The Theories Of Personality
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The humanistic movement in psychology was founded by two American psychologists, Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow during the late 1950’s. Both of these psychologists took self-actualization, which is the realization of one’s potential, and embraced it as an “empirical principle and and ethical idea” (Lecture). This led to the idea of humanism where an individual is studied as a whole, unique human being (Mcleod, 1970). Humanistic psychology also supports the idea that humans have dignity and free will. Their dignity is believed to be the reason why they are capable of developing self-respect within themselves, as well achieving personal accomplishments. The humanist view believes that everyone is good and has a drive to constantly improve themselves, but also acknowledges that humans can be influenced through society and the unconscious psyche, whether it be positive or negative. Humanistic psychologists supported the importance of personal growth, but believed that in order for this growth to happen, “appropriate institutional and organizational environments” were needed to develop (Lecture).
Through this development, humans have the opportunity to expand their minds and goals. Since human’s personal growth is a factor in this movement and it is believed that environment has a huge impact on that growth, it’s stated that “human needs should be given priority when fashioning social policies” (Lecture). This statement is regarding how the world has many negative aspects as far as nuclear wars, economic crisis, population exceeding, and so on, that this constant negative change will prevent humans from self-actualization. Before the humanistic movement, psychology consisted of two theories in the first half of the twentieth century, which were behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Theorists who critiqued these theories didn’t agree with either of them because of the lack of acknowledging “the possibility of studying values, intentions and meaning as elements in conscious existence” (Lecture). Maslow labeled behaviorism as the “First Force” and rejected this theory because it didn’t go into depth about human condition as a whole.
Psychoanalysis was the “Second Force” and this was rejected because it stated that human behavior was the result of occurrences happening in the unconscious psyche. Behaviorism and psychoanalysis were considered dehumanizing and deterministic due to the beliefs of how human behavior always has a causation from events and is predictable because of it. The “Third Force”, which is the humanistic movement, emerged from “psychologists who were interested in founding a professional association dedicated to a more meaningful, more humanistic vision” (Lecture). Self-actualization was one of the main aspects as well as creativity and other key factors related to individuality and self. The other two theories did not identify humans as unique individuals and therefore limited other possible outcomes.
The Human Potential Movement, influenced by Maslow, was a concept from the 1960’s that revolved around the idea of increasing human potential can lead to experiencing a positive quality of life consisting of happiness, creativity, and fulfillment (Lecture). This theory assumes that individuals who achieve this human potential end up spreading this development by offering assistance to others to help them achieve human potential. The overall outcome of this phenomenon increases positive social change through the combination of multiple individuals developing their own potential. This movement failed to adhere to the goals of the humanistic movement founders because in reality, individuals who practice self-actualizing end up being inward focused individuals. Inward focused individuals tend to be self-centered and self-absorbed which is the opposite of what the movement stated, and therefore fails to follow what the movement was trying to prove.
Behaviorism arose in 1913 with the concept that one’s environment influences his or hers behavior through interaction. This psychological approach is stimulus-response based with both being either conditioned or unconditioned and can be scientifically measured. Social learning theory is way that behavior is adopted through classical or operant conditioning. The theory is combined with the idea that we are born with blank minds and our behaviors are learned as we live on through our environment. Behaviorism was studied through animal research where Ivan Pavlov studied the saliva secretion of dogs when they encounter food and their digestion. In Pavlov’s study, he showed classical conditioning where the meat powder was an unconditioned stimulus, and the natural secretion of saliva the dog produced after it was placed in the dog’s mouth was the unconditioned response because no learning was required. The bell, initially, is a neutral stimulus before learning, and then becomes a conditioned stimulus once the experimenters present the meat powder after the bell and the dog finds a relation between the bell and the meat powder.
After that relation is learned, the bell is a conditioned stimulus and the conditioned response is the secretion of saliva because the dog knows that food is going to be presented after the bell is rung. B.F. Skinner focused on operant conditioning where the two key factors are reinforcement and punishment. Reinforcement is used as a positive consequence to increase the frequency of behavior and punishment is used as a negative consequence to decrease a behavior from reoccurring. A personal example of classical conditioning in the modern-day world is my experience with kale. When I ate kale for the first time, my parents baked it in the oven on this huge, round tray. My body was really sensitive to amount of fiber and caused me to have really bad stomach pain all night with nausea and constant bowel movements. The pain was so severe that I had to hold a hard object against my stomach the entire night until the kale passed through my system as well as keep a trash can by my bedside because of the nausea. Every time my parents bake kale, it’s on that large, round tray. They will set the tray on top of the stove while cleaning the kale or even before they take out the kale from the refrigerator.
Now, when I see my mom pull out that tray, I know she’s going to bake kale, and seeing that tray turns my stomach because I know what would happen if I ate it again. It has gotten to the point where I start to feel nauseous because I unconsciously image the kale on the tray and it automatically takes me back to that night. In this situation, the unconditioned stimulus was the kale and the unconditioned response was the cramping, painful bowel movements and nausea. The large, round tray starts off as a neutral stimulus before my parents designated that tray to be the kale tray. After continuously using that tray for baking kale, it became a conditioned stimulus and the conditioned response is getting an upset stomach and a brief nauseous feeling. Another personal example of classical conditioning that I know a lot of cat lovers can relate to is their cats freaking out over a bath.
We all know that stereotype of cats hating water, and although it’s not true for all cats, it was for mine. Growing up, one of my cats enjoyed water while the other one hated it. So every time my dad would take Fluffy, the water hating cat, to the bath tub for a bath, she would scream in cat language and get really feisty with my dad. The first time he took her the bathtub, she didn’t know what was happening or what was about to happen, so she was calm, until the water started coming out. Then, she realized what the bathtub was for, and always tried to fight away from my dad’s arms the moment she would see it. The water from the bathtub was the unconditioned stimulus and the unconditioned response was screaming (meowing really loud), scratching and trying to get away. The bathtub was initially a neutral stimulus until Fluffy realized what the bathtub was for after continuously being forced to bath in it, therefore it became a conditioned stimulus and her conditioned response was to try to get away before my dad could bring her close to the bathtub by scratching and meowing.
- Mcleod, S. (2017, February 05). Behaviorist Approach. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/behaviorism.html
- McLeod, S. (1970, January 01). Saul McLeod. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/humanistic.html