Personality Theories-Chpater 6-Rogers's Phenomenological Theory: Applications, related Theoretical conceptions, and Contemporary research

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Clinical Applications

*Rogers began his own professional career in the psychological clinic, facing the challenges of psychopathology and personality change.
*This clinical applications were integral to Rogers's development of his personality theory and remained a major focus of Rogers's work through out his career.
*Rogers emphasized the expertise and curative power of the client in therapy.
*To Rogers, the client posses an inherent drive toward psychological health.
*Th therapist's task is to help the client identify conditions that may interfere with personal growth, thereby allowing the person to overcome these obstacles and to move toward self actualization.

Congruence

*To Rogers, Healthy persons are individuals who can assimilate experiences into their self structure.
*They are open to experiencing rather than interpreting event in a defensive manner.
*meaning they are experiencing congruence between self and experience.

Psychopathology

*The neurotic person's self-concept has become structured in ways that do not fit organismic experience.
*Experiences that are incongruent with the self-structure are subceived; that is, threatening events are detected below levels of conscious awareness and then are either denied or distorted.

Self experience discrepancy

*Distortion results in a discrepancy between actual psychological experience and the self's awareness of experience.
*Such discrepancies involve a rigid defense of the self against experiences that might threaten the self-concept.
*By distorting his experiences, the person has lost an accurate sense of his or her true self.

Types of pathology

*Consistent with his rejection of a medical model, Rogers did not differentiate among different types of pathology.
*He did not want a diagnostic scheme within which individual persons were classified then treated merely as examples of one verses another type of psychological disorder.
*He DID differentiate among different forms of DEFENSIVE behaviors.

Forms of defensive behavior

1) Rationalization
2) Fantasy
3) Projection

*The description of defensive behaviors are quite similar to Freud's.
*For Rogers, the important aspect of these behaviors is their handling of an incongruence between self and experience by denial in awareness or distortion of perception.
*Classification of the defenses is not as critical to Rogerian Theory as it is to Freudian Theory.

Rationalization

*1st form of Rogers defensive behaviors,
*A person distorts behavior in a way as to make it consistent with the self.

Fantasy

*2nd form of Rogers defensive behaviors
*A man who defensively believes himself to be an adequate person may fantasize that he is a prince and that all women adore him, and he may deny experiences that are inconsistent with this image.

Projection

*3rd form of Rogers defensive behaviors
*Here an individual expresses a need but in such a form that the need is denied to awareness and the behavior is viewed as consistent with the self.

Psychological change

*Roger's main professional focus was the process of psychotherapy.
*Rogers committed himself to understanding how personality change can come about this.
*HIs most enduring contribution to understanding change was work in which he outlined necessary conditions of therapy; he described types of circumstances and events that need to occur in the relationship between client and therapist in order for personality change to occur.
*To many people, this therapeutic approach remains as vibrant and relevant today as it was when Rogers formulated it a half century ago.

Reflection

*Therapists merely summarize, or reflect back to, the client their understanding of what the client has just said.
*Simple, but effective
*Non-directive
*It conveys to the client a feeling of having been thoroughly, deeply understood by the therapist.

Client-centered therapy

*The therapist not only uses the technique of reflection but also plays a more active role in understudying the experiences of the client.
*Ultimately Rogers believed that the critical variable in client-centered therapy is the nature of the interpersonal encounter that develops between the therapist and client, or what is referred to as the therapeutic climate.

*The theory behind this therapy has an if-then quality: If certain therapeutic conditions exist, then processes inherently will occur that lead to personality change.

Ideal therapeutic climate: 3 core conditions necessary for therapeutic change to occur:

1) Congruence (or "genuineness")
2) Unconditional positive regard
3) Empathic understanding

Congruence (genuineness)

1st condition necessary for therapeutic change to occur:

*Therapists display to clients their true thoughts and feelings.
*Therapist does not present a scientific or medical facade but instead in interpersonally open and transparent.
*Shares with client his or her genuine feelings-even when feelings toward the client are negative.
*The client, thus, experiences a real interpersonal relationship with the therapist rather than the stilted, formal relationship that one might usually experience with a heal care or mental health care provider.

Unconditional positive regard

2nd condition essential for therapeutic movement

*Therapist communicates a deep and genuine caring for the client as a person.
*The client is prized in a total, unconditional way.
*The experience of respect and unconditional positive regard enables clients to explore their inner self with confidence.

Empathic understanding

3rd and final therapeutic condition necessary for therapeutic change to occur

*Therapist's ability to perceive the client's experiences as they are experienced by the client.
*The therapist strives to achieve empathy with the client during the moment-to-moment encounter of psychotherapy.
*Therapist does not intellectually detach himself or herself from the encounter in order to provide a technical diagnosis of the client's problems. Nor does the client receive a reformulation of his or her life in technical psychological jargon.
*Therapist strives to understand meaning and subjective feeling of the events experienced by the client.

Outcome of client-centered therapy

*The core aspect of psychological distress that should be relieved by this therapy?
*In Rogerian terms, from a lack of congruence between one's actual self and ideal self-for therapy to work then, the client should achieve a greater actual ideal self congruence.
*Rogers main goal was to evaluate therapy through methods that were objective.
*He recognized that a big limitation in the methods of evaluating therapy provided by Freud and his followers was that there methods were too subjective.
*He and his colleagues employed objective measures of self-concept such as the Q-sort, so that therapy outcomes could be evaluated objectively
*Study by Butler and Haigh (1954)
*Rogerian therapy was shown to produce significant gains.

Study by Butler and Haigh (1954)

*Hypothesis at a conceptual level: It was Rogerian therapy that would bring about in clients, a greater congruence between the ideal and actual self.
*Used the Q-sort (twice)-had clients rate actual self and then their ideal self.
*With 2 measures it was possible to compute a correlation, for any given person, between the actual and ideal self.
*This correlation is, then, a numerical index of the degree of congruence between the actual and ideal self; a higher positive correlation indicates a greater congruence between the actual and ideal self.
*Then they look at the effects of Rogerian therapy and how it influenced peoples scores before and after therapy.
*Before therapy: correlation was 0 and after therapy it was .34.
*Then they tested it on people would were not in therapy and found that they had a correlation of .58; meaning this group displayed considerably higher congruence between the actual and ideals self than did the therapy group after counseling.

Recent outcome of Rogerian therapy

*Much work has evaluated the popularity and effectiveness of Rogerian therapy.
*A clear majority of studies indicates that a combination of the three conditions identified by Rogers in fact do foster therapeutic change.
*Therapy changes include a decrease in defensiveness and an increase in openness to experience among clients, the development of a more positive and more congruent self, the promotion of more positive feelings towards others, and a shift away from using the values of others to asserting one's own evaluations.

Rogers notion of PRESENCE

*The powerful feeling of interpersonal connection created by the exceptional awareness and emotional openness of their spiritual leader.
*To client-centered therapists, these deeply intuitive, almost spiritual encounters can be highly transformative.
*Interpersonal experiences between client and therapist thats seem to "beyond words and logic" are thought to foster deep psychological change.
*The notion of presence, and its potential therapeutic benefits, have received little scientific attention.

The human potential movement

*Came to be known as the "3rd force" on psychology because they offered an alternative to psychoanalysis and to behaviorism.
*Abraham H. Maslow-Major theorist in this movement
*People have potentialities; that is, a basic feature of personality functioning is that people have the capacity to move forward to realize their inherent potentials.

Related theoretical conceptions

1) Humanistic psychology/ the human potential movement
2) The positive psychology movement
3) Existentialism

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

*Like Rogers, emphasized the positive aspects of human experience.
*He proposed that people are basically good or neutral rather than evil, with everyone possessing an impulse toward growth and the fulfillment of potentials.
*Psychopathology results from a twisting and frustration of this essential nature of the human organism.
*To Maslow, social structures that restrict the individual from realizing his or her potential are a root cause of this frustration.

2 way in which Maslow's views have been important:

1) He suggested a view of human motivation that distinguishes between such biological needs as hunger, sleep, and thirst and such psychological needs as self-esteem, affection and belonging.
*Needs can be arranged in a hierarchy from basic physiological needs to important psychological needs.
2) His intensive study of healthy, self fulfilling, self-actualizing individuals.
*Maslow basically reasoned that, if one wants to learn about personality, there is no need to restrict one's study to merely either (1) everyday, normal personality functioning or (2) breakdowns in normal functioning that result in psychopathology.
*Instead the psychologist should attend to the other end of the spectrum: people who are "abnormal" in that they are exceptionally positive, unusually highly functioning, self-actualized individuals.

The Positive Psychology movement

*Sometimes called the human strengths movement
*Contemporary positive psychologists believe that in the past, human frailty and psychopathology have been overemphasized and as a result end up with theories that emphasize the negative.

Classifying human strengths

*Seligman and colleagues have tried to classify human strength.
*They have tried to bring the positive side of human nature to the attention of psychological scientists and thereby foster systematic research, they have tried to take an initial step that often is critical to scientific progress:
(1) to identify a criteria that would cause a psychological characteristic to be called a strength, and
(2) to use these criteria to identify a list of strengths

*For a characteristic to be a strength, (1) it should be an enduring characteristic of the person that is beneficial in a variety of life domains, (2) it should be something that both parents and the larger society try to foster in children and that is celebrated by one's community when it is developed, (3) Finally, something that is valued in all or almost all cultures of the world.

*Positive psychology gives us a different view of the human condition-it suggests that these virtues are central to human experience and can be enhanced by parenting and by social institutions.

Seligmana and Peterson-a preliminary list that groups strengths into six categories:

1) wisdom
2) courage
3) love
4) justice
5) temperance (forgiveness)
6) transcendence (appreciation of beauty)

*These are qualities that we recognize today as positive features of the human personality.
*Importantly they are also qualities that would be recognized that would be positive across cultures and across historical time periods.

Positive psychotherapy and depression

*In contrast with standard approaches to the treatment of depression that target depressive symptoms, positive psychotherapy focuses on increasing positive emotion and meaning.
*Exercises such as listing one's strengths and how to apply them in daily life

The virtues of positive emotions

*Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, has proposed a broaden-and build- theory of positive emotions.
*Study of positive emotions
*This theory posits that positive motions have a specific effect on thoughts and action
*Positive emotions broaden thought and action tendencies.
*In this way, positive emotions contribute directly to the further building of human competencies and achievements.
*Study led to the conclusion: people who experience more positive emotions, could be said to be more resilient.
*Positive emotions act as "coping resources that help buffer (psychologically and physiologically) against negative emotional life experiences"

Flow

*Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's (1990)
*Describes a feature of conscious experiences
*It refers specifically to positive states of consciousness with the following characteristics:
1) A perceived match between personal skills and environmental challenge
2) a high level of focused attention
3) involvement in an activity such that time seems to fly by and irrelevant thoughts and distractions do not enter into consciousness
4) a sense of intrinsic enjoyment in the activity
5) temporary loss of self-consciousness such that the self is not aware of functioning or regulating activity.

*Flow experiences can take place in activities as diverse as work, hobbies, sports, dancing, and social interactions.

Three areas of study that illustrate the promise and achievements of the positive psychology movement:

1) Seligman's classification of human strength
2) Fredrickson's broad-and-build theory of positive emotions
3) Csikszentmihaly's work on flow

Challenges in positive psychology

*Is not only to show that some people have superior virtues and relatively positive emotional experiences but also to show how these qualities can be developed in everybody.
*Commentators have noted that this remains a limitation of the field, researchers have yet to identify social practices and community institutions that are best for building personal strengths.

Existentialism

*This approach is not new to psychology but one could hardly say that it has an established or secure place in mainstream academic psychology.
* (1) The most defining element of existentialism is the concern with existence,the concern with the person in the human condition.
* (2) Another major aspect in this view is the significance of the individual-this view sees the person as singular, unique, and irreplaceable.
*Related to this is an emphasis on freedom, consciousness, and self reflection.
*Freedom distinguishes human from other animals, freedom also involves responsibility for choices, for action, for being authentic, or for acting in "bad faith" and being inauthentic.
* (3) In addition, there is existential concern with death, for it is here as nowhere else that the individual is alone and completely irreplaceable.
* (4) Finally, there is an emphasis on phenomenology and an understanding of the unique experience of each person rather than in terms of some standardized definition or the confirmation of some hypothesis "Existentialism works at the personal meaning in contrast to general theory"

Ways in which Rogers represents an existential emphasis:

*what constitutes the existential experience of loneliness?
*The impersonality of our culture, its transient quality, the fear of a close relationship.
*What most defines loneliness is the effort to share something very personal with someone and to find that it is not received or it is rejected.
*However there is a feeling of being understood and it is associated with safety and relief from existential loneliness.

Existential psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (1955, 1958)

*Struggled to find meaning while imprisoned in a concentration camp during WWII.
*Frankl suggests that the will to find meaning is the most human phenomenon of all, since other animals never worry about the meaning of their existence.
*Existential frustration and existential neurosis involve frustration and lack of fulfillment of the will to find meaning.
*Such neurosis does not involve the instincts or biological drives but rather is spiritually rooted in the person's escape from freedom and responsibility.
*In such cases the person blames destiny, childhood, the environment, or fate for what is.
*The treatment for such a condition, logo therapy, involves helping patients to become what they are capable of becoming, helping them to realize and accept the Challenges of the opportunities that are open to them.

The existentialism of Sartre: Consciousness, nothingness, freedom, and responsibility.

*Jean-Paul Sarte (1905-1980) Writer and philosopher
*Was interested in peoples mental capacities and their implications.
*His existential philosophy is of particular interest to personality psychology because it is grounded in theoretical analyses that are fundamentally psychological.
*His concerns related to when Nazi Germany took over France.
*The fundamental issue is of free will.
*To Sartre, The human cases is entirely different vs psychical objects or animals-humans are FREE to choose.
*A central feature of existentialism, then, is that people fundamentally are free, and, therefore, have responsibility for their personal choices and actions.
*Basis of Sartre's claim is that it thoroughly psychological. He believes that human freedom is based in people's distinctive mental abilities.
*Because humans can raise questions and doubts about the world and can imagine future possibilities for themselves, they are free from the simple deterministic causality that controls the behavior of other objects in the world.

The existentialism of Sartre: Nothingness

*Humans also think about what things that are not there, or what Sartre referred to as nothingness.

Sartre's Essentialism

*Is a way of thinking that supposes that the most important thing about a person or thing is some inner core quality that it possesses.
*It essentially "is" that quality, even if one'e experience of the thing does not suggest that quality at a particular time. (e.g., if you cover a brown horse with white paint, it is not a white horse; it still possess its essential quality of being a brown horse.
*Sartre says that human beings are not born into the world with essential qualities.
*To understand a person one must examine his or her current experience of the world, rather than search for some abstract, hidden, essential quality of the person.
*Your existence is primary, and your apparently essential features features-you being a student or a parent-follow.

Sartre's 2 core features of existentialism:

1) People are free to choose and therefore have responsibility for their actions.
2) Existence precedes essence, that is, individuals first experience the world and then, through their choice, make something of themselves.

Sartre's classic existential statement on the human condition:

*That people have free choice.
*A persons defining feature is the set of mental capacities that give us all free will.



*Freud would say that Sartre underestimated the influence of unconscious mental forces that are uncontrollable.

Contemporary Experimental Existentialism

*Existentialists have long conjectured that thoughts of death are a central feature of human experience.
*Terror management therapy (TMT)
*Examines the consequences of combining two factors: (1) Peoples desire to live (which people share with all other animals) and (2) people's awareness of the inevitability of death (and awareness that is uniquely human).
*TMT posits that people's awareness of death makes them vulnerable to being completely overwhelmed by terrifying death anxiety-How do people obtain meaning in life once they recognize that death is inevitable and could occur at any time?

TMT

*Terror management theorists suggest that social and cultural institutions, and world views, serve a psychological function:The buffer against the feat of death.
*Depends on where you live in the world, different cultures furnish different types of meaning systems.
*Two examples that makes TMT clear:
1) Many cultures teach that there is an afterlife (heaven and hell). The believe in an afterlife buffers against the terror of death.
2) Other cultures emphasize that the individual is one component of a larger circle of persons: The family, the community, and so forth.

*The idea of TMT, then, is that these social practices are resources that help people to cope with the fear of death.

Specific hypothesis that follows from TMT

*Increasing death anxiety, what is known as morality salience, should lead to greater commitment to one's cultural beliefs and greater rejection of cultural beliefs that might threaten one's worldview.

*Morality salience has been increased in the following ways:
1) subjects are asked to respond to tasks such as "describe the emotions that the thought of your own death arouse in you" or "Write down what you think will happen to you as you physically die."
2) Subject view a film of a gory automobile accident; subjects respond to death anxiety scales; and subjects are exposed to subliminal death primes.

Outcome of TMT studies:

*Such increases in morality salience have been found to produce effects such as the following:
1) greater fondness for members of one's own group and rejection of members of different groups
2) greater anxiety about a blasphemous attitude toward cultural icons such as the American flag or symbols of one's own religion
3) Greater physical aggression toward those who attack one's political orientation
4) increased donations to charities that benefit one's in group.
5) Decrease in sex for reproduction but increase in sex for love
6) Finally, high self-esteem has been found to serve an anxiety-buffering effect in relation to death anxiety; that is, increased mortality salience has more of an effect on individuals low in self-esteem that on people high in self-esteem.

Summary of existentialism

1) concerned with understanding existence-the person in the human condition.
2) concerned with the individual
3) emphasize the human capacity for free choice
4) devote much attention to the phenomenological experiences of anguish and despair.

Tory Higgins (1999): Discrepancies among parts of the self

*Psychologist who addressed the relation between aspects of self-concept and emotional experience.
*In addition to the ideal self, which was recognized by Rogers, Higgins suggests that everyone possesses an ought self-that is, an aspect of self-concept that is concerned with duties, responsibilities, and obligations.
*The ideal self-in contrast- centers on personal hopes, ambitions and desires.

Higgins Theory

*Discrepancies between the actuals self and ideal self lead to dejection-related emotions.

Distinction between the ideal self and ought self

*Distinction is very important because it helps separate two kinds of self-relevant emotions
1) Those related to dejection (disappointment, sadness, depression)-IDEAL SELF
2) Those related to agitation (fear, threat, anxiety)-OUGHT SELF

Research related to Higgins theory

*People with large discrepancies between the actual self and ideal self were more likely to be depressed, where as people with actual-ought discrepancies were likely to be anxious.

*More recent findings by other investigators suggest that the relation between self-discrepancies and emotional experience is not fixed but, instead, can vary.
*An important factor is the degree to which people are aware of their self-deicrepancies at any given time
*Researchers found that self-discrepancies were linked more strongly to emotional experience in conditions of high-self awareness (when people faced the mirror).

Fluctuations in self-esteem and contingencies of worth

*There is evidence that children as young as four years of age begin to develop a sense of self-worth and that between the ages of 6 and 9 they develop a sense of global self-esteem.

Crocker and Wolfe (2001)-Contingencies of self-worth

*Their idea is that a person's self-esteem depends on-or is "contingent on"-positive and negative events.
*Although a person's typical average level of self esteem may be relatively stable, one's day to day sense of self-worth may fluctuate considerably as one experiences these positive and negative contingent events.
*People may differ in the degree to which any given event is, for them, a contingency of self-worth-such people should experience fluctuating self-esteem in different situations.

Authenticity

*As the extent to which people behave in accord with their self as opposed to behaving in terms of roles that foster false self-presentations.
*A key idea-to understand human experience, one cannot look merely at people's observable behaviors. One must explore inner feelings as well.
*Specifically, one must ask whether people feel that their activities are consistent with their true self-that is, are authentic-rather than being phony actions that express a false self.

*In addition to this overall relationship with psychological being, it was found that the more genuine and self-expressive people feel they are in a specific situation, the more extraverted, agreeable, conscientious, and open to experience they are likely to be in that situation.

Self-determiniation theory

*people have an inherent psychological need to act in autonomous, self-determined ways and to engage is tasks that are intrinsically meaningful as opposed to action that is coerced, forced, or compelled, whether by internal forces or external forces.
*2 critical elements to this difference:
1) There is the question of whether action is autonomous, or self initiated, as opposed to controlled by others or externally regulated.
2) There is the question of whether action is freely chosen as opposed to compelled.

*In sum, self determined action takes place because of its intrinsic interest to the person and its quality of being freely chosen.

Research on self determined motivation

*Suggest that people show greater effort and persistence in relation to autonomous goals than in relation to goals that are pursued only because of external pushes or internal sanctions such as anxiety or guilt.
*In addition, there is evidence that the pursuit of self determined, intrinsic, approach goals is associated with physical health and psychological well-being in contrast with the deleterious effects of the pursuit of forced, extrinsic, avoidance goals.

Basic psychological needs

*Self determination theory suggests that these are fundamental to human nature.
1) The need for autonomy
2) The need for competence
3) The need for relatedness

*Satisfaction with these basic biological needs is associated with a healthy psychological functioning, just as Rogers would suggest.

*Ryan and Deci suggest that "existentially, what defines a persons life is the way in which it is experienced. Well-being, mental health, and a life well lived are all about experiencing love, freedom, efficacy, and meaningful goals and values"

Cross cultural research on the self

*Carl Rogers was an American Psychologist
*He developed his theory on the basis of clinical experiences with Americans.
*Most of the psychological research on self processes conducted during Roger's lifetime was conducted with citizens of the United States, Canada, or western Europe.
*So does Rogers work provide us with a general view of human nature or with a view that pertains primarily to people in the industrialized Western world?

Cultural differences in the self and the need for positive self-regard

*The basic nature of the self, as well as the extent of the need for positive regard may vary from culture to culture .
*In eastern cultures, the self-concept consists of connections with others, and the individual parts that cannot be understood when separated from the greater, collective whole.
*Western cultures, which views the self as unique and separate from others,

*Rogers believed that unconditional acceptance of the individual, whatever his or her faults may be, is the pathway to psychological health.
*In the absence of such unconditional regards, the individual's need for a positive self view may be unfulfilled, leading to psychological distress.

*In principle, other cultures may teach people a different way of life that does not involve a striving for positive self-regard.

Scientific Observation: The database

*Rogers was sensitive to the fact that scientific observations must be objective.
1) Used objective personality assessment techniques such as the Q-Sort
2) Employed experimental methods to evaluate whether client-centered therapy is effective
3) Rogers allowed transcripts and recording of his therapy sessions to be made public therefore outside observers could verify Rogers's clinical reports.

Limitations of Rogers's Theory

1) Rogers relied exclusively on measures that are explicit, that is, measures in which clients and research participants make statements about their personality that are formed through their conscious self-reflection and are stated publicly-the limitation is that people may not be willing to put some aspects of their personality in words.
2) Rogers's database lacked cultural diversity and devoted surprisingly little attention to the possibility of cultural variation in the nature of self-concept.

Theory: Systematic?

*Rogers commonly wrote in an impressionistic style that lacked the strict logic structure of traditional scientific theorizing (therefore, unsystematic)

*However, not always unsystematic, when he turned his attention from writing about the process of therapy to writing a formal personality theory.

Main limitation to Rogers's systematic theorizing

*How little there is.
*Rogers devoted little of his effort to the explication of systematic theory.

*In sum, Rogers provided a theory that was systematic, yet less systematic that that of some other theories discussed, if only because he composed less formal theoretical work than did others.

Theory: testable?

*Some aspects were testable and others were not.
*He indicated that the Q-sort is a viable method for assessing aspects of self-concept, as a result, he provided an overall theoretical conception of self-concept that was testable.
*To this day, his work on the necessary and sufficient conditions for therapeutic change stands out among the very best of research on the process of psychotherapy.

*Less testable methods:
*His belief that there is a universal motive toward self-actualization is sometimes more poetic than scientific.
*Rogers does not provide the sort of clear definition of the construct that could guide research.
*He also provided few conceptual tools for comparing his belief in a single self-actualizing motive to potential alternative beliefs, such as that there are a number of fundamentally distinct motive that each play a role in self-actualization.

Theory: Comprehensive?

*Freuds work was extremely comprehensive
*Rogers was not.
*A limitation of Rogers's work is that he simply does not address some big issues relating to central aspect of human beings like sex, biology, and evolutionary background.
*Rogers efforts to treat people as social beings, he sometimes fails fully to treat people as biological beings.

Applications

1) Rogers underscored the importance of the interpersonal relationship between the client and the therapist, while also providing techniques for building that relationship
2) He helped to establish objective methods for determining whether a given therapeutic approach usually benefited clients
3) He treated his clients as persons, not as patients.

**Rogers's ability to generate not only abstract theory but useful applications is a great strength of his work.

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