Course: PSYC*1000 (DE)
Professor: Harvey Marmurek
Schedule: Summer, 2012
Textbook: Psychology – Tenth Edition in Modules authored by David G. Myers
Textbook ISBN: 9781464102615
Module 41: Humanistic Theories
How did humanistic psychologists view personality, and what was their goal in studying personality?
Humanistic theories view personality with a focus on the potential for healthy personal growth. In contrast to
Freud’s study of the base motives of “sick” people, these humanistic theories focused on the ways “healthy” people
strive for self-determination and self-realization.
Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualizing Person
Hierarchy of Needs: if physiological needs are met, we become concerned with personal safety; if we
achieve a sense of security, we then seek to love, to be loved, and to love ourselves; with our love needs satisfied,
we seek self-esteem. Having achieved self-esteem we ultimately seek self-actualization and self-transcendence.
Many had been moved by spiritual or personal peak experiences that surpassed ordinary consciousness.
Carl Rogers’ Person-Centred Perspective
Agreed with much of Maslow’s thinking. Believed that people are basically good and are endowed with self-
actualizing tendencies. Believed that a growth-promoting climate required three conditions. (1) Genuineness –
when people are genuine, they are open with their own feelings, drop their facades, and are transparent and self-
disclosing; (2) Acceptance – when people are accepting, they offer unconditional positive regard, an attitude of
grace that values us even knowing our failings; and (3) Empathy – when people are empathetic, they share and
mirror others’ feelings and reflect their meanings. These three things enable people to grow. For “as persons are
accepted and prized, they tend to develop a more caring attitude toward themselves.” As persons are empathically
heard, “it becomes possible for them to listen more accurately to the flow of inner experiences.”
For Maslow and Rogers, a central feature of personality is one’s self-concept – all the thoughts and
feelings we have in response to the question, “Who am I?” If our self-concept is positive, we tend to act and
perceive the world positively. If it is negative – if in our own eyes we fall far short of our ideal self – said Rogers, we
feel dissatisfied and unhappy. A worthwhile goal for therapists, parents, teachers, and friends is therefore, he said,
to help others know, accept, and be true to themselves.
Assessing the Self
How did humanistic psychologists assess a person’s sense of self?
Questionnaires that evaluate their self-concept.
Describe themselves both as they would ideally like to be and as they actually are.
When ideal and actual self are nearly alike, the self-concept is positive. Assessing Rogers’ personal growth during
therapy, he looked for successively closer ratings of actual and ideal selves.
Any standardized assessment of personality is depersonalizing; presume that interviews and intimate
cnversation would provide a better understanding of each person’s unique experiences.
Evaluating Humanistic Theories
How have humanistic theories influenced psychology? What criticisms have they faced?
One thing said of Freud can also be said of the humanistic psychologists: Their impact has been pervasive.
Maslow’s and Rog