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Humanistic Theory of Personality

Grew out of the work of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow Humanistic perspective emphasizes the responsibility people have for their own behavior, even when their behavior is seen as abnormal.

Concentrates on what is uniquely human, viewing people as basically rational, oriented toward a social world, and motivated to seek self-actualization (Rogers, 1995).carl rogers self concept

Focus on the relationship of the individual to society, considering the ways in which people view themselves in relation to others and see their place in the world.

Views people as having an awareness of life and of themselves that leads them to search for meaning and self-worth.

Though criticized for its reliance on unscientific, unverifiable information and its vague, almost philosophical formulations, it offers a distinctive view of abnormal behavior.

The concept of the “self” is central to the personality theory of Carl Rogers and other humanists.  Our self-concept is our subjective perception of who we are and what we are like

The concept of self is learned from our interactions with others.

Rogers distinguishes between two self-concepts.
There is the self–the person I think I am, and the ideal self–the person I wish I was.

Unconditional positive regard communicates that the person is inherently worthy of love, regardless of accomplishments or behavior.

Carl Rogers believed that we are born with an innate need for positive regard—for acceptance, sympathy, and love from others.

Ideally, positive regard received from the parents is unconditional—that is, independent of how the child behaves.maslow needs pic

A major tenet of humanistic psychology is that humans possess an inner drive to grow, improve, and use their potential to the fullest
Abraham Maslow calls the ultimate in completed growth self-actualization.

According to Maslow, the self-actualizing person is reaching the highest level of personal development and has fully realized her or his potential as a human being.

Maslow proposed that needs are arranged in a hierarchy.

After meeting our more basic needs, we experience need progression and focus on needs at the next level.

If a need at a lower level is no longer satisfied, we experience need regression and focus once again on meeting that lower-level need.

Bernstein, D.A. & Nash, P.W. (2008). Essentials of psychology (4th ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Feldman, R. (2013). Essentials of understanding psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W. (2012), Personality: classic theories and modern research (5th ed). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
Ryckman, R. M. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.


  1. The humanist theory is a theory that emphasizes behavior and the nature of healthy human development ].Its is based on free will. People have the freedom and will to change their behavior and attitudes.The humanistic approach focus on the here and now rather than looking at the past or the future to attempt to predict the future. It is reality based  with the notion that health people should take responsibility for themselves whether their  actions are positive and negative. The ultimate goal is to attain personal growth and understanding because through self improvement and self knowledge can one be truly happy. Unlike Freud who viewed the negativity in mankind, Maslow focused his efforts and understanding of positive of mankind. Psychoanalytic thought is based on determinism aspects that are beyond our control ahile humanistic thought is based on free will. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is based on the basic needs in life. This needs are essential to one’s life and without them one can’t sustain their lifespan. The first level is the physiological needs which include food, water, shelter, oxygen and sleep. The second level is safety needs which involves the need of safety and security. The third level is belonging and love needs which revolves around the need for love, accepting and belonging. The next level is esteem needs which includes the need for achievement, education,power, competence and respect. And the final level is the need for self actualization which is based on the need to realized our fullest potential. This needs motivate us from primary needs to higher needs. Self actualization is the hardest goal to achieve. I think its is the hardest to achieve because our mind is always growing and our thought process ever evolving. This leads man on a quest of always top him/herself on every level. An example is you had an dream to climb mount everest.. and with years of practicing, you eventually attain this life long goal. One is satisfied and happy with themselves. You can say they reached their fullest potential.  Once they reach that level of experience, the dream is achieved one is left to wonder what  next for you in life. What the next challenge. It took you a quite some time to achieve this and you finally did. And you were happy for quite some time but now you are left with questions of what now, what’s next. What can you do to experience that feeling again. Basically you are bored and  unfulfilled and back to square one with the need to attain that happiness again.


  2. Haoxi Wang says:

    In the video they talk about the humanistic theory and how free-will and self actualization plays a large role in what the theory is believed to be. Comparing frauds theory to the humanistic theory, the key difference between the two is that he believed that our behavior was controlled by our unconscious desires. In some more of these theories from Maslow and Roger, where they both believe that to each the very top of the “pyramid” which is self actualization. They both believed that reach the top is the goal of everyone, whether they reach it or not is up to them. However, they believed that to reach the top they have to learn from both themselves and from others, how other people accept you and how you feel that you fit in.


  3. Jasmine Gray says:

    Self-actualization is a hard concept to grasp. Perhaps it’s hard for me to imagine because I haven’t reached it yet. Reading this passage and watching this video in itself is making me self-aware and causing me to think about my sense of self. It’s true that I think about myself in the sense of how I belong in the society around me, and acceptance is a constant pressing concern. But at the same time, apart from being a whole with society, now I want to try to also focus on self worth and self-recognition as I have learned from past uplifting experiences from the positive regard of others.


  4. The video provides a nice summary of the humanistic theory and contrasts it to the psycho-analytical approach of Freud. It clarifies humanistic theory’s main concepts — the concept of self, that lies at the heart of the theory, and how the self is nurtured in the growth promoting climate through being genuine and experiencing acceptance. This focus on self-concept and genuineness of it – being in touch with who the person is in the present moment (here and now) and the resulting growth (self actualization) is the cornerstone of the humanistic theory.


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