History & Systems of Psychology
Chapter 18 – Humanistic (Third-force) Psychology
Antecedents to Third-Force Psychology
By mid-20th century, only behaviorism & psychoanalysis still influential
1960s – Maslow & others started movement called third-force psychology as reaction to limitations of behaviorism & psychoanalysis
Emphasized the uniqueness and positive aspects of people, & the human “spirit”
Not deterministic; belief in human freedom
Based partly on romanticism & existentialism
Phenomenology & Existentialism
Refers to any methodology that
focuses on experience as it occurs,
in intact form (not reduced to component parts)
Existentialists were interested in the nature of human existence as it is experienced.
Concerned with 2 ontological questions:
What is the nature of human nature?
What does it mean to be a particular individual?
Existential Psychology: Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
To exist is to change.
The authentic life –
the realization of death
the exercise of freedom to create a meaningful existence
constant personal growth; “becoming”
The concept of “throwness” – thrown into circumstances beyond our control; sets parameters for exercise of freedom
Existential Psychology: Rollo May (1909-1994)
The human dilemma – humans are both objects and subjects of experience.
Things happen to us, but we interpret and make choices about our experience.
Most important fact about humans – freedom
Freedom brings responsibility (& anxiety).
Importance of exercising freedom to reach full potential
Rollo May, cont.
Use of myths in providing meaning in life
Def. - “narrative patterns that give significance to our existence”
Four functions of myths:
Provide a sense of identity
Provide a sense of community (most important)
Support our moral values
Provide a means of dealing with the mysteries of life
Existential Psychology: George Kelly (1905-1967)
Our view of things is crucial.
Constructs – our belief systems
Constructive alternativism – people are free to choose the constructs they use in interacting with the world; i.e., they can view and interpret events in an almost infinite number of ways
Tenets of Humanistic Psychology
Studying animals tells us little of value about humans.
Subjective reality is the primary guide for human behavior.
Studying individuals is more informative than studying what groups of individuals have in common.
We should try to discover those things that expand and enrich human experience.
Research should seek information to help solve human problems.
The goal of psychology should be to formulate a complete description of what it means to be human.
Humanistic Psychology: Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)
Usually seen as the one most responsible for establishing humanistic psychology
Hierarchy of needs – the higher the need, the more fully human (vs. animal) it is
Self-actualization – reach one’s full human potential
Characteristics of self-actualizing people:
Perceive reality accurately
Well-developed but not hostile sense of humor
Spontaneous and natural
Demonstrate acceptance of self and others
Only a few friends, but concerned with all people
Strong ethical sense but not conventional ethics
Independent from environment and culture
Need for privacy
Mystic or peak experiences
Humanistic Psychology: Carl Rogers (1902-1987)
Postulated innate drive toward self-actualization
Childhood need for positive regard often met with conditional regard (setting up conditions of worth)
Three things necessary for growth:
Unconditional positive regard
Genuineness or congruence
Summary: Similarities of Existential & Humanistic Psychology
Belief in free will and responsibility
Use of phenomenology in studying people
Importance of studying whole person
Uniqueness of humans (vs. animals and vs. each other)
Hedonism NOT major motive of people, rather search for meaning & growth
Importance of living an authentic life
Summary: Contrast of Existential & Humanistic Psychology
Major differences – assumptions about human nature & primary motivations
Humanistic psychology: people basically good, major motive is actualizing tendency, will live in harmony if placed in a healthy environment
Existential psychology: neutral (or differing) on view of human nature, emphasize freedom to choose who we will be, major motive is to create meaning in life through choices
Premodern worldview – prescientific, authority (religious) as epistemology
Age of Reason, Enlightenment, age of science
Universal laws explain human behavior
Postmodern worldview – attack on modernism
Science/reason not foolproof, we always “know” through our own perceptions
Individuals are unique, not quantifiable
Many ways of “knowing”