Topic area: Approaches - Humanism

Human Behaviour 1

Psychology class 13E were investigating an approach to understanding human behaviour, called the humanistic approach,  it. was created by two key theorists, Maslow and Rogers within 1950s America. The approach was known as the ‘third force’ alongside the behaviourist and psychodynamic approaches , it has been praised for bringing the human back into psychology because of its free will idea, whereas both the behaviourist and psychodynamic approaches assume that we have no free will and therefore, no control over our behaviour.
During the lesson, 13E were to investigate Maslow and his theory of ‘The Hierarchy of Needs’ in an interactive task, by using plastic cups to write a ‘need’ on and the level of need it belonged to. These levels are: physiological, safety and security, love and belongingness, self-esteem, and self-actualisation. Examples include food, shelter, family, respect for and from others, and achievement, respectively. 13E managed to successfully complete the task, and their hierarchies can be seen within the images. 13E also learned that Maslow theorises that we can move between the levels shown, but that fulfilment of a lower level is required to progress to the next, for example, not having food means that we cannot self actualise and become an athlete, because we would potentially become too weak.

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The other main theorist, Rogers, says that to progress personally, our ideas and values of our self image must match, or be congruent with, our ideal self. If they do not match, we can eventually become incongruent and self actualisation will not be possible due to negative self related thoughts. Roger also theorised that there are ‘conditions of worth’ or boundaries for love for their children, conditional love. This is likely to create future psychological problems for a child. As a result of this, Rogers creates counselling therapies which involve an unconditional positive regard, to offer what had not been offered as a child.
13E learnt that despite the positive applications from the approach, it doesn’t have a scientific basis and is based on theories and that concepts such as self actualisation or congruence prove problematic to test in an experiment because they are subjective, or influenced by personal bias, opinions that affect judgements. This presents evaluation points if there is to ever be a question for 13E in an exam paper!

Alexander Mok
Year 13 psychologist .