Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers are famous psychologists credited as founders of humanistic psychology, a field that is concerned with positive mental health. In humanistic psychology, various theories, such as those proposed by Maslow and Rogers, believe that all individuals are predisposed to grow, in both inner strength and qualities. However, while the theories by Maslow and Rogers focus on self-actualization, they have key differences that separate their ideologies. While Maslow credits the individual with the power of self-actualization themselves, Rogers poses that one’s environment/surroundings are crucial to self-actualization.
Self-actualization can be said to be where an individual achieves the highest possible form of human potential, thus gaining harmony with themselves and their world. According to Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs theory, there are a set of needs that form a pyramid, and all human beings live their lives trying to accomplish one category after the other. Each layer of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, therefore, represents goals that the individual strives to accomplish at various stages of their lives.
Figure 1: Maslow's hierarchy of needs
At the very bottom, there are physiological needs, followed by safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization at the top. Fulfilling each layer of the pyramid is essential for one to move to the next, in a process that lasts throughout one’s lifetime. To Maslow, self-actualized people are simple, self-sufficient, just, and good since they can easily find enjoyment and awe in life. Because such individuals have self-awareness, they can easily accept what cannot be changed, and each time, they remain open to peak experiences. According to Maslow’s theory, individuals that achieved self-actualization experienced top psychological health and functioning.
Carl Roger’s humanism
Just like Maslow, Carl Rogers, who was also a renowned American psychologist, had a favorable view of humanity. Roger’s notions towards psychology posed that human beings are inherently good and creative, concepts he formed his theories around. Like Maslow, he emphasized that when the individual has free-will and self-determination, they can reach their full potential. According to Rogers, the individual had the power to shape their worlds, both internal and internal, through their actualizing tendency- the inbuilt instinct to succeed at the highest levels possible.
Figure 2: The phenomenal field
According to Rogers, human behavior is motivated by self-actualizing tendencies, the motivators that inspire an individual to strive towards achieving their highest potentials. As individuals interact with the world around them (environment), they form a structure of the self or self-concept, which means all the aspects that make up their psyche. When individuals have a positive self-concept for instance, their thoughts, behaviors, and interactions with people become better become they feel good too. To them, the world is a safe and nurturing place where they can strive to grow and succeed. However, when an individual has a negative self-concept, they become unhappy with who they are and what they can achieve in a cold and dark world.
Rogers further explained that there are two categories of the self, which are the ideal self and the real self. The ideal self is the person one aspires to be while the real self is the person one is. Rogers explained that when there is a balance between the two, ideal and real self, the ability to realize one’s self-concept is heightened. This leads to the discussion on the difference between Maslow and Roger’s views on self-actualization. According to Maslow, the individual has the power to achieve all the needs across various stages of life but as per Rogers, the individual also needed the environment to succeed. In developing his self-concept theory, Rogers added that unconditional positive regard, or love, helped individuals to achieve their full potential. When people grow up in an environment of support, they can develop a positive ideal self as opposed to when the environment is unsupportive.
Another difference between Maslow and Rogers is that while the former used stages of development, Rogers discussed that life should be seen in principles. To realize the “good life,” the individual is open to experiencing everything that life has to offer since their personality and self-concept comes from experience. To Rogers, the fully functional individual lived by several principles that include:
· Openness to new and ordinary experiences
· Existential lifestyle-living in each moment
· Organismic trust-trust their judgments
· Freedom of choice- determine own behavior
· Creative- do not feel the need to conform
· Reliable and constructive- meet every challenge with goodness
· Live rich, full lives- experience everything good/bad intensely.
At Unemployed Tutors, our writers are experienced at writing essays on Maslow vs. Rogers and their humanistic views. For instance, according to Maslow, the individual has the power to achieve all the needs across various stages of life but to Rogers, the individual also needed the environment. Also, while Maslow views life as a series of stages, Rogers believes that a fully functional individual lives the principles of a “good life.”
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