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A Theory of Human Motivation

A Theory of Human Motivation
A. H. Maslow (1943)
Classics in the History of Psychology
An internet resource developed by
Christopher D. Green
York University, Toronto, Ontario
ISSN 1492-3713
(Return to Classics
A Theory of Human Motivation
A. H. Maslow (1943)
Originally Published in Psychological Review, 50, 370-396.
Posted August 2000
In a previous paper (13) various propositions were presented which would have to be
in any theory of human motivation that could lay claim to being definitive. These
may be briefly summarized as follows:
1. The integrated wholeness of the organism must be one of the foundation stones
of motivation theory.
2. The hunger drive (or any other physiological drive) was rejected as a centering
point or model for a definitive theory of motivation. Any drive that is somatically
based and localizable was shown to be atypical rather than typical in human
3. Such a theory should stress and center itself upon ultimate or basic goals rather
than partial or superficial ones, upon ends rather than means to these ends. Such a
stress would imply a more central place for unconscious than for conscious
4. There are usually available various cultural paths to the same goal. Therefore
conscious, specific, local-cultural desires are not as fundamental in motivation
theory as the more basic, unconscious goals.
5. Any motivated behavior, either preparatory or consummatory, must be
understood to be a channel through which many basic needs may be
simultaneously expressed or satisfied. Typically an act has more than one
6. Practically all organismic states are to be understood as motivated and as
7. Human needs arrange themselves in hierarchies of pre-potency. That is to say,
the appearance of one need usually rests on the prior satisfaction of another, more
pre-potent need. Man is a perpetually wanting animal. Also no need or drive can be
treated as if it were isolated or discrete; every drive is related to the state of
satisfaction or dissatisfaction of other drives.
8. Lists of drives will get us nowhere for various theoretical and practical reasons.
Furthermore any classification of motivations [p. 371] must deal with the problem of
levels of specificity or generalization the motives to be classified.
9. Classifications of motivations must be based upon goals rather than upon
instigating drives or motivated behavior.
10. Motivation theory should be human-centered rather than animal-centered.