Humanistic Perspectives

Speaking from experience, I want nothing more in life than to feel like I have a greater purpose. A sense of self-fulfillment has always wandered through my head as I have continued the search for love, purpose, goals, and a proverbial successful life. Some psychologists believe that a person’s experiences facilitate a much greater role in developing his or her self-worth.

Abraham Maslow believed that each person followed a pyramid of needs that required completion of each level before moving forward in his or her life, eventually climaxing in self-actualization. Carl Rogers also believed in each person’s journey toward self-actualization, however, he also emphasized the environment, empathy, and genuineness of others to the development of a person.

Distinct similarities can be found between the two theories, and both theories are pertinent in the development of personality.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the understanding of what motivates people by following certain levels of basic needs before eventually reaching an apex called self-actualization. Maslow speculated that a person would fulfill certain needs throughout his or her life, progressing through levels toward bigger and more self-fulfilling needs. After achieving each need, a person will eventually reach a climactic level of self-awareness, thus finding a personal nirvana.

One of the key aspects of Maslow’s hierarchy was the integral goodness that people inherently possessed. Maslow wanted to focus on the situations in his life that went right rather than what went wrong. Focusing on these successful parts of life allows for a positive outlook on the supposed struggle in the cliche search for happiness. This hierarchy is essential in the development of personality because rather than focusing on the world surrounding a person, it emphasized inner battles and self-awareness.

Much like Maslow, Rogers postulated that all people were intrinsically good, albeit minor differences in what was necessary to develop personality and self-worth. Rogers’ Person-Centered Theory speculated that a person’s innate sense to grow would be based on his or her qualities rather than the qualities of others. The person-centered theory looks at each person as completely unique and follows a loosely based formula relying on that person’s environment, including the empathetic caring from other people, which subsequently helps shape those qualities into substantive living.

Three main components were necessary in the development of personality when following Rogers’ theory. First, Rogers believed a person must find his or her self-worth; this started developing at an early age. Second, a good self-image helps dictate how a person inherently feels, critically thinks, and displays behavior in the world. Finally, our ideal self, or how we would like to be, controls our choices. These three components combine into an overall person that has reached self-actualization. This form of self-actualization is called congruency, when the ideal self and self-image are closely relatable.

Both Maslow and Rogers put forth important theories that helped shape humanistic psychology and the study of personality. Several similarities can be seen between the two theories.

First, both theories look at people with a positive outlook. Second, both theories focus on inner qualities and how these qualities lead to the idea of self-growth. Third, another comparison is the need for acceptance and how this can be more prominent than self-actualization. Finally, each theory believes that everybody has an innate need, as well as the capability to do so, to grow and develop.

These theories may contain essential ideas, but only one really stands out as a clear picture in my head.

Although an argument can be made for Maslow’s hierarchy, it is clear that Rogers’ person-centered theory is prominent in my personality development. With the understanding that Rogers’ theory built further upon Maslow’s, I can see how Maslow’s hierarchy is influential in the development of my personality. However, I believe that Rogers took it one step further in a more substantial way.

“Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was a humanistic psychologist who agreed with the main assumptions of Abraham Maslow, but added that for a person to “grow”, they need an environment that provides with genuineness . . . acceptance . . . and empathy.” – Saul McLeod

Rogers claimed that childhood was the most important aspect of reaching a fully functioning person or his form of self-actualization. Rogers, just like Maslow, believed that every person could excel at personal desires and had an instinctive need to do just that. My childhood was heavily influenced by my grandparents. They would listen without interruption, empathized with the many struggles I endured, and never tried to hold me back when I became passionate about something.

In theory, this helped me develop my self-image as well as my ideal self. Understandingly so, I have never actually reached the apex of my life’s desires, but I do believe they played a substantial role in helping develop my journey. Maslow would have me believe that I met each need and will one day reach self-actualization if I continue meeting those needs. Although this may be true, it would have never happened without the people surrounding me.

Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers were pivotal figures in the world of psychology. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs explains the inevitable fulfillment of needs that each person will me in order to grow. Rogers’ Person-Centered Theory agrees with Maslow’s hierarchy, but states that the world around us is an essential factor in helping meet those needs. Each theory correlates well as they both believe in the inherent good inside of people. Contrariwise, Rogers’ theory is more relatable to my life because I believe that environment and the people around me is crucial to achieving self-actualization. Given these points, it is abundantly clear that both theories emphasize the humanistic nature of developing personality.


    1. Feel free to share it! I don’t know how accurate my viewpoints are given my studies and how I never really delved too much into Psychology.


      1. Well I appreciate that! I didn’t go further than a few Psychology classes in college, but I still find the field vastly interesting!


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