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Masters over Maslow

  • Date Submitted: 04/18/2013 08:19 AM
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Want to Get People out of Poverty?   Replace Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with Masters Circles of Strength

By Jim Masters, July 2004


In the 1960’s in our Kansas City Regional Office of the Office of Economic Opportunity a typical one-sentence rationale for some course of action was often given as “You can’t do a good job (at work, in school) if you are hungry.”   Or, “You have a hard time concentrating on work if you don’t know where you are going to sleep that night.”   These common-sense perceptions were often used as a quick verbal summary of pages and pages of narrative as the rationale for pursuing a particular strategy.   In looking more closely at the type of thinking that existed in the 1960’s and 1970’s, we see that the assumptions underlying many current programs were developed then, and like all tacit knowledge, over time they have sunk into the subconscious.   In trying to dredge these assumptions up for review, my opinion is that all roads lead to Maslow.

      Abraham Maslow first put forth his concept of human motivation and needs in
1943.   At the time this was a refreshing change from the dominant theories of the day, the stimulus- response theories promoted by B.F. Skinner and Ivan Pavlov which purported to describe the major drivers of human behavior.

          “In 1954, Maslow first published "Motivation and Personality," which introduced his theory about how people satisfy various personal needs in the context of their work. He postulated, based on his observations as a humanistic psychologist, that there is a general pattern of needs recognition and satisfaction that people follow in generally the same sequence. He also theorized that a person could not recognize or pursue the next higher need in the hierarchy until her or his currently recognized need was substantially or completely satisfied, a concept called prepotency.”   From:   Herzberg's Theory of Motivation and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. ERIC Digest.    By Gawel, Joseph E. ...

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