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Humanistic Theory of Personality

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Humanistic Theory of Personality

Do you believe that people are basically good? Do you believe that every person wants to grow into their best self? Maybe you believe that with the right environment and support, every person can become their best self and a good person. If so, humanistic theories of personality might appeal to you.

  • What is the humanistic theory in psychology?
  • What is the humanistic definition of personality?
  • What is Maslow's humanistic approach to personality?
  • What is the humanistic theory of personality by Carl Rogers?
  • What are some examples of humanistic theories of personality?

Humanistic Theory in Psychology

Alfred Adler is considered to be the founding father of individual psychology. He was also one of the first psychological theorists to claim that the birth order in your family directly influences your personality. Adler thought that most humans have just one main goal: to feel important and like they belong.

Humanistic psychologists find that the way a person chooses to behave is directly influenced by their self-concept and their environment.

Humanistic psychologists consider how a person's environment, including past experiences, has shaped the person into who they are now and guided them to make certain choices.

Humanistic psychology is made up of five core principles:

  1. Human beings supersede the sum of their parts.

  2. Each human is unique.

  3. Human beings are aware and conscious beings with the capacity for self-awareness.

  4. Human beings have free will, can make their own choices, and are responsible for their own choices.

  5. Human beings intentionally work to achieve future goals. They also seek meaning, creativity, and value in life.

The humanistic theory focuses on a person’s motivation and desire to be good and do good. The humanistic theory of personality also focuses on free will or the ability to choose personal outcomes.

Humanistic Definition of Personality

The humanistic theory of personality assumes that people are basically good and want to become their best selves. This goodness and motivation for self-improvement is innate and pushes each person to reach their potential. If a person is held back from this goal, it is due to their environment and not internal causes.

The humanistic theory focuses on a person’s tendency to choose good behaviors. The theory is formed around the belief that people want to achieve self-actualization and can do that with the right environment and help around them. The humanistic theory of personality focuses on the uniqueness of each person and their efforts to be good and achieve self-actualization.

Maslow's Humanistic Approach to Personality

Abraham Maslow is an American psychologist who believed that people possess free will and self-determination: the ability to make decisions and shape their own life. Maslow believed that you can choose to become whoever you want to be and you can achieve self-actualization.

Self-actualization is the ability to reach your full potential and be the best version of yourself. Self-actualization is at the top of the pyramid and the final goal in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Humanistic Theory of Personality Photograph of a person standing on the top of a mountain StudySmarterSelf-actualization! pixabay.com.

A distinctive aspect of Maslow's theory that sets him apart from others is those on whom he chose to study and base his theories. While many theorists and psychologists choose to formulate their ideas by investigating unique, clinically diagnosed people, Maslow chose to examine people who were successful, and sometimes even well-known, who he claimed all had similar traits. He believed these people had achieved self-actualization.

One such famous person he studied was none other than the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Based on Maslow's investigation of Lincoln and others' personalities, he made his assertation that these people were all focused on being self-aware and empathetic, and did not focus on other people's judgment of them. He said they focused more on a problem at hand than themselves and often concerned themselves with one main focus throughout their lives.

Humanistic Theory of Personality by Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers is an American psychologist that believed that humans had the ability to change and grow into better people. Rogers believed that a person needed an environment that had empathy and genuineness so that they could become a good person. Rogers believed that it was not possible for a human to learn how to have healthy relationships and be healthy without this environment.

Carl Rogers believed that there are three parts to your beliefs about yourself (your self-concept):

  1. Self-Worth

  2. Self-Image

  3. Ideal Self

Carl Rogers believed that these three components need to be congruent and overlap with each other in order to achieve self-actualization.

Humanistic Theory of Personality Venn diagram of Self-Worth, Self-Image, and Ideal Self StudySmarterAll three components contribute to self-concept. StudySmarter original.

Rogers believed that in order for you to attain your goals and live a good life, you need to hold to certain life principles. He found that people who were functioning at their fullest potential had these principles in common. Rogers also said that the process of living a good life is constantly changing, which means that every person can start now to change the future.

Principles of a Good Life:

  1. Being open to experience.

  2. An existential lifestyle.

  3. Trusting oneself.

  4. Freedom of choice.

  5. Being creative and able to adapt easily.

  6. Reliability and constructiveness.

  7. Live a rich, full life.

These are not easy to achieve. Rogers explained it best in his book On Becoming a Person:

This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one’s potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life.” (Rogers, 1995)

Examples of Humanistic Theories of Personality

How do you think the humanistic theory of personality would view someone robbing a bank? It states that humans are inherently good and make good choices, but can be held back from their potential due to their environment.

Following this logic, the humanistic theory of personality would say that a robber is still a good person, but that environment caused them to act in this way. In this instance, the environment would be monetary problems that forced the robber to go to these lengths.

On the flip side, the humanistic theory of personality states that you are in control of your own actions and are able to grow to your full potential. An example of this would be job promotions at work. Through your hard work, you get a professional promotion. With each promotion you get, you are realizing your potential and working hard to achieve it.

Humanistic Theories of Personality - Key takeaways

  • Carl Rogers is an American psychologist that believed that humans had the ability to change and grow into better people.

  • Abraham Maslow is an American psychologist that believed that people have free will and the ability of self-determination.

  • Alfred Adler is considered to be the founding father of individual psychology.

  • The humanistic theory focuses on a person’s tendency to do good and choose good behaviors. It is formed around the belief that people want to achieve self-actualization and can do that with the right environment and help around them.

  • Components of Self Concept: self-worth, self-image, and ideal self.


References

  1. Rogers, C. (1995). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy (2nd ed.). HarperOne.

Frequently Asked Questions about Humanistic Theory of Personality

The humanistic theory in psychology is a belief that assumes that people are basically good and want to become their best selves.

The two main contributors to the humanistic perspective are Alfred Adler and Carl Rodgers. 

Humanistic psychologists focus on a person's self-concept and interactions with their environment. 

The humanistic theory affects personality by saying that in general, people want to make good choices and will work hard to achieve self-actualization. 

Carl Rogers's theory of personality says that your self-worth, self-image, and ideal self all need to work together in order for you to be your best self. 

Final Humanistic Theory of Personality Quiz

Question

Who was Carl Rogers?

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Answer

Carl Rogers is an American psychologist that believed that humans had the ability to change and grow into better people.

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Who was Abraham Maslow?

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Abraham Maslow is an American psychologist that believed that people have free will and the ability to choose things for themselves as well as self-determination and the ability to accomplish things that they choose to.

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Who was Gordon W. Allport?


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Answer

Gordon W. Allport was an American psychologist that both attended and taught at Harvard, and was considered to be a pioneer of human personality theory.

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Who was Alfred Adler?


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Answer

Alfred Adler is considered to be the founding father of individual psychology. He happened to be one of the first psychological theorists that claimed that one’s order at birth, directly influences their personality.

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What is self-actualization?


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Self-Actualization is the ability to reach one’s best potential and be the best version of themself.

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Question

What is the humanistic theory?


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Answer

The humanistic theory focuses on a person’s tendency to do good and choose good. It is formed around the belief that people want to achieve self-actualization and can do that with the right environment and help around them.

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What are the three components of self?


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Answer

Self-worth, Self-image, and ideal self.

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How many principles did Carl Rogers believe there were to living a good life?


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Carl Rogers believed that there were seven principles to living a good life. 

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What is humanistic psychology?


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Answer

Humanistic psychology focuses on the study of the entire person.

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How many core principles of humanistic psychology are there?

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Answer

There are five core principles of humanistic psychology.

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Who are the two main contributors to the humanistic perspective?


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Answer

Abraham Maslow & Carl Rogers

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Humans get to choose their actions and behaviors because they have _______.


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Answer

Free Will

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True or False: The three components of self need to be congruent to achieve self-actualization.


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True

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True or False: Carl Rogers believed that people were inherently bad, and needed to learn to be good.


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False - Carl Rogers believed that people were inherently good and wanted to do good things.

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True or False: Maslow believed that the ultimate goal that people wish to achieve is self-actualization.


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True

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True or False: Adler thought that most humans have just one main goal: to feel important and like they belong. 

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True 

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Fill in the blank: Humanistic psychologists find that the way a person chooses to behave is directly influenced by their _________ and their environment. 

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Answer

self-concept 

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Fill in the blank: The humanistic theory focuses on a person’s ________ and desire to be good and do good.  

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Answer

motivation 

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Select the FIVE core principles of Humanistic psychology. 

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Answer

Human beings supersede the sum of their parts.

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True or False: The Humanistic theory is formed around the belief that people want to achieve self-actualization and can do that with the right environment and help around them. 

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True 

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Question

Which president did Abraham Maslow study? 

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Answer

Abraham Lincoln 

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True or False: Rogers believed that it was not possible for a human to learn how to have healthy relationships and be healthy without this environment.  

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True 

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Question

Who said that the process of living a good life is constantly changing, which means that every person can start now to change the future? 

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Answer

Carl Rogers

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Question

Choose the three parts that makes up our self-concept (according to Carl Rogers): 

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Self-Worth 

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Question

Which of the following is NOT one of the principles of living a good life (according to Carl Rogers)? 

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Answer

Trusting others 

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