In 1962, the humanistic psychology evolved as ‘third force’, an alternative to the other two approaches, the behaviourism and psychoanalysis with the formation of Association of Humanistic Psychology. To explain its mission, the association adopted four principles:
- Humans beings are not simply objects of study. They must be looked into and understood in terms of their perceptions of self, their own subjective views of the world, and their feelings of self-worth. The central question each person faces in the process of existing is ‘Who am I?’ In order to learn how the individual attempts to answer this question, the psychologist are expected become a partner of that person.
- In humanistic approach, creativity, human choice, and self-actualization are the predominant topics of investigation. This approach do not consider basic drives like sex or aggression or physiological needs like hunger and thirst as only motivators of individuals. Individuals experiences a need to develop their potentials and capabilities. Growth and self-actualization are taken as the criteria of psychological health, not merely ego control factors or adjustment to the environment.
- Meaningfulness must forego objectivity in the selection of research problems. Humanistic psychologists believes that psychologists should study important human and social problems, even if that sometimes demands adopting less rigorous methods.
Humanistic psychology places ultimate value on the dignity of the person. The primary assumption is that people are basically good. The objective of psychology is not to predict or control people but understand them.
For example, the trait theorist Gordon Allport was also a humanistic psychologist, and we have already pointed out that several psychoanalysts, such as Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Erik Erikson, held humanistic views of motivation that diverged from Freud’s views. But it is Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow whose theoretical views lie at the center of the humanistic movement.
Carl Rogers founded his theory upon his work with patients or clients in a clinic. Rogers was convinced that he observed the individual’s innate tendency to move toward growth, maturity, and positive change. He was of the believe that the basic force motivating the human organism is the actualizing tendency, which is a tendency toward fulfillment or actualization of all the capacities of the organization. A growing organism look forward to fulfill its potential within the limits of its heredity. Rogers did accept the fact that there are other needs, some of them biological, but he saw them as subservient to the organism’s motivation to enhance itself. Rogers’s belief in the primacy of actualization is the foundation of his non-directive or client-centered therapy.
The psychology of Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) overlaps with that of Carl Rogers in varied way. Maslow proposed that there is a hierarchy of needs, upward from the basic biological needs to the more complex psychological motivations that become significant only after the basic needs have been satisfied.
The needs at one level must be at least partially satisfied before those at the next level become important motivators of action. The highest motive of an individual is self-actualization, which can be fulfilled only after all other needs have been satisfied.
Humanistic psychologists have been criticized for building their theories solely on observations of relatively healthy people. Their theories are best suited to well functioning people whose basic needs have been met, freeing them to concern themselves with higher needs. The applicability of these theories to malfunctioning or disadvantaged individuals is less apparent.