Explain the key concepts of the humanistic/phenomenological perspective. To what extent are these concepts derived from other perspectives and other social sciences? The humanistic perspective was founded by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. The humanistic psychologists believe in the growth potential of healthy individuals and believe that people must strive for self-determination and self-realization. Self-actualization refers to the process of fulfilling full potential. Maslow’s ideas were developed from studying healthy and creative people and were based on people who were rich and successful such as Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mother Teresa.
Maslow said that these people were self-aware and accepting and were not hurt by other’s opinions. Maslow said that “Any theory of motivation that is worthy of attention must deal with the highest capacities of the healthy and strong person as well as with the defensive maneuvers of crippled spirits.” These adults, according to Maslow, were self-actualized. The people most likely to achieve happy lives and this state are “privately affectionate to those of their elders who deserve it,” and “secretly uneasy about the cruelty, meanness, and mob spirit so often found in young people.”
Car Rogers concurred with Maslow on many of his ideas and felt that everyone was ready for growth and fulfillment at their birth. He proposed that an environment that encouraged this growth had to be genuine, accepting, and empathetic. The environment had to allow people to disclose their true feelings, it had to give them unconditional positive regard, and nonjudgmental. Rogers felt that this type of relationship should exist between parent and child, teacher and student, etc. Both Maslow and Rogers also believed that a key element to personality was the self-concept. They suggest that how people assess themselves is most important to successful happy lives. Another humanistic psychologist, Markus said people could have concepts of their possible selves as well. The possible selves might be dreams of the future, such as the rich self, the thin self, or the loved self.
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All the humanistic psychologists believe high self-esteem is important to a happy and fulfilled life. Also, it has been shown in studies by Jennifer Crocker and Brenda Major that culture does not hamper self-esteem – so anyone should be able to live a happy life. They say this is because successful people, regardless of their culture, value the things at which they excel, attribute problems to prejudice, and compare themselves to those in their own group. The humanistic perspective also sees the self-serving bias of people to be a good thing. People are incredibly ready to perceive themselves favorably, and this greatly allows us to potentially live happy lives.
This perspective drew its inspiration from Freudian theory and behaviorism which reduced humans to animal-like characters. It contradicted the theories that said impulses were based on desires. It does not derive much of its concepts from the other perspectives, however. It only takes into account things such as the self-serving bias that prove that people are prone to thinking happily. It suggests human nature is basically good, rather than lust and food-driven as Freud suggested. It is very unlike the other perspectives because its concepts are vague and subjective. Very little, if any, the scientific description is used in the humanistic perspective.