Core of Personality
I. Core Tendency: The tendency to actualize one's inherent potentialities.
This potential exists in all living organisms, even plants. Humans possess an
additional form - the attempt to actualize the self - called self-actualization.
II. Core Characteristics:
A. Self: The person's conscious sense of who and what you are. Is
available to awareness, although not always in awareness.
1. Gradually emerges through experiences with verbal labels such
as "I" or "Me".
2. Phenomenological Reality: A person's private perception of reality
(whether or not it agrees with objective reality). Experience is the highest
authority. If you think you are not good-looking or smart, this is part of
your self concept regardless of reality.
B. Need for Positive Regard: the universal need for
acceptance, love, and approval from others. Particularly important during
C. Need for Positive Self-Regard: When acceptance and approval come from
within the individual and forms part of the self-concept.
Rogers does not specify any developmental stages, but does make some
comments. Of basic importance is the fact that one's inherent potentialities are
genetically determined, while the self-concept is socially determined. Thus,
there is the possibility of a difference between the two. The important
I. Conditional Positive Regard: The granting of love and approval only when
behaving in accordance with parent's wishes, or when parents withdraw love if
the child misbehaves. This leads to: II. Conditions of Worth (similar to
superego): the individual's belief that he/she is worthy of affection only when
expressing desirable behaviors.
III. Incongruence: When there is a split between organismic experience and
A. Prevents self-actualization.
B. Leads to defensive behavior. Major defenses:
1. Denial (repression)
IV. Unconditional Positive Regard: The granting
of love and approval regardless of individual's behavior. Does not mean lack of
restraint. If a child runs out in front of a truck, stop him and tell him it is
dangerous, but don't spank him and tell him he is a bad, evil boy. (Rogers is
against punishment as a means of controlling behavior).
V. Congruence: When the self concept is in agreement with inherent potentialities
and there are minimal conditions of worth. Leads to openness to experience
and a fully functioning person.
Periphery of Personality
Rogers discussed only two broad types: one where the self-actualizing
tendency is vigorously functioning and one where it is not.
I. Fully Functioning Person: The ideal - has received unconditional positive
regard, has few conditions of worth, and has congruence between self &
A. Openness to Experience - opposite of defensiveness. Is
reflective and much emotional depth (for both pleasure and pain).
B. Existential Living: Living fully in each and every moment. The absence
of rigidity, is flexible, adaptable, and spontaneous.
C. Organismic Trusting:
1. Intuitive living: the ability to accept information from all
D. Experiential Freedom - the freedom to choose among
2. Experience is the highest authority. If it feels right, it probably is
(better than conscious thought - very different from Freud).
E. Creativity: The ability to produce new and effective ideas and things.
II. Maladjusted Person: Has received conditional positive
regard and developed conditions of worth. There is incongruence between self and
A. Defensive Living - Not open to experience
B. Live According to preconceived plan - generally laid down by parents.
C. Disregards organism - not intuitive
D. Feels manipulated - not free to choose
E. Common and conforming
III. Other comments:
Comparison of ideals. There is a certain amount of selfishness
in Roger's theory. One critic has called Humanistic Psychology "the narcissism
of our culture" - that we are so lost in self love that we fail to relate to
For example, compare the following ideal adjectives for Adler
1. Adler - responsible, capable, committed, effective, adaptable
to social realities, social interest.
2. Rogers - experiential richness, flexibility, range of living,
immediacy, change spontaneity.
Four characteristics of successful therapists. Rogers believed that these
characteristics of the person doing therapy were more important than the
therapist's philosophy or technique. Incidentally, research supports this
1. Congruence: Good therapists can't be phony; they must be able to relate
to others honestly and sincerely. They don't have to be perfect, but can't
be defensive when relating to others. Can't play games with clients.
2. Empathy: Must be able to put yourself in your client's shoes. Must be
accurate empathy - not just "Yeah, I know what you are feeling, because
3. Learn from Client: Good therapists can shut up and listen. Therapy is
a two-way street, and the therapist should benefit from therapy also. Rogers
always did 12 - 20 hrs. of therapy/ week.
4. Unconditional Positive Regard: You must genuinely like the client.
You do not have to approve of his behavior, but must be able to separate
the sins from the sinner. (Incidentally, in seeking out a therapist, make
sure you get this feeling).
- Adapted 2004 -