Ninth Edition CoverGraziano & Raulin
Research Methods (9th edition)


We include humanistic psychology, because it is a relatively recent movement in psychology (1960s-1980s) and had many characteristics of a school of thought. These include an organizing theoretical model, research, adherents, and its identity as a reaction against some of the prevailing schools of psychology, such as behaviorism and psychoanalysis. 

However, humanistic psychology never did achieve the lasting influence of most other schools, and by the 1980s, it had declined in importance as a movement. Nevertheless, the humanistic model was so compelling that it has emerged several times in history, and we believe that, although it is now relatively quiescent, it will experience another major revival in the 21st Century. 

Many factors contributed to the brief existence and limited influence of the humanistic model in mainstream academic psychology. One was that its major theoreticians--Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) and Carl Rogers (1902-1987)--were in applied fields of counseling and clinical psychology. They did not, therefore, have much direct influence within academic, research-oriented psychology. 

Furthermore, their research was molar and even largely philosophical (as with Maslow) or focused on applied issues in counseling and psychotherapy (as with Rogers), rather than being high constraint, laboratory experimentation. Such research was not well received by most academic psychologists. The theoretical constructs of humanistic psychology were not clearly tied to hard data, and there was little deductive experimental testing to validate predictions from their theories. Finally, their main targets for criticism--behaviorism and psychoanalysis--were already waning. Therefore, humanistic psychology did not gain much strength or identity by contrasting itself to such already declining models. 

The basic model of Humanistic psychology is the concept that humans have an innate striving for optimized self-development, termed self actualization. In Maslow’s model, humans are faced with a hierarchy of needs. The most basic needs in the hierarchy are physiological needs, while self-actualization is at the highest level of development. Intermediate needs that must be satisfied in order to achieve full development include needs for safety and stability, freedom from fear and anxiety, affiliation (love and belonging), and needs for self-esteem and esteem from others. 

Rogers, who worked primarily within the area of psychotherapy, developed a very similar model. All persons, according to Rogers, have the innate capacity to grow and develop psychologically, a process of becoming a person. Psychotherapy is not a cure imposed by the therapist, but is a working-through of natural abilities by the person. The responsibility for that growth, and thus for the success of psychotherapy, is on the person, while the role of the therapist is to assist in the person’s growth. Roger's therapy model, client-centered therapy, continues to have considerable impact on the mental health field. As a measure of their importance, both men were elected to the presidency of the American Psychological Association.

For both Rogers and Maslow, achieving self-actualization is a long process that depends, not only on innate human drives, but also on the person’s own thoughtful, conscious, and deliberate goal-directed efforts. People have the capacity to be intelligent, thoughtful, creative, and to control their own lives through positive and active self-direction. 

The humanistic psychologists took great issue with the deterministic and mechanistic models presented by behavioral and psychodynamic theorists. Both, they maintained, viewed humans in an atomistic way and failed to understand the total or holistic organization and reality of people. They believed that behaviorism was deterministic, mechanistic, and atomistic and that psychodynamic theory was equally deterministic and ignored or actively denied the human capacity for conscious self-direction. They also believed that psychodynamic theory focused far too much on pathology and paid little attention to positive psychology. Neither behavioral nor psychodynamic approaches, they argued, understood the wholeness of human beings, seeing instead a human machine composed of discreet parts and human functioning determined by environmental or unconscious events. These models, they believed, completely misunderstood the nature of human beings.

The humanistic movement of the late 20th Century is a direct parallel to the romantic philosophies and the humanitarian reform movements of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. Those were movements in protest against the Newtonian conception of the nature of the universe as being a vast, orderly machine composed of mechanically-linked parts. The romantic metaphor focused on biological and evolutionary growth and goal-directed development toward greater refinement and integration. People, they believed, possessed an innate capacity to grow toward higher levels of function. In this process, people can apply their rational abilities for self-direction and personal control of their own lives. To those 17th and 18th Century reformers, life is a continuing process of becoming--that is, growing into the best person possible. It was a positive and uplifting view of life and life’s positive potentials. Humanistic psychologists, especially Rogers, hearkened back to and resurrected that earlier movement. 

Other influences on the emergence of humanistic psychology can be seen in the early critics of Wundt and Titchener’s structuralism. For example, consider William James’ alternative view of consciousness as a stream of consciousness, with thoughts and images constantly moving and tumbling over each other like the flow of a river. This was a direct contrast to the structuralists’ views of consciousness as the more static operation of discrete parts. Gestalt psychologists were also critical of structuralism, behaviorism, and psychoanalysis, emphasizing the wholeness of human cognitive functions and behavioral organization. 

A popular cultural movement in the United States dominated in the 1960s. This was, in its own way, another expression of the earlier humanitarian revolution. It was critical of the overpowering control of government and of such organizations as industries; it demanded greater power for individuals in determining their own lives. This 1960s humanitarian movement helped to provide a receptive zeitgeist for the emergence of humanistic psychology. The time was ripe, and the humanistic concepts held sway for over two decades.

The major expressions of humanistic psychology are presented in Rogers’ On Becoming a Person (1961), A Way of Being (1980), Client-Centered Therapy (1951), and some 150 other papers and books. Maslow’s published twelve books, including Motivation and Personality (1954, 1970), Toward a Psychology of Being (1962), and Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences (1964).

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