Humanistic Personality Theory

Majority of notes I took from the fantastic Maltby, Day and Macaskill ‘Individual Differences’ textbook (click image).

 

HUMANISTIC PERSONALITY THEORIES

– positive personal growth, the present, free-will, responsible, phenomenology, self-experts

– uniqueness of each individual

 

ABRAHAM MASLOW AND SELF-ACTUALISATION (c1970)

HUMAN NATURE & HUMAN MOTIVATION

– human nature is essentially good (vs. Freud’s negative)

instinctoid tendencies: innate [unconscious?] tendencies for healthy growth & development

– these tendencies weak & easily overcome by negative environment >> psychopathology

– we are motivated by Deficiency motives (e.g. food) & growth/B-motives (gaining knowledge)

 

HIERARCHY OF NEEDS

– needs vary in terms of importance for survival

– some needs have to be met before we look to other needs that motivate behaviour

– hierarchy starts with lower level survival needs before higher-order needs

– needs: physiological, safety, belongingness/love, esteem, self-actualisation

 

DISCUSSION OF BASIC NEEDS

– priority of needs depends on circumstances across time; not a static model

– a need/ behaviour could be motivated by different needs (e.g. sex: physio, love, esteem)

– accepts existence of unconscious motivation and defence mechanisms

– but future goals influence current behaviour (vs Freud past)

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF SELF-ACTUALIZERS

– did non-scientific studies of people who seemed self-actualised

– they live life creatively, think differently, self-accepting, non-judgemental

– B(eing)-cognition (non-judgemental) over D(eficiency)-cognition (thinking about our needs)

 

PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT

– not much detail about personality development, just some core principles

– kids have innate positive drive to develop, driven by the motivational needs in the hierarchy

– crucial time where kids decide if they’re going to listen to their ‘inner voice’/ own instinctoid needs or follow parental/ cultural dictates

 

MENTAL ILLNESS & TREATMENT

– illness caused by failure to satisfy needs: the lower the level, the greater the disturbance

 

EVALUATION

– common sense validity and useful insights into human motivational needs; impact on work

– contradiction in simplicity of human nature vs acceptance of (complex) defense mechanisms

– self-actualisation as the root of all problems too simplistic: e.g. what about genetics?

– link between behaviour and needs more complex

– self-actualisation is core but research method dubious: not random or objective; descriptive

– difficult to test concepts empirically because not defined precisely

– basis of selection of 5 needs unclear: lots of other needs can be identified

– assumptions about human behaviour with no/weak evidence

Ravizza (1977) athletes with peak experiences but not self-actualizers: dubious relationship

Mittleman (1991) R – self-actualisation difficult to measure (except ‘openness to experience’)

– not comprehensive, limited explanation of motivation, doesn’t spell out how to get to SA

 

CARL ROGERS AND PERSON CENTRED THERAPY

– people have power to change their life; experience important but development not fixed early

– future goals influence current behaviour

 

SELF ACTUALISATION

– we have an innate drive to Self-A: innate positive drive to realise our potential

– blocks to actualisation are cause of all psychological problems

– SA is our only motivator: 2 sides – biological (e.g. food) & psychological (potential) aspects

– we behave aggressively only under perverse circumstances e.g. difficult env >> thwarted SA

 

EFFECT OF SOCIETY ON SELF-ACTUALISATION

– distinction bet. self-concept vs real self: socially constructed self vs person we can become

– behaviour would be self-actualising but isn’t due to conditions of worth: pleasing others

– self-concept [mismatch with real] and conditions of worth influence our behaviour

 

DEVELOPMENTAL IMPACT ON THE CHILD OF PARENT’S SELF-CONCEPT

– adult low self-acceptance>>judgmentalism>>conditions of worth on kid>>kid self-concept based on conditions of worth & not organismic valuing

organismic self: our real self, genetic blueprint of what we can become under right conditions

 

ROLE OF ACTUALIZING TENDENCY IN DEVELOPMENT

– from birth we interact with the world with our self-actualising tendency using our organismic valuing process

– organismic valuing process tells us instinctively what’s good or bad for us (e.g. food, experiences)

– we can follow this only if we’re brought up with low conditions of worth

– there are no stages in development of self-actualisation:it’s a lifelong never ending process

– personality change can happen at any age

– SA endpoint is ‘fully functioning person’: open to exp, self-accepting; few conditions of worth

 

CONCEPTUALIZATION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS

– fully functioning person rare due to conditions of worth associated with our self-concept

– leads to alienation from true self >> discontent, psychological illness, antisocial beh

 

EVALUATION

– overly optimistic view of humans; limited description of human behaviour; omits unconscious

– explanation of psychopathology too simplistic to explain the full range of psychopathologies

– concepts have face validity e.g. comparison of real self & ideal self

– research results are positive but rely on client self-report so not objective

– little research support that we know instinctively what’s good for us (binge drinking etc)

– UPR & congruence difficult to test; but reliable measures for empathy