Personal Construct and Humanistic/Existential Theory: Kelly, Rogers and Maslow In contrast to the conflict-based view of human nature presented by the psychodynamic approach, humanistic and existential theories emphasize the inherent tendency for individuals to grow, develop and seek their potential. The humanistic perspective takes a very positive view of human nature and investigates the impact of each individual as an active participant in their own lives. As such, humanistic and existential theories support the following assumptions: present, conscious experience is more important than either the past or the future, psychologically healthy individuals are responsible for their own thoughts, actions and feelings, all humans are valuable and worthwhile, and the goal of life is personal growth and understanding.This week we will be focusing on a range of theories that emphasize the unique nature, growth, andpotential inherent in humans. Specifically, we will be examining: Kellys personal construct theory highlighting the role of perception and anticipation in personality formation, Rogers person-centered theory emphasizing views of the Self and self-acceptance, and Maslows theories of motivation and self-actualization.To get started, read Chapter 18 - Kelly: Psychology of Personal Constructs, Chapter 11 - Rogers: Person-Centered Theory and Chapter 10 - Maslow: Holistic-Dynamic Theory.George KellyKellys personal construct theory takes a unique approach to explaining personality; in fact, it is sodifferent from most other personality theories that it doesnt clearly fit into any of the major theoreticalmovements within psychology. Kelly incorporates aspects of cognitive theory with behaviorism andphenomenology in order to explain the role of perception and the individual construction of information onthe development of personality.Central to Kellys theory is the concept of "person as scientist."While people generally dont utilize a formal, systematic process tointerpret the world around them (like scientists), they do askquestions and form their own informal theories about therelationship between events. These informal theories, or personalconstructs, allow people to anticipate and predict future events. Asillustrated by the diagram to the right, personal constructsare individualized ways of perceiving, interpreting, and predictingthe world.Kelly believed that an individuals perception of reality, more thanthe accuracy of that perception, is a key factor in understandingtheir unique personality. These perceptions lead to a range of
interpretations that guide thought, behavior and emotion. In thisview, personality is not a fixed phenomenon as a personmay change, revise or replace their interpretations at any time, aconcept called constructive alternativism.The basic postulate of Kellys personal construct theory is that "a persons processes are psychologicallychannelized by the ways in which he anticipates events." In essence, this means that our predictions ofthe future provide the motivating factor behind all thoughts, actions and emotions. To help explain histheory further, Kelly proposed supplemental corollaries: Corollary Description Constructs are grouped together based on similar or shared construction characteristics. individuality Constructs are unique to each individual person. Constructs are organized in a hierarchical manner to enhance organization efficiency of use. dichotomy Constructs all have an "either/or" structure. choice Constructs are selected in a manner to maximize future choices. Constructs only apply to a limited range of situations or range concepts. experience Constructs may be changed based on experiences. Constructs can only be changed to the extent that the construct modulation system is flexible. Constructs may not be consistent with the overall construct fragmentation system or with each other. Constructs of different people with similar experiences are likely commonality to be the same. When involved in a social setting, you influence other peoples sociality construct system.Kelly created the Role Construct Repertory (Rep) test to measure and examine an individuals constructsystem. You can complete your own Rep Grid at WebGrid III. View the following presentation for adetailed look at the implementation and interpretation of the Rep test: PowerPoint on the Rep Test (If the link does not work, please go to Doc Sharing to download the powerpoint. Remember to check out all the notes under each slide. The notes explain the slides)Not only is Kelly an influential personality theorist, he is a graduate of our very own Park University (whichwas Park College at the time of his attendance). He spent the majority of his career in the midwest andthe practical, work-oriented values of this region are apparent in his theory. Personal construct theory hasapplications in marketing, therapy and business; much of the current work with the Rep test focuses onadvertising research.
Questions for further thought: Discuss Kellys philosophical position. Discuss the fundamental postulate of Kellys theory. Define Kellys concept of role, including core role.Carl RogersRogers was a pioneer in the humanistic movement. Unlike most of the theorists we have studied, Rogersdid not consider himself a theorist and believed his primary role was to help people. As such, his person-centered theory is centered around his work as a therapist and has applications for clinical treatment,marriage, education and virtually all other interpersonal relationships. Person-centered theory assumesthat each human is an active, growing individual with inherent positive potential. This perspective rests ontwo basic assumptions: formative tendency – humans are innately driven to evolve into a more complex form actualizing tendency - humans are naturally motivated to seek fulfillment of their individual potentialAs described by Rogers, individuals have a phenomenal field which containsall experiences, both conscious and unconscious. Through social experienceand interactions with others, a person begins to develop an awareness of whatit means to exist and function within their unique environment; this awarenessis called the Self. The Self contains two important sub-systems: self-conceptand ideal self. The self-concept is the aspect of one’s Self that is withinconscious awareness and makes up our ideas about who we are. The idealself, also conscious, contains our ideas of who/what we should be and wish tobe based on our experiences.The movement toward personal fulfillment, or actualizatioin, is driven by a setof basic needs shared by all people. The four core needs are maintenance,enhancement, positive regard, and positive self-regard.Positive self-regard stems from the acceptance (positive regard) one receives in their life. If a person is inan environment in which they are loved, accepted and prized, they will develop feelings of significanceand worth. In contrast, if a person is in an environment in which there are conditions of worth, they will
develop an inconsistent understanding of their own value. Conditions of worth occur when a person isloved and accepted only when they meet the direct or implied expectations of others.As previously discussed, Rogers’ person-centered theory was developed within a clinical context; theapplication of his ideas to treatment is known as client-centered therapy. This non-directiveapproach to therapy emphasizes the active role of the client in directing, guiding, and discovering theirown potential and value. As a therapist, Rogers did not see himself as solving the clients’ problems forthem; rather, his role was to guide the client so that they may solve their problems on their own. Client-centered therapy rests on the assumption that in order for growth and change to take place, certainconditions are necessary: congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathic listening. In essence, congruence is being real, genuine, honest and congruence fully engaged in the relationship. Unconditional positive regard involves complete acceptance unconditional for another person (not necessarily their actions, but them as positive regard a person) without conditions of worth. Emphathic listening is the ability to be fully engaged with a empathic conversation; to understand how another person feels and listening be able to accurately reflect and communicate these feelings back to the person. Supplemental resources: Chapter outline PowerPoint review of chapter Video - "Self-Actualization" Video - "Motivation" Questions for further thought: Describe Rogerss concepts of the formative and actualizing tendencies. According to Rogers, what basic needs do people have? Briefly describe each. Discuss the necessary and sufficient conditions for psychological growth, as postulated by Rogers.Abraham MaslowMaslow is the father of the third force in psychology. The third force movement emphasized the fact thathumans are driven toward higher-order, intrinsic growth and fulfillment. The pinnacle of this personalgrowth is self-actualization; self-actualization is the heart of Maslow’s holistic-dynamic theory ofpersonality. Maslow’s theory derives its name from his views on motivation and represents his basicassumptions: Assumption Description holistic approach to whole person, as opposed to a single aspect, is motivation motivated behavior is based in a range of simultaneous motivation is complex motives
people are continually as one need is met, it is replaced by a new need motivated basic needs are all people in all cultures are motivated by the same universal set of core needs low level needs typically must be met before moving motivation is hierarchical on to higher order needsUndoubtedly, one of the most famous and influential aspects of Maslows theory is the hierarchy of needs.As illustrated in the diagram below, we are driven by five basic needs: physiological, safety, love andbelongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. Typically, a person is motivated by the needs at the lowerend of the hierarchy before being driven by the higher needs (although it is possible to meet the needs ina different order). The lower four levels of needs are considered deficiency needs (d-motives) as themotivation stems from a push to fulfill something lacking in the persons life; the highest level, self-actualization, is considered a being need (b-motive) as the motivation stems from a growth potential.Much of Maslows theory centered around the issue of self-actualization. Maslow was deeply interested inself-actualization and began studying the topic soon after receiving his PhD. For more detailedinformation on Maslows personal interest in the topic, read the article "What Prompted Abraham Maslowto Look for Self-Actualizing People?".Self-actualization is "the realization of all ones potential, and a desire tobecome creative in the full sense of the word." While self-actualization isthe ultimate goal for all people, Maslow believed that very few peopleactually reach full self-actualization (he estimated the number at less than1%). In order to become self-actualized, a person must meet the followingcriteria: free from psychopathology fully progressed through the hierarchy of needs embracing of B-values fulfilled the needs to grow, to develop, and to increasingly become what they are capable of becomingThrough his research, Maslow identified 15 characteristics common to self-actualized people: more efficient the democratic character autonomy perception of reality structure
acceptance of self, continued freshness of discrimination betweenothers, and nature appreciation means and endsspontaneity, simplicity philosophical sense of the peak experienceand naturalness humor social interest and onenessproblem-centering creativeness with all humanity profound interpersonal resistance tothe need for privacy relations enculturation Questions for further thought: List and explain four assumptions Maslow made about motivation. List and explain the five needs in Maslows hierarchy. Discuss Maslows concept of conative, aesthetic, cognitive, and neurotic needs.