Analysis Of The Humanistic Approach


Although Daniel is clearly capable of the task, he feels dubious about his ability to manage it. Referring back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it looks as if Daniels esteem needs have been affected, perhaps once met – when he was in charge of the marketing project he was leading, since his reallocation , he may feel that he is less competent and achieving. There is also a need for esteem based on the evaluation of others, and since Daniel’s confidence has taken a knock, he appears to be anxious about his abilities, indicating that his esteem needs are no longer being met.

Daniel’s need to see himself as competent and achieving have clearly not been met, as perhaps they were before his manager halted his project. Daniels self-concept appears to have also been affected since his job reallocation. The congruence between Daniel’s self-concept and ideal self may have expanded. Before his job reallocation, Daniel appeared to be fully capable of managing a major project, he may have felt confident, highly achieving and motivated, which are probably some of the characteristics he would have held for his ideal self.

However since his reallocation, his self-esteem needs have taken a step back and insecurities have flooded in. A bigger gap has now developed between his self-concept and his ideal self, as he now sees himself as incapable, even though he has been in charge of much more important tasks in the past. His recent divorce is likely to also be a factor of this; he may view himself as a failure in regards to his failed marriage, and now with his job.

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None of this would help Daniel’s self-concept, and self-esteem, all adding to the stress he is facing.

According to the science council, “science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence. ” The humanistic approach is not based on scientific methods, but on phenomenology in which individuals report on their own conscious experiences, with no attempt to interpret it. According to Maslow (1968), “The uniqueness of the individual does not fit into what we know of science. Then so much worse for that conception of science. It, too, will have to endure re-creation.

” Rogers (1959) held a similar view to Maslow, according to him, the phenomenological approach based on self-reports of conscious experience allows us to understand more about the meaning of people’s experience than does the traditional scientific approach favoured by the behaviourists. Characteristics of the humanistic approach has lead theorists from other approaches to say that the humanistic approach is not scientific at all, as many psychologists, and most scientists believe that behaviour can only be understood objectively (measured).

As the humanistic approach is a much more subjective concept of human behaviour, it is very hard to measure and test. However if this were possible, humanists would argue that this results in concluding that the individual is incapable of understanding their own behaviour and from a humanistic view point this can be seen as paradoxical and dangerous to individuals wellbeing. Much of Maslow’s concepts are very difficult to define and therefore difficult to test empirically.

In self-actualisation research, Maslow did not randomly select individuals to investigate; instead he handpicked people that he believed were self-actualisers. No objective measures were used to access clients and so a lack of consistency in the assessment between individuals can be an issue. The problem lies in the contradiction that if a humanist were to scientifically measure or access the theory in relation to a client, then you are basically telling the client that you know more than the client does about his or her own thoughts, behaviours and emotions.

Humanists like Rogers argue that the meaning of behaviour is essentially personal and subjective. By accepting this idea we can argue that it is not unscientific – because ultimately all individuals are subjective. Scientific methodology includes objective observation, due to the fact that the humanistic approach is primarily a subjective psychology as it’s all about the individual, it is hard to objectively measure and collect data.

However one can argue that what makes science reliable is not that scientists are purely objective, but that the nature of observed events can be agreed upon by different observers, this is a process Rogers’s calls inter-subjective verification. Science usually discounts the approach due to its reduced capacity for research. However unlike psychoanalysis, it is not impossible to gather data on the efficacy of the theory’s application. New tests were developed that emphasized the specific theory and what the theory was designed to do.

Some researchers have tried to measure congruence (self-concepts) by using a self-assessment technique called a Q-sort. The Q-sort assessment was developed by Stephenson (1953) and was later adopted by Carl Rogers in order to provide research to access the validity of his centred-person counselling in relation to the benefits he believed self-actualisation would achieve. As much of Rogers early work relied upon detailed case studies which would provide an account of the client’s progress, the Q-sort was used to improve the evaluation of the effects of counselling.

At the start of counselling, the clients self-concept and ideal self is very low, suggesting that the client does not like themselves very much as they are and wishes to possess more of the qualities that their ideal self has, for example to be more clever, out-going, or intelligent. After counselling, the correlation between their self-concept and their ideal-self should be much higher – suggesting they feel they are much more similar to how they would like to be.

According to the criteria from the science council, scientific methodology includes measurement and data and it accepts that this does not necessarily need to use mathematics as a tool. Although the humanistic theory does not discount experimental methodology, the emphasis is on lived experience and so although it does not discount experimental methodology it prefers qualitative research methods to the more empiricist approaches. For example, the use of interviews – it focuses on the actual words used by participants as the analysis aims to construct a rich account of phenomena focusing on meaning rather than ‘accuracy’.

The approach also recognises that researchers are people too, and it tries to acknowledge and use researchers own assumptions and experiences. Maslow was interested in applying psychological principles to areas like behaviour in business settings. His hierarchy of needs has been used as a basic concept throughout human resources and organizational behaviour for several decades. This suggests a strong support for the value of the humanistic theory when applying to real life.

It is not such an easy task to place an individual one of the five places of the hierarchy of needs pyramid. Many people struggle with the ups and downs of lie, and it is usually not so clear-cut as to which stage one may be at, often we may have one foot at one level and one in another. Two steps forward may often mean two steps back. This is a problem when trying to use the humanistic approach to try to understand people’s behaviour as it offers a reduced version of the complicated stages in life, many of which often go hand in hand with each other.

An issue that arises when using the Q-sort to assess the self-concept and ideal self, is that although the humanistic approach focuses a great deal on ‘the here and now’ placing emphasise on our conscious behaviour, it does not take into consideration the unconscious aspects of the self, which clearly have a great impact on the way we act in certain situations. Obvious possibilities of deliberate distortion is another issue, as it is much more desirable for an unfriendly person to pretend that they are friendly just for purposes of the test.

A final issue with using Roger’s self-concept theory to help explain and develop behaviour is that people may possess a number of self-concepts, which are used in many different situations and environments, therefore it may be unrealistic to just refer to one as means of assessing individuals. Although the humanistic approach clearly has a great deal of value as a means for understanding people’s behaviour and has also contributed lots when applying it to the real world, behaviour can often be misinterpreted using a humanistic outlook.

Behaviour can be the result of many different motivators. For example, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a person with a low paid, menial job is merely trying to make some money to put food onto the table – meeting their basic physiological needs. However the reason the person does this job may due to the reason that in fact they are meeting their belongingness and love needs, as perhaps they are very happy with the good set of colleagues that they work with.

If offered a promotion, they may reject it, because although they would be earning more money, they may not be working alongside the people they have formed close relationships with and therefore fall back a level and become unhappy individuals. This example can show us how ambiguous the humanistic approach can sometimes be when trying to understand people’s behaviour. Psychoanalytic critics have argued that because humanistic psychology emphasises on wholeness and optimism, it has downplayed the more tragic and painful dimensions of life, such as emotional conflict.

Bibliography John Maltby, Liz Day and Ann Macaskill, Personality, Individual Differences and Intelligence, Harlow (2007) Emslie, Gordon, Approaches to Psychology (1940) John Rowan, Ordinary ecstasy: The dialectics of humanistic psychology. Edition 3 (2001) John Rowan, The reality game: A guide to humanistic counselling and psychotherapy. Edition 2 (1998) Michael L W. Eysenck , Psychology A student’s handbook. Psychology press (2000) http://www. ahpweb. org/ WWW. Mcgraw-hill. co. uk.

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