Humanistic approach


The Humanistic approach

Humanistic psychology first emerged in the 1950s in the US. Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow

The emphasis of humanistic psychology is to understand how subjective experience influences behaviour. Its key concern is to understand an individual's capacity for self-determination and how this leads to 'healthy' personal growth

Key aspects

  • Free Will
    • The humanistic approach claims that humans are self-determining and have free-will. We are active agents so have the ability to dtermine our own development
    • Rogers and Maslow agree that there are no universal general principles to explain human behaviour as we are unique
    • They argue that psychology should focus on studying individual subjective experience. This approach is not scientific, it is a person-centred approach
  • Self-actualisation and Maslow's hierarchy of needs
    • Everyone has an innate tendency to achieve their full potential
    • When a person self actualises, they have reached the upper most level of growth. This concept is most closely associated with Maslow's 'Hierarchy of needs'
    • Maslow;s Hierarchy of needs
      • According to Maslow, before an individual is able to fulfil their potential, they need to first meet 'deficiency needs'- these are represented in the four lower levels of the hierarchy. First basic needs must be met (physiological and safety needs), then psychological needs (belongingness and love and esteem needs). 
      • Only when a person has met these 'deficiency' needscan they go on to work towards meeting their 'growth need'- reaching their full potential through self-actualisation
      • There may be psychological barriers that may prevent a person from being able to manage their personal growth and self-actualise
      • Personal growth: developing and changing as a person to become, fulfilled, satisfied and goal-orientated
  • Focus on the self, congruence and the role of conditions of worth
    • The self can be understood in two…


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