Self-Actualization Myths: What Did Maslow Really Say?

Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Ahead of Print. Maslow’s theory of self-actualization is one of the most well-known theories both in psychology and to the public. It is also frequently misunderstood or misinterpreted. This article presents myths about self-actualization theory and myths about Maslow’s thoughts on science. Maslow’s own writings are used to refute the myths. The myths cover topics such as the following: empirical support for the theory, the composition of and movement through the needs hierarchy, the “self” in self-actualization, hidden elitism in the theory, and happiness in self-actualizing people. The relevance of Maslow’s self-actualization theory for contemporary psychology is also discussed.