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Chapter 7

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PSYC 2740
Melanie Parkin

Personality Theory & Research: An International Perspective Gordon L. Flett Prepared by Brenda Baird, University of Ottawa Chapter 7 Overview • Common Theories of the Humanists • Maslow’s Humanistic Theory • Carl Rogers • The Assessment and Measurement of Self-Actualization • The Contemporary Focus on Well-Being Common Themes of the Humanists • Humanistic theories are also called organistic theories with a focus on the entire person • A central theme in humanistic theories is the drive toward self-actualization, to realize one’s full potential • Other themes include personal growth, openness to experience, living in the present, personal responsibility, and the inherent goodness of people • For the humanists, the unit of analysis is perceived reality • In contrast to Freudian determinism, humanists emphasize personal responsibility and choice • The humanists’ view that persons are inherently good with unique attributes for greatness has led to a movement called positive psychology Maslow’s Humanistic Theory Deficiency Motives and Growth Motives • Maslow believed that neurosis was due to a lack of personal growth, and neurotic needs indicated a loss of capability (deficiency) • For Maslow, conflict was a reflection of mental health and indicated a desire for personal growth The General Characteristics of Needs • Maslow is noted for his hierarchy of needs that arranges five needs in order of relevance to physical and psychological survival • Lower needs (physical) are stronger and more tangible than higher needs (psychological) • Needs must be satisfied in hierarchical order with lower needs satisfied before higher needs(e.g., food, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization) The Hierarchy of Needs • Lower needs reflect a deficiency state whereas higher reflect personal growth and occur later in development • The five needs in hierarchical order include: 1. Physiological Needs (thirst, hunger, sex) 2. Safety Needs (physical and emotional) 3. Belonging and Love Needs (sustained intimacy) 4. Esteem Needs (personal competence) 5. Growth Needs (self-actualization- a process The Hierarchy of Needs • Maslow differentiated between a deficient, selfish form of love that is focused on the self (D-love) and an unselfish love that is focused on another (B-love) • B-love is associated with the process of selfactualization • Persons who do not satisfy the need to belong are at risk for emotional problems as outlined in Durkheim’s (1963) theory of anomic suicide The Psychological Characteristics of Healthy Self-Actualized People • Critics note Maslow subjectively examined qualities of famous people to determine the characteristics involved in self-actualization • Maslow referred to peak experiences as wondrous moments that transcend time, space, and self • Maslow believed self-actualization results when desacralizing ceases (an immature defence that ignores the sacred value of needs) The B-Values • Maslow outlined 15 meta-motivations (Bvalues) that must be satisfied for self-actualization • An unsatisfied B-value is associated with a specific pathological outcome • Unlike Maslow’s needs, B-values are equivalent and have no hierarchical relevance Associated Research on the Nature of Self Actualization • Researchers suggest that people who selfactualize are low in anxiety and high in selfacceptance • Flett et al. (1991) showed that, ironically, striving for perfection is related to low levels of self- actualization • Kasser and Ryan (1993,1996) showed a negative relation between self-actualization and the pursuit of extrinsic goals Maslow’s Views on Personality • Masow believed a fully functioning person is an integration of several personality syndromes • Personality syndromes are behaviours that are determined by specific social and cultural situations • Maslow emphasized the spiritual, not material, aspects of environment in personality development Evaluation of Maslow’s Theory • Statistical techniques such as the Guttman scale analysis confirm the empirical nature of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs • Critics have raised concerns over the exact order of stages, a role for altruism, and the abstract nature of self-actualization • Self-actualization may be better conceived as a unique process rather than as a generalized end state M
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