Literature Study GuidesA Theory Of Human Motivation

A Theory of Human Motivation | Study Guide

Abraham Maslow

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Abraham Maslow

Year Published





Argument, Philosophy, Science

At a Glance

In a 1943 article published in the scientific journal Psychological Review, Abraham Maslow examines the nature of human motivation. He argues that humans are driven by a hierarchy of needs that strongly influence their priorities. A human who is starving cannot worry about economic advancement or personal fulfillment until this more immediate need is satisfied. Maslow uses a combination of anecdotal evidence, logic, and research to argue that if humans are to reach their full potential they must be provided with the basic necessities. It is unfair to judge a starving person for lacking the same priorities as someone who has grown up in a secure environment.

After the initial publication of his essay, Maslow's ideas went on to influence a variety of social programs, including free meal programs at public schools and increased health care for workers.

Perspective and Narrator

"A Theory of Human Motivation" is written in the present tense and explained by a first-person limited narrator. The overall tone of the essay is formal, but occasionally the narrator directly addresses the reader to drive home particular ideas.

About the Title

The title "A Theory of Human Motivation" directly states the topic that will be addressed in the essay. Maslow intentionally uses the word "human" in the title to distinguish human motivations from animal ones, since humans act using a combination of subconscious desire and logic whereas animals are driven purely by instinct.


This study guide for Abraham Maslow's A Theory of Human Motivation offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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