Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

Table of Contents | Cover Page  |  Editors  |  Contributors  |  Introduction  |  Web Version


(1908-1970) Psychologist and author at Brandeis University.

Maslow argued that each person has a hierarchy of needs, ranging from basic physiological requirements to love, esteem, and, finally, self-actualization. As lower needs are met, higher levels in the emotional hierarchy demand attention. Those who satisfy their highest needs are "self-actualizers." Such individuals have a propensity for "peak experiences." Maslow argued that such intense, transcendent episodes were at the heart of all religions, and that organized religion seeks to pass on meanings derived from peak experiences to those who lack the ability to attain them. Maslow believed that peak experiences are natural events that need not be cast in religious terms.

See also Experience

James McClenon


E. Hoffman, The Right to Be Human (Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1988)

A. H. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being (Princeton, N.J.: Van Nostrand, 1962)

A. H. Maslow, Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1964).

return to Encyclopedia Table of Contents

Hartford Institute for Religion Research   hirr@hartsem.edu
Hartford Seminary, 77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT 06105  860-509-9500