Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford


  • Ian G. HansenEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1499-1


There are various psychological definitions of self-actualization, but these converge on the idea of an organism reaching its full existential capacity. Abraham Maslow popularized the term in the context of his theory of human personality and motivation, though a number of psychologists have employed the term with slightly different theoretical emphases, including one of Maslow’s mentors, Kurt Goldstein (e.g., Goldstein 1940). Maslow’s particular sense of self-actualization describes the highest potential of human flourishing, a state of being in which motivation itself largely falls away:

Self-actualization, the coming to full development and actuality of the potentialities of the organism, is more akin to growth and maturation than it is to habit formation or association via reward, that is, it is not acquired from without but is rather an unfolding from within of what is, in a subtle sense, already there. Spontaneity at the self-actualizing level – being healthy, natural...


Surgical Coldness Humanistic Therapy Potential Selfishness Instinctive Drive Neurotic People 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.York College, CUNYJamaicaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ilan Dar-Nimrod
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SydneySydneyAustralia