Systems and History of Psychology

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In contrast to the first half of the twentieth century

which was dominated by examples of psychoanalysis and behaviorism psychology, a new school of thought known as humanistic psychology emerged in the second half of the century. The new modifications encouraged the introduction of new phrases such as humanism, humanist, and even humanistic descriptions, all of which were aimed at describing psychological techniques related to the study of the whole person and even emphasising the uniqueness of each individual. The humanistic psychology was invented to remedy the limitations presented by the psychoanalytic theory that was heavily supported by Sigmund Freud and behaviorism which was backed by B. F. Skinner.

Researchers have further linked the humanism psychology

from Socrates era, via the Renaissance period and highlighted the individual's intrinsic values towards self-actualization. The psychology also exposes and explains how people attempt to realize and express personal capabilities and exploit creativity. Pro-humanistic psychologists observe human behavior with a deeper meaning without restrictions to usual outside views. The humanistic modeled approach is also called phenomenological outlook, and it indicates that psychologists should study human's personality with regards to the point of view of the individual's subjective history (DeCarvalho, 2010).

Contributors of humanistic psychology

The two main examples of contributors of humanistic psychology are Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. The two contributor became instrumental members and founders of the Association for Humanistic Psychology (AHP). According to Rogers, the emphasis of psychology should not be the behavior as forwarded by Skinner or the unconscious as Freud proposed or thinking as indicated by Wundt or even through the human brain but should focus on how people perceive and construe various events. The contribution of Rogers inclines towards redirection of psychology towards the study of the human self. The humanistic model emanated in psychology as solutions to the limitations presented by the behaviorist and psychodynamic approaches to psychology. Due to that reasoning, Maslow went further and regarded humanistic approach as the "third force" in psychological studies. Rogers and Maslow acknowledge personal growth and attainment of self-fulfillment in life as essential human motives and targets (Macdonald, 2017). They imply that every person has special uniqueness and is the recurrent pursuit of psychological growth and continual enhancement of themselves. Each of them presents a distinct approach of attaining self-actualization in life.

Summary of the basic beliefs of humanistic psychologists

The essential beliefs of the humanistic theories as presented by psychologists like Rogers and Maslow is that they are hugely subjective and conscious of the experiences of every person. According to the humanistic psychologists, objective reality is usually less imperative as compared to person's subjective view and corresponding comprehension of the world. Such approaches were the main reasons as to why Rogers and Maslow rarely recognized the essence of scientific psychology, for instance, the application of the psychology laboratory in studying both human and animal behavioral configuration (Bühler & Allen, 2012).

Humanism avoids the use of the scientific methodology

such as the experiments and increasingly apply qualitative research method approaches. Use of the qualitative research is vital especially at the individual level to highlight in depth, thinking outlook of people, for instance, through case studies. It recognizes that people can only understand each other if they sit down, have a talk, share past experiences and express their open feelings (Child, 2003).

The two examples of basic beliefs of humanistic psychologists

are a hierarchy of needs and unconditional positive regard concepts hierarchy of needs theory was prompted by Maslow and is mainly a motivational theory that entails five segments which are portrayed as hierarchical levels in a pyramid model. According to Maslow, people are exposed to have certain notable motivations in life in which some of them take more precedence than others. According to him, basic needs for human beings are the ones that support human physical survival, and it is placed as the initial factor that motivates people's behavior. Following the fulfillment of the need then subsequent level or hierarchy of need takes precedence.

According to Maslow, the first hierarchy is hugely the biological and physiological requirements of human beings such breathing air, food, drinks and shelter amongst others. The second hierarchy consists of safety needs which include safeguard from others elements (DeCarvalho, 2010). They include security, order, and law. The third need is a feeling of love, and fourth need is esteem needs. The last need is Self-actualization needs. Carl Rogers forwarded the unconditional positive regard (UPR), and it acts as the groundwork for multiple psychotherapies. UPR acknowledges the worth and respect for individual who are considered the agents who select on how to respond to various situations despite the level of danger and dysfunctionality the people may be undertaking them. According to Rogers' theory, human beings presents essential and intricate urge towards socially constructive modes (Jourard, 2006).

Criticisms of humanistic psychology

The first example of criticism against the humanistic psychology is that portrays vague concepts. According to critics subjective ideas outlined through humanistic approaches, for instance, authentic and real experiences are hugely complex to objectify. They argue that experiences that real and manifested on one person is usually not practical for other people. Due to such challenges, opponents of such theoretical approaches argue that their conclusions cannot be easily verified or even drawn on the subjective experience basis. Subsequently, they argue that humanistic approaches are relatively unreliable (Macdonald, 2017). They further contend that humanistic psychology fails to meet the thresholds of the set for it to be considered as true science due to the massive application of common sense and insufficient objectivity.

The second example of criticism against humanistic psychology

is that it is founded on naive assumptions with poor testability models and scanty evidence thus indicating narrowness. They imply that humanistic psychology approaches are unrealistic and overly simplified regarding human nature. They question difficulty on testing humanistic concepts, recognition of their difficulty in definition and operationalization and scientific testing. They argue that narrowness exposed in the approaches indicates huge reliance on the description of the personality instead providing explanations (Bühler & Allen, 2012).


In brief, humanistic approach created new multiple knowledge in the psychology field. It availed new vital avenues of comprehending human beings, new methods of collecting data regarding the study of human behavior.It also introduced a broad spectrum of psychotherapy techniques which have been very essential in the field. Apart from the hierarchy of needs and unconditional positive regard concepts, humanistic psychology also presents other essential concepts such as person-centered therapy, free will, and peak experiences. It further elaborates about self-actualization, self-concept and explains who is a fully-functioning person. It portrays both successes and some failures just like other psychology practices.


Bühler, C. M., & Allen, M. (2012). Introduction to humanistic psychology. Brooks/Cole.

DeCarvalho, R. J. (2010). The founders of humanistic psychology. Praeger Publishers.

Child, I. L. (2003). Humanistic psychology and the research tradition: Their several virtues. John Wiley & Sons.

Jourard, S. M. (2006). Healthy personality: An approach from the viewpoint of humanistic psychology. Macmillan.

Macdonald, S. J. (2017). Humanistic Psychology: A stairway to Athena.

April 19, 2023


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Humanism Study Sigmund Freud

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