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Rogers and Maslow on Humanistic Theory

Rogers and Maslow on Humanistic Theory

Author: Erick Taggart

Identify key characteristics of humanism.

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Source: Carl Rogers: Public Domain: Maslow's Hieracrchy of Needs: Creative COmmons:

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Hello, class. So the final theory that we'll be talking about in this general overview of the History of Psychology is Humanistic theory. Humanistic theory is probably the most recent theory to develop. It's the newest out of the entire bunch. And as you can tell from the name, it's focused on the human, or the person, specifically. It's focused on the person and the experience that they have, and how that can influence the way that they think and behave.

Now this developed sort of in opposition to the other major theories, like Behaviorism, which focuses on the outside influences and how they can affect people, as well as Freud and Psychoanalytic theory, which focuses on the unconscious. Again, both of those are kind of talking about the things that are outside of our control, whereas Humanism is talking about things that people can directly control. Its major themes are about free will, human creativity, and the ability of people to do certain things.

Now Humanistic theory is a very therapy-centered approach to looking at things. Its main goal is to change people's behaviors and their lives for the better. It focuses on concepts like self-esteem, belonging, and psychological needs, and how we can fulfill those to have people develop into better human beings.

So there are two main figures that we want to focus on in our study of the Humanistic theory of Psychology. The first one is Carl Rogers. Rogers was an American psychologist who, in the 1930s, studied and wrote about the different counseling practices that were occurring in the US. In 1945, he opened his own practice, where he developed what he referred to as client-centered therapy. Again, just like with the humanistic side. Client-centered therapy focused on the individual and their reactions. So what they were reporting having thought, felt, and acted upon were just as important as what the therapist observed.

Through this study of the individual, Rogers developed the idea that a person develops their own self-image based on a self-evaluation of their own thoughts and actions. So for example, when a person is told when they're a child that having feelings of anger towards their parents are a bad thing, then they start to develop a sort of negative image of themselves. They start to think of themselves as a bad person. Again, they're evaluating themselves as a bad person and they develop that negative image of themselves as a result of that. So that's something that he wanted to focus on, to better the lives of his individual patients.

The second figure that we want to focus on in our study of Humanistic theory is Abraham Maslow, who created the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which you see pictured. Maslow was an American psychologist who, in 1937, began his practice in Brooklyn, and later moved to California. He recognized in his patients a need for positive self-image, which is to say, a need for them to see themselves as being good, inherently worthwhile people. This led to his creation of the concept of self-actualization, which is the process of a person fully developing their personal potential. Or another way of thinking of it is to be the best you can be.

This also led to the creation of the Hierarchy of Needs, which is a pyramid, as you saw, which shows the needs of a person overall. On the bottom, we have the basic needs, like the need for physiological things, like food, water, or shelter, as well as a need for safety and a feeling of security. Just above those two, we have a need for love and belonging, as well above that, a need for esteem. Again, that so rt of self-image or feeling of self-esteem.

At the very top is, again, Maslow's idea of self-actualization. So this is a concept where people need to fulfill the lower needs to be able to advance to the higher needs. You need to be able to feel safe and secure and to have your physical needs met, before you can start worrying about whether you have a positive self-esteem or you're being loved by other people.

But at the same time, Maslow's idea was that we need the higher needs to be fulfilled to inherently have a fulfilling life. So his concept, again, was focused on the individual and trying to get them to the very top of the pyramid, to feel the best as an individual.

And again, this is something that we'll be covering in greater detail as we move on through the program.

Terms to Know

Believes in human potential, not drives; behavior is chosen, not determined – we have free will; seeks to understand how we perceive the world and our place in it.