In the early months of 1966, Abraham Maslow felt alienated from the American Psychological Association, his professional home. Maslow saw the APA dominated by experimental psychologists with sophisticated use of statistics. Behaviorists, neurological psychologists, and learning theorists seemed in control. These areas were not Maslow’s. As research-based psychology grew, Maslow saw himself less and less of a psychologist; he felt the “research impulse” drain from him. He questioned whether he should even call himself a psychologist. He had “dream fantasies about being thrown out of APA’ (p. 730).
And then on May 9 he was nominated to be president of the APA. Maslow wrote, “Apparently I’ve read the situations incorrectly, feeling out of things, alienated from the APA, rejected & rejecting” (p. 730). On July 8 he was elected president of the APA. He thought he was an outcast, isolated, unappreciated. Maslow was wrong.
Maslow was a brilliant psychologist but his perceptions of his relationships with others, how others saw him, his place in the profession was totally wrong. He thought he was a “maverick” and unappreciated when it fact he was respected and admired.
How often do we form perceptions about ourselves or others that are misinformed? We develop attitudes that we confirm, self-fulfilling what we thought. Or others do likewise about us. We live in a perceptual world where errors and biases may mislead. Our perceptions may or may not be accurate. Occasionally we might be mistaken or be in error.
What to do? Identify your assumptions. Question any perceptions that are troublesome. Seek confirming or disconfirming information from others and other sources. Being objective sometimes is tough but we need to be objective to excel in our decisions and in our leadership of others.
Reference: The Journals of A. H. Maslow, Vol II, edited by R. J. Lowry. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, Monterey California. 1979.
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