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Humanistic and Existential Personality Theories

Group B

Psychology 405

April 28, 2015
Professor Dennis Daugherty

Humanistic and Existential Personality Theories

Existential and Humanistic Psychology emerged as many theorists found traditionally held beliefs about people and personality, such as behaviorism and psychoanalysis, to be limiting. Humanistic Psychology is based on the idea that people are always striving to be their best self, or to become their whole self (Ryback, 2011). Existential Psychology is based on the idea that people are moved into action by the search for meaning in life (Feist & Feist, 2009). Though the goals of the two disciplines differ, the method of achieving those aims are the same; people are responsible for their outcomes, and achieve their ultimate goals through free will and personal responsibility. How Humanistic and Existential Theories Affect Individual Personalities The foundation of Humanistic theory is rooted in the belief that individuals are innately good and all mental and social issues are a deviation of the innate goodness caused by society. Humanistic therapies treat individuals from a holistic perspective; particular attention is given to phenomenon such as free will and human potential. Humanistic theory developed as an alternative to psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Psychologists such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and others met to discuss developing an organization with a more humanist approach to the field of psychology. The Humanist approach became widely accepted as the Third Force in psychology. Abraham Maslow develop a five stage model, called the hierarchy of needs; physiological; safety; social; esteem and self-actualization. Maslow posited that the need in each stage must be fulfilled in order to move to the next stage. Rogers agreed with the basic tenets of Maslow’s theory. The elemental components of Humanistic personality theory is client-centered capacity for self-development and growth. Fundamentally, Humanistic personality theorist believe individuals strive to be the best versions of themselves. Humanistic psychology is considered a version of Existential psychology. Existential psychology theories assert that individuals are in a continual search for the meaning of life. Existential psychology posits many of the same components as Humanistic psychology, such as personal responsibility, freedom of choice, and freewill. Unlike Humanist, Existentialist emphasis the responsibility of the individual for choices and the impact of those choices on the individual (Cherry, 2014). The existential approach encourages people to take their fears and anxiety and use it in a positive way to transform undesirable circumstances to more desirable ones. The theorists which contributed to existential psychology are Rollo May and Ludwig Binswagner. Binswagner is considered the first existential therapist. Rollo May is credited with introducing existential psychology to the U.S. According to the existential psychology belief, anxiety can develop due to a loss of freedom of choice and freewill and remind individuals of the limitation of humans. However, if the individual can understand the root cause of the anxiety, the anxiety can be used to help achieve self-actualization, thus allowing positive changes to develop. How Humanistic and Existential Theories Influence Interpersonal Relationships Humanistic and existential theories can influence an individual's interpersonal relationship by allowing his or her characteristics to determine which type of relationship he or she will have with any particular person. If an individual wishes to be compatible with anyone determined by these specific characteristics he or she may or may not have limited individuals to engage with daily depending on his or her particular disposition. Many people are more motivated and fast paced than others, this may fit in well in a professional sense, therefore allowing the individual to engage and properly associate with coworkers or any of their superiors in the working environment. If the person is timid and not easily motivated, or does not communicate well with others, this could create problems for the individual. In an everyday situation, these dispositional theories help him or her to become a better friend to his or her existing friends. This is a contributing factor in one’s personal relationship, because people who have similar characteristics, motivation, and drives are compatible with others displaying the same characteristics. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the humanistic and existential theory influences interpersonal relationships via belongingness and love needs. One moves up the ladder of needs and is effected by the desire for friendship, finding someone to love, and having a family. This requires contact with people and the emotions of love. People who have reached this level have no problem accepting rejection and can love people most important to them. People who have never reached this level cannot give love. The belongingness and love level identifies with May’s theory on love. Four kinds of love that May had identified are sex, eros, philia, and agape. Sex is the release of sexual tension by sexual intercourse, which is a biological function. A psychological desire to be with a lasting union with someone a person loves is Eros. A platonic relationship between two people is philia. Last, the highest form of love is unconditional between two people. The humanistic and existential theory influences interpersonal relationships in the person-centered theory by using Rodger’s theory of positive-regard and positive self-regard. Positive regard is how a person seeks to be accepted, liked, or loved by another human (Feist & Feist, 2009). Positive self-regard is valuing oneself (Feist & Feist, 2009). To possess positive self-regard, an individual must possess positive regard first. After establishing positive self-regard, it must continue. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the same, as one must complete one before going to the other. The humanistic and existential theory influences interpersonal relationships in May’s existential theory, by a German word Dasein meaning unity of environment and person in existence (Feist & Feist, 2009). “Umwelt, one’s relationship with the world of things; Mitwelt, one’s relationship with the world of people; and Eigenwelt, one’s relationship with oneself are three modes of being-in-the-world” (Feist & Feist, 2009, p. 370). People may alienate themselves from the world or themselves, doing so causes anxiety within that person. This is how a person loses touch with the world. Another concept is being nonexistent, an individual is aware of the possibility of death. Using Rodger’s theory of incongruence and vulnerability, with the self being two different entities one may not agree with the other. When one’s experiences are unrecognizable, there is disequilibrium, in which oneself concept is false or distorted. An individual becomes vulnerable in the situation of disequilibrium, then experience anxiety. Conclusion In conclusion, Team B has gone over how Humanistic and Existential Theories Affect Individual Personalities and how everyone is born well but the environments affect each individual to be different. Psychologist came together to create humanist psychology which is the third force in psychology. Existential psychology as was mention that people are feel well but the society cause individual to have anxiety. Team B also went over how Humanistic and Existential Theories Influence Interpersonal Relationships. Humanistic and Existential influence interpersonal skills with individual to learn how to love, and understand belongingness, and learn to be love by others.

Feist, J., Feist, G. J., & Roberts, T.-A. (2013). Theories of personality (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2009). Theories of Personality (7th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.
Ryback, D. (2011, June). Humanistic Psychology’s impact and accomplishments. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 51(4), 413-418. doi:10.1177/0022167811409042…...

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