Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was a humanistic psychologist. He supported the views of Maslow and added; an environment with genuineness, acceptance and empathy is needed for a person to grow. Rogers believed that a person reaches to self-actualisation level when they achieve their goals, wishes and desires at all stages of their life.
Humanistic psychology emphasised the role of an individual in shaping their internal and external world. He was with the view that humans are active and creative people who live in the present and is concerned with only relationships, perceptions and situations in the present. Roger’s personality development theory was formed to highlight free will and human potential for goodness.
Personality development and self-concept - humanistic psychology
Rogers’ theory of personality development was based on humanistic psychology. According to his approach, everyone exists in a world full of experiences. These experiences shape our reactions that include external objects and people. Also, internal thoughts and emotions. This is known as their phenomenal field. Phenomenal field means a person’s reality, objects, behaviour, thoughts and people.
Roger believed that a person’s behaviour is a factor motivated by self-actualisation tendencies to work and achieve the highest level of their potential and achievement. During this process, a person forms a structure of self or self-concept. A positive self-concept is associated with feeling good and safe. If they have a negative self-concept they may feel unhappy with who they are.
Carl Rogers' views on ideal self vs real self
Rogers divided the self into two categories; ideal and real self. The ideal self is the person you would like to be and real self is what you really are. In the real world, a person’s ideal self is not consistent with what happens in life with a person. Incongruence is the difference in ideal self and actual experiences. Congruence is when our thoughts about our real self and ideal self are very similar; i.e. our self-concept is very strong and accurate. High congruence leads to a greater sense of self-worth and a healthy, productive life.
Unconditional positive regard
Rogers elevated the importance of unconditional positive regard or unconditional love when developing self-concept. To fully actualise, people are raised in conditions of unconditional positive regard where no conditions of worth are present. When people are raised in an environment of conditional positive regard in which worth and love are only given under certain conditions they must match those conditions to receive positive regard. The ideal self is determined based on these conditions; this contributes to incongruence and gap between real and ideal self.
The fully functioning person
Rogers believed that anyone can achieve their goals. This means that the person is in touch with the here and now, his or her subjective experiences and feelings that are continually growing and changing. Rogers regarded the fully functioning person as an ideal figure and the one that people do not ultimately achieve. It is a process of becoming and changing.
Five characteristics of a fully functioning person are;
- They are open to experiences, positive and negative emotions. Negative feelings are worked through.
- Existential living is in touch with more experiences in life as they occur. Living in the moment and appreciating the present.
- Trust feelings of gut reactions. People’s own decisions are the right ones and we should trust ourselves to make the right choices.
- A person doesn’t stay safe all the time, they seek new experiences and so risk-taking is a part of life.
- A person who is living a fulfilled life i.e. happy and satisfied and always looking for new challenges and experiences.
Rogers theories including the humanistic approach theory were criticised for not identifying enough constant variables with true accuracy. Psychologists were with the view that it's an extreme focus on the subjective experience of the individual but very less of an impact of society on personal development.