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PERSONALITY PSY234 Lecture 4 : Humanistic Theories. Dr Simon Boag Email: Readings. Carver, C. S. & Scheier, M. F. (2004). Perspectives on Personality . (pp. 382-411) Additional (non-assessable)

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personality psy234 lecture 4 humanistic theories

PERSONALITY PSY234 Lecture 4:Humanistic Theories

Dr Simon Boag


  • Carver, C. S. & Scheier, M. F. (2004). Perspectives on Personality. (pp. 382-411)

Additional (non-assessable)

  • Rogers, C. R. (1961). On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Maslow, A. H. (1962). Towards a Psychology of Being. New York: Van Nostrand.
lecture outline
Lecture Outline

I. Introduction to Humanistic Psychology

II. Carl Rogers’ theory

  • The Actualising tendency & the Fully-functioning person
  • Evaluation

III. Abraham Maslow’s theory

  • The Hierarchy of needs & Self-actualisation
  • Evaluation
learning outcomes
Learning Outcomes

After this lecture you should be able to:

  • Outline what distinguishes humanistic psychology as the ‘third force’
  • Explain & describe Roger’s theory of the fully-functioning person & the development of psychopathology
  • Explain & describe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs & its relationship to self-actualisation
i humanistic psychology
I. Humanistic Psychology
  • “Third force” in psychology
  • (Cf. psychoanalysis & behaviourism)
  • Focus on “higher” end of human experience
  • eg. creativity, human potential
  • Phenomenological (subjectivity)
  • Introspective
  • Values unique person (idiographic)
  • Non-deterministic: advocates free-will
ii carl rogers theory
II. Carl Rogers’ theory

Carl Rogers (1902-1987)

the actualising tendency
The Actualising Tendency

“… the directional trend which is evident in all organic & human life—the urge to expand, extend, develop, mature—the tendency to express & activate all capacities of the organism, or the self”

(Rogers, 1961, p.351).

  • ‘Acorn to oaktree’ model
  • Human motivation is fundamentally growth-directed & healthy
the core of personality is positive
The Core of Personality is Positive

“One of the most revolutionary concepts to grow out of our clinical experience is the growing recognition that the innermost core of man’s nature, the deepest layers of his personality, the base of his “animal nature,” is positive in nature—is basically socialised, forward-moving, rational and realistic”

(Rogers, 1961, p. 91).

why human problems
Why Human Problems?
  • Negative socialisation
  • Conditional positive regard:
  • Children accepted by parents when ‘good’ & rejected when ‘bad’
  • We develop the view: ‘I ought to be good’, ‘I have to be good’
  • We lose touch with our true nature (‘real self’ & actualising tendency)
  • Develop anIdeal self:Who we feel we should be (cf. superego)
  • Conflict between real & ideal self
  • ‘I am this but I should be that’
  • Real self evaluated as a threat
  • Psychopathology & defence mechanisms
  • Defensive masks (False selves)
  • Repression/denial: denying awareness to ourselves of who we really are
  • Therapy: reconnecting with who we really are
defensive living unsatisfying
Defensive Living Unsatisfying

“It seems to me that at bottom each person is asking, “Who am I, really? How can I get in touch with this real self, underlying all my surface behaviour? How can I become myself?”

(Rogers, 1961, p. 108).

unconditional positive regard
Unconditional Positive Regard
  • Healthy/positive socialisation
  • Parent etc. regards the ‘person’ positively irrespective of their behaviour
  • ‘Person’ distinct from ‘behaviour’
  • Allows child/client to explore their experience & potentials
  • Outcome:Fully functioning person

“… the therapist feels this client to be a person of unconditional self-worth: of value, no matter what his condition, his behaviour, or his feelings”

(Rogers, 1961, p. 185)

fully f unctioning person
Fully-Functioning Person

(1) Openness to experience

  • Non-censoring/non-defensive attitude
  • Receptive to both subjective/objective experience

(2) Existential living

“… an increasing tendency to live fully in each moment” (Rogers, 1961, p.188)

  • Living in the present; not past or future
  • Non-static, constant process of becoming
  • “… a direction, not a destination” (p. 186)
fully f unctioning person cont
Fully-Functioning Person (cont).

(3) Organismic trusting

  • Trusting oneself; not relying on others
  • “… doing what ‘feels right’” (Rogers, 1961, p. 189)

(4) Experiential freedom

  • Subjective freedom of choice in each moment

(5) Creativity

  • Creative products: eg. arts, science
  • Creative living: living non-habitually
evaluation of roger s theory
Evaluation of Roger’s Theory
  • “It has been my experience that persons have a basically positive direction” (Rogers, 1961, p. 26).
  • Naïve, overly-optimistic view of human nature?
  • What of wars, brutality etc?
rogers response
Rogers’ Response:

“I am quite aware that out of defensiveness & inner fear individuals can and do behave in ways which are incredibly cruel, horribly destructive … anti-social, hurtful. Yet one of the most refreshing and invigorating parts of my experience is to work with such individuals and to discover the strongly positive directional tendencies which exist in them, as in all of us, at the deepest levels”

(Rogers, 1961, p. 27).

evaluation of roger s theory18
Evaluation of Roger’s Theory
  • “Unconditional positive regard irresponsible”
  • eg. Greater drug experimentation in children

Client-centered Therapy:

  • Contributed therapeutic techniques
  • eg. uncond. pos. regard
  • Testable therapeutic concepts
  • eg. measurement of self-perception, ideal-self, and therapeutic effectiveness
abraham maslow s theory
Abraham Maslow’s Theory

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

maslow s approach
Maslow’s Approach
  • Rejection of mainstream psychology & scientific method
  • Science too limited for studying human nature
  • ‘Scientific attitude’ pathological (eg. Skinner’s)
  • Began psychology career studying ‘dominance’ in monkeys
  • “Psychopathology of the average”
psychopathology of the average
Psychopathology of the Average

“Certainly it seems more & more clear that what we call “normal” in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average, so undramatic & so widely spread that we don’t even notice it ordinarily”

(Maslow, 1968, p. 21)

maslow s approach22
Maslow’s Approach
  • We need to study psychologically healthy people to understand human nature, not psychopathological ones (cf. Freud)
  • Identified colleagues & historical figures that he considered psychologically healthy (reaching ‘full potential’)
  • eg. George Washington, Albert Einstein
  • Looked for common elements & identified self-actualising qualities
self actualisation the hierarchy of needs
Self-Actualisation & the Hierarchy of Needs
  • Self-actualisation:“… to become everything that one is capable of becoming” (Maslow, 1968, p.46).
  • Persons must pass through various lower levels before attaining this highest stage
  • Each level has a basic need that must be met before moving up the hierarchy
  • If lower needs are not met then growth stops
hierarchy of needs
Hierarchy of Needs


Esteem needs

Love & belongingness needs

Safety needs

Physiological needs

deficiency motivation
Deficiency Motivation

Each need involves overcoming deficiency

(1) Physiological needs

  • Food, water, sleep, sex etc.

(2) Safety needs

  • Safe environment

(3) Belongingness & love needs

  • Love, friendship, social life

(4) Esteem needs

  • Respect from others & self-respect
frustration anti social behaviour
Frustration & Anti-social Behaviour
  • Like Rogers, humans are basically good natured & growth directed
  • Human problems arise not simply from socialisation (ie. Rogers’ theory)
  • Frustration of deficiency needs leads to anti-social emotions (eg. hostility, jealousy etc)
  • Choice b/w safety & growth (free-will)
  • Jonah Complex: belief that we cannot achieve anything important
being motivation
‘Being’ Motivation
  • (5) Need for Self-actualisation
  • Requires first meeting deficiency needs
  • Pinnacle of development
  • Person needs to ‘actualise’ their potential
  • Aesthetic & truth potentials
  • Maslow (1968): 1 in 3000 uni students
  • >1% of population
  • Metapathologies: depression, alienation, cynicism
self actualisers

(1) Efficient perception of reality

  • Seeing the world accurately
  • Judging people accurately/detecting deception

(2) More accepting

  • More accepting of themselves & others

(3) Spontaneous

(4) Problem-centred

  • Not self-centred; focus on problem’s outside of themselves eg. environmental concerns
self actualisers cont
Self-Actualisers (cont).

(5) Need privacy (solitude)

(6) Enjoy intimate relationships

(7) Act Independently of culture

  • Non-conformists

(8) Peak experiences

  • Intense experiential states of harmony, joy, beauty

(9) Creative

(10) Humour

evaluation of maslow s theory
Evaluation of Maslow’s Theory
  • Maslow’s methodology: identified self-actualisers based on his own personal preference/bias
  • Hierarchy of needs: some empirical support that lower level needs are stronger than high-level when deprived (eg. Wicker et al, 1993; Hagerty, 1999)
  • Exceptions to the hierarchy of needs
  • eg. ‘starving artist’
  • Humanistic psychology is the ‘third force’ in psychology
  • Emphasises mental health: fully-functioning (Rogers); self-actualising (Maslow)
  • In Roger’s theory, negative socialisation (conditional positive regard) prevents mental health
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs proposes that lower needs must be met before higher levels are obtained