Compare the theories of Abraham Maslow and Jean Piaget.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A. Maslow, the father of humanist psychology (psych applied to human need) offered the paradigm called "The Hierarchy of Human Needs", which contends that humans need to satisfy a number of needs inherent to our genetic and developmental make-up, in order to grown into productive and healthy individuals.

He breaks down this hierarchy into:

Physiological: Food, water, air, shelter excresion, homeostasis

Safety: food, home, work, security, etc

Love: friends, family, intimacy

Esteem: dignity, self-respect, pride, self-love

Self- Actualization: morality, creativity, inspiration, faith

The Hierarchy of Needs is also known as Maslow's Self Actualization Theory of Human Psychology.


Piagets Genetic Epistemology serves as a developmental map, or blueprint that assumes that humans will behave in a certain way during their growth process provided that all the right elements are in place.  Hence, you get the well-known Sensory Motor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, and Formal Operational epigenetic stages.

Comparatively, both theories argue that humans, as a species, need a series of environmental, psychological, and societal support systems that would provide physiological and psychological support for our needs.

They also argue comparatively that the needs are real, and that need to be met in order for humans to develop in a healthy way both physically and mentally.

The only contrast among the two is that Maslow is more generic in terms of stages of development while Piaget gives more emphasis to specific periods in time and labels these stages with more ease than Maslow, who is less quantitatively inclined and more qualitative driven.