rat was shown to the child he reached out to touch it. But to condition the child to fear the rate, Watson would present the rat along with a sharp, loud sound, which naturally scared the baby. Every time he presented the rat he would present the sharp, loud sound. Watson concluded that the environment is the supreme force in the development and that adults can mold children’s behavior by carefully controlling stimulus-response associations. Behaviorism was expanded on when B.F. Skinner introduced operant conditioning theory. He believed that behavior can be increased with a wide variety of reinforces. (Berk and Meyers, 2016)

According to Berk and Meyers, behaviorism had a great impact on practices with children. Berk and Meyers’s definition of applied behavior analysis states that it consists of observations of relationships between behavior and environmental events followed by systematic changes in those events based on procedures of conditioning trying to get rid of unwanted behaviors and increase desirable responses. (Berk & Meyers, 2016) The analysis approaches have been useful in helping children and adults with harmful behaviors. Watson’s theory of behaviorism has been criticized because it underestimates children’s ability to contribute to their learning. (Berk and Meyers, 2016) Cherry (2015) stated that this theory is one dimensional. Critics suggest that behavioral theories don’t allow independence and inner influences like mood, thoughts, and feelings. (Cherry, 2015) Another limitation of this theory is that it doesn’t allow room for other types of learning. Learning can happen without punishment and reinforcement. (Berk and Meyers, 2016) I agree with Watson’s Theory. Watson’s behaviorism theory has been vivid in my life experiences. Watson believed that the environment is the supreme force in the development and that adults can mold children’s behavior is so true. Whether it is positive or negative conditioning it affects child behavior. During an observation of my toddler room, I observed the teacher directing the infants to clean up. When they started cleaning up, she demonstrated picking up the toys and placing them into the bucket. The toddlers began to sing the clean-up song. The teacher handed a child a toy to place in the bucket. The child took the toy, threw it across the room. Shaking her head with a sad face, the teacher reminded the child that we are cleaning up and not to throw the toy because it may hurt his friends. She proceeded to give the child the toy again to place it into the bucket. When the child threw the toy this time she removed the child from the play area and explained to the toddler what the proper procedure and that he can come back and join us when he is ready to help. A few minutes passed. The toddler got up tapped the teacher and said cleanup. The toddler conditioned himself to pick up the toy and place them into the bucket. The teacher shared with me in a staff meeting that her toddlers understand how to clean up because of her constant reinforcement. Watson understood the outcome of molding any child to the conditions of its environment. McLeod stated that “there is still a need for teachers to try to make sure that students associate positive emotional experiences with learning”. (McLeod, 2014)

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