Describe how humanistic psychologists view personality, and explain their goal in studying personality.

  1. Describe how humanistic psychologists view personality, and explain their goal in studying personality.

Humanistic theories view personality with a focus on the potential for healthy personal growth. According to Maslow, self-actualization is the motivation to fulfill one’s potential, and self- transcendence is the desire to find meaning and purpose beyond the self. It is one of the ultimate psychological needs that arises after basic physical and psychological needs are met and self- esteem is achieved. In his effort to turn psychology’s attention from the baser motives of troubled people to the growth potential of healthy people, who are thought to be basically good, Maslow reflects the humanistic perspective.

Carl Rogers agreed with Maslow that people are basically good and are endowed with self- actualizing tendencies. To nurture growth in others, Rogers advised being genuine, empathic, and accepting (offering unconditional positive regard). In such a climate, people can develop a deeper self-awareness and a more realistic and positive self-concept.

2 Describe personality inventories, and discuss their strengths and weaknesses as trait-assessment tools.

Psychologists assess several traits at once by administering personality inventories on which people respond to items designed to measure a wide range of feelings and behaviors. The classic personality inventory is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Although

it assesses “abnormal” personality tendencies rather than normal personality traits, the MMPI illustrates a good way of developing a personality inventory. The MMPI items were empirically derived—that is, from a large pool of items, the test developers selected those on which particular diagnostic groups differed. The objective scoring of the test does not guarantee its validity. For example, those taking the MMPI for employment screening may give socially desirable responses that create a good impression.

3. Explain why psychology has generated so much research on the self, and discuss the importance of self-esteem to psychology and to human well-being.

The self is one of Western psychology’s most vigorously researched topics. Underlying this research is the assumption that the self, as organizer of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, is the center of personality. One example of research on the self is the study of possible selves. It

explores people’s visions of the self they dream of becoming. Such possible selves motivate us by laying out specific goals and calling forth the energy to work toward them. Another example is

the study of the spotlight effect, which reflects our tendency to overestimate others’ noticing and evaluating our appearance, performance, and blunders.

People who have high self-esteem have fewer sleepless nights, are less conforming, are more persistent at difficult tasks, are less shy, anxious, and lonely, and are just plain happier. Some research shows a destructive effect of low self-esteem. For example, temporarily deflating people’s self-esteem can lead them to disparage others and express heightened racial prejudice. Other researchers suggest that self-esteem reflects reality; thus, feeling good about oneself follows doing well. According to this explanation, the best way to foster self-esteem in children is to help them meet challenges, not reward them despite their failures.

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