Abraham Maslow Quotes About Psychology

Maslow Pyramid. Credit: Henry Rivers/ GettyImages

Abraham Maslow was a psychologist and the founder of the school of thought known as humanistic psychology. Perhaps best remembered for his famous needs hierarchy, he believed in the basic goodness of people and was interested in topics such as peak experiences, positivity, and human potential.

In addition to his work as a teacher and researcher, Maslow also published several popular works including Toward a Psychology of Being and Motivation and Personality. The following are just a few selected quotations from his published works:

On Human Nature

  • "When people appear to be something other than good and decent, it is only because they are reacting to stress, pain, or the deprivation of basic human needs such as security, love, and self-esteem."
    (Toward a Psychology of Being, 1968)
  • "Getting used to our blessings is one of the most important nonevil generators of human evil, tragedy, and suffering."
    (Motivation and Personality, 1954)
  • "It seems that the necessary thing to do is not to fear mistakes, to plunge in, to do the best that one can, hoping to learn enough from blunders to correct them eventually."
    (Motivation and Personality, 1954)
  • "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."
    (The Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance, 1966)

On Self-Actualization

  • "Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection as if all people were members of a single family."
    (Motivation and Personality, 1954)
  • "Self-actualizing persons' contact with reality is simply more direct. And along with this unfiltered, unmediated directness of their contact with reality comes also a vastly heightened ability to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy, however, stale those experiences may have become for others."
    (Toward a Psychology of Being, 1968)
  • "Something of the sort has already been described for the self-actualizing person. Everything now comes of its own accord, pouring out, without will, effortlessly, purposelessly. He acts now totally and without deficiency, not homeostatically or need-reductively, not to avoid pain or displeasure or death, not for the sake of a goal further on in the future, not for any end other than itself. His behavior and experience become per se, and self-validating, end-behavior and end-experience, rather than means-behavior or means-experience."
    (Toward a Psychology of Being, 1968)
  • "Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves. What human beings can be, they must be. They must be true to their own nature. This need we may call self-actualization.
    (Motivation and Personality, 1954)

On Love

  • "I may say that (Being) love, in a profound but testable sense, creates the partner. it gives him a self-image, it gives him self-acceptance, a feeling of love-worthiness, all of which permit him to grow. It is a real question whether the full development of the human being is possible without it."
    (Toward a Psychology Being, 1968)

On Peak Experiences

  • "The person in peak-experiences feels himself, more than other times, to be the responsible, active, creating center of his activities and of his perceptions. He feels more like a prime-mover, more self-determined (rather than caused, determined, helpless, dependent, passive, weak, bossed). He feels himself to be his own boss, fully responsible, fully volitional, with more "free-will" than at other times, master of his fate, an agent."
    (Toward a Psychology of Being, 1968
  • "Expression and communication in the peak–experiences tend often to become poetic, mythical, and rhapsodic as if this were the natural kind of language to express such states of being."
    (Toward a Psychology of Being, 1968)

You can learn more about Abraham Maslow by reading this brief biography of his life, further explore his hierarchy of needs and his concept of self-actualization.


Maslow, A. Motivation and Personality. 1954. 

Maslow, A. The Psychology of Renaissance. 1966. 

Maslow, A. Towards a Psychology of Being. 1968. 

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Cherry, Kendra, MSEd. "Abraham Maslow Quotes About Psychology." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/abraham-maslow-quotes-2795686. Cherry, Kendra, MSEd. (2020, August 26). Abraham Maslow Quotes About Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/abraham-maslow-quotes-2795686 Cherry, Kendra, MSEd. "Abraham Maslow Quotes About Psychology." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/abraham-maslow-quotes-2795686 (accessed June 9, 2023).