Maslow Theory in the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’

According to Maslow’s theory every human progressively pursues a predetermined criterion in a bid to achieve their needs to the required level of satisfaction.

According to Montana and Charnov, “Maslow suggested that there are five needs systems that account for most of our behaviour. These he place in a hierarchy ranging from the most primitive and immature-in terms of the behaviour they promote-to the most civilized and mature”.The needs are essentially arranged in an incremental triangular model portraying the progressive achievement of the aforementioned goals starting from the lowest to the highest. According to the assumptions postulated by Maslow, the needs can be elementally arranged as follows: basic physiological needs, safety needs, belonging/affiliation needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.Based on these assumptions, the human needs are elementally achieved in this manner. Furthermore, “.

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..because physiological needs are the most basic, individuals focus first on their fulfilment. According to Maslow only after these needs have been met would an individual turn his or her attention to the fulfilment of needs further up on the needs hierarchy”.Maslow Theory in the Movie Pursuit of Happiness Case Study

Maslow Theory as seen in the movie ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’

This movie can essentially be used to portray the manner in which the distinctive stages of the Maslow hierarchy of needs are being achieved by the main cast. The movie is essentially a story about ‘Christopher Gardner’ who is bent on achieving key business objectives in his endeavour for success. In his business idea he specialises in the supply of device christened the ‘bone density scanner.’ This is a technology which he has taken time to develop and understand its operations, which explains his satisfaction hat it can actually sell in the market.

Basic physiological needs

Christopher Gardner strives to fulfil his basic physiological needs by pushing forth his business goals by marketing the bone density scanners in various business settings.

This comes even after doing critical demonstrations on their operational abilities to various prospective customers. The bone of contention is the existence of other better patents seems to prevent his successful acquaintance of prospective clients. According to Maslow people become frustrated when they are essentially unable to utilize their talents to the fullest in pursuance of their interests.

Safety needs

Things get hard for Christopher Gardner and he is thrown out in the streets with his son when he does not seem to make ends meet due to failure in his business pursuits. This greatly compromises his safety. Furthermore we observe his safety being compromised when we see him being arrested after the parking ticker scenario.

This leads to his being jailed. This shows the manner in which his safety needs are significantly impaired against his wishes. The movie fundamentally exposes the main cast to fundamental safety issues.

Belonging/affiliation needs

Christopher Gardner’s decision to invest the family savings to the buy bone density scanners seems leads to a disagreement with his wife during which his wife leaves him with the son. In a bid to revive this relationship he decides to go on with his pursuit with a hope of making it a success.

In addition, he needs to make his son feel like he is in a family. This leads to the development of a dilemma situation in which he is insure of how he is going to balance the emerging issues within his current means. In fact, his decision to keep up the struggle comes from the need to find his son and himself a family situation. In the end we also see him go looking for his son when he gets the good news that he will be given the broker job and embraces him. Here he essentially shares his achievement with his son and aims at assuring him that everything is fine.

Esteem needs

Christopher Gardner finds himself in a conflicting situation when he decides to attends a six month stockbroker training in the hope of attaining better job at the end of the training he is going to attain a better job. However, things get bad when the government down on his remaining little money in the bank, a situation that puts his self esteem in jeopardy. Furthermore, when Christopher Gardner turns up at the interview, the manager insists on him to wear decent shirt, a factor which further infringes on his self esteem virtues. According to Wieten et al, “People progress upward in the hierarchy when lower needs are satisfied reasonably well, but they may regress back to lower needs if basic needs cease to be satisfied”.

Self-Actualization needs

Christopher Gardner is finally accepted as a broker for the firms which he was in essence working for, an act which makes to almost break down into tears as it reminds him of the significant struggles he has been through to reach where he is. The climax of his self actualization comes when we see Gardner rushing to the school where he took his son to be taken care of and proceeds to embrace him, a significant indicator that all their tribulations will be solved.

This elementally leads to the emancipation of self actualization. According to Weiten et al, “Maslow summarised this concept with a simple statement: what a man can be, he must be”.