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Humanistic Theory of Personality

Humanistic Theory of Personality

Author: Erick Taggart

Describe the theory of humanism.

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Source: happiness map: public domain;

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Hello, class.

In today's lesson, we're going to be talking about the humanistic approach to personality.

Now humanism, again, is a theory of psychology that emphasizes a person's perspective, as well as growth potential of people. It's the psychology of what we call human nature, which are all the traits, behaviors, and potentials that are unique to us as human beings.

Humanism is what took off into the positive psychology movement, which is the focus on human strengths, and virtues, and creativity, and free will. This is opposed to ideas of behavioralism and psycho-dynamic theory, which are focused on negative aspects. They're outside of our control as people.

So humanism is all about people as agents within their own lives, able to help themselves in some kinds of ways.

The two major figures we're going to talk about are Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. They are the ones who developed a lot of the initial theories on humanism. They are American psychologists in the mid 1900s, that focused particularly on psychotherapy, and on improving people's lives.

Within humanism, we want to focus on two specific areas for today. The first one is on subjective experience, and how it can be important to a person. Subjective experience is a person's point of view about an experience. So it's not just what happened. But rather, it's what you think happened. And this can be just as important in psychology, as the actual event itself.

For example, for a person that's depressed, they might be having negative thoughts about all the things around them. Now these negative thoughts might not necessarily be true. These negative events might not actually be occurring, or there might not be as many as the person thinks. But the person's thoughts that they are happening will still cause them psychological harm. So understanding how this subjective experience influences us, is part of this idea of human nature.

Going along with that, our subjective experience can also influence our views of ourselves. And that can be really important in humanism, and understanding how to become a better person.

This leads to the second concept, which is positive self-regard. Sometimes we call this self-esteem. It's the same thing. And this is considering yourself to be a good, worthwhile person. So having positive views about yourself.

Early childhood experiences can especially be important in the development of feelings about self, and about the standard by which we judge our own thoughts, and feelings, and behaviors, to be good. These are what we call conditions of worth. Conditions of worth can affect if we do not have a positive self regard.

For, example being told when you're a child that it's bad to cry, can lead a person to have bad feelings about themselves when they feel the urge to cry, later on in life. Even if it's a situation where it might be appropriate to cry, they're having a negative self-regard about themselves, because of this condition of worth.

The opposite of having these conditions of worth is what Rogers referred to as "unconditional positive regard," which is approval or acceptance of a person, regardless of what they do or say. This was considered by Rogers to be the ideal for development. This is the best thing for a child, because it makes a child feel worthwhile, regardless of the actions they do, and encourages positive growth over time.

Terms to Know
Human Nature

The traits, behaviors, and potentials unique to human beings.

Positive Self-Regard/Self Esteem

Thinking of one’s self as a lovable, good, worthwhile person.

Subjective Experience

A person’s point of view of an experience; not just what happened, but what you think happened.