The Humanistic Approach in psychology Faced with a choice between psychoanalysis and behaviorism, many definition by psychologists in the 1950s and 1960s sensed a void in psychology’s conception of human nature. Freud had drawn attention to the darker forces of the unconscious, and Skinner was interested only in the effects of reinforcement on observable behavior.
Humanistic psychology emerged out of a desire to understand the conscious mind, free will, human dignity, and the capacity for self-reflection and growth. An alternative to psychoanalysis and behaviorism, humanistic psychology became known as “the third force.”
Humanistic Approach psychology focused on:
• The idea that people are in control of their life.
• The person or the self and personal growth and development are to be emphasized. The humanistic approach includes a number of other theories with the same or similar orientation e.g., ‘existential’ and ‘phenomenological’ psychology. Basic Assumptions of the Humanistic Approach i. In order to understand behavior we must consider the subjective experience of the person.
ii. Neither past experience nor current circumstances constrain the behavior of the person.
Humanistic Vs Psychodynamic & behaviorist Approaches
• Humanistic approach emphasizes the person, the psychodynamic stresses unconscious
determinants, and the behaviorists focus upon external determinants.
• Humanistic approach is more optimistic than the other two in the sense that it believes in the person’s ability and will.
• According to the humanistic thinkers, limiting ourselves to observable behavior and external stimuli alone is ignoring the thinking-feeling person, and that is dehumanizing. Free will: Humans possess the ability to make decisions about their life
Central Themes of Humanistic Approach
• Human beings are capable of shaping their own destiny.
• They can think and design their course of action and can follow it in the way they like.
• People can overcome or minimize the environmental, and intrinsic influences
• “Here and now” is important.
• “Wholeness” or “completeness” of the personality is important rather than its separate, disintegrated, structural parts.
Humanistic approach emphasizes:
• Individual’s freedom in directing his future
• Capacity for personal growth
• Intrinsic worth
• Potential for self-fulfillment
Emergence of the Humanistic Approach
Emerged in reaction to the perceived limitations of psychodynamic theories, especially Psychoanalysis, as well as the staunch behaviorist way of understanding and interpreting behavior Individuals like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow strongly felt that the approaches prevalent at that time could not adequately address issues like the meaning of behavior, and the nature of healthy growth. The founders asserted that people need a value system a system of understanding, or frame of orientation due to which life gets a meaning and purpose.