Humanistic Theories

Modified: 2020-04-21


Humanistic psychology or the "third force" arose in reaction to the perceived sterility of behavioral explanations of personality. Maslow, discussed elsewhere, personified the movement as he abandoned his training as a behaviorist after having a child. He simply could no longer explain the totality of human experience through stimulus-response methods.

However, it is Carl Rogers who probably advanced the cause of humanistic psychology the furthest. His client-centered therapy and person-centered psychology demonstrated the extent of the differences between humanistic psychology and both behavioral and psychodynamic approaches to personality. His optimistic outlook on the human condition, combined with his belief in humans as rational creatures beset by irrational needs characterized his views. Coming to understand the power of those irrational needs on one's behavior was the effort of humanistic therapy.

In general, humanistic psychologists attempt to delve deeply into the lives and minds of their clients. Their methods are unlike those of other personality theorist and are often described as phenomenological. Another way to characterize humanistic psychology is through its emphasis on the self. Thus, constructs like: self-concept, self-esteem, and self-image are part of their vocabulary. Society's concern with such concepts today in settings like schools is testimony to the success of humanistic psychology.


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