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Elucidate the Carl Rogers’ humanistic theory of personality.

   Elucidate the Carl Rogers’ humanistic theory of personality.


Carl Ransom Rogers was an American who became a very well-known name in the field of psychology. He was born to Julia and Walter Rogers on 8th January in 1902 at Oak Park in Illinois and died after a fruitful life on 4th February 1987 in California. He was the fourth of six children and was considered quite brilliant since his early years.

In the year 1924, Rogers graduated from the University of Wisconsin. He had a bachelor’s degree in history and later completed his master’s degree. Rogers received his Ph.D. and continued to be associated with several universities in the course of his career.

Carl Rogers is known as one of the best humanistic psychologists and psychotherapists of his time. At the beginning of his career, he worked with children, and later as he started working with adults and teaching, his mastery of the therapeutic approach became well-known.


In 1942, he published Counselling and Psychotherapy, his first book, which created ample waves in his circle.

The best thing about Carl Rogers was that he welcomed other prominent figures’ attention and was open to the possibility that others wanted to adapt his theory to fit their needs. As he boosted his skills, knowledge, and experiences, he became more open to other suggestions and possibilities. His empathic nature helped him create his theories that are widely acclaimed as Carl Rogers Theory.

Carl Rogers is considered the founders of the client-centered or humanistic approach to psychology and was honored for his contributions. His list of awards includes the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology in the year 1956 by the American Psychological Association, Humanist of the Year in the year 1964, and Award for Distinguished Contributions to Applied Psychology in the year 1972. Based on the survey conducted in the year 1982, Rogers was declared in the first position as the most influential psychotherapist in the world.

Carl Rogers Theory

Carl Rogers is associated with several theories. The person-centered approach was a unique and out-of-the-way approach to understand human relationships and personality. It found wide acceptance because of application in several fields like education (student-centered learning), psychotherapy, counseling (client-centered therapy), and other settings.

Carl Roger’s theory is looked at as phenomenological, existential, and humanistic. His theory is directly related to phenomenal field personality theory by Combs and Snygg that was introduced in the year 1949. Carl Rogers took this theory as a base and elaborated it extensively with his perceptions.

There are sixteen Carl Rogers’s books and innumerable journal articles on his theories. He has encouraged a humanistic approach to conducting therapy and a scientific approach to evaluate therapy needs.

The nineteen propositions of Carl Rogers Theory

Carl Rogers Theory is based on nineteen propositions. These are as follows-

  1. Every individual will exist in a world of the phenomenal field where the experience will be changing continuously.
  2. All the individuals will react to the phenomenal field as per their experience and perception. The perceptual field is considered the reality for the person
  3. The individual will react as a whole to the phenomenal field
  4. One of the portions of the perceptual field will automatically become different as the self
  5. The individual will interact with the environment and other persons, and this evaluative interaction will lay the structure of what a self is. The term self will now be looked at as an organized conceptual pattern where values are attached to concepts.
  6. The individual will have a basic tendency to actualize, enhance and maintain the experience
  7. If you are interested in understanding behavior, then take the help of the internal frame of reference
  8. Behaviour is considered an attempt by an individual to satisfy needs
  9. Emotion encourages goal-directed behavior
  10. Values that are part of self-stricture and are also attached to experiences are values  that are either taken from other people or experienced by the self
  11. When an individual gains experience, it can be perceived with self or ignored just because any relationship is not perceived with self-structure.
  12. The individual adopts a specific behavioral pattern that is consistent with the concept of self
  13. In some cases, the behavior results from organic needs and experiences that are yet to be symbolized. These behavior patterns are often inconsistent with self-structure
  14. Psychological adjustments happen because of a relationship with self
  15. If an individual denies awareness of visceral and sensory experiences, then psychological maladjustments will occur
  16. An experience that is not consistent with self-structure is considered a threat
  17. If there is an absence of threat to the self-structure, then inconsistent experiences should be perceived as well as examined
  18. When a person accepts and perceives into a consist system, then he becomes more accepting and understanding of others
  19. When the individual accepts organic experiences into his self-structure, he will realize that he is replacing his current value system

Rogers Humanistic Theory of Personality

Rogers Humanistic Theory of Personality

Carl Rogers was a founding member of the humanist movement. This prominent psychologist was fascinated by the growth potential of healthy people. Along with another well-known psychologist Abraham Maslow, he contributed to the understanding and perception of self and personality. The theories of both these psychologists focus on individual choices. They emphasized that biology is not deterministic, but individuals’ self-determination and free will help them become the best version of themselves.

Rogers’s Humanistic Theory of Personality puts the onus on self-actualizing tendency during the formation of self-concept.

Humanistic psychology has always emphasized the role played by all human beings in giving due shape to both their external and internal worlds.  Carl Rogers made considerable advancements in this field by stating that an individual is a creative and active being who lives in the present scenario and responds subjectively to his existing encounters and relationships based on personal perceptions.

Carl Rogers was credited with coining the term actualizing tendency, which pointed towards a human being’s basic instinct to achieve success at his highest possible capacity and ability.

Rogers created the Humanistic Theory of Personality Development through scientific therapy research and person-centered counseling. This theory emphasized the free will of human beings and their great potential for goodness.

Personality development and self-concept

While creating his personality development theories, Carl Rogers put the onus on subjective experience and humanistic psychology. As per his belief, every individual exists in a world where circumstances and experiences are continually changing. The human being reacts to the change in his phenomenal field as per his beliefs. The change is because of internal thoughts, emotions, and external factors.

What is this phenomenal field is an important question that needs to be answered before going any further. It refers to an individual’s subjective reality and includes internal thoughts and emotions and external objects, and other people. The motivation as well as the environment of a human being act on their phenomenal field.

In his theory, Carl Rogers emphasized the point that it is self-actualizing tendencies that motivate the behavior of a person to achieve the highest level of success. An individual interacts with his environment and with others and forms a structure of self-concept. This idea of self-concept or self is defined as a conceptual pattern of values and concepts related to oneself. In the case of positive self-concept, an individual finds the world a positive and safe place and tends to feel good in his environment and with himself, but it becomes the opposite in negative self-concept. The individual will not feel safe or good in his environment and thus feel unhappy and sad.

Ideal self vs. Real self

Carl Rogers categorized self into two sections, known as the real self and the ideal self. He believed that an individual should achieve consistency between his two selves. The real self was described as what an individual was now, and the ideal self was someone that he wanted to become in ideal conditions.

Rogers was a firm believer that an individual experienced congruence when his thoughts related to both ideal self and real self were in tandem, and his self-concept was accurate. He believed that high congruence leads to greater self-worth in an individual, and it automatically resulted in a productive and healthy life. Conversely, if there was a great gap or discrepancy between the ideal self and the real self, a person experienced what he believed to b a state of incongruence. This lead to maladjustment and resulted in an unproductive and unhealthy life

Unconditional positive regard

Carl Rogers harped on the importance of what he called unconditional positive regard in developing self-concept.  He believed that the people raised in an environment that includes unconditional positive regard and none of the preconceived notions could actualize fully.

He said that there are people raised in an environment that includes conditional positive regard and in which love and worth are offered at certain conditions.  They will have to achieve the conditions where it is possible to receive the positive regard and love they want for themselves.

The ideal self of a person in such a situation is determined by other people based on specific conditions, and they have to develop qualities outside their true actualizing tendency. This will later result in incongruence and a more significant gap between the ideal and the real self.

“The good life.”

Carl Rogers gave an apt description of life based on principles and not on the stages of development. An important thing about these principles is that they are not present in a static state; instead exist in fluid processes.

The renowned psychologist wrote that a fully functional person would continue to fulfill his potential in all the said processes and ultimately achieve what he considered “the good life.” These types of people would want that self-concept and personality develop from experiences.

Carl Rogers wrote about numerous traits, qualities, or tendencies of a fully-functional individual. Some of the most common ones are as follows-

1. Freedom of choice 

This type of person is not bothered or restricted by so-called incongruence because any restriction cannot be levied on these personalities. They can make numerous choices fluently and by themselves without any interference from others.

These are individuals who believe that they play a role in determining their behavior and entirely responsible for it and the resulting actions.

2. An increasingly essential lifestyle 

This type of person does not believe in making changes to fit self-concept or personality; instead, live every moment to the fullest capacity. They allow self-concept and personality to emit from the experiences.

This suggests a feeling of trust and results in spontaneity, tolerance, adaptability, daring, and excitement.

3. High levels of creativity 

This type of person is ready to adapt to their surroundings and circumstances without confirming. They are creative by nature and do not see the need to change whatever the circumstances

4. A growing openness to experience 

This type of people move away from defensive tendencies as they do not have any need for any subscription

5. Increasing organismic trust 

This type of person has faith in their judgment and call. They believe in themselves and their ability to choose behavior they consider apt for that specific moment.

These individuals do not depend on existing norms of the society or any existing codes. What they trust is their sense of right and wrong and that their openness to experiences will help them in making the right choices in life

6. A rich full life 

This type of people lead an entire life and experience the emotions of love, joy, pain, fear, courage, and heartbreak intensely.

7. Reliability and constructiveness 

This type of person always acts constructively. Their intrinsic goodness helps to manage and balance their needs in life.

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