Maslow’s Theory; Biological & Humanistic Approaches to the Formation of Personality Research Paper


The development of personality is a long and complex process and there are a lot of factors which influence it. Among various approaches to personality, the most famous and influential ones  are biological and humanistic approaches. Biological approach insists that mainly biological factors influence personality’s formation, while humanistic approach states that a person is being formed here and now and subjective experience and person’s free will are the leading factors in his or her formation. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs allows to get a deep understanding of personality’s formation, its correlation with the biological factors allows to make distinctions between different approaches and realize the leading factors of personality’s formation.


Abraham Maslow, a famous humanist psychologist, for the first time introduced his hierarchy of needs in 1943 in his book Motivation and Personality. According his theory, person commits particular actions in order to satisfy particular needs. Maslow suggests the hierarchy of needs and states that the person only fulfilling needs of the basic level may move to the second and so on. Moving on the hierarchy from physiological needs to the so-called growth needs the person is able to reach self-actualization and full realization. That is the highest stage in the process of personality  formation and the person is able to realize all the potential here.

The bottom of Maslow’s pyramid is psychological needs. These are basis needs, such as sleep, food, drink, warmth which are necessary for survival. The next level from the bottom is safety and security needs. These needs presume security of people’s body and environment. Health care, safe environment, stable work and shelter are examples of safety needs. The next level is social needs. When the two previous groups of needs are fulfilled the person needs to feel other people’s love, sympathy and belonging to a particular group. On this stage family is formed. The next needs are esteem needs. They presume person’s natural desire to feel esteem and respect. On this level the person must feel that he or she does not only belong to a particular social group but also that he or she is accepted and respected by this group. The next and the highest stage is self-actualization (growth) needs. These needs include high spiritual qualities, such as morality, creativity, tolerance to other people, etc. At this level the personality is formed. The first four levels of Maslow’s pyramid have got deficit needs, however, the last level, the self-actualizing needs, presume growth needs. Deficit needs have to be fulfilled for the person’s psychical and emotional normal state and without them the person cannot concentrate on something else, while growth needs give an opportunity for self-development and formation of personality, in fact. Maslow states that people at the level of self-actualization share a number of peculiar personality traits. They have the feeling of unity and meaningfulness. They are not afraid to face problems and are ready with up-to-to-date and adequate solutions. Creativity and spontaneity in its positive meaning are also features peculiar to such individualities. They have the feeling of awareness and real sense of life. Maslow insists that only self-actualized people may become mature well-formed personalities.


Maslow presents a humanistic view on the personality’s formation, however, biological factors also play an important role in this process and they cannot be neglected. Among them genetics is considered to be the most influential and meaningful factor. Representatives of the biological approach believe that genetics and heredity belong to the determining factors of personality’s formation. Biological factors determine person’s temperament which is considered to be person’s in-born feature. Temperament is one of the components of the personality. For example, such characteristics as the level of activity or mood quality belong to temperament characteristics. “Temperamental characteristics are expressed in different ways as the person matures, but are always there, no matter whether experience tend to encourage or discourage them” (Friedman & Schustack, 2011, p. 128). Temperament is determined by the biological factors. Earlier genetic study concentrated on the close correlation between specific genes and specific personality traits, however, today modern researches investigate activation of genes and their relation to personality. Despite the fact the human genome plays an important role in the personality’s formation, the extent of its influence has not been determined yet.


Maslow’s theory of needs and the biological approach to the formation of personality coincide at some points. For example,  Maslow puts such needs as food, shelter, sleep, drink on the basement of his pyramid. These physiological needs are biological requirements, in fact. Moreover, such biological factors as heredity, influence of human genome, physical characteristics, brain and others are the necessary components which allow to move from one Maslow’s level to another. So, there is a correlation between Maslow’s approach and the biological one, however, there are a lot of points in these two approaches which do not coincide.

Humanistic approach to the personality’s formation concentrates on the present moment, people’s feeling, their self-actualization and self-fulfilment. Self-actualization is the inner process which activates people’s potential and allows to realize it. According to this approach, the person’s development derives from inner motives and have no correlation with the biological approach. “Humanistic theories derive from dynamic and complex inner motives that do not hold compatibility with the biological explanations in regard to human personalities; such as with biological theories focusing on thought processes instead of a sense of self-worth, and with biological or genetic influences or structures that determine personality; therefore, biological theories follow beliefs in regard to personality being under the control of genetics” (Friedman & Schustack, 2011, p.221). So, these two approaches have serious differences.


The development of personality is a complex process and it cannot be analyzed only from one narrow perspectives. Two approaches, the humanistic and the biological one give an opportunity to take into account different factors which may influence personality’s formation. Maslow’s theory allows to understand that formation of personality traits is influenced by the self-actualizing, or the growth needs. Biological factors cannot be neglected in regards to the process of personality’s formation, however, they cannot be analyzed apart from the humanistic approach.



Friedman, H.S., & Schustack, M.W., (2011). Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research (5th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: January 20, 2022] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
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[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]
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