Discuss the Humanistic approach to behaviour

essay on the Humanistic approach for PSYb4

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Discuss the Humanistic perspective in psychology. In your answer, refer to other
approaches you have studied.
The Humanists developed their approach as a reaction to the prevailing ideas
of behaviourists and psychoanalysts. The focus of their approach is to describe
humans as having free will ­ the individual can control his/her thoughts, feelings and
behaviour consciously. All people are good, unique and their subjective experience of
the world is the most important.
Rogers' key concept is the idea of the fully functioning person. He believed
that every person could achieve their goals, wishes and desires in life and reaching
this state would mean that the person had self-actualised and be fully functioning.
They would be in touch with the here and now, their own subjective experiences and
feelings but not in a `finished way' ­ there is always growth and the prospect of
change. He did suggest that this would be an ideal state and therefore one that very
few might achieve, but being aware of the possibility would push people towards
such achievement. For Rogers, fully functioning people are well adjusted, well
balanced and interesting to know. Often they would be high achievers in society and
in many ways Western society prizes such people.
The fully functioning person as conceived by Rogers represents an ideal state
and in reality is unlikely to be achieved by many people. It is a product of a
materialistic culture and is sometimes regarded as a selfish approach to
understanding what it means to be a human being. Other cultures prize the
achievements of groups working together for the common good rather than
individual achievement.
Self worth is how we evaluate our self ­ how `good' we think and feel we are.
It can affect psychological health and a person's ability to achieve goals or become
fully functioning. For Rogers, the person who has high self worth is confident,
positive, faces challenges, accepts failures and unhappiness at the times when they
occur and will be open with other people. Those with low self worth will be the
opposite of this.
Maslow is famous for his concepts of human motivation and the hierarchy of
needs. He characterised the human condition as one of `wanting' ­ we are always
seeking and desiring something. He felt we are motivated to seek fulfilment and
change through personal growth. Needs that are low in his hierarchy must be at least
partially satisfied before needs that are above become `prepotent' ­ drives that are
essential to the individual towards finding ways of satisfying these needs. The four
needs at the bottom are called deficiency needs, those at the top are growth needs
that drive the person to self actualisation. In general, a person will progress upward,
but there is always the possibility that life changes might occur that move someone
from a higher level back down the hierarchy. He introduced the idea of `peak
experiences' ­ feelings of ecstasy/ deeply satisfying fulfilment, saying these would
occur spontaneously but very infrequently.
Maslow conducted extensive but not very scientific research on people he
categorised as `self actualisers', suggesting that mapping their progression through

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However, others have
said that the hierarchy of needs oversimplifies human needs and behaviour. According
to Maslow, the four deficiency needs do not all have to be fully satisfied before
someone can move to the self actualisation needs, but he doesn't explain how much
might need to be satisfied. It is only in cases of extreme poverty and deprivation that
a person would be motivated solely by physiological needs. Shostrum developed a
Personal Orientation inventory ­ a standardised personality questionnaire to measure
self-actualisation.…read more


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