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Personality theories: Chapter 5: A phenomenological Theory: Carl Rogers's person-centered theory of personality

Humanistic psychology
•The third force
•Freudian Theory:
• Unconscious determinants
• Dark view of human natures
•Behavioral theory:
• We are essentially sophisticated rats
•Humanism as a contrasting viewpoint.
• These other views are deterministic, which is used to justify that people are not responsible for what they do and how they behave.
Existential philosophy influenced humanism
• Existential approach addresses:
• Death/mortality
• Freedom
• Responsibility
• Anxiety
• Phenomenology
• This focus or idea that our experience is unique. The phenomenology of me is best understood from my point of view and vice versa. Empathic sense of another persons experience.
• Isolation from the self and others
• Meaningless
• Existential psychologist might say, "it happened, now what are you gonna do about it, don't let it define your life"
• They will explain that you have agency, you always have a choice. You have more choices then you acknowledge.
Carl Rogers (1902-1987)
•Who was he?
• Fourth of six children
• Parents were devout, hard working.
• Rogers was dreamy, something of a loner, sensitive, interested in nature, careful observer.
• Plans included studying agriculture, ministry, before psychology.
*Rogers had doubts about specific religious doctrines, therefore he chose to leave the seminary, to work in the field of child guidance, and to think of himself as a clinical psychologist.
• Conflict with parents.
• Influential leader focused on human relationships and justice.
• Influenced bigger people in other countries rather then just people in therapy.
• Hated his mother
*two major trends that are reflected in his later work;
1) concern with moral and ethical matters
2) respect for the methods of science

*In 1968, Rogers and his more humanistically oriented colleagues formed the center for studies of the person.
Key concepts of humanistic approach
• Personal responsibility: CHOICE
• the here and now: experience the present moment
• Phenomenology: client is only one with direct access to his/her experience
• Personal growth: Rogers' "process of becoming"; constant, inevitable movement toward growth.
ROGERS: Subjectivity of experience
• The "reality" we observe is really a "private world of experience....the phenomenal field" (Rogers, 1951/1977)
• Phenomenal field- the perceptions that make up our experience
• Is a subjective construction.
Feelings of authenticity
• People feel alienated or detached when they substitute others' values for their own.
• People can be in a state where their experiences and goals are consistent with their inner values.
The positivity of human motivation
• Fundamental motivation toward positive growth (see self-actualization)
• View is contrary to
• Religions that view people as basically sinful
• Psychoanalysis, which teaches that our basic instincts are sexual and aggressive.
• People can/do act in ways that are destructive, but when we are functioning freely, we are able to move toward our potentials as positive, mature beings.
Rogers' concepts: fully functioning person
• Open to experience, not in a "rut"
• Live each moment as it comes
• Trust feelings
• Not worried about disapproval
• Nonconforming
• Deep feelings, rich and expressive emotional life.
Rogers' concepts: conditions of worth, UPR
• Conditional positive regard leads us to deny parts of ourselves that elicit rejection.
• Unconditional positive regard allows us to accept all of the different aspects of ourselves, including weaknesses and faults.
• The self = represents an organized and consistent patter of perceptions.
• Though the self changes, this patterned, integrated, organized quality endures.
• Actual self: self that we believe we are now
• Ideal self: self that we ideally see ourselves becoming in the future.
•Self actualization:
• An organisms tendency to grow from a simple entity to a complex one
• Move from dependence toward independence
• Move from rigidity to a process of change and freedom of expression
• Includes the tendency to reduce needs or tension, but emphasizes satisfactions derived from activities that enhance the organism.
Rogers' concepts: Authenticity
•Organismic valuing process decides if something in healthy/positive
• Within us if we are authentic-if there is something in our gut, we will ow if they are healthy or not. We all have the capacity to evaluate if something is healthy for us or not.
• Conditions of worth are a contrasting set of evaluations.
• Two sets of values leads to inauthenticity (disconnection from organismic valuing process).
Phenomenological theory
*Is one that emphasizes the individual's subjective experience of his or her world-in other words, his or her phenomenological experience.
*Carl Rogers work can be classified as this.
*As a therapist, rogers overarching goal was to understand the clients phenomenological experience of the self and the world in order to assist the client in personal growth.
Rogers's phenomenological theory
*can also be described by the term: Humanistic.
*Rogers's work is part of a humanistic movement in psychology whose core feature was to emphasize people's inherent potential for growth.
Rogers vs. Freud
*Rogers, like Freud, began his career as a therapist and based his general theory of personality primarily on his therapeutic experiences.
*Rogers disagreed sharply with major emphases of Freudian theory: its depiction of humans as controlled by unconscious forces; its assertion that personality is determined, in a fixed manner, by experiences early in life; its associated belief that adult psychological experience is a repeating of the repressed conflicts of the past.
*Rogers's view emphasized conscious perceptions of the present rather than merely unconscious residues of the past, interpersonal experiences encountered across the course of life rather than merely parental relations in childhood, and peoples capacity to grow toward psychological maturity rather than merely their tendency to repeat childhood conflicts.
*Rogers expands our conception of human nature in a very positive direction.
Rogers continued...
*He believed that most of psychology was sterile and generally felt alienated from the field.
*With rogers, The theory, the life, the man are interwoven.
Phenomenal field/Subjectivity of experience
*The space of perceptions that makes up our experience-is a subjective construction.
*The individual constructs this inner world experience, and the construction reflects not only the outer world of reality but also the inner world of personal needs, goals, and beliefs.

**Inner psychological needs-shape the subjective experiences that we interpret and objectively real.

*Rogers was not the first to have this intuition: Similar ideas can be traced back at least as dar as the Allegory of the Cave by Plato, who depicted persons as perceiving mere shadows of reality, being unable to glimpse the objective world world of existence.
Rogers uniqueness
*Was his ability to develop this insight into a theory of personality: A model of individual development and of the structures and dynamics of the mind, along with methods for assessing personality and conducting therapy.
Rogers view of the person
1) Subjectivity of experience
2) Feelings of Authenticity
3) The positivity of human motivation
4) A phenomenological perspective
Feelings of Authenticity
*People are prone to a distinctive form of psychological stress, a feeling of alienation or detachment-the individual THINKS but does not FEEL an attachment to his or her own values.
*These instinctive visceral reactions are a potential source of wisdom-Individuals who openly experience the full range of their emotions, whoa re "Accepting and assimilating of all the sensory evidence experienced by the organism" are psychologically well adjusted.
*Rather than conflict, persons can experience congruence-The can realize a state in which their conscious experiences and goals are consistent with their inner, viscerally felt values.
The positivity of human motivation
*Rogers clinical experiences convinced him that the core of our nature is essentially positive.
*Our most fundamental motivation is toward positive growth.
*Here is a profound respect for people, a respect that is reflected in Rogers's theory of personality and his person-centered approach to psychotherapy.
Phenomenological Perspective
*Investigates people's conscious experiences.
*Interested in the experiences of the observer: How the person experiences the world.
*Rogers was a very important voice in promoting the psychological study of phenomenology.
Rogers view of the science of personality
*Rogers made a valiant effort to wed the scientific and the human sides of personality science.
*In therapy, his main goal was not to classify his client within a scientific taxonomy or to identify some past causal factor that was a key determinant of his client's behavior. Instead his goal was to gain a deep understanding of how his clients experienced their world.

*Philosopher Charles Taylor (1985) noted that the difference between physically measurable objects and internal psychological sates with subjective meaning signals a potentially deep division between traditional conceptions of science and Card Rogers's approach to personality.
*Key structural concept in Rogerian theory is the self.
The self
*Is an aspect of phenomenological experience
*That subset of the phenomenal field that is recognized by the individual as "me" or "i" is the self.
*Represents an organized and consistent pattern of perceptions.
*According to rogers the individual perceived external objects and experiences, and attaches meaning to them.
*Although the self changes, it always retains this patterned, integrated, organized quality.
*Because the organized quality endure over time and characterizes the individual, the self is a personality structure.
*The self is an organized set of perceptions possessed by the individual, who is ultimately responsible for his or her actions.
*The self-concept is primarily conscious.
*Rogers uses the term self to refer to our conscious self-concept.
Actual Self/Ideal Self
1) Actual Self: The self that we believe we are now
2) Ideal Self: The self concept that an individual would most like to posses.
The Q-sort technique
*Developed by Stephenson (1953)
*Objective way to measure self-concept
*Psychologists gives test-taker a set of cards which contains a statement describing a personality characteristic.
*Test-takers sort these cards according to the degree to which each statement is seen as descriptive of themselves.
*Done on a scale labeled "most characteristic of me" on one end and "Least characteristic of me" on the other.
*Most cards in the middle and relatively few being at either end.
2 features of the Q-sort that are noteworthy
1) It strikes an interesting balance between fixed and flexible measures.
2) Can be administered to individuals more than once in order to assess both the actual self and the ideal self.
The semantic differential
*Another method that can be used for assessing self-concept
*Individual rates a concept on a number of seven point scales defined by polar adjectives such as good-bad, strong-weak, or active-passive.
*The ratings are made in terms of the meaning of the concept for the individual.
*Rogers presented a simple model that highlighted what he felt was the central structure in personality, namely, the self.
*In his discussion of personality process rogers posited a single overarching motivational principle-one that involves the self.
*The most fundamental personality process is a forward-looking tendency toward personality growth.
*The concept of actualization refers to an organism's tendency to grow from a simple entity to a complex one, to move from dependence toward independence, from fixity and righty to a process of change and freedom of expression.
*Rogers himself never developed a measure of the self actualizing motive.
*Postulated a multifaceted conception of positive mental health, which includes self acceptance, positive relationships with others, autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and personal growth.
*The personal growth component is conceptually close to rogers's view of the growth process and self-actualization.
*Rogers posits that people seek self consistency and a sense of congruence between their sense of self and their everyday experience.
*The organism functions to maintain consistency (an absence of conflict) among self-perceptions and to achieve congruence between perceptions of the self and experiences
*This concept was originally developed by Lecky (1945)- according to Lecky the organism does not seek to gain pleasure and avoid pain but seeks to maintain its own self-structure.
*Rogers emphasized the importance to personality functioning of congruence between the self and experience, that it, the between what people feel and how they view themselves.
When you think you are one way but act another, you may experience a distressing sense of having acted in a way that's "not me".
State of incongruence and defensive processes
*Rogers posits that anxiety is the result of discrepancy between experience and the perception of the self.
*Once this happens, the person will be motivated to defend the self; he or she will engage in defensive processes
*The involve defense against a loss of a consistent, integrated sense of self.
*When we perceive an experience as threatening because it conflicts with our self-concept, we may not allow the experience to be conscious.
*Through this process, we can be aware of an experience that is discrepant with the self-concept before it reaches consciousness.
*A more common phenomena, allows the experience into awareness but in a form that makes it consistent with the self.
*Serves to preserve the self structure from threat by denying it conscious expression
Research on Self-consistency and congruence
*Chodorkoff (1954)-found that subjects were slower to perceive words that were personally threatening than they were to perceive neutral words.
*This tendency was particularly characteristic of defensive, poorly adjusted individuals.
*Poorly adjusted individuals, in particular, attempt to deny awareness to threatening.
*Following Rogers's theory, Cartwright hypothesized that individuals would show better recall for stimuli that are consistent with the self than for stimuli that are inconsistent-this tendency would be greater for maladjusted subjects than for well-adjusted subjects.

**In sum, the accuracy of recall of self-related stimuli appears to be a function of the degree to which the stimuli are consistent with the self-concept.
Overt Behavior
*People who have a high opinion of themselves are likely to behave in ways they can respect, where as people with a low opinion of themselves are likely to behave in ways that are consistent with that self image.
Self-concept and self-filfilling prophecy
*People often behave in ways that lead others to confirm the perception they have of themselves.
*E.g., people who believe they are likable may behave in ways that lead others to like them.
*For better or worse, your self-concept may be maintained by behaviors of others that were influenced in the first place by your own self concept.

*The tendency to maintain consistency in psychological experience, may sometimes override a simple hedonistic tendency to feel better.
The need for positive regard
*The idea that people need not only the obvious biological facts of life-food, water, shelter, and so on-but also something psychological.
*They need to be accepted and respected by others to receive others' positive regard.
*People can lose touch with their own true feelings and values in their pursuit of positive regard from others.
*In pursuing positive regard from others, people may disregard or distort their experiences of their own inner feelings and desires.
*The need for positive regard is central to child development.
*Parent, throughout childhood, provide information on what is good, that is was it positively regarded.
Conditions of worth
*The child is made to feel like a worthy individual only if she has some thoughts and feelings but not others.
Positive regard in childhood
*If the child receives positive regard unconditionally, then there is no need to deny experiences.
*However, if children experience conditions of worth, then they need to balance their own natural tendencies with their need for positive regard from their parents.
*The child may then cope by denying an aspect of his or her own experience.
Summary of the need for positive regard
*Rogers did not feel the need to use the concepts of motives and drives to account for the activity and goal directness of the organism.
*For him the person is basically active and self-actualizing.
*As part of the self act- actualizing process, we seek to maintain a congruence between the self and experience.
*However, because of past experiences with conditional positive regard, we may deny or distort experiences that threaten the self-system.
Growth and development
*To Rogers, development is not confined to the early years of life, as Freud suggested.
*People grow toward self actualization throughout the life course, experiencing even greater complexity,autonomy, socialization, and maturity.
Rogers work suggested that developmental factors must be considered at 2 level of analysis:
1) Level of parent-child interactions
*Provide environment optimal for psychological growth (unconditional positive regard)
2) Level of internal psychological
*Individual experience congruence betweens self and daily experience, or, conversely, distort aspects of their experience in order to attain others regard and a consistent self-concept.
Major developmental concern for Rogers
*Whether the child is free to grow, to be self-actualizing, or whether conditions of worth cause the child to become defensive and operate out of a state of incongruence.
Healthy development of the self
*Takes place in a climate in which the child can experience fully, can accept him or herself, and can be accepted by the parents, even if they disapprove of particular types of behavior.
Research on Parent-child relationships
*A variety of studies suggest that acceptant, democratic parental attitudes facilitate the most growth.
*Most critical are children's perceptions of their parents appraisals.
*A classic study of the origins of this by Coopersmith (1967) further supported the importance of the dimensions suggested by Rogers.
Coopersmith (Self-esteem)
*The evaluation an individual typically makes with regard to the self
*An enduring personal judgement of worthiness, not a momentary good or bad feeling resulting from a particular situation
Origins of self esteem
*Indicators of social prestige that one might think would be influential-such as wealth, degree of education, job title
- were NOT strongly related to children's self esteem scores.
*Instead, children's self esteem was related more strongly to interpersonal conditions in the home and the immediate environment .
*Children appeared to develop self-views through a process of reflected appraisal in which they used opinions of themselves that were expressed by others as a basis for their own self judgements.
Specific parental attitudes and behaviors that are important to the formation of self-esteem
1) Degree of acceptance, interest, affection, and warmth expressed by parents toward the child.
2) Parent-child interaction involves permissiveness and punishment
*Must have clearly defined and enforced limits (reasonable)
3) Whether parent-child interaction were democratic or dictatorial.

*In sum:
Important factor is the children's perception of the parents, not necessarily the specific actions the parents display.
Criticisms of self esteem
*Some psychologists question whether the concept of self-esteem is sufficient for a science of personality.
*Critics generally think the term is too global
*Most people experience times in their lives where they think of themselves and others in which they are self-critical, and the self esteem construct masks these cross-cultural variations.

**Nonetheless, others feel that the concept of global self esteem has merit and that self esteem has implications for many aspects of psychological functioning .