Humanistic Psychology Term Paper

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Humanistic Psychology

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Theoretical and practical applications in psychology, especially in clinical psychology, have been dominated by a small number of major paradigms. The major paradigms have related offshoots but typically historians consider the first two major paradigms in psychology to have been the psychodynamic and behavioral paradigms respectively (Hall, Lindzey, & Campbell, 1998). The "third force" in psychology was the humanistic movement (Mcleod, 2007). This movement was fueled primarily by Carl Rogers, although certainly other theorists like Abram Maslow were also instrumental in promoting the humanist perspective (Mcleod, 2007). This perspective came about as a reaction to the mechanistic and deterministic stances of the psychodynamic and behavioral models, hence the third force tag. Humanists strongly believe in choice, free will, and self-determination (or self-actualization as characterized by Maslow) as the important determinants of behavior and personality. Their ideas were initially a reaction to the psychodynamic notion that instincts direct behavior and the behaviorist notion that the environment shapes personality. Therefore the humanistic model sought to put the control of people's lives back in their own hands and concentrated on issues such as the need to meet basic human needs such as food and shelter, but also the human need to strive for other more abstract goals such as a sense of belongingness, creativity, and becoming more in tune with the greater meanings of life (Rogers, 1961). Motivation was then not also due to instincts or environmental pulls, but was also fueled by the need to become something more than a cog in a machine and a need to find deeper meanings to life and existence, something not well explained by the previous two paradigms. The humanistic paradigm was also extremely accomplished in the area of psychotherapy thanks to Carl Rogers being the first therapist to apply experimental methodologies to psychotherapy outcomes (Barry, 2002). Given their views the humanists are often considered to have the most positive outlook on behavior and personality compared to the previous paradigms.

The Biological Paradigm

Term Paper on Humanistic Psychology Assignment

Cognitive psychology is considered to have been the fourth major paradigm in psychology having come about as a direct reaction to the behaviorist school. The fifth paradigm in psychology probably got its beginnings before a classic research study that investigated the reward centers of the brain in rats and combined behaviorism and neurobiology was performed (Olds and Milner, 1954), but has grown rapidly since the 1960s. In the classic Olds and Milner (1954) study rats received direct electrical stimulation to certain areas of the brain after pressing a lever. The stimulation was produced via a surgical procedure that placed an electrode in a designated brain area. This early research by Olds and Milner suggested that the septal area of the brain plays a vital role in reinforcement of behavior and the sensation of reward because rats responded to the pleasurable stimulation in the this area of the brain by continually pressing the lever and did not press the lever in response to stimulating other brain structures. This study, and others like it, paved the way for the paradigm of biological psychology which posits that physiological mechanisms (most often occurring in the central nervous system) drive behavior. This paradigm has been embraced by the field of psychiatry beginning in the 1960s and 1970s even though in the early 1900s William James had argued that the understanding of psychology should be undertaken via an understanding of biology (Hall, Lindzey, & Campbell, 1998). Biological psychology is the most recent of the five major paradigms and has probably grown the fastest most likely due to the exploding technological advances such as brain imaging. The biological paradigm continues to gain popularity given the amount of research it generates along with applications in psychiatry and neurology. Thus, today multiple studies are being performed that investigate the influence of genes, neurotransmitters, hormones, etc. On behavior. Biological correlates or even believed to drive such humanistic psychological concepts such as empathy (Rameson, Morelli, & Lieberman, 2012). This paradigm has become so popular in all fields of psychology that the general future of psychology and psychological research appears to be driven by the biological paradigm.

Why the Humanistic Paradigm Will Remain Relevant in the Future

It is probably no coincidence that the popularity of the humanistic psychology paradigm peaked in the 1970s, whereas the rise of biological psychology/psychiatry began in the 60s and 70s. While many still recognize and identify with such classic concepts of empathy, positive regard, etc. As well as such concepts such as self-actualization, the biological paradigm has dominated much of psychological thought. Certainly, humanistic psychology remains relevant in the search for the biological correlates of such attributes; however, humanistic psychology certainly will continue to influence multiple areas of thought in the future and should not be considered a "second fiddle" to the reductionist paradigm of biological psychology. There are a number of contemporary ideas in the field of psychology that are directly related to humanistic thought that pave the way for the expansion of humanistic psychological principles in the future.

Research Methods

Perhaps one of the most important outgrowths of the humanistic psychology movement is the formation of the qualitative research subgroup within the American Psychological Association (see Wertz, 2011). The reductionist, quantitative tradition in psychological research has been challenged in recent years and the notion of qualitative inquiry and phenomenological experience and has gained quite a following. This mode of investigation has become complete with its own scientific tools of measurement, statistics, assessment, and inquiry (Wertz, 2011). Qualitative research is a direct outgrowth of the humanistic psychological notion that strictly nomothetic methods of inquiry lack the richness of an idiographic approach (Coles, 2013; Wertz, 2011). Qualitative and quantitative research methods are not designed to compete or to replace one another, but instead complement each other. The qualitative research methods that are popular today and will shape the direction of a great deal of future research are a direct outgrowth of the humanistic psychology movement and are consistent with the writings of many of humanistic psychology's major figures (Hall et al., 1998). The basic principles from the humanistic psychological paradigm such as the importance of the subjective aspect of experience will continue to exert a strong influence over both qualitative research and quantitative research studies in the future (Bernard & Bernard, 2013).

Those who adhere to humanistic psychological principles are also responsible for the criticisms of traditionally standard research practices such as significance testing, the rejection of the hypothesis, etc. And have proposed the notion that there is a need for more thoughtful approaches to data collection and analysis in quantitative research. As opposed to looking at significant differences or causal factors for specific behaviors a more descriptive and meaningful oriented approach to research is a result of the influence of humanistic psychological thought (see Rodgers, 2010). More attention in quantitative research methods is now being paid to the magnitude of the effects or differences as opposed to merely looking for significant differences between a null and alternative hypothesis. Moreover, it is no longer considered to be adequate to simply evaluate results via significance testing alone; instead many peer-reviewed journals and researchers now require some measure of the magnitude of the relationship/association between variables (Bernard & Bernard, 2013). The notion that mere significance testing alone is insufficient in quantitative studies is a direct outgrowth of the influence of the humanistic paradigm. In the future principles from the humanistic paradigm can serve as a guideline to understanding what these differences actually mean.

Clinical Relevance

Humanistic psychology will have an equally important influence in the future of clinical psychology and especially in psychotherapy research and practice. Todd & Bohart (2006) suggested that there is a paradigm shift occurring in psychotherapy research from the strictly cognitive -- behavioral oriented approach toward a more holistic understanding of clients in psychotherapy and the relational process. This is certainly a person -- centered approach and past and current research indicates that the factors that are emphasized by person -- centered psychotherapists interact with other factors to produce the greatest amount of therapeutic change in psychotherapy (Todd & Bohart, 2006). Thus, future research and thought into the effectiveness of psychotherapy will continue to be driven by principles from humanistic psychology such as (see May, Angel, & Ellenberger, 1958). For example, the writings of Rolo May suggest that clients in psychotherapy must be engaged, understood, and approached on a collaborative plane in order for psychotherapy to be effective (May et al., 1958). A humanistic perspective allows the therapist to understand and engage clients from the client's point-of-view (May et al., 1958).

Other humanistic -- related trends in psychotherapy that will continue to spark research and attention in the future include emotion -- focused therapy where the therapist attempts to change basic emotional structures and clients (Greenberg, Watson, & Lietaer, 1998). This humanistic theoretical framework has ties with neuroscience and more popular lay theories such as emotional intelligence (Chiao, 2009; Davidson, & Begley, 2012). Moreover, these innovations in psychotherapy have led to the study of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Humanistic Psychology.  (2014, November 30).  Retrieved September 22, 2020, from

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"Humanistic Psychology."  30 November 2014.  Web.  22 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Humanistic Psychology."  November 30, 2014.  Accessed September 22, 2020.